How To: Homemade Ice Cream Cake Crunchies & Homemade Magic Shell Topping

It is totally possible that this is the most random Our Best Bites post ever. We often get requests for how to make those crunchy things that are inside Carvel and Dairy Queen and otherΒ ice cream cakes, so I used my awesome stalker research skills to find out how they’re made. I also had this little awesome tip on how to make your own chocolate shell at home. Suddenly, I had these two seemingly unrelated mini recipes that are so simple that it was kind of weird to post them on their own, but they were things I really wanted to share with y’all. And since they really are related, I combined them. I’m living on the edge here. With Oreos and Magic Shell.

Because those are the only two ingredients in the Crunchies.

Except that in all my stalking research, all the measurements were these vague ideas like, “Cut up some Oreos and pour enough Magic Shell over them so they’re moist but not soaked.” Um, huh? That does me no good. So I started playing around with proportions until it felt right. Except that I measured all along the way so I could give you guys measurements because I love you that much.

You know how those standard-sized packages of Oreos have 3 rowsΒ  in them? Place two of those rows in a food processor.

The rest of the Oreos left in the package will be sad that their friends are gone and when cookies are sad, they become devoid of calories. Just sayin’.

If you don’t have a food processor, you can place them in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag and then crush them with a rolling pin. Or take out all your aggression with a meat mallet. It works, I promise. Either way, you’ll want to crush them so they’re mostly crumbs, but it’s cool if there are a few chunks in there. And you’ll want 2 1/2 cups of crumbs.

Pour a 7.25-ounce bottle of Magic Shell over the cookie crumbs.

Mix it up well.

Spread it between layers in ice cream cakes (or similar desserts like these Mint-Chip Ice Cream Brownie Squares) or hand-mix them into softened ice cream, press them into ice cream bowls or ramekins before adding ice cream sundae toppings, or sprinkle them on top of your favorite frozen treats.

But alas, you say, I do not have/like/want to use Magic Shell. No worries. All you need is a little chocolate and some coconut oil.

There are a lot of cool things about coconut oil (and lots of great health benefits in spite of the fact that it’s high in saturated fat), and one of those things is that it’s solid at room temperature, so it’s good at helping melty things like chocolate stay firm at room temperature and hard and crunchy at lower temperatures.


Chop up some high-quality chocolate and combine them in a microwave-safe bowl with the coconut oil.

You can also use chocolate chips…I actually planned on using chocolate chips, but I couldn’t find them and assumed SOMEONE had snacked them away until I found them in an empty box of cereal a week later. My life is complicated.

Heat the chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring every 20 seconds, until the mixture is smooth. Drizzle it over ice cream…

or dip your favorite cold treats into the sauce. Or mix it with crushed Oreos to make your homemade Carvel Crunchies (and we come full circle…DUM DUM DUM!) Just don’t forget to lick the spoon because that is the very best part.

We’ve had a few questions about different flavors and colorsΒ of Homemade Magic Shell. It’s TOTALLY do-able, but be sure any flavors or colors you add don’t have any alcohol in them; otherwise, it will cause the chocolate to seize up and clump and that is not magical in any way. Wilton has some good basic flavors–you can look for them in a store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s or buy them online hereΒ or here. Gel/paste food colorings (like Wilton or Americolor) are also alcohol-free, so if you want to use those to tint white chocolate, they should be fine.






  1. Oh, this reminds me… Do you have a version for a cherry hard shell? My husband ADORES the hard shell from Dairy Queen, but I have never been able to find one in the stores to buy. You would make me an absolute hero!

  2. Oh my goodness!! What fun recipes!! And on my birthday, to boot!! πŸ™‚ I think we’ll have to try them!! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  3. Maybe this is a stupid question but we are a small family and are sure to have leftovers…what would you store the extra chocolate magic shell in? I have s smucker’s bottle that is almost empty so maybe i’ll hold on to that πŸ™‚ Any other recommendations? Peppermint is also one of my favorite flavors from Article Circle (would be a great idea for the holidays…i’m just saying) Do you think white chocolate, some peppermint flavoring and some red food coloring would still work? I’m sure you could so the same for cherry?

    1. You could use an empty bottle or just an air-tight container. πŸ™‚

      As far as flavoring goes, you can definitely do that (colors, too), BUT. You need to make sure the flavorings and colors don’t have alcohol in them or they’ll make the chocolate seize up and clump.

      Try the Wilton alcohol-free flavors:

      And you can use their gel/paste colors, too; just keep in mind that they’re WAY more concentrated than regular food coloring.

      1. To make a flavored hard shell, such as cherry, do you use white chocolate instead of milk chocolate and add the cherry flavoring to it, or…? I’m sorry, but I’m a complete dunce at what is the correct thing to do.

