11 Unique Ice Cream Toppings Our Editors Can’t Get Enough Of

published Jun 21, 2023
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coconut ice cream in a lavender cup, with a blue cup, and turquoise cup with the same ice cream in the background
Credit: Meleyna Nomura

The easiest way to make someone (or me, at least) happy is with a simple scoop of ice cream. It’s nothing special, but why mess with perfection? It’s a classic for a reason — and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t enjoy a basic scoop of chocolate or vanilla, “boring” as they may be. But, even though they’re tasty on their own, sometimes even the biggest ice cream fans can get tired of the same flavors after a while: That’s where toppings come in.

Classic Ice cream flavors are perfect because they’re versatile — they can go with almost anything. Toppings take a treat that’s already amazing to the next level, jazzing up your regular scoop and turning it into a true masterpiece. We all know about hot fudge, cherries, and whipped cream — and even though they’re popular, they’re more than worth the hype. But, if the regular additions have grown a bit stale in your rotation, we have a few out-of-the-box suggestions that you’ve likely never considered mixing in or sprinkling on top. But once you try them, there’s no going back — take it from our editors!

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Sea salt is the most simple addition imaginable — but it’ll take your ice cream’s flavor to new heights. “The flakiness of the salt is important,” contributor Lisa Freedman explained. “Anything too small will just dissolve into your ice cream, creating a very salty dish. You want big flakes that crunch when you eat them.” (Pro tip: Add olive oil, too!)

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“I love reduced balsamic syrup drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream,” contributor Emma Christensen said. “Especially if strawberries are involved.” If you’re working with a basic balsamic, she recommends putting a cup of it in a small saucepan with some sugar, letting it reduce to a syrupy consistency, then chilling it for the best results.

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Okay, this one’s not quite so unique, but how often do you use sprinkles when you aren’t at an ice cream shop? Sprinkles instantly make everything more fun and really elevate the look of your ice cream. Freedman also loves this option in particular because you get a large quantity in a variety of bright colors, which you don’t find often in the small store-bought packs. “These are a little crunchier than most, but that means they hold up well on (or in) a cake,” she wrote.

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Fancy Sprinkles

This addition is purely for the aesthetics, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Shopping director Jada Wong loves what she calls the most "extra" topping for any dessert. “It doesn’t taste like anything — so unlike sprinkles or Biscoff cookies, it won’t boost the flavor of your ice cream,” she wrote, also adding that her jar has lasted her for over a year. “However, edible glitter will make your bowl shine like a disco ball!"

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Steven Marinos, our Director of Brand Innovation and Strategy, crumbles cinnamon sugar pita chips over his scoop of vanilla. (Cinnamon ice cream has always been a long-time favorite of mine, so I'm definitely going to try this tip!) You get the sweet-spicy flavor and a satisfying crunchy texture, which sounds like a win-win in my book.

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Five Below

You may recognize the Lotus Biscoff cookies: Several airlines hand them out as a mid-flight snack, but SEO writer Nic Dobija-Nootens recommends saving them for later to crumble into your ice cream. These graham cracker-esque cookies are the perfect mix-in, making a sweet treat even sweeter.

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Managing editor Matt Gurry hesitantly drizzled orange-infused olive oil over vanilla ice cream at the recommendation of a friend, and now the addition is one of his go-tos. The citrusy taste makes a normal scoop of vanilla taste way more interesting, and this Amazon find has a 4.7-star average rating, so you really can't go wrong.

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Director of Programmatic Partnerships Laina Grady pairs creamy almond butter with her ice cream, and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter is the best option on the market. “What I love most about this particular almond butter is the hint of sweetness that it gets from the maple syrup. Yes, regular Justin’s is delicious, but the maple version is next level,” contributor Lauren Masur wrote.

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Editor Sarah Vazquez is a major fan of mixing savory and sweet, and if that’s up your alley, she suggests topping your ice cream with spicy honey. “There’s nothing better than ending the day with a refreshing scoop of vanilla bean ice cream topped with this bad boy,” she said.

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Kitchn contributor Stella Totino was skeptical about using this spicy topping on her vanilla ice cream at first, but her doubts disappeared upon her first bite. “The cooling, sweet cream mixed with the tingly, spicy, salty oil and crunch resulted in the most unique dessert I’ve ever had,” she wrote. “And by unique, I mean seriously scrumptious.”

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For Kelsey Arnold, our Senior Director of Brand Partnerships, sprinkling the bits at the bottom of her Tate’s Cookies bag makes for the perfect topping. This way, you aren’t wasting any of the delicious leftovers — and with this assorted gift box on Amazon, you can try out several flavors with your favorite ice cream.