From New Orleans' snowballs to Florida's frozen key lime pie slices, almost every Southern destination has its own signature frozen treat. But nothing quite hits the spot like a good, old-fashioned scoop of ice cream. No summer is complete without at least a couple of trips to the ice cream shop; most Southern towns have their own local favorites (or grocery stores stocked with Blue Bell, which might be just as good).
I've spent the past year working at Big Spoon Creamery in Birmingham, Alabama, and I've learned first-hand just how invaluable an ice cream parlor can be in encouraging community. The best part of my job (aside from all the free ice cream) is bringing a smile to peoples' faces.
In my time working at an ice cream shop, I've picked up quite a few tips and tricks on ways to upgrade a traditional scoop. Get ready for the best summer yet: These ice cream hacks are about to change the game.
1. Scoop like a Pro
Have you always wanted to achieve those picture-perfect ice cream scoops? With this simple hack, your scoops will be looking clean and beautiful. First, start off with the right equipment. A Zeroll Aluminum Scoop is the pick of one of our favorite ice cream parlors in the South—Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah, Georgia. Luckily, you can shop this scoop online or you can order an engraved scoop right from Leopold's.
Now here's the trick that will seriously revolutionize your ice cream game. Simply run your scooper under hot tap water before scooping—this helps to create the cleanest scoop and soften ice cream that may have been sitting in the freezer for a little too long. To really finish it off, after you put your scoop in the bowl, run the scooper under hot water again and hold it against the top of the ice cream scoop for a few seconds, then release.
2. Avoid Freezer Burn
To save your ice cream from freezer burn, store it as deep into the freezer as you can get, never in the door. The opening and closing will cause your ice cream to melt and refreeze, which ruins the texture of the ice cream. Another handy hack: Store your pint upside-down.
3. Plug the Cone
Growing up, my grandma always kept a box of sugar cones in her pantry, turning any average scoop of ice cream into a whole experience. Cones can make quite the mess—but not with this handy trick. Drop a mini marshmallow into the bottom of your cone to prevent leakage.
4. Make Ice Cream Sandwiches
Sure, ice cream is great, but ice cream sandwiched between two cookies? Now that's what we're talking about. Don't fuss around with scoops—we have an easier technique to make picture-perfect ice cream sandwiches.
Run a serrated knife under hot tap water, then use it to slice horizontally into a pint (yes, paper and all). Make four slices, place each slice on a cookie, and then unravel the paper. Get our complete recipe for Buckeye Ice Cream Sandwiches here or, if you're looking for something extra-unique, try our Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches.
5. Serve Your Ice Cream in Brownie Cups
One surefire way to upgrade your ice cream? Serve it in a brownie cup. Mix up a batch of brownie batter, portion it into a muffin tin, and bake as directed. After pulling the brownie cups out of the oven—before they cool completely—use the back of an ice cream scoop to make an indent in the center of each brownie cup. This will provide a spot for ice cream.
6. Make it A Malt
Forget milkshakes: A malt is the vintage frozen beverage that you need in your life. A malted shake is essentially a milkshake with malted milk powder added in. This gives the drink an extra-milky, slightly-tangy quality that will keep you coming back for more. The next time you make a milkshake, add in a spoonful of malted milk powder. While you're at it, order some extra-wide straws to enjoy your frozen beverage in style—no clogged straws here.
7. Salt Your Ice Cream
I know this one might sound out of the box, but hear me out. You already know about salting your watermelon. Why not salt your ice cream, too? Topping your scoop with just a pinch of sea salt brings out all the complex flavors of the ice cream, while also tempering any cloying sweetness. Be sure to use high-quality salt, like Maldon flaky salt. We're all about this sweet-and-savory combo—you can even take it a step further and make your own Sea Salt Ice Cream.
8. Make Your Own Magic Shell
If your childhood ice cream parlor specialized in soft-serve, you likely remember getting your cone dipped in chocolate, cherry, or peanut butter magic shell. Watching the surface harden in seconds right before your eyes is a magical experience—and one that you can recreate at home. The secret ingredient to help your magic shell harden instantly is coconut oil, which also gives the chocolate a glossy sheen. To make your own magic shell, melt 1 cup of dark chocolate with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Let it cool slightly before coating your scoop.
9. Go For Homemade—No Equipment Required
We're calling it now: Making homemade ice cream will be the activity of the summer. And with this handy hack, whipping up a batch of ice cream is easier than ever—no fancy equipment required. All you need to make your very own ice cream is a Ziploc bag, rock salt, and some elbow grease. Find our recipe and technique for Strawberry Ice Cream in a Bag here.
10. Make Your Own Ice Cream Cake
A summertime birthday is cause for celebration, and there's no better way to enjoy the weather than with a cool ice cream cake. Skip the store: An ice cream cake requires slightly more temperature control than a regular layer cake, but the reward is oh-so-sweet. Make your own ice cream cake out of ice cream sandwiches or really go all-out with a layered Red Velvet Ice Cream Cake.