Ice Cream Crunch Bars (Tastes like Fried Ice Cream!)

This unique dessert tastes a little like fried ice cream bars, without any frying!  It’s a delicious mixture of rice krispies, toasted coconut and pecans and brown sugar that’s toasted in the oven with butter and then used to sandwich vanilla ice cream in the center.  It’s perfect for potlucks and family get-togethers, or simply a fun treat at home.  This recipe comes from our good family friend, Linda Pope.  BYU basketball fans might recognize that last name- she’s the mom of now head coach Mark Pope.  Our families grew up together and my Mom got this recipe from her over 20 years ago and we’ve been making it ever since!

layered ice cream bars on a plate


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fried ice cream bars

Ice Cream Crunch Bars

  • Author: Sara Wells


Vanilla ice cream is sandwiched between a crispy buttery layer reminiscent of fried ice cream!



2 1/2 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
1 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cups brown sugar
optional: a few shakes of cinnamon
8 tablespoons real butter (1 stick), melted
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (or one ‘carton’ since they keep shrinking), softened to the consistency of soft serve (see note)


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil or a parchment sling, extending a little over the edges of pan.

Place Rice Krispies, pecans, coconut, and brown sugar in a 9×13 inch pan.  Drizzle butter over mixture and combine well (a fork, or clean hands work well.)  If desired, sprinkle in a few shakes of ground cinnamon and mix in.  Bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking time.  Remove from oven when toasted and golden brown and let mixture cool completely.

Remove half of crispy mixture and spread remaining half in an even layer on the bottom of pan.  Gently spoon softened ice cream on top of mixture.  Use a spoon and very gently spread mixture, being careful to not lift up crisp from bottom of pan.  (see notes for a tip). Spread ice cream out evenly and then top with remaining crisp mixture.  Gently press top crisp into ice cream with hands.  Cover pan with plastic or foil and chill until firm (preferably overnight.)  When ready to serve, use foil/parchment to completely remove ice cream from pan.  Slice into squares and serve.


Softening the Ice Cream:  I’ve found it helps to tear off ice cream container and place the whole frozen block into a large bowl.  Use a sharp knife to cut it into several large chunks.  At this point you can leave it at room temperature for a while, or very carefully microwave at a low heat to gently soften, stirring in between.  The consistency you’re going for is soft serve ice cream.  It helps to stir it vigorously as it softens until it’s nice and smooth.

Spreading the Ice Cream: If you’re not careful, you will mix up your bottom layer of crisp. With your ice cream very soft and smooth, just spoon large spoonfuls as evenly as possible in your 9×13 pan.  Avoid dumping the whole thing in there at once.  Stand next to your sink with hot water running and use a large metal spoon dipped in the hot water to spread ice cream.  The eat will help it glide over the ice cream smoothly and make the process much easier!  Continue dipping and spreading until it’s smooth.  See blog post for photos of this process.

How to Make the Topping

This doesn’t seem like much, but this is where the magic is.  Mix rice krispies, coconut, brown sugar, pecans, and melted butter and slowly toast them in the oven.  If you have a nut allergy, just leave out the nuts and make it up with extra krispies and coconut.

crumble topping

Together, you get sweet, crunchy, chewy, and crispy with so many great natural flavors and textures.  It might seem like a weird, or simple combination, but stick with me.  Half of this mixture gets spread on the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

fried ice cream topping

Spread on your Ice Cream

softened ice creamIt’s important that your ice cream is very soft.  Not melted, but soft.  Think soft serve that comes out of a machine; that’s the perfect texture.

Softening the Ice Cream:  I’ve found it helps to tear off ice cream container and place the whole frozen block into a large bowl.  Use a sharp knife to cut it into several large chunks.  At this point you can leave it at room temperature for a while, or very carefully microwave at a low heat to gently soften, stirring in between.  The consistency you’re going for is soft serve ice cream.  It helps to stir it vigorously as it softens until it’s nice and smooth.  As you place your ice cream on your crisp mixture, try to plop it on as evenly as you can.

ice cream spreading in pan

Spreading the Ice Cream

If you’re not careful, you will mix up your bottom layer of crisp. With your ice cream very soft and smooth, just spoon large spoonfuls as evenly as possible in your 9×13 pan.  Avoid dumping the whole thing in there at once.  Stand next to your sink with hot water running and use a large metal spoon dipped in the hot water to spread ice cream.  The eat will help it glide over the ice cream smoothly and make the process much easier!  Continue dipping and spreading until it’s smooth.

