This easy chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake features a rich chocolate sponge cake rolled with your favorite ice cream flavor, drizzled with dark chocolate ganache.
This rolled-up ice cream cake has always been a go-to birthday dessert at my house. We’re big chocolate cake fans, and anything served with ice cream is a winner in my book. So it makes sense to combine the two into a decadent dessert that features dark chocolate sponge cake, ganache, and creamy, refreshing ice cream all rolled into one.
Update: I first saw this recipe for chocolate ice cream cake roll on Redbook years ago. Now, I often make two ice cream roll cakes for birthday celebrations. I’ve updated the post with step-by-step tips and photos so that your family can enjoy beautiful ice cream-filled cakes too!
How To Make Chocolate Ice Cream Cake Roll
The chocolate cake in this recipe is a homemade separated sponge cake. The “separated” part refers to separated eggs. You’ll whisk the egg whites with sugar in one bowl and the yolks in a separate bowl. Egg whites lighten the cake batter and add a delightful spongey quality, while the yolks add richness and structure to the batter.
Before you even get mixing, it’s helpful to set a few things up to ensure your cake comes together smoothly.
First, make space in your freezer to place the rolled cake.
Secondly, assemble your ingredients and equipment. You’ll need a parchment-lined jelly roll pan, three mixing bowls (for the dry ingredients, egg whites, and yolks), as well as a clean dish towel, a wire cooling rack, an offset or rubber spatula, and an electric mixer with two mixing bowls.
Making Chocolate Sponge Cake
When your ingredients and equipment are ready to go, it’s time to start mixing. First, combine the dry ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until they form stiff peaks. This is what gives the cake it’s airiness.
To check your peaks, simply stop mixing and lift the whisk (beater) out of the egg whites, turning it upside down. If the egg whites droop, keep whipping. If they cling to the wire whisk and stand up straight into a peak, you’re good to go.
It’s important to use the whipped egg whites fairly quickly after they reach stiff peaks. Egg whites tend to separate if they sit around for too long.
Next, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla. Add the dry cake ingredients to the egg yolks. Then gently fold a quarter of your whipped egg whites into the batter just to lighten it. Folding in a little bit initially helps to incorporate it more easily without deflating the egg whites.
Then gently mix the remaining whipped egg whites into the batter and fold until just combined. No streaks of whites should be visible, but you also don’t want to mix any more than is necessary. The dough should be light and airy.
When spreading the cake batter into your prepared pan, make sure to spread it as evenly as possible. If the edges are too thin, they will bake up as a crispy cookie rather than a cake. Then when you go to roll the cake the edges will crumble.
However, if this does happen to your edges, you can troubleshoot by carefully trimming them off before rolling your cake.
Note: Be sure not to over-bake the cake. You need it to be soft and pliable to roll up easily.
Rolling the Cake
You’ll roll this cake twice: first when it comes out of the oven. And second, after filling it with ice cream.
For the first rolling, it’s important to roll the cake when it’s still warm from the oven. It’s best to let the cake cool just slightly in the pan while you dust a clean dish towel with powdered sugar.
Then, run a knife around the edges of the pan to make sure the cake is not stuck to the pan. Then quickly invert the cake so it comes out onto the dishtowel, remove the parchment, and immediately roll the cake.
Fold the bottom of the towel over the short end of the cake and roll the dish towel and the cake into a log. Set the rolled cake so it sits on the seam, which will help seal the cake later. Allow it to cool like this.
💡A few important notes:
- Don’t use a fluffy or terry cloth towel. Rather, choose one that’s closer to a tea towel.
- If the towel is larger than your cake, fold it to meet the correct size.
- When sprinkling your towel with powdered sugar, I find that a small strainer works well to get an even coating. However, sprinkling with your fingers will work too; just aim for as even a layer as possible (missed spots may cause your cake to stick to the towel).
Second Roll: With Ice Cream
The second roll is the ice cream roll. First, take your ice cream out of the fridge to let it soften up a bit. It should be soft but not melted. You will use the full 1½ quarts of ice cream for this recipe.
Before unrolling the cake, get your tools ready. You’ll need large pieces of parchment and aluminum foil to wrap the cake after rolling, as well as a rubber or offset spatula to spread the ice cream evenly.
