16 Creative Ways To Use Extra Ice Cream Cones

Ice cream has a long, storied history that dates back more than 4,000 years. However, ice cream cones are a relatively new invention. Italian immigrant Italo Marchiony created the first modern ice cream cone in 1896 and patented it in 1903.

But the ice cream cone has a more serendipitous origin story, too. Around the same time, a Syrian man named Ernest Hamwi had a concession stand at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Legend says he was selling zalabis, a fried dough pastry similar to funnel cakes, next to a popular ice cream vendor who ran out of bowls. In a moment of ingenuity, Hamwi rolled one of his confections into a cone and the neighboring vendor filled it with ice cream. Customers from all over the world were thrilled by the newfound treat!

After the event, Hamwi established the Cornucopia Waffle Company, followed by the Missouri Cone Company in 1910. Today, there are dozens of ice cream cone brands on grocery store shelves. But once you open up a box, they quickly go stale — and homemade waffle cones last even less time.

However, there are several creative ways to use extra ice cream cones. Some methods are simple, like using cone pieces as chips or as additions to snack mixes, while others use ice cream cones in sweet and savory recipes. Here are our favorite ways to use up waffle, sugar, and cake cones in the kitchen.

1. Serve them with a sweet dip

This tip works in any setting, whether you're craving a late-night treat or aiming to impress party guests. Regardless, it requires very minimal prep and clean-up — our favorite kind of hack! However, this idea is best suited for extra waffle and sugar cones; skip it if you only have cake cones on hand.

The easiest method is to simply break your leftover ice cream cones into chip-sized pieces. Then, serve them with a store-bought spread like Nutella or honey-sweetened almond butter, or opt for a pre-made dip like gooey caramel, chocolate hummus, or any sweet dip with a cream cheese base. If you're feeling ambitious, you can easily make your own dessert dip, too. For example, this caramel pecan cheesecake dip recipe requires just one bowl and five ingredients.

You can also take things a step further by creating a dessert dip board. Buy or make any number of dips, then scoop them into small, shallow bowls. Alternatively, try a riff on TikTok's butter board trend by piping or smearing the dips directly into a board or tray. Either way, you can then arrange a beautiful display using ice cream cone pieces, cookies, salty pretzels, and a variety of fruits. Strawberries and tart apple slices are especially ideal for dunking.

2. Mix them into ice cream

Waffle cone ice cream ranks as one of the best ice cream flavors, loved for its novelty, taste, and varied textures. Plus, it's a mess-free method to enjoy the crispness of ice cream cones — perfect for little ones and risky days when you're wearing white.

The flavor is sold pre-made by several brands, including Tillamook. Its version features chocolate-dipped waffle cone pieces and ribbons of caramel, all blended into creamy chocolate and vanilla ice cream. You can recreate this combination of flavors and textures at home, or make other ice cream flavors with the ingredients you have on hand. For example, waffle or sugar cone pieces can replace the graham cracker chunks found in traditional rocky road ice cream. You can also finely crush your ice cream cones, then sprinkle the bits on flavors like raspberry cheesecake or peach crisp.

This idea also works well for those with allergies and dietary restrictions. Grocery stores carry a variety of vegan ice cream brands to serve as your base. With a few leftover cones and extra mix-ins, everyone can enjoy creative flavors.

3. Use them as a base for an ice cream cake

Most ice cream cakes have a crumbly base, or at least a layer of crunch to break up ice cream's creamy texture. Some recommend using graham crackers, like this s'mores ice cream cake, but you can easily swap the ingredient with waffle or sugar cone pieces. Oreo ice cream cakes, which you'll spot in several popular ice cream chains, are another great example. But rather than chocolate sandwich cookies, use the chocolate cones in your pantry.

Some ice cream cake recipes specifically call for crushed waffle cones, like this spumoni ice cream cake. It suggests chocolate cones, but regular waffle or sugar cones can serve the same purpose, too. Grind your extra cones into small pieces and stir in melted butter to create the cake base. Transfer the mixture into a loaf pan, then top it with layers of chocolate, cherry, and pistachio ice cream, followed by a generous spread of whipped cream and decadent garnishes.

No matter what recipe you choose, ice cream cakes are an easy, no-bake solution. Whip one up for a summer treat, to serve at a party, or simply to avoid wasting those extra cones.

4. Swap them for cannoli shells

Traditional Sicilian cannolis aren't particularly easy to make at home, as they require multiple steps and metal dowels which unless you make cannolis often, you probably don't have on hand. Not to mention, these dainty treats create a ton of dishes.

However, you can skip the dough-making and deep-frying process by using waffle or sugar cones as the shells. To make a classic cannoli filling, pour heavy cream into a bowl, whisk until you notice peaks beginning to form, then refrigerate your fresh whipped cream. Next, grab a separate bowl and use it to combine whole-milk ricotta, confectioners' sugar, granulated sugar, bittersweet chocolate, orange zest, and a pinch of salt. Stir this mixture well, then gently fold in the chilled whipped cream.

Now, spoon or pipe your homemade cannoli filling into your extra cones. Alternatively, you can go the extra mile by steaming the cones, which makes them pliable, and rolling them into cylinders.

