The 12 Best Ice Cream Sundaes In America, 2023

When it comes to desserts, it's hard to beat an ice cream sundae. It's believed that this famous sweet treat was created more than 100 years ago. At the time, blue laws (laws that prohibit specific activities on certain days) made it illegal for stores to sell soda on Sundays. When Sunday came around and customers wanted to get their sugary fix, workers found a loophole by hooking them up with scoops of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup instead of selling soda. Word spread and the delicious delicacy proved popular. Today, ice cream sundaes can be found at countless dessert shops and restaurants across America.

Ice cream sundaes typically come with a handful of common ingredients. Chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, hot fudge, whipped cream, cherries, and crushed nuts are often in the mix. Ice cream shops tend to let customers customize their ice cream sundaes by selecting scoops of their favorite flavors. Chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry are some of the standard flavors featured in ice cream sundaes. Sometimes, menus will offer signature sundaes with different flavors like mint chocolate chip and feature other ingredients like brownies.

With so many dessert menus to pick from, how should you know which ones are worthwhile? We've rounded up some of our favorites — here are 12 of the best ice cream sundaes in America.

Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae

When we think of classic ice cream sundaes, hot fudge brownie sundaes are one of the first that come to mind. It's easy to see why this sweet treat is so popular. Using just a few simple ingredients, hot fudge brownie sundaes capture a delicious whirlwind of flavors and textures. Cedar Crest's Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae is a textbook example of this drool-worthy dessert in its prime.

The Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae comes with scoops of ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top of a brownie. As the ice cream melts, it soaks its creamy sweetness into the brownie, which makes the brownie even more delicious. The drizzle of hot fudge clings to the ice cream and brownie, adding a layer of chocolatey sweetness to the mix. The cherry on top brings a pop of fruitiness and also some appetizing visual appeal with its bright red glow.

Part of the beauty of Cedar Crest is how relatively affordable its ice cream is. In a world where the prices of everything continue to climb, we really appreciate a delicious dessert like this that doesn't break the bank. Between its great price and perfect balance of flavor, Cedar Crest's Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae is definitely one of our favorites.

Fluffernutter Sundae

Located in Worcester, Massachusetts, Madulka's is an ice cream shop that's situated on a lakefront. Beyond the great views, Madulka's also offers some excellent premium ice cream and other frozen treats, with more than 40 flavors to pick from. The company has a handful of specialty sundaes on the menu, and one of its best is the Fluffernutter Sundae.

The Fluffernutter Sundae is a sweet and savory convergence of peanut butter and marshmallow. The sundae comes with your choice of ice cream, then gets topped with a peanut butter sauce, a marshmallow sauce, nuts, and a cherry. Of course, you can also choose to add more toppings from the menu for an extra charge, which is well worth it. In this case, we'd recommend extra toppings like peanut butter cups, hot fudge, and crushed Oreos. 

When it comes to which flavor of ice cream to pick for this sundae, there are a few that would perfectly pair with its signature toppings. Chocolate Peanut Butter, Kahlua Fudge Brownie, Maple Walnut, and Vanilla all blend well with this ice cream sundae's ingredients. With some inventive flavors to choose from and tasty toppings, the Fluffernutter Sundae at Madulka's is one of the best ice cream sundaes in the country.

Bumpy Bliss Sundae

In business since 1875, Sanders makes a wide variety of treats, like gourmet chocolate, caramel popcorn, and chocolate-covered pecan clusters. When a company stays afloat that long, you know that it offers something special. The company also has a few stores located in Michigan where it features different drinks and desserts, including ice cream sundaes.

One of the best ice cream sundaes on the menu at Sanders is the Bumpy Bliss Sundae. The Bumpity Bliss Sundae comes with vanilla ice cream and gooey hot fudge on top of a chunky slice of chocolate fudge Bumpy Cake. Bumpy Cake is a Devil's food cake that comes capped with sticks of buttercream that are delicately wrapped in fudge icing. Brownie sundaes are delicious — but a Bumpy Cake sundae is even better. The logs of fudgy buttercream on top of the cake add a richness to the sundae that's pure heaven. Because this sundae features such a uniquely tasty ingredient like Bumpy Cake, it tops our list as one of the country's absolute best. Do yourself a favor if you're in the area in Michigan and swing by to give it a try.

Strawberry Shortcake Sundae

Strawberry shortcake is a truly classic treat. Juicy, sweet strawberries are layered on top of a delicate, spongey shortcake. Sometimes, biscuits are used instead of shortcake, which is equally delicious. Whipped cream is dolloped on top, which adds a velvety sweetness that pairs perfectly with the fruit and shortcake or biscuit. Turning strawberry shortcake into an ice cream sundae is a brilliant move, and Good Karma — an ice cream parlor in Easley, South Carolina — has a spin on this dessert that is absolutely scrumptious. One fan of Good Karma on Yelp says that the shop has, "Amazing ice cream. Abundance of flavors and toppings to choose from. Staff was very helpful."

