From soft serve cones to pints of dairy-free ice cream, there’s no form of frozen treat that isn’t delicious. Generally, we want to eat our ice cream before it melts (although when it’s a little soft and drippy, it’s especially delicious), but there are occasions on which a puddle of melted ice cream is actually a good thing! Because it can be used as a secret ingredient in several different dishes, from French toast for breakfast to numerous desserts.
It’s not so odd if you think about what ice cream is made of: cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and (if it’s store-bought, at least) some stabilizers, plus additional flavorings. Melted vanilla ice cream is the easiest to envision mixing into other things, but you can try pretty much any flavor you like, with the obvious issue that chunky mix-ins may alter the texture of your finished dish.
So, what exactly can you do with melted ice cream?
Use It In Place of Crème Anglaise
Crème anglaise is a basic French custard sauce made from heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, and sugar—exactly what ice cream’s custard base is comprised of! So while it might sound alarming to let a pint of vanilla bean ice cream melt into a thick liquid and then pour it over baked goods, it’s really not so different, aside from being infinitely easier than making your own from scratch. This cheater’s/genius’s version of crème anglaise is endorsed by chefs too, including John Gorham of Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons in Portland, Ore. (you can find proof in the “Hello! My Name Is Tasty” cookbook).
This can hardly be called a recipe, and yet, here’s another recommendation for speedy vanilla cream sauce. Pour it over bread pudding, pound cakes, fruit crisps, and more. Just be sure to choose a high quality brand without a lot of artificial additives. Get the One Step Vanilla Sauce recipe.
Use It for Easy Baked Goods
This melted salted caramel gelato cake with summer stone fruit seems to suggest that the Italian answer to ice cream can be used interchangeably with “regular” ice cream, but most recipes use the latter. Here are just a handful of them:
This maybe sort of doesn’t count, because for these cookies, you measure the ice cream while still cold, but it definitely melts when it hits the heated ingredients. The ice cream stands in for a portion of the butter and eggs that go into the original recipe, and you can use any flavor ice cream you like. Get the Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.
The classic Internet-famous way of making melted ice cream bread and muffins is to simply mix the melted ice cream with self-rising flour, but this recipe adds a little extra sugar, cocoa, and chocolate chunks (which may not be necessary if you start out with a higher-quality ice cream, but certainly couldn’t hurt). Get the Chocolate Ice Cream Muffins recipe.
Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop, $25-$29 from Sur La Table
This scoop is also handy for portioning muffin batter.
Vanilla Ice Cream Bread (or any other flavor ice cream bread)
You can make all kinds of melted ice cream bread, too—mix different flavors into one loaf, or make chocolate ice cream banana bread, for instance. But if you’ve never tried it, why not start with a basic version? It’s got lots of vanilla flavor that saves it from being too plain, and is great with fresh fruit (and the cheater’s crème anglaise from above). Get the Vanilla Ice Cream Bread recipe.
Related Reading: We Ranked the Best New Whole Foods Ice Cream Flavors
The phrase “melted ice cream cake” sounds like a minor tragedy, but this version is quite the opposite. Obviously, you could try it with melted vanilla or chocolate ice cream (or if you’re a fan of mochas, try this cake made with coffee ice cream), but a pint of dulce de leche ice cream is perfect, especially with the additional caramel drizzled on top. Get the Melted Ice Cream Cake recipe.
If you’re in need of a quick single-serving snack but can’t decide between cake and ice cream, use a little of the latter to make a mini microwave version of the former—then top if off with whatever ice cream’s left, of course. Get the 2 Ingredient Ice Cream Microwave Mug Cake recipe.
Use It to Soak French Toast Before Frying
Out of eggs but have ice cream in the freezer? Then you’re in luck when it comes time for brunch.
Soaking your bread in melted vanilla ice cream (caramel flavored would also be brilliant here) makes for luscious French toast without any extra effort. Get the Ice Cream French Toast recipe.
Use It to Make a Mousse, Pudding, or Crème Brûlée
If you don’t feel like making your own custard to kick things off, take a shortcut instead.
We’re still not over this TikTok hack—especially since it also bypasses the need for a blow torch. Get the Easy 3-Ingredient Crème Brûlée recipe.
Related Reading: Don’t Miss These Other 3-Ingredient Recipes Either
Melted chocolate ice cream, cocoa powder, and heavy cream make an easy and indulgent mousse. Get the Melted Ice Cream Mousse recipe.
This 5-ingredient recipe steeps grated carrots in melted ice cream as the start of an easy pudding perfect for spring and summer. Try the same trick with other ingredients in place of the carrots, like a split vanilla bean or pieces of fresh ginger. Get the Miniature Carrot Pudding Pies recipe.
Use It to Make Bread Pudding
Bread pudding calls on custard too, which means it can be made with melted ice cream instead. Vanilla works in classic recipes, but experiment with other flavors.
This bread pudding, for instance, uses melted Phish Food (chocolate ice cream with marshmallow and caramel swirls and fudge fish!) plus day-old pastries like buttery croissants to make a really rich dessert. Get the Chocolatey Bread Pudding recipe.
Use It to Make Fast Fudge
This is dangerously easy to make, as it requires literally only two ingredients: melted ice cream and semisweet chocolate.
Since it is so simple, it demands premium-quality components, but you can still play around with tons of different ice cream flavors, including ones like chocolate chip cookie dough if you want little bits of extra flavor and texture in your fudge. Get the Ice Cream Fudge recipe.
Use It to Make a Rich Glaze
Melted ice cream can be used in place of milk in traditional buttercream to boost the flavor, but if you want to go an easier route, you can turn it into a quick glaze to top cupcakes, cookies, or sweet bread instead.
Not only are these little cakes gluten-free, they’re also dairy-free, proving that melted vegan ice cream works as a secret ingredient too. Get the Gluten-Free Ice Cream Cookie Cakes with Melted Ice Cream Glaze recipe.
Related Reading: The Best Dairy-Free Ice Cream Brands to Buy
Make Meta Ice Cream Sandwiches
Ice cream on top of ice cream—and underneath it too. It’s ice cream all the way down.
To make these, you melt some of the ice cream for the cookies, then use them to sandwich more ice cream in the same flavor. But you could definitely try mixing and matching too. Get the Melted Ice Cream Whoopie Pies recipe.
Use It to Make No-Bake Pies
Ice cream often goes on pies, so why not in them too? But these aren’t just plain ice cream smoothed into pie shells, either (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
Vanilla ice cream is a shortcut to an ultra-creamy pumpkin pie, and the graham cracker crust is just as easy. (And while the ice cream here isn’t totally melted so much as very well softened, that’s just a technicality.) Get the Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie recipe.
Fully melted vegan ice cream can be blended with fresh strawberries and then stabilized with a little agar to make a chilled summertime treat. Get the Strawberry-Cream Pie recipe.
Read More: The Best No-Bake Summer Desserts
Use It to Make Hot Chocolate
Because while ice cream might be best enjoyed in hot weather, it’s never too cold to partake. Still, you might want the best of both worlds, so here, ice cream will warm you up!
No, we’re not suggesting you simply heat up melted chocolate ice cream and drink it straight—it’s much more decadent than that. A little softened vanilla ice cream gets stirred into warm whole milk that’s been flavored with cocoa and sugar, plus a pinch of salt—and broiled marshmallows go on top to really gild the lily. Get the Melted Ice Cream Hot Chocolate recipe.
So you see, melted ice cream is no cause for your own meltdown—it’s more like liquid gold! Pretty sweet, huh?
Related Video: How to Make Mason Jar Ice Cream with Just Four Ingredients
Header image courtesy of Foxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock.