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.

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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

These homemade rainbow sprinkles from pastry chef Monica Glass are a simple variation on royal icing.

Blueberry Sauce

Pastry chef Emily Luchetti makes this simple sauce for topping pancakes, waffles, or a scoop of ice cream. Get the recipe for Blueberry Sauce »

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. Get the recipe for Coffee Honeycomb Crunch »

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 »

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. Get the recipe for Cherry Fizzy Candy »

Butterscotch Sauce

Pastry chef Tracy Obolsky of Manhattan’s North End Grill gave us this recipe for super-simple homemade butterscotch sauce.

Fried Chicken Caramel

Fried Chicken Caramel

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 »

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.

Todd’s Snickerdoodles

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

Molasses Cookies

This thin, chewy, gently spiced cookie is perfect for dunking into milk.

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.

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.

Butterscotch Sauce

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

Jessica’s Spiced Pecans

These savory pecans, with rosemary and chili powder, add an unexpected kick to vanilla ice cream or Olive Oil Gelato.

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.

Homemade Granola

Homemade Granola with Apricots, Blueberries, and Almonds

Glazed Pecans

Coated with a sour cream-based glaze and baked in the oven, pecans become a toasty, sweet snack. This recipe first appeared in our November 2013 issue along with Wendell Brock’s story Southern Belle. Get the recipe for Southern Belle »

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.

Apricot and Almond Sauce

This fruity purée is great swirled into ice cream or spooned atop pancakes or toast.

Wet Nuts

You’ll find this classic topping of lightly-toasted walnuts in a gooey, sticky sauce in ice cream parlors across the country. Get the recipe for Wet Nuts »

Hot Fudge

This warm chocolate sauce is essential to a classic ice cream sundae.

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

Nick’s Supernatural Brownies

Fudgy brownies make an ideal base for a decadent ice cream sundae.


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

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.

Roasted Almonds

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

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.