Grandma’s ice cream crunch cake is a delicious homemade ice cream cake with layers of chocolate crunch, vanilla ice cream, and gooey caramel.

Ice Cream Crunch Cake in Glass Pan

Introducing Ice Cream Crunch: a homemade ice cream cake featuring layers of decadent chocolate peanut crunch, velvety vanilla ice cream, and a gooey caramel sauce.

This cherished recipe is our Grandma Opal’s from the Olsen Family cookbook, which is basically the bible of cookbooks in our family. Our Grandmother used to make this in a 9 x 13 pan. You can also make it in a round spring-form pan.

If you are looking for something different to make for a special occasion—this is it. Who doesn’t love chocolate, peanuts, ice cream, and caramel?

Piece of Ice Cream Cake on Plate with Fork

Ingredients

Here are five simple ingredients you’ll need to make this dessert.

Chocolate Crunch Ingredients in Bowls on a White Marble Surface

1 box chocolate cake mix – any type of chocolate cake mix (for example, chocolate fudge or super moist milk chocolate).

3/4 cup butter – regular salted butter.

1/2 cup peanuts – chopped. You can buy pre-chopped peanuts or chop them yourself.

Ice Cream (left) and Caramel Sauce in Jar (right)

1/2 gallon of ice cream – a half gallon of regular vanilla ice cream.

Caramel topping – our favorite is Mrs. Richardson’s caramel dessert sauce.

Piece of Ice Cream Cake with Bite Taken Out

Supplies & Favorite Tools for Making Ice Cream Cake

  • Mixing bowl and spoon
  • Baking sheet and parchment paper
  • 13 x 9 glass pan with lid
  • Cutting board/knife or ice cream scoop
  • Knife for slicing and serving
  • Serving dishes and forks/spoons
  • Mini spatula
Slice of Ice Cream Cake on Plate with Peanuts on Counter

How to Make Ice Cream Crunch Cake

Follow these simple steps to make this homemade ice cream cake.

Step 1 | Preheat oven to 350°F

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2 | melt butter

Melt the butter and add it to a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Add Melted Butter to a Mixing Bowl

Step 3 | Mix in chocolate and peanuts

Add the chocolate cake mix and chopped peanuts. Mix until well combined.

Adding Chocolate Cake Mix and Peanuts to the Melted Butter in Glass Mixing Bowl

Step 4 | Spread on a baking sheet

Prep a cookie sheet with parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper that’s fine, it just makes cleanup a little easier.) Spread the chocolate and peanut mixture evenly over the baking sheet.

Adding the Chocolate Crunch Mixture to a Baking Sheet

Step 5 | bake for 11 minutes

Bake at 350°F for about 11 minutes.

Step 6 | Take the ice cream out to soften

While you are waiting, take the ice cream out to soften.

Half Gallon of Ice Cream

Step 7 | Remove chocolate mixture from oven and stir

Remove the crunch mixture from the oven and stir it continuously while it cools.

Stirring Chocolate Crunch Mixture

Step 8 | add 1/2 chocolate mixture to pan

Once it cools, add half of the chocolate crunch to the bottom of a 13 x 9 dish.

Adding Half of Chocolate Crunch Mixture to Glass Pan

Step 9 | Slice the ice cream into pieces

Open the 1/2 gallon of ice cream as shown below and cut the ice cream into four even pieces. (Alternatively, you can scoop the ice cream on top of the chocolate crunch.)

Cutting Half Gallon of Ice Cream Into 4 Pieces

Step 10 | Spread ice cream to cover

Spread out the ice cream evenly with a spatula. (If this is hard to do, you may need to wait for the ice cream to soften a bit more.)

Spreading Ice Cream with a Spatula

Step 11 | drizzle caramel

Drizzle caramel over the vanilla ice cream. (If the caramel sauce isn’t easy to pour, warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds.)

Note: Reserve some caramel for drizzling just before serving unless you have an extra jar/bottle.

Drizzle Caramel Over Vanilla Ice Cream in Glass Pan

Step 12 | Top with other 1/2 of chocolate crunch

Add the other half of the crunchy pieces on top of the caramel layer to complete the cake.

Topping Ice Cream and Caramel with Remaining Chocolate Crunch Pieces in Glass Pan

Step 13 | Cover and freeze

Cover and stick in the freezer for at least a few hours before serving.

Covering Ice Cream Crunch Cake with Lid

Step 14 | Serve and enjoy!

When you are ready to serve—slice and drizzle with caramel. Enjoy!

Drizzling Slice of Ice Cream Crunch with More Caramel

Other fun options – make individual servings by scooping ice cream into bowls and then topping with the crunchy pieces and caramel. Or make individual cupcakes in a muffin pan or silicone baking cups. See all our variation ideas.

Piece of Ice Cream Crunch and Ice Cream Cake in Pan

More About This Dessert Recipe – Why We Love It

  • Irresistible flavor combination: This cake combines creamy vanilla ice cream, chocolate crunch, peanuts, and caramel, making a delicious dessert —you will want to save this recipe!
  • Special occasion worthy: Perfect for celebrations like birthdays, Mother’s or Father’s Day, anniversaries, and more, this dessert is a yummy treat for any occasion.
  • Easy preparation: The recipe is easy to follow with simple steps and takes less than an hour to put together (plus a few hours to chill in the freezer).

