The Best Alternative Uses For Your Ice Cream Cones

It's no surprise that in a survey conducted by SWNS Media Group, 63% within a polled group of Americans picked ice cream as the perfect way to end a comfort meal. The cold, creamy sweet treat has been a U.S. mainstay since the 1800s. But in the years that have passed, a lot has changed in terms of how ice cream can be utilized, and that's just as true for ice cream cones, as well. There are numerous alternative uses for these sweet containers to ensure you don't waste a single crumb.


Ice cream cones are, of course, still primarily utilized for confectionery purposes, as they have been since the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, when a serendipitous event first brought the waffle cone to the public's attention. Syrian immigrant Ernest A. Hamwi was selling waffle pastries, also known as zalabis, at the fair when the ice cream concessionaire beside him ran out of containers to hold the dessert. Hamwi delivered a solution by rolling his waffles into the shape of a cone.

Now, people can also chomp into two other cone variations: cake and sugar cones. These three options vary in size and structure, but all ultimately consist of flour, sugar, eggs, and flavorings as their key ingredients. Even more importantly, they share a durable yet pliable funnel shape and sweet taste that makes them easy to manipulate for a variety of uses, from adding them to parfaits to stuffing them with candy.


Use them as chips for a sweet dip

Those with a sweet tooth will prefer this simple twist on the usual chips and savory dips. Take a break from your salty tortilla chips and pico de gallo and instead, try breaking ice cream cones into bite-sized pieces and using them to scoop up something sweet. Waffle and sugar cones will work best for this, as they're much more durable than cake cones, which are too flaky and crumbly.


These makeshift chips will shine with just about any gooey dip. Try it out with your local grocery store's Nutella, Marshmallow Fluff, or caramel for a quick and easy snack. But if you're looking to really amp up your dessert, save the premade dips for your breakfast toast and opt for a more complex dip made from scratch. A caramel pecan cheesecake fruit dip, for instance, only takes about 10 minutes to prepare and requires just a few ingredients mixed together, all of which can be perfectly picked up with your new edible spoon.

Make s'mores with them

Bring this next hack to the fire pit: Swap graham crackers out with ice cream cones when making s'mores for a less messy take on the traditional summer snack. Simply fill the cone with marshmallows and chocolate, along with any other elements you might like, such as peanut butter cups, caramel, cookie dough bites, or even crushed graham crackers, and then wrap it in tin foil. From there, place it in the oven or on a grill or walk it on over to the campfire. Allow time for the ingredients to melt together, and there you have it! Peel the foil away and enjoy your s'mores. 


Alternatively, you can heat the ingredients in a pan and scoop the filling into the cone afterward. If you want to keep the chocolate and marshmallows theme going but don't feel like taking this route, use the previous method of breaking the ice cream cone into chips and pair it with a s'mores dip recipe.

Pound them into pie crust

Take your pie to the next level by creating a flavorful base using waffle or sugar ice cream cones. In addition to the cones, this trick requires only sugar and butter as ingredients. Break the cones into pieces, throw them into a food processor, and run it until they're finely ground, or manually crush them with a rolling pin until they have the texture of sand. Stir that in with the melted butter and sugar and then press the new mixture into the bottom of a metal pie plate before baking.


Once the crust is completely cooled, you can make an ice cream pie by filling it up with layers of your favorite ice cream and toppings before wrapping it with plastic wrap and allowing it at least six hours to sit in the freezer. When you're ready to eat, take it out and top it off with some whipped cream, fudge, frosting, or sprinkles. 

Rather than ice cream, you can also put typical pie fillings into your crust. For example, you can take an easy apple pie recipe up a notch by switching the pre-made, frozen pie crust for this cone version. The options are endless when this do-it-yourself pie crust takes such little preparation, leaving you with more time to focus on how to fill it.

Use them as a cannoli shell alternative

Making Sicilian cannolis from scratch at home might be a rewarding process, but it can also be a tedious one. The two main components of the Italian classic are its shell and filling. The former requires creating, shaping, and allowing the required dough enough time to chill. Then, it's cut into circles and deep-fried to create the desired cylindrical shape that will later cradle the cream. If you want to get to chomping quicker but still want your cannolis to have a homemade feeling to them, cut down the baking process by using an ice cream cone as a shell substitute.


The only change you need to make to your ice cream cone in order to achieve this timesaving shortcut is to dip the rim in some melted chocolate. Stand it upright in a glass, and while the chocolate hardens, make your cannoli filling. Then pipe or spoon the mixture into your sugar or waffle cone. Now crunch into your hassle-free cannoli!

Bake ice cream cone cupcakes

What more iconic way to do dessert than to combine two of the most popular ones out there? Make some of the best cupcake recipes even better by making them look like ice cream. All it takes is filling a flat-bottom ice cream cone with whatever batter you like best, whether that's from scratch or a store-bought mix. Line a cupcake or muffin tin with your cake cones, which will have the necessary structure to hold the mixture as opposed to waffle or sugar cones, and fill each one three quarters of the way with batter. Be sure not to do more than this, or it will overflow during the heating process. 


Depending on your batter, bake it for between 15 and 30 minutes at 350 F. Check if it's finished baking by sticking a toothpick through the center and seeing if it comes out clean. Let it cool once it's done. Lastly, put your choice of icing into a plastic ziplock bag and cut off a small piece of the bag's corner. Pipe the frosting in a swirling fashion to truly mimic the look of soft-serve ice cream. Sprinkle a few colorful jimmies or whatever topping you like on the icing and admire your ice-cream disguised cupcake.