        1. Laura B there is no right/wrong way. Milk chocolate and cherry would be as good, but more chocolatey than white chocolate with cherry. You’re not a dunce, I’m sure.

  4. LOL! I have to do the same thing with chocolate chips. I’ll buy a bunch of packages when they go on sale, but when I get the urge to bake cookies they’ll be gone due to husband pilfering if I just put them in the cupboard. So they’ll go inside an old oatmeal container, in the laundry closet, a drawer of my craft room, etc. Only I’ve tended to forget where I hide them… What we won’t do for Chocolate Chip Cookies.

  5. This is great! I have tried to make ice cream cakes at home with just the oreos crushed up. Ah – haaaah. The magic shell! I’m thinking bottom of a spring form pan, top with ice cream. more cruhchies, more ice cream. some kind of frosting. just like the real thing. THANK YOU!

  6. Curious to know if you can keep the homemade magic shell in the cabinet just like Smuckers brand MagicShell or if it would have to be refrigerated to stay “good”. Any thoughts? Thank you times a MILLON for this recipe by the way. My husband will be a very happy guy tonight! πŸ™‚

  7. The crunchies in Carvel cakes are made from the cookies used in their Flying Saucer ice cream sandwiches. There is no other ingredient.

    1. Actually I worked at a Carvel for a couple of years and they taught us to make them with the cookie crumbs, as you mentioned, but stirring them well WITH a can of the chocolate coating we dipped soft serve ice cream in- just like the Magic Shell.

  8. This looks really good! Where would I find coconut oil? I live in Salt Lake and haven’t seen it. Does it add flavor? Would shortening work as well if I can’t find it?

    1. You should be able to find it anywhere, just with the other baking ingredients/oils. If you’re in SLC, go check out Whole Foods (although I’m able to find it at Walmart in rural Louisiana, so I’m betting it’s in SLC, too! πŸ™‚ )

      Shortening won’t get the chocolate as hard.

      1. I was just in Walmart yesterday and saw coconut oil in the baking aisle. It was the same brand in the pic so no need to hunt our a store.

  9. I have made this several times. I tried it with butterscotch chips and it worked great! I’ve also heard you can do it with peanut butter chips, but alas, my son is allergic, so we sadly will not be trying that one. Cinnamon chips would probably be really good–especially on something like your snickerdoodle ice cream!

  10. Can you use the regular Wilton colors? Or do you have to use the candy colors? I tried using the regular colors with the Wilton candy melts and they seized and clumped the candy. The Wilton candy food colors worked great though.

  11. Is it possible to store the crunchies for future use, or do they need to be used right away? Not sure how much the Oreos would soak up the magic shell and if that would affect texture or something . . . ??

    1. My guess is yes, although I’m not sure for how long. Maybe keep it refrigerated and then bring it back to room temp before using? Sometimes I wish Alton Brown or America’s Test Kitchen lived at my house so they could solve all these problems for me. Except that Alton Brown kind of scares me sometimes… πŸ™‚

      1. I worked at DQ for 3 years and we just stored the cake crunch in an airtight container on the shelf. We went through it pretty fast, so I don’t know a shelf life, but if you make a small batch it’d probably be just right for a cake or two!

  12. Any kind of oil will work to make magic shell, not just coconut oil. I used canola oil last week because that’s what I had on hand, and it worked great. Also, for those who are wanting to make cherry hard shell, why not try cherry chips? I saw them in my grocery store this week with the other chocolate chips. I can’t remember the brand name, but they are reddish pink (same color as the DQ topping) and shaped like chocolate chips.

  13. I tried to read through all comments and I didn’t see that oreos mixed in with FUDGE SAUCE also works. I’ve made an ice cream cake using this and got tons of compliments! I’ve never heard of the magic shell way, though I’m not a big fan of the stuff anyway. I don’t like that it gets hard when it touches cold stuff.

  14. I used to be obsessed with Mint Magic Shell, and then they stopped making it (way back in the dark ages….the 1980s…), so I used to add mint extract to regular Magic Shell – but I’ll bet that has alcohol in it so would make the homemade stuff seize up. But gosh, there is NOTHING better than a bowl of stirred-up vanilla ice cream (not soft serve to begin with – it has to be the regular stuff), coated with an even thick layer of mint magic shell, which you then break up and stir back into the ice cream. This recipe just jerked me right back to the carefree days when I could eat all of this joy in a bowl and not feel guilty about going back for seconds! Ahhh….youth…Can’t wait to make both the crunchies (which I MIGHT try to ‘mint up’ a bit with either mint oreos if they still make them or the extract) and the chocolate sauce.

    1. I love your obsession with mint!! Why don’t you try to make some Magic Shell using mint chips and then mix it with mint oreos?? Good luck. Please let us mint lovers know how it turns out.

