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Ice Cream Roll Cake: A Homemade Ice Cream Cake Everyone Will Love

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ice cream roll cake

This is a recipe that is near and dear to my heart. My mom gets all of the credit for this ice cream roll cake. It’s the recipe that she came up with to make our birthday cakes when I was a kid. And it’s the recipe I have been using for 14 years to make birthday cakes for my own kids.

It’s also the recipe that taught me a number of different cooking skills that I believe are essential for any home cook, which is why I have decided to now share it with all of you.

Plus, it is really stinking delicious and can be personalized to fit anyone’s taste preferences.

What Is an Ice Cream Roll Cake?

An ice cream roll cake is basically a jelly roll or Swiss roll cake, but instead of using jelly or buttercream in the roll, you use ice cream.

In our family, we like to use one flavor of ice cream in the middle and then another on the outside, so that you get double the ice cream fun. But, if you prefer, you can also just use ice cream inside the roll and then top it with powdered sugar, just like you would use on a traditional jelly roll cake.

Cooking Skills Needed to Make an Ice Cream Roll Cake

There are three main cooking skills that you will need to know in order to make this cake (don’t worry, I’m going to teach you all three): separating eggs, beating eggs to form ribbons, and folding in ingredients. If these are skills you are already comfortable with, then you can skip down to the assembly directions. But if you are less familiar with these skills, read on for my tutorials.

How to Separate an Egg

The goal of separating an egg is to separate the egg white from the yolk. There are a number of different ways to do this, but the method that I have always found the most manageable is to do the following:

  1. Pull out two bowls
  2. Crack the egg over the bowl that you would like the egg white to go into
  3. Using the two halves of the egg shell, gently move the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, allowing the egg white to fall down into the bowl
  4. When the yolk and egg white are separated, place the yolk into your second bowl.

How to Form Ribbons with Eggs

Certain recipes will call for you to beat eggs and sugar together until they form “ribbons.” But what does this even mean and why is it necessary?

When you are using eggs as your leavening agent (meaning the thing that is going to help your cake or other baked good to rise), you want to help the eggs along by adding air. This will allow the cake to be fluffy and light in structure.

So how do you do it and when do you know they are done? Using either an electric beater or the whisk attachment on your standing mixer, you are going to beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture has gone lighter in color, tripled in volume, and ribbons form. What that means is that when you stop the beating of the eggs and lift your beater or the whisk attachment up, when the mixture drips down it will maintain a thick, steady stream and build up in a little pile in the bowl (see picture above).

You can also beat eggs to form ribbons by hand, but it will take some considerable elbow grease!

It is also important to note that while it is possible to beat cold eggs until ribbons form, it is much easier with room temperature eggs.

Bonus Tip: If you forgot to take your eggs out to get them to room temperature in time, place the cold eggs in a bowl of very hot water for 5 minutes (while you get all your other ingredients out).

How to Fold Ingredients into a Cake Batter

Once you have added all of that air into the eggs, you don’t want to lose it! That is why recipes will call for you to “fold” the other ingredients into a batter.

folding ingredients into batter

To do that, you will use a rubber spatula or a large, flatter metal spoon, and will run the utensil along the side of the bowl and down to the bottom. Then, in a gentle movement fold the mixture at the bottom onto the top. Then turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. You will keep doing this, sliding down, gently folding over, and turning the bowl, until the mixture is just combined.

How To Make an Ice Cream Roll Cake

The first step is to make the cake, which is a vanilla sponge. While not difficult to make, following the steps are important as the cake can be fragile and you will be handling it quite a bit when you roll it and don’t want it to crack too much (although, if you put ice cream on top as well, cracks are easy to hide).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the baking sheet. Dab it with butter in several places, then line the sheet with parchment paper. Set a pot with a small amount of water (about 1-2 inches) on the stove to bring to a boil.

Separate one of the eggs, discarding the egg white (or you can save it for a future use) and putting the yolk into a heat-safe mixing bowl (or the bowl from your stand mixer). Add the other three eggs, sugar, and vanilla and then perch the bowl over the boiling water for a few seconds to allow it to become lukewarm.

Remove the bowl from the heat and beat on a medium to high speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture has tripled in volume and ribbons form.