Get healthy with a yogurt cone

It's the last day you can still eat your yogurt after opening it, and you're looking for a way to make finishing it more fun. Try throwing it into an ice cream cone for a healthier snack! The sweet, crisp texture of the cone provides a similar effect as granola would. Just mix your favorite fruits into your yogurt and then spoon the combination into whatever cone you like. As always, add any desired toppings, such as chopped nuts. If you prefer the texture of frozen yogurt more, simply place the mixed yogurt and fruit in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before packing it into your cone. Drizzle honey or condensed milk for extra sweetness.


You can also smash the cones to create a crunchy layer for a yogurt parfait instead. Alternate layers of fresh fruit, yogurt, and crushed waffle or sugar cone bits until you fill your glass. Whichever method you take to incorporate ice cream cones into your yogurt, you're left with a nutritious and light repast that can satisfy you for both breakfast and dessert.

Add them to granola

With their similar texture and flavor, crumbled sugar and waffle cones serve as great ways to add even more texture and sweetness to a basic granola recipe. While any type of cone will be sure to add crunch and color to your granola, cake cones have the least flavor to offer. Waffle and sugar cones, on the other hand, are much sweeter. Their sugary makeup can be used to offset savory components like nuts, seeds, and sea salt or to complement sugary ingredients such as chocolate, cinnamon, and caramel. 


The best part is the ease and flexibility of how to include ice cream cones in your granola. All you have to do is break them apart with your hands, and then the choice is yours for when to add them in. They can be added either before baking so the cone bits are soaked in the honey and maple syrup alongside the other ingredients, or after baking when you can simply sprinkle it in. Either path will leave you with something to snack on for breakfast, on the go, or as a topping to the food of your choosing.

Turn them into edible decorations

Ice cream cones aren't confined to just summer. From Easter and Christmas to Halloween and Thanksgiving, they can be used year-round as the decorative base for a cute holiday-themed dessert. Their strong exterior and funnel-like shape allow plenty of room for creative freedom. 


Make Halloween all the spookier with some wicked witch cupcakes. The star of this scary delicious treat is a chocolate cone sitting atop a cupcake smothered with green frosting and an assortment of other candy pieces, all coming together to look like a witch. A green cake cone will look eerily similar to the blocky shape of Frankenstein's monster's head, making it easy to bring the beloved monster to life. Green cake cones work just as well as a leprechaun's hat for your next St. Patrick's Day cupcake.

There are endless more ways to exercise artistic license when it comes to using ice cream cones as edible decorations. Make merry on Christmas with an easy-to-assemble Rudolph ice cream cone by using chocolate ice cream in a chocolate cone as the foundation, followed by some pretzels for the antlers and red-candy coated pieces for the iconic, glowing nose. For Easter, make an ice cream cone carrot. Dip the entirety of a sugar or waffle cone in orange candy melts. Once dry, fill the cone with jelly beans, leaving the green ones on top. And when Thanksgiving rolls around, show how grateful you are for the gift of ice cream cones by turning the waffle variation into an M&M and pumpkin candy corn-filled cornucopia.


Alter their shape

Ice cream cones might seem unmalleable, but you can completely alter their shape in just a few minutes. Start by boiling a pot of water and placing a steaming basket or trivet inside, ensuring no water touches the base. Stuff your sugar or waffle cone with a damp paper towel, put it inside the basket, and cover with a lid. Once it's softened, unravel the cone and form it into the shape of a taco or bowl, holding it in place until it hardens and retains the shape on its own. For those in a time crunch, try wrapping your ice cream cone with a damp paper towel and microwaving for 30 to 40 seconds, until it's soft enough to unroll and reshape. 


This trick will change the shape of your cone and enable it to hold more food, from ice cream and fruit to candy and yogurt. Try using it to make Choco Taco-inspired ice cream sandwiches, using ice cream cones in place of pizzelle cookies.

Put a savory spin on them

The subtle sweetness of sugar and waffle cones, as well as their durability, make for a great way to hold some savory components and provide a heartier meal. After all, chicken and waffles are an iconic duo for a reason, so think again if you thought the perfect fried chicken couldn't get any better. Place it into a waffle cone and see how the sweet, salty flavors meld. It's as easy as stuffing your cone with popcorn chicken along with any additional elements, such as mashed potatoes, corn, and your preferred sauce and seasonings. Adding chili flakes, hot sauce, barbecue sauce, or cheese will help tie the ingredients together while building flavor.


Not feeling chicken? Get even more savory with a taco. We don't mean taco-shaped waffle cones filled with ice cream; we mean the real deal — waffle cones packed with ground beef mixed with taco seasoning, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, beans, and shredded cheese. Throw in onions, sour cream, olives, and jalapeños if desired. To hold a little extra food or make your meal look extra picture-worthy (#phoneeatsfirst), use the aforementioned steaming method to turn your waffle cone into a taco or bowl before filling it with your ingredients.

Fill them with snacks

Don't limit these cones to just holding ice cream. Any cone variety can be filled with a mix of bite-sized snacks, though flat-bottomed cake cones will allow you to set your edible container down when needed. Try packing your cone with both sweet and savory favorites. Since ice cream cones can be a bit narrow, any smaller foods will do. Popcorn, M&Ms, marshmallows, pretzels, chopped fruit, nuts, trail mix, and gummy bears are just a few choices. Just stick to dry ingredients, or else your cone might get too soggy before you get the chance to finish eating. 


The best part of using ice cream cones to hold your snacks is it provides a new way to enjoy said snacks while leaving you something tasty to nibble on at the end. Plus, you are left with no dishes to do at the end of your meal; that's the real treat!