  15. I am a new follower of your site and I am loving the variety and great ideas and dedication you ladies put into this. Thanks for your hard work!

  16. I made this yesterday and it was so easy and delicious! Perfect timing because my mom’s favorite is magic shell- so I gave it to her in a small mason jar with a small ice cream as a thank- you. She loved it! I was wondering if you have used coconut oil in any baked goods and if so would you substitute it for the oil, shortening or butter in the recipe? How would it change the flavor?
    PS- thanks for teaching me how to cook!

  17. Yummy! I don’t comment much, but I love your site, recipes, and how down to earth you and Sarah are! You are my go to site for everything! I hope you don’t think I am a freak, but would you be willing to share an address that I could send you a baby gift?

  18. We used this recipe as a jumping off point for our own ice cream cake yesterday and it was too good not to share! My mom had the great idea to use the ‘leftover’ row of oreos as a crust: smash them, mix with 1/4 cup melted butter and 2 tsp sugar. Spread in the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan and bake for about 10 minutes. Freeze.

    Then we left a container of vanilla ice cream out to soften while we made the crunchies. Spread half the carton of ice cream over the cooled crust, add about 3/4 of the crunchies, pour over a thick layer of hot fudge, then top with the rest of the ice cream. Garnish with the rest of the crunchies, drizzle more hot fudge AND freeze.

    The springform pan was great: run a knife around the edge when frozen, remove the ring, then run a large knife under hot water, dry and use it to easily slice up portions.

    We’re already trying to think of variations!

  19. Thanks so much for posting these recipes!!! I had no idea you could make your own hard shell chocolate sauce. How cool! Can’t wait to try these! πŸ™‚

  20. I made the mint chip ice cream brownies yesterday with the crunchies in place of the Oreos. So, so good! The only problem is with the magic shell in there, it made it slightly hard to cut. The ice cream and cool whip were getting really soft and runny and it was still a little bit difficult to cut through the magic shell layer. So, if you are going to put the crunchies in the brownies, make sure you are among close friends and presentation is not important. : )

  21. Rockin’ my world as always! AND I just got your cookbook for my birthday. So, total win for me, and major brownie points for the hubby who got it for me.

  22. For flavoring chocolate and barks, always use oils, not extracts. Extracts have water in them. That is what makes the chocolate seize. The paste or gel food colors work to color them also. Don’t use liquid food colors. This idea sounds great !

  23. For chocolate mint, you can get oil of peppermint or wintergreen. Wilton sells a pack of four different oils, which includes 2 different mints, I think and a cherry or strawberry.

  24. I can not express what a lifesaver this recipe is!! Our family loves ice cream cakes, but my youngest has a sensitivity to chocolate (I know… so sad…). She is always looking at the cakes in the freezer case and wishing there was a way for her to enjoy them. This recipe will be perfect for making our own version using golden Oreos and white chips! Can’t wait to try this and surprise her! BTW-absolutely love your blog and lost count of how many recipes I have used and saved!! Keep up the wonderful work!!

  25. My hubby is a big ice cream lover and can’t eat it without magic shell. He dished up a bowl the other night only to discover we were out of magic shell. I had the stuff to make some following your recipe, so I did. I felt pretty pleased with myself until a few bites in and the homemade version starting tasting more and more like wax. It was HORRIBLE!!! We ended up picking it off the ice cream and throwing away what was left. It was horrible. My ingredients were fresh and I followed your directions exactly. What the heck? Hubby was not so impressed after all… πŸ™

  26. I used to work at DQ in high school and you are almost spot on with the crunchies, but the Oreos aren’t quite the right cookie. The cookie crunch (dry) they use does not have the cream in it. Can you still get the oreo crumbs in the baking aisle? They would probably be just the thing. I for one am not a fan of the ice cream cakes but that is from making them over and over and over again lol, but my hubby and kid demand one every birthday. lol.

  27. Do you think it could be used for the crust of a cheesecake it would the oven ruin it and it wouldn’t be able to freeze up?

  28. Good thinking on the DQ crunch. I own a DQ and we do make it with chocolate crunchies and chocolate cone coating. Yours is moister than what we make ours. Ours is still moveable and drier. Then there is also fudge layer in the cakes too. Spread the fudge on 1st then sprinkle the crunch coat on top.

  29. I work for Dairy Queen. We put a layer of Fudge and crunch in between the ice cream. It’s Hot Fudge that we use. Not sure what the crunch is made of, but it’s not Oreos, when I take a bite of the plain crunch it taste do different than an Oreo.

  30. I worked at Dairy Queen for years when I was in high school. The crunch for the cakes is not made with Oreos. It’s more like a crumbled up, not-very-sweet chocolate wafer cookie. If you’re familiar with English digestive biscuits, those are a whole lot closer.

