Ice Cream Cake Roll
This luscious Ice Cream Cake Roll is made with a light, moist and rich chocolate cake dusted with cocoa powder and rolled into a perfect swirl with smooth ice cream and topped with an elegant magic shell. Slice and serve for the ultimate dessert treat!
This ice cream cake roll is a chocolate (and frozen) version of Swiss Cake Rolls. It’s a family favorite! You can’t go wrong with a delicious chocolate cake and ice cream! Feel free to make my Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe for the filling.
Why This Recipe Works
- Easy cake roll recipe. My mom would make ice cream cake roll every year for Christmas — still does to this day, in fact! I used to think it was hard, but it’s actually really simple! The hardest part is rolling up the cake, but I give you a guided step-by-step to get the perfect roll every time.
- Fill with your favorite ice cream! You don’t have to stick to a vanilla ice cream center — use your favorite ice cream! Some favorites of ours are cookies and cream, peppermint, mint chocolate chips, chocolate, and more!
- Rich chocolate cake. This ice cream cake roll recipe has a cake base made with dutch process cocoa powder. This provides a much richer chocolate flavor that you will love.
- Light and fluffy cake texture. Using the egg whites beaten to stiff peaks, and gently folding those into the cake batter, we get an ultra fluffy sponge cake that makes biting into this ice cream roll cake heavenly!
- Eggs: Separate the eggs. The egg whites will be whipped up to stiff peaks and added to the batter to create a light and fluffy cake texture. The egg yolks will be creamed with the brown sugar to create a luscious cake batter.
- Granulated Sugar: The granulated sugar is added to the egg whites mid-mixing.
- Light Brown Sugar: The light brown sugar will provide a creamy and sweet texture to the cake roll cake recipe.
- Cake Flour: Cake flour has less protein than other flours and is finely milled. This provides the cake a lighter and more delicate texture.
- Dutch Process Cocoa Powder: To get the best chocolate cake roll use dutch process cocoa! I promise you won’t regret it. If you don’t have it, go buy it! For more information on the different types of cocoa powders, when to use them and why, read my post on the Best Cocoa Powder for Baking and my Black Cocoa Powder Guide.
- Baking Powder: This will help give rise to the cake.
- Ice Cream: You can use your favorite ice cream flavor. I used vanilla ice cream, but you can mix things up and use peppermint for Christmas, strawberry ice cream for valentine’s day, chocolate ice cream, Neapolitan ice cream, etc.
- Magic Shell or Hot Fudge: The magic shell is option. It’s for pouring over top the finished ice cream cake roll. It isn’t necessary, but makes it look nice and adds a delicious outer chocolate coating. You can serve with hot fudge too if desired.
- Preheat oven and prepare jelly roll pan. Heat oven to 400ºF. Grease a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, spray the parchment and then dust with cocoa powder. Tap off excess cocoa powder. Set aside.
- Beat egg whites until fluffy. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 4 egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer beaten eggs whites to a large mixing bowl.
- Combine wet ingredients. To the now empty stand mixer bowl, add the 4 egg yolks. Using the whisk attachment, mix the yolks on high speed, slowly adding in 1/2 cup light brown sugar while mixing. Mix until thick (about 5 minutes). Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 1/2 tablespoons water. Mix to combine.
- Fold in egg whites. Using a rubber spatula, fold in 1/2 the egg whites, then fold in the remaining half.
- Sift in the dry ingredients. Place a fine mesh sieve over the stand mixer bowl (you’ll need to remove the bowl from the stand mixer). To the sieve add 1/3 cup cake flour, 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder, and 3/4 tsp baking powder. Sift over the wet ingredients.
- Gently fold in dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
- Pour into prepared pan. Pour the cake roll batter into the prepared jelly roll pan. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter into an even layer.
- Bake the cake roll. Bake for 5-6 minutes. The cake will just begin pulling away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from oven and immediately dust with cocoa powder. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately sift additional cocoa powder on top of the entire surface of the cake to prevent sticking to the cloth.
- Remove the cake from the pan. Place a flour sack cloth or dish towel (something larger than the size of the cake) on top of the cake. Grab a large cutting board or baking sheet and place it over the cloth covering the cake. Firmly grasp the cutting board, towel and cake and flip the cake over (so the cake is on top of the cloth which is on top of the board or baking sheet). Remove the cake from the pan by lifting it out of the pan. Gently remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.
- Add additional cocoa powder. Sift additional cocoa powder to the underside of the cake you just exposed by removing the parchment paper.
- Roll the cake. Using the cloth the cake is on, gently roll the cake into a spiral (the towel rolled with the cake). Set aside to cool until room temperature (about 20 minutes).