Next, unroll your cake on parchment paper for easy clean-up. You’ll need to work quickly as the ice cream will melt. Cover the full surface of the cake with ice cream, all the way out to the edges.
Tip: I’ve found the easiest way to spread the ice cream is to put large dollops of ice cream across the cake and then spread the dollops together.
Now roll the cake up as smoothly as you can, following the same roll pattern as the first time.
Note that some melted ice cream may ooze out the ends as you roll; no worries. Just keep going. Finally, wrap the ice cream-filled cake in the parchment and aluminum foil and freeze.
Before glazing, trim the ends for better presentation (and a snack for the chef!), and slice the cake with a serrated knife to minimize crumbs.
Making Chocolate Ganache
While your ice cream roll cake is freezing, prepare the finishing touch: a homemade chocolate ganache to drizzle over the top of the cake.
Our recipe is a straight-forward four-ingredient glaze with heavy cream, semisweet chocolate, corn syrup and vanilla. Be sure and use low heat and stir frequently while the chocolate is melting.
When it’s time to glaze the cake, make sure that your glaze is at room temperature and thickened. Otherwise, it won’t stick to the cake, but will slide right off.
At room temp, the glaze should set quickly on the frozen cake. You can do a test drip to see if the glaze is thicken to pour over the ice cream cake roll.
It’s best to glaze your cake while it’s set on a wire rack over a baking sheet to catch any drips.
Serving Ice Cream Roll Cake
Once your cake is filled with your favorite ice cream and dressed with homemade chocolate glaze, it’s dessert time!
Two of our favorite ice creams to wrap up inside a chocolate cake roll are mint chocolate chip and cherry chocolate chip ice cream. I also have a fun Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream Cake Roll for Easter and a Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake Roll perfect for the winter holidays.
Make-Ahead Ice Cream Roll Cake
You can certainly make this cake ahead of time and store it in the freezer for several days before serving. And, any leftovers can be wrapped up tightly and frozen for later.
If the cake gets very hard in the freezer, allow it to warm up on the counter for a few minutes before cutting.
More Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipes
If you’re a chocoholic like me, then you’ll love these other popular chocolate cake recipes to make all year long:
- Chocolate Cake with Oreo Cheesecake Filling has it all: creamy no-bake oreo filling, moist chocolate cake, and ganache!
- Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake with Maraschino Cherry Filling offers the crowd-pleasing pairing of dark chocolate with bright, sweet cherries.
- Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake is the perfect decadent treat to serve for brunch or afternoon tea/
- Malted-Milk Chocolate Cake is a tangy twist on a classic two-layered dessert.
- Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake is a celebration of America’s classic milk chocolate.
- Chocolatey Rich Vegan Chocolate Cake from Not Quite Nigella is a dairy-free and egg-free dessert that doesn’t skimp on flavor.
- Texas Sheet Cake from Brown Eyed Baker makes an easy big-batch sheet cake to feed a hungry crowd.
- Two Minute Chocolate Mug Cake from Completely Delicious is a delightful single-serving dessert to treat yourself!
Chocolate Ice Cream Cake Roll
- ½ cup cake flour not self-rising
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar divided
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 container 1 ½ quarts ice cream, softened
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped*
- ¼ cup corn syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoon s vanilla extract
- Heat oven to 375ºF. Spray a 15 ½ x 10 ½ x 1-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, line with parchment or wax paper and spray the paper with additional spray.
- In a small bowl, combine cake flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Separate the egg whites and yolks into 2 separate large bowls.
- Beat the whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually beat ½ cup of sugar into the whites. Continue to beat on high speed just until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. (I used my KitchenAid to beat the whites and my hand mixer to beat the yolks.)
- Beat the yolks with the remaining ¼ cup sugar and vanilla extract until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Continue mixing on low speed as you gradually add in the flour mixture until blended.
- Stir ¼ of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten. Fold in the remaining whites, mixing as little as possible, until no more streaks remain in the batter.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
- Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently pressed. Let cool in the cake pan for 2 minutes on a wire rack.
- Dust a clean towel with confectioners’ sugar; loosen the edges of the cake from the pan with a knife and invert the cake onto the towel. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment.
- Starting from the short end, roll the cake up in the towel. Place the roll seam side down on wire rack and cool completely.
