Cookie and Ice Cream Pairings: A Match Made in Dessert Heaven

We’ve never met a cookie we didn’t like (except maybe biscotti, but we digress). These little, tempting, few-bite desserts don’t require the same commitment as an entire slice of cake. Plus, they also satisfy our hankering for a sweet treat once in a while. The same level of dessert perfection can also be said for ice cream, which has the power to coat our tongue with sweetness, richness, and whatever add-ins are swirled into the pint. 

So, it makes sense to pair a crisp cookie with ice cream. Whether you sandwich the ice cream between the cookies, sprinkle crushed cookies on top of each scoop, or alternate between bites, there’s no wrong way to enjoy the pairing. We’ve curated some of the best ice cream and cookie duos in this piece, because we firmly believe you shouldn’t have to settle for one or the other when you can have both. 

Chocolate chip cookies and coffee ice cream

cookies and coffee ice cream

Most people’s go-to pairing is going to be chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream. But there’s a much better ice cream choice that will amplify the flavors of chocolate chip cookies: coffee. Some coffee ice creams have subtly bitter notes, which will help balance the overwhelming sweetness of the cookie. And if you’re working with an ice cream that leans a bit more towards a latte or a milky coffee beverage rather than a shot of espresso, you’ll also find that the brown sugar and vanilla notes of the cookie will mesh well. Plus, you can still use this pairing if you add extra nuts or oatmeal to your batter.

Shortbread cookies and salted caramel ice cream

shortbread cookies and ice cream

Shortbread cookies are a bit of an oddity. Their defining characteristic is that they are short in texture (and occasionally in size, too, but not always), meaning the cookie crumbles easily upon the first bite. Shortbread can be flavored with different herbs and spices or enjoyed plain, which allows the cookie’s strong vanilla and buttery notes to take center stage.

The best pairing for a package of simple shortbread cookies is a thick, decadent, salted caramel ice cream. The salt is a key ingredient in this frozen confection because it alleviates some of the cookie’s butter-rich character, while the copious caramel swirls complement the vanilla and sugary notes of the cookie. We recommend crumbling this cookie into a bowl of ice cream so that you get a bit of the buttery crunch in every bite.

Snickerdoodle cookies and apple pie ice cream

snickerdoodles and ice cream

Apple pie ice cream may be an odd flavor compared to conventional vanilla and chocolate, but it’s one of our favorite ice creams for a reason. Not only is each scoop of ice cream filled with the sweet and spicy notes of cinnamon and brown sugar, but there are also noticeable chunks of sweetened apple pie filling swirled into the base. This complex ice cream is an excellent pairing for equally complex snickerdoodles — which share some of the same flavor notes. Moreover, we really like the way that cream of tartar, the ingredient that gives snickerdoodle cookies their iconic tang, mellows out the sugary and creamy notes of the ice cream. 

Lemon crinkle cookies and basil ice cream

lemon cookies and ice cream

Tatiana Volgutova & SMarina/Shutterstock

Lemon cookies are punchy, and if you go overboard with the lemon extract, they can potentially border on the edge of tasting too artificial. To help tone down the acidity of this ingredient, we recommend pairing it with an ice cream flavor that is herby and unique, like basil. 

The color contrast between these two items is beautiful, and the subtle anise notes of the basil ice cream will easily distract from the puckering-sour flavor of the lemon cookies. Granted, basil ice cream likely isn’t a bestseller at your local scoop shop (although we think it should be), so you can also seek inspiration from fruity lemon-compatible flavors like raspberry or strawberry. 

Peanut butter cookies and chocolate ice cream

cookies and chocolate ice cream

Peanut butter cookies are one of the best types of cookies, but they’re especially delicious when they’re paired with something that complements the overwhelmingly nutty flavor of the peanut butter. Rather than grabbing a scoop of vanilla ice cream, which will only serve to dilute the nutty notes, go with a decadent chocolate ice cream. The combination will taste like a peanut butter cup in a bowl, and the chocolate will play off the flavors in the cookie really well. 

This pairing isn’t exclusive to plain chocolate ice cream, either. You could use chocolate almond, double chocolate chip, or our favorite, chocolate peanut butter ice cream; all of them transform this pairing into a delectable sundae. Just don’t forget the crushed peanut butter cups on top. 