Ice Cream bars in pan

Top your ice cream with the remaining crisp mixture.

crispy ice cream bars in pan

Once it’s frozen back up again, use your parchment or foil to lift the whole thing out of the pan and slice into squares.

sliced frozen ice cream bars

I like these in small bowls with a spoon or fork.  They are AMAZING! Especially after it’s softened just a little bit, like 5 minutes, and the ice cream just sort of melts in your mouth and the flavors from the caramelized, toasted coconut and nuts come through with an added crisp from the cereal.

Stacked Fried Ice Cream Bars







  1. We have made a variation of this a lot, we called it fried ice cream, probably because of the cinnamon and brown sugar. It is so naughty to have around, especially a whole 9X13 of it! You have to make sure you serve all of it at a party or something, otherwise you might find yourself getting up in the night to sneak a treat!

  2. Just to be sure I’ve got it right, is it a half gallon of ice cream or a whole gallon? I think I might have to make these tonight!

  3. Okay, seriously…..those look amazing! Quick question, when you say real butter do you mean salted or unsalted or doesn’t it matter? Thanks so much!! I LOVE NYC! I hope you get to see a show while you are there!

    1. Rebecca, we’ll always specify unsalted if that’s what we’re talking about, so you can always assume salted unless noted otherwise. For this recipe it probably doesn’t really matter, but I like salted because it helps bring out the sweetness!

  4. These look delicious! I’m thinking you could make them, then cut into individual servings and flash freeze them again, then store for individual enjoyment!

  5. These look wonderful. One question–if you don’t press the “crust” mixture down, doesn’t most of it just fall of when you lift them out of the pan or tip them while eating? No all of it is touching the ice cream that acts as the glue.

  6. These look fabulous and I totally want to make them and drizzle your hot fudge sauce on them. Or strawberry… But I totally hate coconut. Can I just omit? Do I need to replace it with something for volume’s sake? Maybe mini chocolate chips? Can you tell I am so ready to make these?

  7. I used to love getting fried ice cream at a restaurant called Chi-Chi’s when I was around ten years old. Here’s hoping this tasted similar! One question though – my husband is allergic to coconut…is there anything you suggest to substitute? Thanks!

  8. So…these look heavenly however have you ever experimented with the choice of nut? My husband is highly allergic to: Pecans, Walnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts and I think that’s it.
    I’m thinking maybe an almond might work but I don’t know…..thoughts?

    1. My daughter is allergic to all nuts and peanuts, so I’m going to try it with crushed pretzels. I’ve had great success using crushed pretzels in place of pecans in a crust recipe before. I’ll report back ;).

  9. These look wonderful. I have been following your blog for a little over a year now and I love it! Thanks for sharing all your delicious recipes. Both of you have such witty humor and I love reading your blog as well as trying your food. Thanks again for all the great recipes! Can’t wait to try these 🙂

  10. I serve something similar to this with a fruit topping. Make up a batch of strawberry or raspberry Danish Dessert with the matching fruit and serve the ice cream squares on a plate with the yummy fruit sauce on top. Delicious and a little more fancy!

  11. You have become larger than life, what with that huge picture of you and your sil in Times Square! Congratulations! I will try these right away because I always wanted to be popular 🙂

  12. I had these at a shower once (bridal or baby, can’t remember) in the summer and they were so super yummy!! They served them top with pie filling on a plate. Super scrumptious. When I asked for the recipe, they told me to do it in a 9×13 pan and I’ve always thought that there’s not enough of the crumb mixture for both the top and bottom for a 9×13. Now I know why! LOL Definitely making it in an 8×8 from now on!! Love your billboard. I totally would have done something lame like put “woo hoo, NYC!!” if it had been me. lol

  13. Haven’t made them yet, but they look wonderful! I think they would go well with homemade ice cream, because it would be the perfect consistency when it comes out of the ice cream machine. I always have trouble making ice cream desserts because I don’t wait long enough for the ice cream to soften, and then I end up with a big mess!

  14. I’ve been wanting to make some ice cream sandwiches, but haven’t worked up the motivation to make the “sandwich” part. These look much easier, and I’ll have to give them a try!

  15. I served this at a wedding dinner last summer for dessert and we topped it with a raspberry sauce (Kind of like the one you made for the little heart shaped popovers), so-o-o-o-o-o delicious! Love your blog and your food! You girls are hilarious and make me smile all the time!

