20 Best Cake And Ice Cream Pairings

You've probably heard of pie à la mode, but what about cake? The phrase first emerged from the French vocabulary, which translates to "in the fashion." It wasn't associated with desserts until the late 1890s when it described an apple pie served with vanilla ice cream. The thought of serving pie with ice cream is well-intentioned and thought-out; the warm dessert melts the ice cream slightly, creating a creamy bath surrounding the crust and the filling. But when a cake is served with ice cream, the frozen dessert takes on an entirely new purpose.

Unlike pie, cake is often served at room temperature — otherwise, the icing and glaze would just fall off it. Most cakes are also self-sufficient because they contain enough sweetness in the frosting and the sponge. Instead, the frozen dessert is used as a palate cleanser and a way to bring balance to the dessert. Not to mention, it can also soak into the sponge and add an additional depth of flavor. Instead of opting to serve plain vanilla ice cream with your cake recipe, try a more interesting combination, thanks to our recommendations.

Red velvet cake and cheesecake ice cream

Red velvet is undoubtedly one of our favorite popular cake flavors; the mild tang of the cake combined with its bright color is crowd-pleasing for all eaters. Although it can be dense to eat on its own, pairing the cake with a mildly flavored ice cream, like a cheesecake, will bring out some of the softer notes and complement the bite of the red velvet cake's signature cream cheese icing.

To avoid muddling the profile of this dessert, we recommend using a plain cheesecake ice cream rather than a strawberry or flavored variety. Some pieces of graham crackers are permissible for this combination, but you won't want to choose an icing that would alter the flavor and texture of this iconic cake.

Black forest cake and cherry ice cream

Black Forest Cake is a towering dessert made with layers of decadent chocolate sponge soaked in cherry kirsh, sweet vanilla buttercream, and chocolate ganache. It's a cake with a lot going on and needs an ice cream that will complement it rather than detract from it. We recommend pairing it with a black cherry ice cream to get the smooth vanilla notes and the flavor of the cherries popping through.

And since this cake is so good on its own, we recommend finding a cherry ice cream that doesn't taste like children's cough syrup. Other suitable alternatives for this cake could be a dark chocolate ice cream or even a mildly flavored almond ice cream to complement the alcoholic notes of the kirsch.

Apple cake and maple walnut ice cream

Apple cake is the dessert you need to make on a cool autumn day. Not only does this cake feature a soft vanilla and cinnamon sponge, but you also get the mild and flavorful notes of the apples also thrown into the mix. In true fall fashion, we recommend pairing this recipe with a maple walnut ice cream. Even if your sponge doesn't have any nuts in it (which, spoiler alert, it totally should), you're bound to love the warm crunch of the tiny walnut pieces scattered throughout.

The flavor of apple cake makes it much more versatile to pair with ice cream than other cake flavors. For a nut-free choice, consider pairing your cake with a rum raisin ice cream or caramel swirl. And if you're set on the classics, stick with a scoop of vanilla for the traditional à la mode experience.

Chocolate cake and coffee ice cream

Chocolate or fudge cake lovers can appreciate the depth that this classic cake flavor can bring. There's nothing wrong with a good chocolate cake, so you'll want to choose an ice cream that can offer a new realm of flavor possibilities when paired with it. Our favorite, unsurprisingly, is coffee. You can go with a coffee ice cream with little nuggets of chocolate-covered espresso beans or stick with a creamy java-infused variety. Regardless of the texture, be sure to find a coffee frozen dessert that's really heavy on the coffee, not just one that tastes like a diluted icy mess.

Depending on your favorite ice cream flavors, alternative options include a mint chocolate chip or a dark fudge brownie. The nature of chocolate cake gives you more liberty in pairing a complementary mouthful,  so pick this pairing based on your favorite ice cream flavor.

Pineapple upside-down cake and vanilla ice cream

Pineapple upside-down cake is a bit of an enigma in the cake world. There's not much that you can do with it by way of adding different flavors and ingredients. Instead, you're locked into the pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries that give the cake its tropical flair.

Stick with a plain vanilla ice cream to avoid complicating this cake too much. We would recommend an ice cream with a smooth, creamy brand and tons of vanilla bean specks mixed in to help complement the sweet vanilla sponge underneath the pineapple pieces. Our favorite grocery store vanilla ice cream brands include Häagen-Dazs, which has a sublime flavor and unctuous consistency in each bite, or the budget-friendly Turkey Hill homemade vanilla.

Angel food cake and strawberry ice cream

Angel food cake can be a bit tricky to pair with ice cream, not because of its flavor but because of its airy texture. Pairing this soft cake with dense ice cream wouldn't do it any favors, so we had to opt for a bright, light flavor that wouldn't drown out the rest of the sponge. We chose strawberry ice cream as the flavor pairing for this sponge because it provides a fruity element that is often used to decorate an angel food cake anyway.