Oatmeal raisin cookies and maple walnut ice cream

oatmeal cookie with ice cream

Oatmeal raisin cookies are one of the most underappreciated sweets. Each one has buttery, brown sugar notes with a toothsome pull. Of course, the elephant in the room surrounding these cookies is the divisive dried grapes. 

If you’re working with traditional oatmeal raisin cookies or going raisin-free for a simple oatmeal cookie, be sure to match it with an ice cream that shares some of the same flavor notes. Our go-to is a maple walnut. The nuts work well with both the raisins and the oatmeal, while the sweet, oaky notes of the ice cream base will help elevate the flavor of your cookie to new heights. It’s a great pairing for an ice cream sandwich, or just for dipping. 

White chocolate macadamia nut cookies and blueberry ice cream

cookies with blueberry ice cream

This might seem like one of the most unconventional pairings of the bunch, but we assure you that it works — in a bit of a weird way. White chocolate tends to be sickeningly sweet, which can be overwhelming as a cookie ingredient. The blueberry ice cream adds a distinct tartness that will help diffuse some of these sweet notes and offers punchy, organic taste to round out the treat.

You don’t have to worry about the macadamia nuts, which lack flavor in the first place, from getting lost here. Since the ice cream doesn’t have any crunchy notes to it, the nutty flavor of the cookie can shine through. 

Sugar cookies and mint chocolate chip ice cream

cookies and mint ice cream

Unlike other pairings on this list, matching the ice cream with a cookie was more difficult than vice versa. This is because mint ice cream is tricky. It can either take on a very pleasant mouthfeel with an underlying hint of peppermint, or shoot you down with a profile that’s borderline medicinal. So, you need a cookie that can stand up to this flavor and add something to the eating experience. 

That cookie is a standard, run-of-the-mill sugar cookie. There won’t be anything to distract from the bits of chocolate chips or chunks inside the ice cream, which means you’ll get the most unadulterated mint-eating experience possible. As long as it can hold up to the mint, you won’t have to worry about grabbing a particularly sweet cookie either. 

Madelines and pistachio ice cream

madelines and pistachio ice cream

Madelines are dainty cookies. They’re made in a mold and have a sponge-like texture that will easily soak up ice cream — and, by proxy, flavor. This is why we elected to pair the madeline cookie with a more unique flavor: pistachio. 

The nutty notes of the pistachio will easily accommodate any of the honey flavors in the madeline. Plus, anyone who has ever indulged in a scoop of pistachio, especially from a notable brand like Ben & Jerry’s, will know that the flavor doesn’t really tinker with anything artificial. It’s earthy, warm, and incredibly tantalizing when paired with this cookie. In fact, if you didn’t know the ice cream was pistachio, you may mistakenly identify it as an almond ice cream — which is why the latter ice cream is a runner-up pairing for this cookie.

Kitchen sink cookies and vanilla ice cream

cookies with vanilla ice cream

Kitchen sink cookies are playful, whimsical, and get their name from the fact that you can add almost any flavorful addition to the cookies and have it work out. M&M’s, peanut butter candies, chocolate chunks, pretzels, and whatever candy you had left over from Halloween all make for great mix-ins for the sweet sugar-cookie base.

We rightfully believe that your mix-ins should be the star of your cookie, so you’ll want to opt for an ice cream flavor that doesn’t close any doors. Vanilla, while basic, makes for the best flavor pairing for this cookie, because vanilla goes with whatever extras you mix into your batter. 

Biscoff cookies and cheesecake ice cream

Biscoff cookies with ice cream

Biscoff cookies are filled with warming spices and sweet cinnamon goodness. These cookies, which are the base for the brand’s popular cookie butter condiment, need to be paired with an ice cream that doesn’t obscure the flavors but rather lets them shine through. With that in mind, the best flavor pairing for these unique cookies is going to be a thick cheesecake ice cream. 

RECOMMENDED:  Martha Stewart's Recipe for Garlic Bread Stuffed Crust Pizza

This pairing was inspired by our baked ricotta cheesecake recipe, which uses a Biscoff cookie crust instead of plain graham crackers. The Biscoff and the thickness of the cream cheese take this dessert to new heights, and it can do the same when it’s simplified into a scoop of ice cream and a cookie sprinkle on top. 

