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Topping Ideas for an Ice Cream Sundae Bar

Build Your Own Ice Cream Sundaes

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Cherry Sauce

Frozen cherries and sugar make a simple dessert sauce that is a perfect topping for an ice cream sundae bar.

Image © Kimberly Kunaniec

One great way to finish off a party or BBQ is to set up an ice cream sundae bar where guests can put together great sundaes. Ice cream bars are becoming a popular choice at many events, even as a late-night snack idea for weddings. Put out a few flavors of ice cream and a selection of toppings from these choices. Your guests will love it, especially the kids.

Sauces

Hot fudge, caramel sauce and fruit sauces are all fun choices to begin your ice cream sundaes. While there are many varieties of ice cream sauces you can buy at the store, why not make your own fresh and delicious sauces? A sweet cherry sauce is so fast and easy to put together and it will taste better than anything you can buy, as will homemade raspberry sauce.

One great way to serve smooth sauces like chocolate sauce and caramel is to use plastic squeeze bottles (picture the kind that diners use for ketchup). You can buy these cheap at a restaurant supply store and they keep the mess to a minimum. Fruit sauce can be served in a bowl with a small ladle or even in a gravy boat.

Crunchy Toppings

Toppings with a little bit of texture provide an interesting texture for your ice cream. Contrasting textures are an important part of great food. Plus, all of these ideas are tasty and traditional for ice cream sundaes.

  • Candy Pieces – Give a rough chop to your favorite candy bars or put out bite-sized candy. Look for the small versions of candy like M&Ms or gummy bears, especially if you are putting together an ice cream sundae bar for kids.
  • Crumbled Cookies – While Oreo cookies are the most common cookie to pair with ice cream, you can chop up any of your favorite cookie types to add to the sundae bar.
  • Chopped Nuts – Toast and roughly chop your favorite nuts. Walnuts are a popular choice for sundaes, but just about any nuts will taste great. Cashews and almonds are two popular choices. You can even buy slivered almonds and save yourself the chopping.
  • Baking Chips - While chocolate chips are always a favorite choice, there are many other flavors of chips available. Try butterscotch or even mint chips (Ghirardelli makes a great one).

Finishing Touches

Don’t forget the whipped cream, sprinkles and a bowl of cherries to top off the sundaes! There is something about a maraschino cherry that makes an ice cream sundae feel complete and nostalgic. Skip the cans of whipped cream and make your own. Serve it in a beautiful bowl with a large spoon so your guests can pile it on.

Ice Cream Sundae Bar Tips

  1. Keep your ice cream flavors simple. With so many great toppings to choose from, the ice cream flavors don’t have to be too creative. The choice of vanilla or chocolate is perfectly fine.

  2. Make small signs to label your ingredients. This can be a cute part of the decorations and it will help guests out. While many of the sundae toppings will be obvious, chopped nuts or sauces may look alike. The difference between a strawberry sauce and a raspberry sauce could be huge to someone with food allergies. Also let guests know which toppings contain nuts. Because there are many vegans in my circle of friends, I like to add information about dairy products to my signs as well.

  3. Too many choices can become overwhelming. Stick to three sauce choices (I like to go with chocolate, caramel and one fruit sauce) and three or four crunchy toppings. Unless you are having a huge party, you don’t need to put out more than that.

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