Homemade Ice Cream Toppings

These homemade toppings will take your sundaes to the next level

Great ice cream stands on its own, but toppings can take your dessert to the next level. Sweet fruit, crunchy nuts, or crumbly cookies all add flavor and texture, making for a balanced sundae. The combinations are endless, so get eating—we've rounded up our favorite recipes for homemade ice cream toppings.

We love complementing creamy ice cream with crunch nuts to add a little textural contrast. Simply roasted almonds are a great party snack with a mild flavor that pairs with all sorts of ice cream flavors. Cooking walnuts with maple and corn syrup makes a sweet, gooey topping perfect for a decadent sundae. If you'd prefer something more savory, top vanilla ice cream with rosemary, Spanish smoked paprika, and chili powder.

Fruit is a refreshing ice cream topping. Cooking fruit in syrup makes a compote, a sweet, rich fruit topping. Cooking sour cherries with rum and vanilla beans makes for a sweet-tart treat, while our rhubarb compote is bright and flavorful. Our strawberry compote can be made without heat—simply macerate ripe strawberries with sugar, gin, cardamom, and lime.

For a chocolate-lover, fruit and nuts aren't going to cut it. We've got everything you need for a triple chocolate sundae. Start with one of our dense, moist fudgy brownies. Add a few generous scoops of dark chocolate ice cream made with cocoa powder bittersweet chocolate, and coffee. Then, because that's not enough, pour on warm, thick hot fudge sauce.

Whether you're looking for chocolate overload or sweet-savory nuts, we've got you covered with our collection of ice cream toppings.

Homemade Sprinkles

Homemade Sprinkles
These homemade rainbow sprinkles from pastry chef Monica Glass are a simple variation on royal icing.Matt Taylor-Gross

Blueberry Sauce

Blueberry Sauce
Pastry chef Emily Luchetti makes this simple sauce for topping pancakes, waffles, or a scoop of ice cream.Matt Taylor-Gross

Coffee Honeycomb Crunch

Coffee Honeycomb Crunch
Adding baking soda to molten sugar creates bubbles that get trapped once the mixture cools. The hardened result has an airy, honeycomb-like structure. Morgenstern’s of New York City adds honey and instant coffee to its version of this candy, which, when crushed up, becomes a bittersweet, crunchy topping that offsets the sweetness of ice cream.Matt Taylor-Gross

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salted Caramel Sauce
This simple salted caramel sauce is the perfect topping on ice cream, cakes, bread pudding, and other desserts.Matt Taylor-Gross

Olive Oil Hot Fudge

Olive Oil Hot Fudge
Olive oil subtly enhances this grown-up, not-too-sweet sundae topping from Portland's Salt & Straw. Get the recipe for Olive Oil Hot Fudge »Matt Taylor-Gross

Cherry Fizzy Candy

Cherry Fizzy Candy
This simple candy's bright fruity flavor and effervescent feel on your tongue is a surprisingly perfect pairing for the cold sweetness of a scoop of vanilla. Pastry chef Tracy Obolsky taught us the recipe when she came by our test kitchen; the flavor is easy to customize by switching out any variety of powdered Kool-Aid or powdered, fruit-flavored gelatin. Citric acid is often sold as lemon salt in grocery stores; if you can't find it, it can be omitted. Watch the video to see how Obolsky makes it »Matt Taylor-Gross

Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce
Pastry chef Tracy Obolsky of Manhattan's North End Grill gave us this recipe for super-simple homemade butterscotch sauce.Matt Taylor-Gross

Fried Chicken Caramel

Fried Chicken Caramel
Think of it as the more refined version of bacon popping up in your dessert: In this creative caramel adapted from Coolhaus, an ice cream sandwich maker with a national fleet of ice cream trucks, schmaltz and salty chicken bouillon add a subtle thrum of savory to store-bought caramel sauce, while crispy chicken skin lends the perfect crunch. Your guests will never guess the secret ingredient.Matt Taylor-Gross

Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb Compote
Cooking the rhubarb quickly is the secret to this compote from pastry chef Michael Laiskonis. By peeling the rhubarb before dicing and tossing it into a hot sugar syrup, he minimizes the cook time, preserving the rhubarb's bright flavor. Get the recipe for Rhubarb Compote »Matt Taylor-Gross