Chocolate sandwich cookies and brownie ice cream

chocolate sandwich cookies and ice cream

Chocolate sandwich cookies often go by their brand name, but we love them all the same. You might think that the best pairing for a chocolate sandwich cookie would be cookies and cream ice cream, but you’ll certainly never catch us being predictable. Instead, we recommend straying from tradition and going with a brownie batter ice cream. The pairing is like adding Oreos to brownies — which can also be the springboard for other additions, like cookie dough. 

Granted, we find that this pairing is exclusively for chocolate sandwich cookies with plain filling. However, golden sandwich cookies can handle a bit more flavor beyond a brownie explosion, allowing you to venture into decadent caramel or toffee add-in territory. 

Molasses cookies and ginger ice cream

molasses cookies with ice cream

Food personality Anne Burrell pairs ginger ice cream with molasses cookies — and this was so inspiring that we decided to include it in our roundup. The molasses cookie has a unique blackstrap flavor, but is also often complemented with warming spices like cinnamon and cloves. As a result, the gingery notes in the ice cream are a welcome addition. 

There are tons of different ginger ice creams you can select with varying degrees of strength. We prefer a ginger ice cream with punchy notes of caramelized ginger interspersed throughout it, or you can opt for a plain ginger ice cream with a more subtle and less spicy flavor. Although, if you’re a spice lover, we recommend infusing the creamy base with chopped ginger for a spicy twist. 

Macaroons and coconut ice cream

macaroons and coconut ice cream

Spelling is key here. We’re not talking about the delicate, multicolored sandwich cookies found in a Parisian bake shop; those would be macarons. Macaroons are different. The base of this chewy cookie is interspersed with sweet shredded coconut to give it a tropical twist. When these cookies are paired with a chocolate drizzle, it’s a treat that can’t be beat. 

Since macaroons have a dominant coconut flavor, you’ll want to pair them with ice cream that complements rather than detracts from them. Coconut is your best bet. It’s not overwhelmingly artificial — so long as you can find a high-quality ice cream. Add a drizzle of chocolate and even a handful of chopped walnuts to take this cookie and ice cream pairing to a new level. 

Pecan sandies and bourbon ice cream

pecan sandies and ice cream

Dulezidar/Getty & Stephanie Frey/Shutterstock

Pecan sandies are a shortbread cookie with the added benefit of extra nuts mixed in. They’re a little something more exciting than just a plain cookie, which is also the case with their ice cream pairing: bourbon. What we love about bourbon ice cream is that it doesn’t have the slight burn of booze, but rather the flavor comes through with strong vanilla and brown sugar notes, along with subtle hints of clove and warmth. 

Sure, you could go with butter pecan ice cream in a pinch. But we think that the cookies contain just enough nutty bits to justify not having to get a double dose from your ice cream. Instead, you can use a bourbon ice cream with a ton of flavor in it, or unique add-ins (like caramel or toffee) to upgrade this pairing. 

Butter cookies and lemon ice cream

butter cookies and ice cream

MSPhotographic & Julhabiby/Shutterstock

Butter cookies tend to be relatively one-note (which is buttery, if you couldn’t guess). Old-fashioned butter cookies are a simple recipe consisting of basic sugar cookie ingredients with a little more fat mixed in. What makes these cookies really stand out from the rest is the shape, which is carefully piped out onto a baking sheet to make a swirl. 

Because butter cookies don’t have a lot going for them, they need a bright pop of color and flavor to bring them to life. That’s why we recommend pairing these cookies with citrusy ice cream, like lemon. You could also put a play on a Key lime pie by using a creamy lime ice cream, but you’re probably more likely to find a pint of lemon ice cream in your grocery store’s freezer aisle. 

Vanilla wafer cookies and banana ice cream

vanilla wafers and ice cream

Voltan1/Getty & RFondren Photography/Shutterstock

For many of the pairings on this list, we looked at the way how popular desserts are made to see if we could pick out any flavors that could be easily translated into cookies and ice cream. That was the case with banana pudding, a traditional Southern dessert that features vanilla wafer cookies, vanilla pudding, and freshly sliced bananas. 