5. Make ice cream cone cupcakes

Several ingredients take boxed cake mix to a new level, including cake cones. Try making this easy ice cream cone cakes recipe using a box of rainbow cake mix, preferably the Super Moist Party Rainbow Chip mix by Betty Crocker.

You'll simply combine the dry cake mix with water, vegetable oil, and whole eggs, then simply scoop the batter into flat-bottomed cake cones. Use a cupcake tray to keep them upright, then pop them right into the oven. The cones won't brown or change in texture, but be sure to follow the cupcake-specific instructions listed on your cake mix box. For example, Betty Crocker's mix suggests baking cupcakes for 13-18 minutes at 350 F. Once your cake cones are cool, top them with your choice of frosting and of course, a pinch of rainbow sprinkles.

If you're looking to experiment with something different, consider these vanilla cake cones. The batter comes together quickly, the frosting requires just three ingredients, and here's the best part: The cooking time is less than two minutes with the help of a microwave.

6. Add them to granola

One of the best tips for making granola is to mix in waffle or sugar cone pieces. Their brown sugar, molasses-like flavor will complement a number of classic granola ingredients, like salty nuts, cinnamony oats, and dried fruits. This tasty baked apple chip granola recipe calls for much of the above and has tons of textures — though, a handful of crispy cone bits would pull it all together. For an added crunch, mix the cone pieces into the granola before baking so that they're coated in coconut oil and sticky maple syrup like the rest of the ingredients. Alternatively, you can add them in once your homemade granola has cooled.

Of course, you can use this idea to upgrade your store-bought granola, too. Because waffle and sugar cones easily adapt to other flavors, there are tons of suitable options from popular granola brands.

7. Crush them into crumb crusts

Many cookies create flavorful crumb crusts, as do waffle and sugar cones given their sweet flavor and crisp texture. You'll want to crush the cones into fine crumbs, ideally using a food processor or blender. However, you can also seal the cones in a plastic bag, and then use a rolling pin to achieve a sandy texture. Then, pour the cone crumbs into a bowl, add melted butter, and combine to form a consistency similar to wet sand. Transfer the mixture into a pie tin and use your hands to press down on the crust, forming an even surface on the base and along the edges.

This type of crust can work well in several recipes. For example, rather than graham crackers, use extra ice cream cones to make this vegan key lime pie. But whatever you do, don't try creating a crumb crust with cake cones. They'll turn into a fine powder, resulting in a soggy crust that won't hold up to soft pie fillings.

8. Whip up espumilla, a meringue dessert

This foamy Ecuadorian dessert looks just like ice cream but doesn't melt — perfect on a hot, summer day. The simplest form of espumilla is made of just egg whites and sugar, beaten on high speed until the ingredients create fluffy clouds of meringue. A glossy shine and the formation of stiff peaks will indicate the right consistency.

For greater flavor, espumilla is often infused with fruit pulp. Guava is most commonly used but with the addition of unflavored gelatin, you can also mix in passion fruit puree, mashed bananas, or a unique pulp made of naranjilla, a tropical fruit native to South America. In Ecuador, street vendors place colorful red, green, and blue cones upside-down on their large platters of espumilla. But when making this at home, any of the three ice cream cone styles available at grocery stores will do. Scoop up your dessert, then top it with sprinkles or fruit as they do in Ecuador.

9. Fill them with salty and sweet snacks

From bread bowls to stuffed veggies, who doesn't love an edible vessel? While ice cream cones don't offer a ton of volume, they're the perfect container for many popular snacks. Use them to hold Chex Mix, peanuts, popcorn, or classic potato chips for a salty-sweet combo. You could also fill them with candies, dried fruit, or an assortment of berries. Other fresh fruits can work, too, such as grapes or apple slices. But you'll want to avoid anything too juicy, as this will cause the cone to become soggy, compromising both the texture and the sturdiness of your snack container.

You can use any type of ice cream cone for this idea. Though, if you're hosting a party, cake cones will work best given that their flat bases allow them to stand upright without any additional support. As an extra bonus, serving snacks in cones means fewer dishes left by guests. This hack works especially well for children's parties, as little ones never turn down an ice cream cone — even if it's sneakily filled with healthy snacks.

10. Bake cookies with them

Ice cream cone pieces offer a great way to elevate homemade cookies. You probably shouldn't mess with delicate varieties, such as shortbreads and meringue cookies, but recipes with some texture can benefit from bits of waffle or sugar cones. For example, add them to these cinnamon chocolate chip cookies to enhance the flavors and crunch of the other ingredients, which include walnuts and a generous amount of semi-sweet chocolate chips. You could also build on the texture of these coconut cherry oatmeal cookies, which feature dried cherries, flaked coconut, oats, and white chocolate chunks.

Ice cream cone pieces can also act as a substitute in certain cookie recipes. For instance, rather than graham crackers, you could use extra cones in s'mores cathedral cookies. You might even come across cookie recipes that specifically call for ice cream cones, whether in the dough or as a serving suggestion.

