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How to pair ice cream flavors with baked goods?

Ice cream and baked goods: a classic combination. What better way to serve up a true dessert experience, than by pairing your famous confection with ice cream that's specifically designed to compliment it? Whether you’re baking a super sweet brownie or a savory mushroom tart, gourmet ice cream is the latest way to enhance the flavors of your signature confections.

With Hijinx, you can easily create custom, homemade flavors that are made to pair with your favorite cakes, pies, cookies, tarts, etc. And you don’t need an ice cream maker to do it! 

Check out these examples of how you can pair your bakes with specialty ice cream flavors:


  • Caramel & Salt: For a very sweet dessert, like a Caramel Tart, try an ice cream that adds something salty and/or savory. For example, top your caramel tart with salted pretzel or popcorn ice cream. It’s no wonder caramel corn is a crowd favorite!

  • Umami & Sweet (Brown Sugar, Maple):  BBQ ribs taste extra good because that sauce has brown sugar in it–it creates that tang you might associate with BBQ. Top your pecan pie with some maple bacon ice cream, or top your savory mushroom tart with a brown sugar goat cheese ice cream.

  • Cheese & Berries: The fat in cheese will cut the acidity of tart berries. So blueberry ginger ice cream is the perfect topping to a cheesecake. Vice versa, a Cinnamon Ricotta ice cream may compliment a blueberry pie. 

  • Tropical & Vanilla: The delicate flavor of vanilla is highly complementary to the zest of tropical fruits, like oranges, mangos, or limes. Serve a vanilla angel food cake with a spiced orange ice cream (a little orange-flavored Cointreau would add something extra special–see below for more alcohol pairings). 

  • Coffee & Chocolate: Sweet and bitter pair well, hence chocolate and coffee’s eternal appeal. A rich, chocolate cake or pie would be well-accompanied by hazelnut cold brew ice cream.

  • Earthy & Citrus: For a citrus-y dessert like lemon bars, pair with an earthy counterpart like ginger matcha ice cream that will balance the acidity of the citrus.

  • Sweet & Sour: A bit of sour can “awaken” the flavors of a sweeter, creamier dish. Hence lemon and honey as a perfect match. Try sour cherry ice cream on vanilla bean pudding cakes!

  • Peanut Butter & Spicy: A sweet flavor mitigates the heat from a spicy food, allowing the actual flavor of the spicy food to come through a bit more. For a dynamic culinary partnership, try topping something richly sweet like a Snickers peanut butter pie, with a spicy chili caramel ice cream.

For a comprehensive list of fruit flavor pairings, check out The Baker’s Almanac.

Much like a wine pairing, now you can couple your cakes, pies, brownies, and more with the complexity of an alcohol-infused ice cream! Try pairings like…

  • “Milk” & Cookies: Beloved for a reason! A creamy, milky flavor cuts the richness of a luxurious chocolate. So why not create a White Russian (you can use coffee liqueur, see below) ice cream as an addition to chocolate chip cookies or brownies?

  • Sweet & Bitter: Coffee and chocolate are a classic combination as a sweet and bitter pairing. Coffee or White Russian ice cream (using coffee liqueur) could be an excellent addition to chocolate chip cookies or brownies.

  • Red Wine & Dark Chocolate: Red wine and dark chocolate both contain tannins, so those naturally-occurring tannins work together to enhance each other’s flavors. A merlot cherry ice cream may pair well with a flourless dark chocolate cake. 

  • Sweet White Wine & Light Desserts: A sweet wine ice cream, like pinot grigio pear, goes well with more tart desserts—like Creme Brûlée or Lemon Pie—that will nicely balance each other. 

  • Bourbon & Pumpkin or Apple: The spice of the bourbon naturally pairs with the earthy sweetness of pumpkin. Apple’s tartness also is a good match for a sweet-and-spicy bourbon or brandy. Try a bourbon brown butter ice cream on pumpkin or apple pie. The creaminess of the ice cream will add another layer of balance to the spicy/sweet combo.

  • Tropical Flavors & Rum: Flavors like coconut, banana, guava and kiwi pair well with the sweeter (and sometimes spicy, if you opt for spiced rum) nature of rum. Your famous banana bread would taste extra delicious with coconut rum ice cream on the side.

  • Savory Flavors & Beer: Surprise your guests as you top a cheddar sausage bun, or a savory meat pie, with a malty/sweet Dark Lager ice cream which will balance the flavorful meats with a sweet nuttiness. Or, accompany a Mexican chocolate mole cake with a porter as it has a similar rich, smoky taste to mole (porters pair well with foods that taste similar to them).

The pairing options are endless; every flavor has its own set of matches. Remember: if you dream it, you can ice cream it. Get started with your homemade, custom ice cream pairings today!


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