The only feasible option for this cake is a mild lemon or orange ice cream. Citrus lends itself well to a soft, airy sponge like angel food cake, but the strawberry does more by the way of flavor.

Devil's food cake and basil ice cream

Devil's food cake... and what? Although combining a dark, dense, and fudgy cake like devil's food cake with a herbaceous and downright odd ice cream flavor might seem utterly ridiculous, the mixture between the two really works well. Fans of the cake will recognize its structure, which results from very heavy ingredients like cocoa powder, a shockingly large amount of butter, and coffee to amplify the chocolate flavor — and how easy it is to take two mouthfuls and put down the fork for good.

Basil ice cream has a unique brightness to it that can help take away from the magnitude of the sponge and dense buttercream icing and bring in a refreshing flavor note. Don't knock it until you try it.

Carrot cake and butter pecan ice cream

Carrot cake is a variety that is near and dear to our hearts. It's filled with copious amounts of grated carrots and moisture-inducing ingredients like sour cream, butter, and oil to help keep the sponge moist. You can also play a lot with the spice level of your cake and add textural boosts like nuts, raisins, and apricots to bolster the flavor.

As a result of its complexities, carrot cake needs an ice cream that will help make it shine. Butter pecan adds sweetness to the dessert combo without introducing yet another flavor to the mix. It also has the obvious chunks of nuts swirled throughout, which can bolster the texture of your ice cream without making you have to add yet another ingredient to your cake batter.

Strawberry cake and vanilla ice cream

Strawberry cake can come in many forms, including strawberry shortcake and strawberry spoon cake, which is like a hybrid of a cobbler and a cake. You'll also see strawberries integrated into recipes like a Victoria sponge cake via a layer of thick strawberry jam and strawberry garnish. Although the strawberry flavor might be pervasive in the cake world, it doesn't make it any easier to find a type of ice cream that works well with the fruity addition.

Our go-to pairing for anything strawberry is vanilla ice cream. We want to let the cake (and its strawberry flavor) shine rather than putting another flavor element in that's going to be overbearing. If you want to tone down the sweetness, you could potentially add a scoop of lemon ice cream or just stick with the vanilla and add a pinch of lemon zest to the top.

Hummingbird cake and coconut ice cream

Hummingbird cake has a lot going on with it. This classic Southern dessert contains a thick layer of cream cheese frosting enshrouding a sponge filled with bananas, chopped pineapple, and pecans. It's moist, it's dense, and its best friend is coconut ice cream. This mild flavor brings out the tropical notes in the cake and adds a complementary flavor that doesn't distract from the individual components of the sponge. Plus, coconut ice cream tends not to be overtly sweet, which will prevent unanticipated clashing with the decadent cream cheese frosting on this cake.

It seems like coconut ice cream is the only logical pairing for Hummingbird cake. Banana ice cream tastes much too artificial, and pineapple ice cream is a rarity because the fruit tends not to freeze well.

Funfetti cake and cake batter ice cream

Does Funfetti cake really need an ice cream to go with it? Not really, but if we had to pick a frozen dessert pairing, it would probably be cake batter. Cake batter ice cream comes in many different forms, including ones with actual cake batter thrown in, a version with sugar cookie dough pieces, and one with sprinkles and a plasticky flavor to boot. Since this ice cream flavor is rarely standardized across brands, we recommend diving into the pint without the cake to see what you're getting into.

If you visit children's birthday parties, you'll likely also see the Funfetti cake paired with a chocolate ice cream or a run-of-the-mill vanilla. These pairings are often made haphazardly to appease the kids, so we recommend using more creative licenses to upgrade this combo.

Lemon cake with vanilla ice cream

Lemon cake is one of the simple pleasures of life. If you enjoy a lemon sponge or a lemon poppyseed loaf from time to time, you can surely appreciate when lemon is used well and thoughtfully in a recipe. We find that the best pairing for lemon cake is going to be vanilla ice cream. It's difficult to mess up, and the blank vanilla canvas allows the brightness and tang of the lemon to come out more.

Why not use lemon ice cream for a lemon cake? It amounts to the fact that these two desserts are better separately than when they're combined. If one tastes more artificial than the other, you risk shifting the entire dessert off balance.

Yellow cake and peach ice cream

You don't have many options to use fruit-flavored ice creams with cake, but yellow cake is a prime example of when this is a great opportunity. For a Southern-infused dessert, pair your standard yellow cake mix (as a layer cake or a pound cake) with decadent peach ice cream. The soft sponge will absorb the peach flavor in the ice cream and carry the dessert remarkably well.

When you're shopping for your peach ice cream, you will want to aim for a variety with whole pieces of peaches in it rather than one that's just flavored with artificial peach extracts or concentrates. We also recommend adding macerated peaches on top of your dessert and serving it with a mint garnish.