- FILLINGWhile the cake is cooling, put ice cream on the counter to soften. When the ice cream is softened, unroll the cooled cake and spread evenly with ice cream.
- Roll the cake up. Wrap tightly in parchment, then in foil and freeze, seam side down, overnight until firm.
- GLAZEIn a small saucepan, heat the cream, chocolate, and corn syrup over low heat until chocolate is melted and glaze is shiny and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
- Unwrap the cake and trim the ends. Place the cake on a wire rack over a tray or waxed paper. Pour the glaze along top of cake roll, spreading with a spatula to cover the sides. Freeze the cake uncovered until the glaze is firm, about an hour.
1975, in Norman, Ok, I knew a lady, who was a terrific cook. Her husband was an author (Apple Dumpling Gang, Tornado), they entertained publishers from New York with her fabulous meals. She gave me this recipe. I was so excited because my husband loved the store bought ones and they stopped selling them. I have made them for years two at a time. My husband and 2 sons could barely wait for them to freeze. They would take one cut it into thirds top it with hot fudge sauce whipped cream cherries and nuts. I still see them sitting there with big smiles on their faces. Thank you for keeping this recipe alive.
Thanks Sue – sounds like great memories and a delicious way to serve it.
Great cake roll recipe Barbara!! Pinning this one! Thanks!
I made this today for the 3rd time. Everyone who has eaten it, loved it!!! My granddaughter requested it for her 9th birthday.
That’s awesome – thanks Theresa!
I tried your recipe and it turned out great. As a matter of fact I made it twice
Now, I want to make it for a friend, but I was told she only likes vanilla cake. My question is this. Can I just leave out the cocoa powder to make this woman happy. Lol.
Thank you for sharing this great recipe. Will always be my go to birthday cake.
Thanks so much Tara! I haven’t tried it, but you should be able to substitute additional cake flour for the cocoa. You may want to increase the vanilla to 2 teaspoons. Let me know if you try it.
Could you use a chocolate cake mix?
Hi Karen – I haven’t tried it, but if you want to use a cake mix, I would try this recipe https://www.mybluprint.com/recipe/cake-roll-boxed-cake-mix
Dana M Bissell
I am attempting to make this cake for next Friday..I am making 2…One double Dutch Chocolate One Chocolate Mint…HE DESERVES IT…This recipe is right up my alley
Great – enjoy!
My cake seems to absorb the ice cream, any tips?
Hi Chrisy – was in regular ice cream or something else? Did you let your ice cream melt?
Hi, thanks for recipe.. how long would you be able to leave it in the freezer for? Two days ok?
Hi Dana – yes, two days is fine. I wouldn’t do it more than a week ahead.
Can I use regular flour, not cake flour?
Hi Debra – yes, you can use regular all purpose flour. You can also make cake flour by replacing 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of corn starch for every cup of flour.
Thank you Barbara! I will let you know how it comes out. We are bringing it to our friends’ house for dessert after dinner. We are all foodies and are looking forward to enjoying a great dessert:)
This is a great recipe and your instructions and pics were so helpful. I used this to make my dad’s birthday cake a couple of weeks ago. He loved it! I recently posted about it on my blog. Thanks for sharing!
Barbara, what a brilliant idea! Love what you did to the swiss roll. Simply amazing! Thanks for sharing.
I saw this recipe in Family Circle Magazine and knew I had to make it. A chocolate cake rolled up with ice cream inside, my goodness, what could beat that!! Except for maybe cabana boys serving you a fresh pineapple mango daiquiri while you bask in the hot sun on a beach in the Bahamas.
Hi Karen – I like the way you think!
natalie (the sweets life)
could i make this and glaze it and then freeze for several days? i’m in need of a make ahead dessert…
Hi Natalie – I had a little bit leftover in the freezer for several days and it tasted great. My only concern would be that you let the glaze set up in the freezer before you cover it and I wouldn’t wrap it tightly. I just covered it on a plate with plastic wrap. Enjoy!
Becki's Whole Life
Love this! I was just thinking that it would be perfect for the girls’ birthday cakes and then I scrolled down to see that you made it for your boys…I especially like the fact that you can change this up with different flavors of ice cream. I am partial to the mint…