Dress Up Your Ice Cream! 30 Sundae Toppings That Go Way Beyond Sprinkles

(Image credit: Nealey Dozier)

Whether you are a kid or just a kid at heart, sometimes there is no better way to end a summer meal than with a big bowl of rich, creamy ice cream. If you’ve planned ahead, nothing pleases a crowd like homemade, but if you’re strapped for time, dress up store-bought ice cream with an array of unusual toppings. I can guarantee you won’t hear a single complaint.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

If you are tired of serving traditional toppings and crave something beyond the usual sprinkles and chocolate syrup, or if you are looking for some more grown-up flavor pairings, you are in luck. I racked my brain for interesting ingredients that will take your sundae bar to the next level. You might have some of these items squirreled away in your pantry, others you may have to find online, and a few you’ll just have to whip up yourself, but I promise they are quick and painless.

I’m sure I missed a few, so I’d love to hear — what are your most unique ice cream combinations? Please share!

(Image credit: Elizabeth Passarella)

30 Interesting & Unusual Ice Cream Toppings

Serves a crowd

Fruit toppings:

Peach preserves

Freeze-dried strawberries

Assorted fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mango, peaches)

Candied lemon peel

Crystalized ginger

Crunchy toppings:

Cocoa nibs

Chocolate pearls

Vanilla fleur de sel

Candied walnuts

Toasted pepitas

Unsweetened coconut, toasted

Crushed gingersnaps

Graham cracker crumbs

Edible lavender florets

Nut brittle, broken into pieces

Salted Spanish peanuts

Soft toppings:

Good-quality olive oil

Warmed Nutella

Local honey

Grade B maple syrup

Organic date syrup

Ice cream flavors:

French vanilla

Goat’s milk vanilla





Peanut butter


Macadamia nut

Lemon sorbet

Favorite Ice Cream Sundae Combinations:

  • Vanilla ice cream, lemon curd, blueberries
  • Vanilla ice cream, maple syrup, toasted pepitas
  • Vanilla ice cream, peach preserves, fresh peaches
  • Goat’s milk vanilla ice cream, olive oil, fleur de sel
  • Chocolate ice cream, feuilletine, chocolate pearls
  • Coffee ice cream, coffee jelly, cocoa nibs
  • Coconut ice cream, crushed gingersnaps, crystalized ginger
  • Strawberry ice cream, balsamic, dried strawberries, graham cracker crumbs
  • Peanut butter ice cream, warmed Nutella, peanut brittle
  • Caramel ice cream, caramel corn, Spanish peanuts
  • Macadamia nut ice cream, pineapple compote, toasted coconut
  • Lemon sorbet, lavender florets, candied lemon peel


Some of my favorite store-bought ice creams include Breyer’s Natural Vanilla, Laloo’s Goat’s Milk Vanilla Snowflake, Jeni’s Askinosie Milk Chocolate, Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter, Trader Joe’s Coffee Bean Blast, Haagen-Dazs Strawberry, Talenti Lisbon Lemon sorbet, Haagen-Dazs Five: Lemon, Haagen-Dazs Macadamia Nut

This post was requested by Sarah Janester for Reader Request Week 2013.