The key to making this wafer cookie and fruity pairing work is to choose a banana ice cream that’s heavy on the banana flavors without leaning towards anything too artificial. We recommend making a simple ice cream made with just one ingredient: frozen bananas. Blend the fruit in a high-powered blender, add some vanilla extract if you want, and top it with your vanilla wafers. 

Whoopie pies and peanut butter ice cream

whoopie pies and ice cream

Hihitetlin & Rimma Bondarenko/Shutterstock

We think of these soft, fluffy chocolate cakes filled with whipped cream as something that really plays jump rope with the line between cookie and cake. They’re whimsical, fun, and a treat that you can easily pair with ice cream. 

A good whoopie pie doesn’t need help from a frozen dessert, so you’ll want to home in on a flavor that adds value to the treat. Although it may seem a bit weird, we’d recommend a peanut butter ice cream pairing. It’s slightly salty, which can subdue the sweetness of the cake and the filling, and also has flavor notes that complement both the vanilla and the chocolate. 

Biscotti and rum raisin ice cream

biscotti and ice cream

this_baker & Bartosz Luczak/Shutterstock

If you know anything about us, you’re familiar with our deep-seated disgust for biscotti. The texture is dry and hard, and biscotti doesn’t take on the intrinsic sweetness of a cookie. So you have to dunk it in coffee, or in this case, ice cream, to get through a log of these so-called cookies. 

We decided that the best pairing would be something in the vanilla camp, but with a flavor that offered a little more than just a creamy texture. Rum raisin has pockets of dried fruit, which are also a common ingredient in biscotti. Plus, the flavor also doesn’t exude alcoholic notes but still has the oaky, molasses flavor notes that give it an edge over vanilla. 

Snowball cookies and strawberry ice cream

snowball cookies and ice cream

Gmvozd/Getty & New Africa/Shutterstock

We’ll admit it: Snowball cookies are not our pick of the litter. These little puffs coated with powdered sugar often have dry, nutty undertones and a texture that will send you gasping for a drink of water. So, there’s a lot that you can do to help make these treats a bit more palatable. The first is pairing them with a boldly flavored ice cream, like strawberry. 

Vanilla won’t do you any good here, since it doesn’t make the nutty notes of the cookie more apparent. At first glance, it seems like the strawberry would conflict with all the flavor notes that the snowball cookie is trying to accomplish. But the strawberry ice cream will bring subtle, fruity notes to the tip of your tongue and send you searching for the walnuts or pecans hidden inside. 

Fortune cookies and raspberry ice cream

fortune cookies and ice cream

Amalliaeka/Getty & GIOIA PHOTO/Shutterstock

No Chinese takeout meal is complete without a fortune cookie. If you’re lucky, the cookie won’t get crushed under the weight of your lo mein. But, there is a practical use for your smashed-to-smithereens fortune cookie.

Fortune cookies are delightfully crunchy, so they make an excellent topping for a scoop of ice cream. We recommend pairing it with a vibrant raspberry — a flavor that has a great proportion of ice cream to fruity pieces, but with very little by way of crunch. Just be sure that you carefully remove the paper before you crumble your cookies on top of a bowl. Your lucky numbers don’t taste very good. 

Black and white cookies and vanilla ice cream

cookies and ice cream

Sbossert & Lauripatterson/Getty

If you visit New York City, you absolutely have to try a black and white cookie. Its name is a bit of a misnomer since the base of the cookie is more cake-like than cookie-like. But it does have a satisfyingly sweet coat of icing on top that will give you the best of both chocolate and vanilla. 

Although half of the cookie is dedicated to chocolate, vanilla comprises the lion’s share of the flavors in this confection. So, we wanted to highlight the taste of this cookie by pairing it with an equally powerful plain vanilla ice cream. Don’t settle for a cheap vanilla ice cream either; a high-quality vanilla ice cream that has flecks of vanilla bean throughout will make these flavor notes more pronounced. 

Our Experts
Our Experts

Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

Our goal is to publish informative and engaging articles, offering readers the content they seek, from daily news to cooking tips, tricks, trends, and reviews. To maintain the highest standards of comprehensiveness, currency, and accuracy, our team continually reviews and updates our articles as needed.