By Vanessa Greaves

Host the coolest party of the summer with an ultimate make-your-own ice cream sundae bar. This newest trend in party desserts plays well with any occasion -- from backyard BBQs and birthday parties, to engagements, weddings, and showers. We've got all the tips, tricks, and recipes to make it happen.

Photo by Meredith

How to Stock a Super Sundae Bar

Your guests will love creating and customizing their choose-your-own ice cream adventures. Here's what you'll need:

Ice Cream

You can go two ways here. Either give your guests three or four ice cream flavors to mix and match, or stick to one basic flavor and let them use it as a blank canvas for their sweet masterpieces. Whichever way you go, keep ice cream frosty cold by setting the containers into deep baking dishes, buckets, or bowls filled with ice. Make sure each flavor has its own dedicated ice cream scooper. Or try this: Scoop and freeze individual servings of ice cream in cupcake liners.

Photo by Meredith

Make Your Own

Ready to raise the sundae bar? Make your own ice cream! Let Chef John show you how to made rich, delicious strawberry ice cream (and you don't have to cook custard!).

Need "nice cream" options for your dairy-free/vegan/paleo pals?

Related: Check out all the ice cream recipes you could possibly want, and get tips to make your own ice cream.


Here's your chance to be a kid in a candy shop, literally.

Photo by Meredith

More: Try 28 outrageous ice cream sundae toppings, or boozy fruit sauces for grown-ups only.

Honey Ginger Plum Sundae

This cardamom-and-ginger spiced fruit combination is an exotic departure from the usual sundae toppings.

Photo by lutzflcat

Cups and Cones

Make like an ice cream shop and let your guests choose whether to build their sundaes in cups or cones, or both. Bowls or wide-mouth jars make it easier to pile on the toppings, but cones are so much fun to eat afterwards. Maybe they'll want both! To dress up your cones or waffle cups, dip the edges in melted chocolate, and top with sprinkles. Set on waxed paper to harden.

Photo by Meredith

More: Earn serious cooking cred with homemade ice cream cones.


An ice cream sundae bar that's a visual delight makes for memorable photo-ops. Choose a bright color pallet and express it in all of your sundae accessories.

  • Cover a long table with colorful (and easy-to-clean) oilcloth or long sheets of white or brown craft paper.
  • Embellish your table with crepe paper streamers or colorful paper flags from a party store.
  • Stock up on straws, spoons, napkins, and bowls in coordinating colors.
  • Write up your ice cream flavors and topping choices on a chalkboard.