  31. You’d be better off in this recipe using only the outsides of the oreo cookies and using cold hot fudge. Technically, the inside of the cake is made with cold fudge, the same stuff that’s used in Buster Bars…which *is* different than hot fudge.
    –daughter of former DQ owner (back in the days when we still made the Dilly Bars, Buster Bars, DQ Sandwiches, and cakes in store)

  32. I wish I would’ve seen this earlier today! I made myself an ice cream cake for my birthday but I used pretzels and shell fudge stuff because I didn’t REALLY know how to make the real crunchy stuff. I guess I wasn’t far off with the shell but still!

  33. Do you shake the magic shell up first (to initiate the “shell” properties) or do you avoid shaking it and just pour it in the bowl?

  34. My husband and I actually own a Dairy Queen and I make all our cakes and the inside crunchy stuff is actually hot fudge and plain chocolate wafer cookies crunched up.

    1. This makes more sense. I made a “copycat carvel ice cream cake” over the weekend and used the recipe with the oreo’s and the magic shell as the filling. What a disaster! The filling hardens like a rock and you cannot even cut through it. You have to eat the top of the ice cream cake first then flip the piece over and eat the bottom and then hopefully by that time you can bite through the crunchy middle without breaking your teeth. I so wish I had seen your post before I did it following this web sites recipe. Can you be more specific on the measurements of hot fudge sauce and chocolate wafer cookies (what brand of cookies did you use?).
      Thank you!

  35. My husband loves the crunchies in the DQ cakes! Might have to try this. Thanks for sharing. Btw, Kate, you are hilarious!

  36. As a past Dairy Queen employee, I just wanted to let you know that the cake centers are usually made out of cold fudge sauce and smashed up ice cream sandwich cookies.

  37. I just wanted to say thank you! Not only for figuring out the awesomeness that is “crunchies” but also for having an amazing sense of humor!!! I was laughing all the way through this post! I must now continue reading on your blog because I am completely enthralled!

  38. omg…first, the recipes are great. Always happy to find out that someone else did the stal….research for me! Second, you are hilarious! I love your writing style. You should consider writing a book! Thanks for the post!

  39. OMG! Just sayin’… I love you! I think I may have gained 50# just reading those directions. Oh, and those photos, yeah I gained some serious weight! I will be trying this tomorrow! Thank you!

  40. You may want to change the title or name of this. Someone else I follow posted Magic Shell in the name of their hardening chocolate sauce and Magic Shell came after them. Just FYI. She had to change the name, and they suspended her website until they were satisfied. Crazy world!

  41. I have made 4 ice cream cakes (taste way better than DQ) with this crunch. My kids LOVE it and so does the rest of the family.

  42. This is my first time on your site, just happened upon it looking to perfect a way to make my 30 yr old baby her ice cream for her birthday. I just know I can do it better than DQ. Anyway, love, love, love this place. enjoyed your sense of humor and answering my questions that were in my head without having to write and ask or search somewhere else, new fan for sure!! thanks

  43. I don’t know what I did wrong the crunchies were uncutable. The ice cream was melting everywhere and I couldn’t cut the crunchies. It was embarrassing and so messy. They tasted great but how are you all cutting through them?

  44. I want to try this.. but I want to use it in a cake in between layers. Do you think this would work? Or maybe just use chocolate fudge from a jar… your thoughts?

  45. Thank you for the delicious recipe! My daughter and I kept giggling while reading through your post and eating our lonely “third row” of Oreos. You’re sense of humor is too fun. My 11 year old exclaimed, “Mom, she sounds fun and a lot like Junie B. Jones in our books!”. I have joined way too many blogs and really need to pare down just to get through my daily email but yours is a MUST JOIN.

  46. This sounds yummy-I can’t wait to try it. They keep making Oreos packages smaller and smaller. Do you know what size you used? Thank you!

  47. You are so FUNNY! I just love that about you, ad we JUST MET! If your website was all big and decorated (like someone I know …ever heard of PW?) I’d think I was friends with a STAR.
    Honestly, I came looking for a recipe for ice cream cake and took a gander at your link because Hey, Why not? Even tho it wasn’t the standard and trusted taste-of-home or preferred Pioneer Woman, I took a chance. So glad I did!
    You can be my new go-to for recipes, how about?

    Thanks a bunch.

  48. once you mix the shell in with the cookies, should you spread them out to dry/ harden? or apply to, whatever you make, quickly?

  49. Thank you for this! You helped me remember my days at Carvel! Now I can make my son’s birthday ice cream cake! Any ideas on how to keep it from melting in the cooler to the park? ?

  50. I just got roped in to making a wedding Cheesecake of all things! AND they requested the DQ crunch in the middle. So THANK YOU for this recipe! Now wish me luck on stacking those 2 layers of cheesecake. SMH

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