Tips for Making Ice Cream Crunch

  • Prep and measure ingredients: Before you start, make sure you have all the ingredients measured and ready. This makes the process smoother and prevents any last-minute mishaps.
  • Even spread for crunch: When spreading the chocolate and peanut mixture on the cookie sheet, aim for an even layer for consistent baking.
  • Monitor baking time: Keep a close eye on the crunch mixture while baking to prevent overcooking. About 11 minutes at 350°F is a general guideline, but adjust based on your oven.
  • Cool crunch mixture: After baking, stir the crunch mixture as it cools to break it into smaller pieces before it hardens.
  • Proper softening of ice cream: Let the ice cream soften slightly before assembling. This makes it easier to spread evenly over the crunch layer.
  • Pan: You can use a variety of pan sizes. We use a regular 13 x 9 pan. You can also use a spring-form pan. Make sure to secure the sides properly to prevent leaks.
  • Freezing time: Allow the cake to freeze for a minimum of a couple of hours before serving. This helps the layers set and ensures a firm consistency.
  • Slicing and drizzling: When serving, use a sharp knife to slice the cake, and drizzle caramel just before enjoying.
  • Experiment and enjoy: Don’t hesitate to explore variations and personalize the recipe to your taste. The simplicity of this ice cream crunch recipe offers room for creativity, so have fun with different flavors and toppings.
Ice Cream Crunch Slice and Closeup of Cake

Storage Tips

  • Initial freezing: Once you’ve assembled the cake, cover it securely with a lid or layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place it in the freezer, ensuring it sits on a flat surface to maintain its shape. Allow the cake to freeze for at least a couple of hours before serving.
  • Airtight storage: If you have leftovers or plan to store the cake for an extended period, consider transferring individual slices or the entire cake to an airtight, freezer-safe container. This prevents the cake from absorbing any unwanted freezer odors and keeps it from developing freezer burn.
  • Storage time: While ice cream cakes can be stored for several weeks, they are best enjoyed within the first 1-2 weeks for optimal taste and texture.
Closeup of Ice Cream Cake in Pan with One Slice Taken Out

Variations to Try

  • Ice cream flavors: Experiment with different flavors of ice cream to create unique combinations. Try using chocolate ice cream for an extra decadent dessert or fruity flavors like strawberry.
  • Cake mix: Try a different kind of cake mix. The chocolate cake mix is a classic choice, but don’t be afraid to get creative with strawberry or cherry chip. (You may want to swap the caramel for a fruit-flavored syrup instead.)
  • Nuts: Switch up the type of nuts you use. Instead of peanuts, try chopped almonds, pecans, or even mixed nuts.
  • Sauces: Experiment with different drizzle toppings instead of caramel. Consider hot fudge, butterscotch sauce, or a berry compote.
  • Mini servings: Create individual servings by making mini versions of the cake in muffin tins or silicone baking cups. This is perfect for parties or gatherings, allowing guests to enjoy their own personalized dessert.
  • Toppings: The chocolate crunch is perfect for an ice cream sundae bar. You can make the crunch alone and use it as a sundae topping.
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Ice Cream Crunch Cake in Glass Pan

Grandma’s Ice Cream Crunch Cake

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5 from 3 reviews

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Grandma’s ice cream crunch cake. Vanilla ice cream, chocolate nutty crunch with caramel topping.

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 16 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3/4 c butter (melted)
  • 1 box chocolate cake mix
  • 1/2 c chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 gal vanilla ice cream
  • 1 bottle or jar of caramel topping

*For drizzling caramel on top just before serving, reserve part of the jar of caramel or buy a second jar.

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the butter and add to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Add chocolate cake mix.
  4. Chop enough peanuts to make 1/2 cup. Add to the chocolate cake mix and butter.
  5. Mix all 3 ingredients well.
  6. Prep a baking sheet with parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper that’s fine, it just makes cleanup a little easier.)
  7. Spread the chocolate and peanut mixture evenly over the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake at 350°F for about 11 minutes.
  9. While you are waiting, take the ice cream out to soften.
  10. Remove the chocolate cake mixture from the oven and stir continuously until it cools.
  11. Once it cools, add half of the crunch to the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.
  12. Carefully slice the 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream into 4 pieces (or scoop on top of chocolate crunch).
  13. Spread out the ice cream evenly with a spatula.
  14. Drizzle caramel over the vanilla ice cream. (Reserve some caramel for drizzling just before serving unless you have an extra jar/bottle.)
  15. Then add the other half of the crunchy pieces on top.
  16. Cover and stick in the freezer for at least a few hours before serving.
  17. When you are ready to serve — slice and drizzle with caramel. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Author: Kelsey Restemayer
  • Prep Time: 29 minutes
  • Cook Time: 11 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: No-Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 420
  • Sugar: 34.7 g
  • Sodium: 150.4 mg
  • Fat: 28.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 16.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 37.7 g
  • Protein: 5.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 121.3 mg
Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes
One Slice of Ice Cream Cake with Caramel Drizzle

Final Thoughts

Grandma’s ice cream crunch cake is a delicious mix of creamy vanilla ice cream, indulgent caramel, and peanutty chocolate crunch. Its classic flavors make it a crowd-pleaser, whether for special occasions or a sweet treat.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have You Tried This Recipe? Please rate it in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Chocolatey Caramel Ice Cream Dessert in Pan (left) Closeup with Fork (right)

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6 Comments

  1. This is amazing! I enjoyed this sweet treat. Thank you for sharing






  2. This is incredible! This sweet dessert was pleasant. I appreciate you sharing.






  3. Albertina Geller says:

    This is amazing! I enjoyed this sweet treat. Thank you for sharing






    1. Northern Yum says:

      So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the review!

  4. Christine Rogers says:

    Yum!! How have I never tasted this before?! Will think of Opal as we enjoy this recipe!

    1. Northern Yum says:

      That is crazy! I guess we were too busy with taco salad and mixed nut bars at the Lee gatherings. 🙂 Thanks for reading and leaving a comment! 🙂

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