Coffee cake and salted caramel ice cream

Although coffee cake is technically a cake, it differs from other varieties because it's often solely eaten for breakfast. But when your late-night cake craving strikes, cut off a piece of coffee cake and scoop it into a bowl with salted caramel ice cream. The decadent caramel ribbons will wrap around the strudel, while the mild salty flavor will help balance out the cinnamon and sugar notes of the cake itself.

You may also be able to find some ice cream varieties with pieces of walnuts or pecans interlaced in the caramel; these will further complement the flavor notes and add-ins in your coffee cake recipe. Other varieties of frozen desserts we can foresee pairing with a coffee cake include spiced ice creams, like cinnamon or ginger, or brown sugar-based ice creams.

Marble cake and chocolate ice cream

Marble cake is the most indecisive types of cake out there. It couldn't decide if it wanted to be a chocolate or a vanilla cake, so it chose to be a little bit of both. Unfortunately, this means you won't get an intense chocolate or a strong vanilla flavor from the sponge.

To bolster the consistency of a marble cake, go with a dark chocolate ice cream. You'll want to find something with really pronounced cocoa notes, go with Alden's Organic. The flavors of the Dutch cocoa and unsweetened chocolate create a blissful mouthful without crossing the line of being too sweet. However, marble cake is rarely sweet, so it could go with a sweeter chocolate ice cream to amp up the flavor.

Gingerbread cake and lemon ice cream

Gingerbread cake is the soft, decadent, plush sponge we all need in our lives. It has the same molasses and spice as your favorite holiday cookie but interlaced in a soft sponge. We love pairing this cake with a zesty lemon ice cream because it rounds out the ginger's sharpness and the medley of other spices. The lemon also helps bolster the molasses flavor and adds an element of brightness to the entire dessert.

This gingerbread cake is relatively difficult to pair with other types of ice cream because although the spice flavor might be similar, the profiles rarely match up to a tee. Opting for an entirely new profile, like the lemon, helps take this cake up a notch without distracting from its harmony of flavors.

Pumpkin cake with maple walnut

Pumpkin cake is one of the simple joys of the fall season. The addition of the pumpkin purée keeps the sponge super moist, while the cinnamon and clove undertones feel like you're being wrapped with a cozy blanket on a cold day. To ensure we're doing this autumnal masterpiece justice, we pair it with an under-appreciated flavor: maple walnut.

The maple in the recipe helps bring out the sweetness of the cake while also balancing out the other flavor notes into a well-rounded dessert we can enjoy any time of year, just stock up on the pumpkin puree while you can. In addition, the walnuts in the ice cream add texture and can complement other flavorful additions to your loaf, like chocolate chips or dried fruit.

Almond cake with blueberry ice cream

Almond cake is subtle in flavor enough to pair with fruity ice cream, and the bright notes of blueberry make this pairing a match made in heaven. You don't even have to go out and buy blueberry ice cream; Trader Joe's two-ingredient ice cream hack shows how you can combine frozen blueberries and any milk you choose (dairy or dairy-free) in a cup.

After allowing the frozen blueberries to sit in the cream, you'll be rewarded with a simple and inexpensive way to upgrade your almond cake. If you're looking for a two-scoop pairing, try adding your blueberry ice cream with lemon so the citrus can curb the sweetness of the blueberry and blend well with the nuttiness of the almond paste.

White cake and Rocky Road ice cream

White cake is far from the definition of "exciting." It has a mild vanilla profile, but there's not much going on besides that. The blandness of the cake opens up opportunities to play with more complex ice cream flavors, like Rocky Road. For those unfamiliar with this ice cream, Rocky Road is a chocolate ice cream filled with marshmallows and almonds. And although nobody under the age of 40 has ever said that Rocky Road was their favorite flavor, combining it with white cake might just win it some brownie points.

We could also see other exciting types of ice cream, like s'mores or chocolate brownies, pairing well with a white cake. However, adding any ice cream besides plain vanilla would detract from the elegant profile of the white cake. But if it tastes good, why does that matter?

Spice cake and ginger ice cream

We think of spice cake as a carrot cake but without the carrots. It has a less molasses-y flavor than a gingerbread sponge but still has some subtle spice notes that elevate it beyond a standard cake mix. Ginger ice cream is spicy enough to complement the other spices in the cake, especially if the sponge isn't made with any dried ginger, to begin with.

There are many variations of ginger ice cream, including those with candied ginger pieces and those made with just dried ginger. We recommend always tasting your ice cream before adding it to your cake because some ice cream varieties can be downright burn-your-mouth spicy. Other potential pairings for this cake include rum raisin and maple walnut, but nothing is truly as remarkable as (not so) plain ginger.