While you sift the flour in with one hand, use a wide spatula to fold the flour into the batter with the other hand (or if your sifter works better with two hands, sift half of the flour, fold in, and repeat).

Fold in the melted butter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it out to the edges of the pan with the spatula.

Bake for 11-13 minutes, until it is just turning golden at the edges of the pan.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the cake and turn it upside down on top of the new parchment paper. Then, carefully remove the paper that covered the bottom of the cake and place it loosely back on top. Let the cake cool until barely warm (about 3-5 minutes).

Once the bake is barely warm, gently, but tightly roll the cake lengthwise (so it will be a long, narrow roll at this point). Fold the ends of the paper in to enclose the cake and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

To assemble the cake, take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften. When it is spreadable, gently unroll the cake and remove the parchment paper on top. Spread the ice cream or sorbet flavor that you want on the inside of the cake in an even layer.

Spreading ice cream on the inside of the roll
ice cream inside ice cream roll cake
Spread out ice cream

Then gently roll the cake, removing the bottom piece of parchment paper as you go. Move the rolled cake to your serving platter and cover the outside with your second flavor of ice cream or sorbet, if you are using. Or, if you are using powdered sugar, stop here for now.

Spreading ice cream on top of roll cake
Ice cream spread on top of roll cake

Return the ice cream roll cake to the freezer, covered lightly in plastic wrap if it will be waiting for more than an hour, until ready to serve.

If you are topping it with powdered sugar, use your sifter to evenly sprinkle the powdered sugar on top right before serving.

ice cream roll cake

Ice Cream Roll Cake

Jessica Braider
A long-loved family recipe, this is the cake I make for my own kids for every birthday. And the best part – you can use any ice cream or sorbet flavors you like!
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 13 mins
Resting Time 5 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Equipment

  • 1 10×15 or 9×13 baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • 1 hand or stand mixer

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • 2 quarts ice cream or sorbet flavors of your choice. Or use 1 quart of ice cream or sorbet and 1/4-1/3 cup powdered sugar

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the baking sheet. Dab it with butter in several places, then line the sheet with parchment paper. Set a pot with a small amount of water (about 1-2 inches) on the stove to bring to a boil.
  • Separate one of the eggs, discarding the egg white and putting the yolk into a heat-safe mixing bowl (or the bowl from your stand mixer). Add the other three eggs, sugar, and vanilla and then set the bowl over the boiling water in the pot for a few seconds to allow it to become lukewarm.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and beat on a medium to high speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture has tripled in volume and ribbons form.
  • Using a wide spatula, fold the flour in with one hand as you sift the flour in with the other hand (or if your sifter works better with two hands, sift half of the flour, fold in, and repeat).
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and beat on a medium to high speed for 5-6 minutes, or until the mixture has tripled in volume and ribbons form.
  • Using a wide spatula, fold the flour in with one hand as you sift the flour in with the other hand (or if your sifter works better with two hands, sift half of the flour, fold in, and repeat).
  • Fold in the melted butter.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, gently spreading it out to the edges of the pan with the spatula.
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, until it is just turning golden at the edges of the pan.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the cake and turn it upside down on top of the new parchment paper. Then, carefully remove the paper that covered the bottom of the cake and place it loosely back on top. Let the cake cool until barely warm (about 3-5 minutes).
  • Once the bake is barely warm, gently, but tightly roll the cake lengthwise (so it will be a long, narrow roll at this point). Fold the ends of the paper in to enclose the cake and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
  • To assemble the cake, take the ice cream out of the freezer to soften. When it is spreadable, gently unroll the cake and remove the parchment paper on top. Spread the ice cream or sorbet flavor that you want on the inside of the cake in an even layer. Then gently roll the cake, removing the bottom piece of parchment paper as you go. Move the rolled cake to your serving platter and cover the outside with your second flavor of ice cream or sorbet, if you are using. If you are using powdered sugar, stop here for now. Return the ice cream roll cake to the freezer, covered lightly in plastic wrap if it will be waiting for more than an hour, until ready to serve. If you are topping it with powdered sugar, use your sifter to evenly sprinkle the powdered sugar on top right before serving.
Keyword cake, ice cream, roll cake
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