  16. OMG!!! As a young girl growing up in the 1050’s, my mom this all the time for special occasions, IT’S THE BEST!! We always look forward to this, yummy!

  17. I LOVE this dessert, my sil’s mother made it once years ago and I lost the recipe so I’m so happy to see it! we had it with a raspberry sauce too, so delicious thanks!

  18. I bet the non-coconut-eaters could use oats instead. It won’t taste quite the same, but the oats would have a similar chewiness. I make a granola with oats, rice krispies, pecans, brown sugar, and a few other ingredients and my husband loves it on ice cream. I love the idea of making it into ice cream sandwiches. I think this will be our next family night treat. Thanks for another great recipe!

  19. Can you give any tips on how to get the ice cream soft without being melted? is it just a time thing? or if you cute the gallon in half would that help? Or will it inevitably have some melted and you just don’t use that part? I remember that was my problem before that it was all melted on the outside and a big piece in the middle too frozen to spread easily.

    1. Check out the tips in this post. Basically, you want to stir it every few minutes as it melts, because it will get super soft around the edges and stay firm in the middle. You want to be able to stir the entire thing evenly.

      1. I thought I was following the tips on how to soften the ice cream but apparently I failed because the volume of my ice cream pretty much decreased by half and when my bars were all finished, the ice cream had melted down into the bottom layer. They were still delicious though & maybe next time I’ll get the ice cream softening part right. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing!

        1. It sounds like you may have melted your ice cream instead of softening it! But it does decrease in volume quite a bit.

  20. I’m in such a baby-and-I-want-chocolate-right-now mode that I think these would be AWESOME with chocolate ice cream and almonds instead of pecans (omit cinnamon) = Crispy Almond Joy Ice Cream Bars!!

  21. I have some toasted coconut leftover from your strawberry-lime shortcake recipe (delish!), and I’m wondering if you think it would work here. Do you think it would burn? Or should I just stir it in after the crust has baked?

  22. Ok, the food, whatever…THAT IS SO AWESOME you were in times square!! My hubby, from NJ, married this po-dunk girl, from TX, and whisked me away to the tri-state area and THAT’S WHERE I SHOULD HAVE BEEN FROM ALL ALONG! The billboards in times square are awesome and you rock! oh, and love the blog and the FOOD!

  23. These look so yummy. My mouth is watering. Next time we have a special occasion I am making these. Or maybe just tomorrow night.

  24. Oh, I want to be popular. I will make these. And now I’m singing “Popular” from Wicked. Thanks for the yummy recipe!

  25. I used to have this dessert a lot when I was younger… my mom always served it with warm Raspberry Danish Dessert mixed with frozen raspberries… Delicious!!! Thanks for a reminder that I need to make this again, it’s been way too long!!

  26. BTW, I have a downs syndrome grandson, and about 5 years ago when he was about 10 or so, my daughter took him to New York for some kind of fundraiser, and he won the privelege of getting his picture on the jumbo-tron. It was the thrill of his life. They got to purchase a DVD of it. Yours pic was FABULOUS!!!

  27. Okay, totally loving you & Dusanka up there!
    That is the best. The best!
    I love that you put Boise up there too!
    Too fun.

    P.S. The recipe looks just as great too!
    Just pinned it, can’t wait to try it!

  28. These look amazing! I would add those chocolate toffee bits to the mix after baking, just for a little chocolate kick and some extra yummyness.

  29. So my family has been making these for a long time, except we put all the crust on the bottom, then top it with a raspberry sauce. I bet it would be good with your homemade strawberry sauce, too!

  30. I made this with homemade ice cream from the machine; it came out at just the right “spreading” consistency, and I used the new gluten-free Rice Krispies, because I’ve got celiac disease so have to care about that sorta thing. And this was one super yummy gluten-free dessert! Thanks, ladies!!

  31. We have enjoyed this dessert before minus the nuts. We also drizzle it with a red raspberry fruit sauce that compliments nicely!

  32. I have had something similar to this and I love it. I double the crust recipe because I don’t think its enough for a 9×13 pan. I have also just made the crusty and eaten with fruit or yogurt.

  33. It is taking all of my self-control to not eat all the crunchy topping! Must save for ice cream! Hmm, maybe I can just use it as a topping, than it doesn’t matter if there is only 1 cup of it left! You guys are awesome!!Thanks for all the delicious recipes!!

  34. Oh man I love this website all my kids love making food with me and they love eating my food I make bcuz of this website

  35. I made these.

    They’re amazing.