- Fill with ice cream. Once the cake has cooled completely, unroll the cake and spread softened ice cream on top of the cake into an even layer (leave a 1/2-inch border around the edge to give room to spread when rolled).
- Roll the ice cream cake roll. Roll the cake roll back up without the towel and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze for 4 hours or until the ice cream is firm.
- Decorate. Top with magic shell or a dusting of powdered sugar. Slice and serve with hot fudge, sprinkles, etc. Enjoy!
When folding the egg whites into the cake batter, be gentle and use a folding motion to maintain the airy texture.
It’s important to sift the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients to ensure an even distribution and a smoother cake batter.
Dusting the cake with cocoa powder before rolling helps prevent sticking (this is KEY to getting an easy roll!) and adds a delightful added cocoa flavor.
Allow the cake to cool completely before unrolling. This will reduce breaking. It will also reduce the risk of the ice cream melting everywhere.
To make things fun, I’ll switch out the vanilla ice cream for something more festive, such as peppermint ice cream if we’re eating this around Christmas and New Years.
Or if it’s for my birthday dessert I’ll add cookies ‘n cream ice cream. This dessert is very customizable, so have fun with it!!
You can use a store-bought magic shell or a homemade magic shell for the topping.
Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing
Make Ahead: You can prepare the cake roll and freeze it up to 24 hours in advance. When ready to serve, decorate with magic shell or powdered sugar.
Storing: Store any leftover ice cream cake roll in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to a week. To prevent freezer burn, consider placing it in an airtight container or wrapping in an additional layer of aluminum foil.
Freezing: This recipe MUST be frozen! If not, you’ll have a melty ice cream mess.
Yes, you technically CAN substitute regular cocoa powder, but Dutch process cocoa powder will give the cake a deeper, smoother chocolate flavor; it also works best with baking powder which is the leavening agent we use in this cake roll recipe. Read more in my Best Cocoa Powder for Baking post.
While a flour sack cloth is ideal, you can use a clean kitchen towel in a pinch, just make sure it’s larger than the cake.
Yes, you can skip the ice cream and enjoy the cake roll on its own or fill it with whipped cream and berries for a different twist. I would recommend following my Lemon Swiss Roll recipe for a filling option (just omit the lemon curd).
This could be for a number of reasons, including you over mixed the cake batter, over baked the cake batter, or didn’t let the cake cool completely while rolled. Be sure to follow my step-by-step instructions carefully for best results!
More Chocolate Cake Recipes
- Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
- Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
- Chocolate Pound Cake
- Chocolate Buttermilk Bundt Cake
Ice Cream Cake Roll
- 4 large eggs - separated
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar - packed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1/3 cup cake flour
- 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder - plus more for dusting
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 1/2 cups softened ice cream - any flavor!
- hot fudge - for serving (optional)
- magic shell - for pouring overtop (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, spray the parchment and then dust with cocoa powder. Tap off any excess cocoa. Set the pan aside while you make the batter.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Add the salt and cream of tartar and beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- In the now empty stand mixer bowl add the egg yolks. With the whisk attachment, mix the yolks on high speed, slowly adding the brown sugar, until thick (about 5 minutes). Add the vanilla and water and mix to combine. Using a rubber spatula add the egg whites into the egg yolks in 2 additions.
- Place a fine mesh sieve over the bowl. To the sieve add the cake flour, dutch process cocoa, and baking powder. Sift over the batter then fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the batter into a smooth, even layer. Bake for 5-6 minutes, the cake be just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove the cake from the oven. Immediately sift additional cocoa powder over top of the cake, enough to cover the full surface of the cake. This cocoa powder will prevent the cake from sticking to the cloth (which we’ll get to in a moment). Place a flour sack cloth or dish towel (one that is larger than the cake) overtop of the cake. Grab a large cutting board or baking sheet and place it over the cloth that is covering the cake. Tightly grasp the cutting board, towel, and cake, and flip the cake onto the towel on the board. Lift the cake pan from the cake. Gently peel the parchment off the cake. Sift additional cocoa powder over the back of the cake. Using the cloth the cake is on, roll the cake into a spiral. (The cake will be rolled within the towel). Set the cake aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- Once cool, unroll the cake. Spread the softened ice cream over the cake into an even layer, leaving a ½ inch border around the cake to give room for the ice cream to spread. Roll cake back up (without the towel). Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours or until ice cream is firm.
- Slice into 1 inch slices and serve with your choice of toppings (hot fudge, magic shell, sprinkles. I made a batch of magic shell and poured that overtop of the entire cake roll. You don't have to do this though; serve it however you'd like!
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.