Good Karma's Strawberry Shortcake Sundae comes with layers of strawberry shortcake ice cream, strawberry jam, crushed waffle cone, vanilla bean ice cream, strawberry syrup, whipped cream, and chunks of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls. Throwing some Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls into the mix is a big reason why this ice cream sundae scores a spot on our list. It's a simple ingredient, yet it adds a ton of flavor to the sundae. The strawberry jam and strawberry syrup bring a layer of sugary fruitiness, while the waffle cone bits add crunchy texture. Heavily loaded with the flavor of strawberries and top-notch ingredients, Good Karma's Strawberry Shortcake Sundae knocks it out of the park. We also love that this sundae comes in a taller cup, which allows all the flavors to condense as they melt and mix at the bottom. 

Ozark Turtle Sundae

Andy's Frozen Custard has been serving up top-notch desserts for decades. The operation started in Missouri and has bloomed into locations around multiple states, including Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Colorado. The company typically uses a simple base of frozen vanilla or chocolate custard, and then blends it with different syrups and ingredients to create various flavors and treats. Andy's offers Concretes and Jackhammers, which are served in cups and consist of frozen custards mixed with other toppings. Some of these ingredients include cookie dough, butterscotch, and espresso. The shop also features different ice cream sundaes and Andy's Ozark Turtle is one of its tastiest.

Andy's Ozark Turtle sundae is a fusion of frozen custard that's doused in hot fudge, creamy caramel, roasted pecans, and then crowned with a cherry. As its name suggests, this sundae captures the taste of a turtle chocolate candy, but in the form of an ice cream sundae. The gooeyness of the caramel deliciously mixes with the roasted flavor of sweet and buttery pecans. The hot fudge drapes everything in a glorious, chocolatey sheen, adding a blanket of richness to the sundae. If you love chocolate turtles as much as we do, then you'll definitely dig this sundae. Some customers even describe Andy's as having some of the finest ice cream they've ever had.

Banana Pudding Sundae

Banana pudding is an amazingly comforting dessert. Made with layers of custard, fresh bananas, and vanilla wafers, banana pudding is deliciously creamy and silky. It's sweet without being excessive and fruity without being tart, making it a unique treat. Louisville Cream in Kentucky has wisely cashed in on the appeal of banana pudding by making it one of the company's ice cream flavors. The company takes it a step further by offering a Banana Pudding Sundae.

Louisville Cream's Banana Pudding Sundae comes with the company's signature Banana Pudding ice cream, a whole freshly-peeled banana, a generous drizzle of caramel, and a lightly-torched marshmallow topping. The caramel adds a buttery sweetness that perfectly pairs with the Banana Pudding Ice Cream. The torched marshmallow topping introduces a sweet and smoky fluffiness to the sundae that puts it over the top, nudging the treat into top-tier territory.

Louisville Cream has a wide range of other flavors and dishes that are well worth it, too. Honey lavender vanilla ice cream, ice cream cookie sandwiches, and a Crème Brûlée Sundae are just a few more treats that the shop whips up.

Chocolate Chip Mint Sundae

There's something special about mint chocolate chip ice cream. The cooling flavor of mint provides a delicious balance with the warming aroma of cocoa and the rich sweetness of chocolate. When mint chocolate chip ice cream is turned into a sundae with extra toppings, the flavors are even better — especially at Magnifico's. Magnifico's is an ice cream shop that's located in East Brunswick, New Jersey. The shop has a list of rotating flavors that includes German Chocolate, Oreo Cookie, and Toasted Coconut. The good news is that it also has a list of permanent flavors that are always available, including its Chocolate Chip Mint.

Magnifico's Chocolate Chip Mint Sundae comes with Chocolate Chip Mint ice cream, hot fudge, and brownie chunks. The combination of hot fudge with Chocolate Chip Mint ice cream adds an exquisite chocolatey creaminess to the sundae. The brownies deepen the delight with moist and sticky chunks of even more chocolate. If you're a mint chocolate chip lover, this is definitely one of the best sundaes you'll encounter. One customer happily reported on TripAdvisor that Magnifico's ice cream is "almost custard-like and very smooth and tasty. The sundaes are fabulous and they have a great selection of hard ice cream as well."

Peanut Butter Sundae

Oberweis is a small chain of dairy shops that sells ice cream around the Midwest. The company bakes all of its waffle cones on a daily basis and uses homemade whipped cream. Oberweis has been open since 1927 and partners with small farms to provide premium milk and ice cream. The company makes dozens of different ice cream flavors to choose from, including espresso caramel, birthday cake, and chocolate peanut butter.

Peanut butter's delicious richness is a match made in heaven when it's paired with ice cream. Its nutty butteriness adds a luscious layer of earthiness that can take ice cream sundaes to the next level. Because peanut butter has a hint of saltiness to it, the flavor provides a savory contrast to the sweetness of ice cream, which seriously boosts the tastiness of a sundae. And when it comes to peanut butter flavored sundaes, Oberweis truly makes one of the best in the business.