11. Shape them into cylinders, bowls, or tacos

Waffle cones may be rigid and breakable out of the box, but this hack allows you to manipulate their shape in a matter of minutes! First, you'll need to steam the cones. To do this, boil a pot of water and set a steamer basket on top, ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the basket. Place one to two cones inside, cover the pot with a lid, and allow the cones to steam for two to three minutes until they easily unroll. Alternatively, you can wrap a waffle cone in a damp paper towel and microwave it for around thirty seconds, making it easily pliable.

Now, you can roll your cone into a cylinder using a tall shotglass, the handle of an ice cream scoop, or another cylindrical object you have in the kitchen. You can also form it into a waffle bowl using a cupcake tin, or fill your Choco Taco void by turning them into taco shells with the help of a rolling pin. Regardless of the shape you choose, you can then fill your custom cones with ice cream, cannoli filling, and other treats.

12. Garnish a glass rim

Add a bit of flair to your homemade milkshakes by garnishing your glass with crumbled waffle cones. Simply coat the top edge of a glass in something tasty and sticky — think frosting, marshmallow créme, or nut butters. If you opt for melted chocolate, be sure to decorate one glass rim at a time as the chocolate will harden quickly. This idea works with practically any milkshake, from classic chocolate to fancy flavors like cake batter or salted caramel.

Adults can take things a step further with a splash of booze, one of the best ingredients to add to milkshakes, or test the concept with chocolate cocktails and other dessert drinks. Because glassware used for alcohol is often daintier than, say, a milkshake glass or a mason jar, you might want to avoid heavy adhesives. Rather, stick to chocolate sauce or simple syrup, and crush the cones into a finer crumb. Also, consider decorating just one portion of the glass rim rather than the entire perimeter. Not only will this create a more elevated look, but it will allow for variance in flavors and textures.

13. Layer them into parfaits

Incorporating textures is one of the key tips to building a better parfait. Similar to granola and nuts, ice cream cones can add a delightful crunch and pair well with many bases and toppings. Add them to a classic parfait layered with yogurt and mixed berries or get creative with your ingredients. After all, parfaits can be enjoyed as breakfast, dessert, and even as a savory snack so there's plenty of room for experimentation.

For example, extra cones could save you tons of effort when making these banana-caramel pudding parfaits. Skip baking the wafers and instead, use waffle or sugar cone pieces to break up the smooth layers of pudding and whipped cream. Incorporating cones into savory recipes, like this cucumber yogurt parfait, might be a bit trickier. But a pinch of crunch and sweetness could work well in recipes that bridge sweet and savory profiles with complex flavors.

14. Use them to coat fried ice cream

There are several reasons why it pays to add an extra coating when making fried ice cream. Doing so prevents the ice cream from melting, builds on crunchy texture, and allows for more flavor combinations. It may sound intimidating to create this classic Mexican dessert at home but surprisingly, you can make fried ice cream in the air fryer!

Start by crushing up your two coatings. Obviously, one will be made from your excess ice cream cones. The other could be crumbled cornflakes or another dry cereal, cookie crumbs, finely chopped nuts, or even a mix of these or other ingredients. Now, roll a round scoop of any flavored ice cream in one of the coatings, place it on a tray, and pop it in the freezer. Once it's set, brush the frozen ice cream ball with whisked egg whites, roll on the second coat, and freeze it again. Once it's hard to the touch, give it a spritz of cooking spray and place it in your parchment-lined air fryer for just under a minute. Then, garnish your decadent dessert with a drizzle of chocolate, whipped cream, or whatever additional toppings you prefer.

15. Include them in dessert bar recipes

Several dessert bar recipes call for a crumb base and excess waffle or sugar cones can do just the trick. For example, instead of graham crackers, use extra cones in these easy strawberry cheesecake bars which require just seven ingredients. If you have chocolate cones on hand, use them to substitute Oreos in this recipe for no-bake candy cane cheesecake bars.

Similarly, you could try putting a spin on classic Nanaimo bars by swapping digestive cookie crumbs for finely crushed ice cream cones. Combine your cones with cocoa powder, granulated sugar, desiccated coconut, chopped pecans, and melted butter to form the base in a 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Place it in the refrigerator until the base has hardened, then layer on a creamy, vanilla-flavored blend of butter, custard powder, confectioners' sugar, and whipped cream. Once that layer has chilled, add an even coat of dark chocolate, topped with a sprinkle of sea salt. 

16. Make them into holiday decorations

Many home chefs would agree that the best holidays are centered around food. They provide inspiration to try new recipes, from elaborate feasts to themed dishes and more. Using ice cream cones as holiday decorations is an ingenious, easy hack that allows all ages and skill levels to join in on the fun.

Come spring, consider making ice cream cone carrots. Simply coat waffle or sugar cones with orange candy melts, then fill them with multi-colored jelly beans, saving the green ones for the top. Then, wrap them in clear treat bags for the perfect Easter basket addition. During spooky season, you can bake these wicked witch cupcakes. They come together quickly using boxed cake mix and store-bought vanilla frosting, which you'll dye green. Assemble the cupcakes, create little witch faces using candy, and top them with edible hats made of chocolate cones and chocolate wafer cookies.