Whipped Cream in a Jar

Whipped Cream in a Jar
Freshly whipped cream is far better than that stuff out of a can. But as the cream splatters during whisking, it can be messy to make. I devised a cleaner method one night in a friend's tool-challenged kitchen. The trick is to ditch the whisk and bowl and instead use a Mason jar like a cocktail shaker.Ingalls Photography

Todd's Snickerdoodles

Todd's Snickerdoodles
Cinnamon-sugar dusted snickerdoodles are always one of the most-requested holiday cookies. Get the recipe for Todd's Snickerdoodles »Noah Fecks

Molasses Cookies

Molasses Cookies
This thin, chewy, gently spiced cookie is perfect for dunking into milk.Noah Fecks

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Oatmeal Lace Cookies
Light and crisp oatmeal cookies make a pleasant alternative to heavier treats. Dip them in melted chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt for a decadent, lacy crunch.Noah Fecks

Lavender Earl Grey Caramel

Lavender Earl Grey Caramel
Lavender and Earl Grey tea lend this caramel sauce a citrusy, floral note—serve it warm on top of ice cream.Yossy Arefi

Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce
Salty, sweet, and buttery, this classic ice cream topping is a caramel treat that's best served room temperature or slightly warm.André Baranowski

Jessica's Spiced Pecans

Jessica's Spiced Pecans
These savory pecans, with rosemary and chili powder, add an unexpected kick to vanilla ice cream or Olive Oil Gelato.Landon Nordeman

Breadfarm's Graham Crackers

Breadfarm's Graham Crackers
Renee Bourgault, co-owner of Breadfarm in Edison, WA, uses unrefined cane sugar instead of conventional granulated sugar in her graham crackers.Molly Wizenberg

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola with Apricots, Blueberries, and Almonds
Lightly sweet, perfectly crunchy, and with a mild vanilla flavor, this addictive granola is perfect served over yogurt or as an on-the-go snack.Farideh Sadeghin

Glazed Pecans

Glazed Pecans
Coated with a sour cream-based glaze and baked in the oven, pecans become a toasty, sweet snack.Penny De Los Santos

Apple Brandy and Cinnamon Syrup

Apple Brandy and Cinnamon Syrup
Reducing this brandy-rich syrup over low heat helps keep it unclouded—drizzle it over pancakes or waffles for an autumnal breakfast treat.Yossy Arefi

Apricot and Almond Sauce

Apricot and Almond Sauce
This fruity purée is great swirled into ice cream or spooned atop pancakes or toast.Yossy Arefi

Wet Nuts

Wet Nuts
You'll find this classic topping of lightly-toasted walnuts in a gooey, sticky sauce in ice cream parlors across the country.Todd Coleman

Hot Fudge

Hot Fudge
This warm chocolate sauce is essential to a classic ice cream sundae.Todd Coleman

Burnt Bread Powder

Burnt Bread Powder
The fragrant charcoal-like dust in this clever morning mishap lends a nutty, smoky element to spice mixes and sauces, ice cream, chicken, and roasted vegetables.Romulo Yanes

Rhubarb and Berry Compote

Rhubarb and Berry Compote
This tart-sweet compote with a hint of spice is wonderful spooned over vanilla ice cream. Get the recipe for Rhubarb and Berry Compote »Mackenzie Smith

Nick's Supernatural Brownies

Nick's Supernatural Brownies
Fudgy brownies make an ideal base for a decadent ice cream sundae.Helen Rosner

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps
Spicy gingersnaps add a perfect crunch when crumbled over ice cream.Quentin Bacon

Lavender Tuiles

Lavender Tuiles
Perfumed with floral lavender, these fragile, crispy thin wafers are a delicate cookie to serve alongside creme brulee, pudding, or even pumpkin pie.Saveur

Roasted Almonds

Roasted Almonds
Roasting and salting almonds brings out the flavor—roughly chop them and top sundaes with the pieces.Maxime Iattoni

Sour Cherry Compote

Sour Cherry Compote
The tartness of sour cherries contrasts perfectly with all sorts of frozen treats, like classic vanilla ice cream or Cream Cheese Sorbet.Helen Rosner