    They remind me of fried ice cream and now I can’t get out of my head how awesome they’d be with cinnamon ice cream. Does anyone even make that?

  36. I was wondering if you put the bars in the 9 x 13 pan you cooked the mixture in or not because in the picture it looks like you used an 8 x 8 pan to put the bars in. Thanks!! These look great.

  37. I made these for a party and they were good. Even better was the left over crumble on top of oatmeal in the morning!! No need to get out all of the goodies to add a little sweetness and crunch to the morning.

  38. Made these for a small Mexican themed dinner party last night – I passed them off as “fried ice cream bars.” Due to allergies, I subbed oatmeal and slightly crushed Corn Flakes for the pecans and coconut. Served them with chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. There were so incredibly good that everyone went back for seconds and thirds. This is, hands down, my new favorite summer dessert.

  39. These were a perfect Father’s Day treat. Totally a new favorite. The Rice Krispie combo was perfect. thanks!!

  40. AMAZING! Just made this for a work-thingy and everyone loved them. They smell heavenly when baking too (I had to do a little taste test before assembling everything). This is a winner. Just in time for summer 🙂

  41. My sister in law makes this minus the pecans. It is so good! What makes it even more amazing is homemade carmel sauce drizzled or poured all over it. That’s how she makes it. I was excited to see it on your blog!

  42. Oh my! I love this recipe too. I grew up eating it in the summer. We called it Fancy Dessert and made a sauce-like topping with Danish Dessert and frozen strawberries. Yum!!

  43. Oohh. Yum. And if you added in a sprinkling of the crunchy magic shell oreo yummy stuff I think I would have a hard time not eating the entire PAN!!

  44. I have been making this recipe for years, but with the addition of a delicious sauce. Try it with your favorite strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries. You won’t regret it! Yummmm!

  45. I wanted to make a nut-free version of this (I love nuts but my son is allergic) so I substituted crushed chocolate cookies for the pecans and used cookies and cream ice cream. So delicious!

  46. I just wanted to add that we make these all the time but we do not soften the icecream that much. We just let it sit out for about 7 minutes so it is not real hard and easy to slice with a sharp knife. Open the carton of icecream so you have a “block” of icecream, cut down the middle to make 2 blocks. Now slice the icecream into 1/2 inch slices and press both sides into the coconut mixture to coat well. Put the slices on a big cookie sheet and cover with saran wrap and put in freezer for at least a couple hours. Then you can wrap each one separately and eat as desired….if they last that long.

  47. I just made these and didn’t feel like using the oven. I put everything in my largest straight sided saute pan and cooked it over medium heat…stirring constantly when things started to really sizzle. Took about 15-20 minutes. I think it worked well…just make sure to keep an eye on it.

    1. Ok…I know I’m leaving comments on an old recipe, but I always skim through the comments before I make something for the first time, so I figured I’d leave another tip in case someone reads this. I bought the rectangular carton of ice cream, took it directly from the freezer, removed the carton from around it by pulling apart the seams, then just sliced the “brick” of ice cream into slabs and laid them over the crunchies in the bottom of the pan. For my 9×13 pan, 6 slabs would have worked pretty much perfectly (I had to do a little trial and error, but I’ll know for next time). I just took a spatula after I had them all laid in there and sort of smushed the seams together a little bit, and I think it worked great. No worries about getting the ice cream melted to just the right consistency…and less ice cream “shrink” because the air isn’t melting out of it.

      1. Sorry…forgot to mention that I was inspired by Cindi’s post above mine to do this…just without the individual assembly part 🙂

      2. Ice cream comes in those cardboard containers and crystalizes if it is in the freezer for a while. What can I put it in to keep it longer? I remember my grandmother had a special glass ice cream container she always put hers in.

  48. This was so easy, and insanely delicious. That combination is dangerous 🙂 I also cooked mine in a frying pan. Super easy and doesn’t heat up the house!

  49. Just found your blog today and I’m stoked. This recipe, the fruit rollups, and the one ingredient ice cream are gonna get me a lot of “You are the BEST Momma ever” comments from my little one. THANK YOU!

  50. I’m going to add a layer of mini chocolate chips to the top and bottom of the ice cream layer. We use pretzels with this because of nut allergies.

  51. This was delicious, especially with caramel sauce drizzled on top. Instead of softening the ice cream, I cut the carton open and sliced the ice cream into chunks with a knife, then evened everything out. I might try this with corn flakes next time as that is what a local restaurant does. Thanks for a great recipe!

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