Oberweis uses its chocolate peanut butter ice cream to make its Peanut Butter Sundae. Oberweis' Peanut Butter Sundae comes with Reese's peanut butter cups and peanut butter sauce in a waffle bowl that's dipped in chocolate. The crumble of peanut butter cups provides some tasty texture and the waffle cone is crispy and chocolatey. If you love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, you can't go wrong with the Peanut Butter Sundae at Oberweis. The company makes other sundaes too, like hot fudge brownie sundaes, which customers love.

Key Lime Pie Sundae

Key lime pie is a uniquely delicious dessert. Key limes are tart but less acidic than regular limes, which gives them a more palatable flavor. They're grown in tropical and subtropical climates around the world, including areas around the United States, Mexico, and India. Of course, key limes are often associated with the Florida Keys, the famously gorgeous string of tropical islands where they tend to be grown in home gardens.

Key lime pie is usually made with just a few ingredients, including key limes, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and a graham cracker crust. While key lime pie is a bit of an unconventional flavor for an ice cream sundae, the truth is that it's amazingly delicious — especially at Proper Ice Cream. Proper Ice Cream is a small ice cream shop with locations in South Florida, which is a perfect spot to feature key lime flavored ice cream.

The Key Lime Sundae at Proper Ice Cream is made with a freshly-baked graham cracker tart, toasted meringue made from scratch, all-natural key lime ice cream, key lime juice, and freshly-grated lime zest. The sundae's sweetness has a bright burst of citrus that's refreshing and delicious. The graham cracker tart provides some crunch and also helps soak up some of the key lime ice cream. All in all, there's no doubt this Key Lime Sundae is one of the best we've ever tasted.

Mt. Vesuvius Sundae

Inspired by their love of ice cream and a penchant for vintage trinkets and retro aesthetics, two brothers decided to open Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia. The company has an impressive menu that includes milkshakes, ice cream sandwiches, baked goods, and sundaes. Franklin Fountain's Mt. Vesuvius Sundae is one of the shop's most delicious concoctions thanks to a simple yet special touch.

The Mt. Vesuvius Sundae is made with vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, brownies, whipped cream and a dusting of malt powder. The inclusion of malt powder is a tasty addition that adds a sparkle of roasty nuttiness to the sundae. The sundae is served in a stylish bowl that matches the nostalgic vibes of the business itself. While the ingredients of this sundae are similar to a lot of other classic hot fudge brownie sundaes, the addition of malt powder is what helps elevate this treat into greatness. Sundaes aside, we also really love that Franklin Fountain gives customers the option to customize the consistency of its milkshakes between regular, thick, and thin.

Caramel Cashew

While Culver's is well-known for its burgers and fried cheese curds, the truth is that the restaurant's desserts are just as delicious. Culver's frozen custard is some of the best you can find at a quick-service restaurant chain, with a rich, fresh taste that's consistently creamy. Culver's even offers a special Flavor of the Day that varies based on location, which flavors like Brownie Batter Overload, Blackberry Cobbler, and Cappuccino Cookie Crumble. The company also offers a few sundaes, and Caramel Cashew is one of our favorites.

Culver's Caramel Cashew Sundae is layered with frozen vanilla custard, a generous swirl of creamy caramel, and whole roasted cashews. We love that Culver's tops this sundae with whole nuts, rather than little bits of crushed nuts. A lot of other dessert menus use crushed nuts, which leads to less crunch and a more subtle nuttiness. By using whole cashews, Culver's delivers a much bolder flavor and texture, which gives this sundae more appeal. The quality of the frozen custard is exceptional, too. Because it's made in small batches throughout the day, the frozen custard at Culver's has a rich, creamy freshness. The fresh taste of Culver's frozen custard shines in its Caramel Cashew Sundae, and its use of whole roasted cashews lifts the flavor to delicious heights.

Seasonal Sundae

There are few things that bring The Charmery a step above some other ice cream shops. For starters, the company has a rotating lineup of seasonal specialty ice cream flavors that frequently changes, which always keeps things interesting. Another point — which may seem deceptively minor — has to do with the cherries that it puts on top of its sundaes.

Rather than exclusively using maraschino cherries like a lot of other ice cream shops, The Charmery tends to use fresh cherries or Bada Bing cherries. More ice cream shops should follow The Charmery's lead on this. The quality of the cherry on a sundae definitely makes an impact on the overall flavor and matters just as much as the ice cream itself. While maraschino cherries tend to be simplistic in flavor, fresh cherries are more tart and vibrant, which provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the ice cream. Bada Bing cherries are jarred and sweetened, but they are larger and darker than maraschinos and have a more intense flavor.

Some unique flavors at The Charmery include Squeeze Play (made with orange juice), Indonesian cinnamon, and Saturday Morning Cartoon, which comes with Frosted Flakes and cereal marshmallows. If you're on the prowl to check out a seasonal sundae with some top-notch cherries and unique flavors, The Charmery is an ideal destination.