Ice Cream Pudding Dessert (Ice Cream Salad)

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This old-fashioned Ice Cream Pudding Dessert (or Ice Cream Salad as it’s known in my family) is an easy-to-make dessert recipe comprised of a salty Ritz cracker crust and creamy toasted coconut ice cream pudding filling. I know you’re going to love it.

ice cream pudding dessert on plates.

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a dessert rut? Cookies, cake, and brownies can get old after a while. If you’re looking for an unexpected and unique dessert to impress your guests, you need to try our Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Pudding. Or as I call it: Ice Cream Salad!

You know this is an old recipe when it’s called a salad, but in reality, it’s a dessert. Ha! Figuring the original title might be a bit confusing, I’ve updated the recipe to be called Ice Cream Pudding Dessert.

ice cream salad dessert and recipe cards.

During my growing up years, my Great Aunt Maggie would make a rotation of dessert recipes: strawberry jello salad, pumpkin roll, sugar cookies, and this ice cream salad. She made these often as they were family favorites. I’ve been meaning to make this particular recipe for quite some time and couldn’t be more excited to share it with you today.

This Ice Cream Pudding is the perfect twist on a classic dessert. The unexpected combination of a savory crust with a sweet and creamy filling is something everyone will love . Plus, the toasted coconut adds a delightful crunch to every bite. This recipe is sure to impress your friends and family at any gathering.

ice cream pudding dessert in pan.

Ingredients

The first question you might have is, “Does this recipe actually have ice cream in it?
Yes, it does! It contains a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream. That’s what makes this recipe so creamy, rich, and delicious.

In addition to the ice cream, the filling includes coconut pudding and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. The pudding sets the ice cream so you’re able to cut and serve it. The coconut flavor is a subtle but flavorful addition. It’s what makes this recipe so delicious!

The creamy filling sits on top of a crust made of crushed Ritz crackers. I love the combination of salty and sweet in desserts, so this pairing is a match made in heaven. When I was making this recipe, the smell of the crushed Ritz crackers instantly transported me back to being a 10-year-old in my aunt’s kitchen. Time travel is real, my friends.

All this combined together makes for an epic dessert. As you can imagine, this Ice Cream Pudding Dessert is perfect for summer, but I’m happy to enjoy it all year long.

Below is a full rundown of ingredients. The list is pretty simple!

  • Ritz Crackers
  • unsalted butter
  • granulated sugar
  •  instant coconut pudding
  • milk
  • vanilla ice cream
  • toasted coconut
ice cream pudding dessert.
ice cream salad on a plate.

How To Make:

I’m going to walk you through the steps to make this Ice Cream Pudding Dessert. For your convenience, at the end of this post there is a printable recipe card with detailed ingredient amounts and recipe instructions.

  1. Start by removing your ice cream from the freezer to allow it to soften. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Crush the Ritz crackers with a blender or food processor, or in a plastic baggie to a fine crumb.
ritz crackers in food processor.
  1. In a bowl, add the crushed Ritz crackers, melted butter, and sugar. Mix to combine.
  2. Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool completely.
ritz cracker crust in pan.
  1. In a large bowl, add the two boxes of instant coconut pudding and the milk. Use a hand mixer to combine.
  2. Once smooth, add in the softened ice cream and mix again until smooth. Add about 2 tablespoons of the toasted coconut and stir to combine.
ice cream pudding with mixer blades.
  1. Pour this mixture into the cooled prepared crust. Top with the remaining toasted coconut.
pouring filling onto crust.
toasted coconut on pudding dessert.

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  1. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or until ready to serve.

And that’s it! Slice, serve with a spatula, and enjoy!

ice cream pudding dessert in dish.

Recipe Variations

Now that you know how to make this ice cream pudding, it’s time to get creative with some variations to try! I haven’t tried any of these myself, but I’m excited to try them! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Chocolate lovers can mix in a few tablespoons of cocoa powder with the pudding mix for a rich, chocolatey twist on the classic.
  2. For a fruity variation, stir in a cup of fresh berries or sliced peaches.
  3. Coffee lovers can add a shot of espresso or a tablespoon of instant coffee powder to the custard mixture for a delicious coffee-flavored pudding.
  4. Peanut butter fans can mix in a few tablespoons of smooth peanut butter for a rich and creamy dessert. (I’d use a vanilla pudding mix instead of coconut for this one.)
  5. Feeling adventurous? Add in a tablespoon or two of your favorite liquor for an adult-only treat. Vanilla vodka, coconut rum, or rumchata would be delicious! You may need an extra tablespoon of pudding mix so your dessert still sets.

Now that you’ve got some ideas for variations, let’s answer a few frequently asked questions about making ice cream pudding.,

ice cream pudding dessert on plate.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make this dessert ahead of time?

Absolutely! This dessert can be made up to a week in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to serve.

Can You Freeze This?

Yes. In my family, we have always enjoyed this dessert when it is refrigerated. While the pudding helps the filling to set, it’s still loose and creamy. If you prefer a firmer dessert, you can certainly store this in the freezer and serve it frozen.

Also, I made this dessert and decided to freeze it so I could take it to a party later in the week. Before going to the party I removed the dessert from the freezer, transferred it to my cooler, and a few hours later it was the perfect consistency for serving.

Can You Use Different Pudding or Ice Cream Flavors?

Yes, you can! I believe the (toasted) coconut is the classic flavor, but feel free to experiment as suggested below:

  • vanilla pudding with butter pecan ice cream
  • chocolate pudding with chocolate ice cream
  • lemon pudding with vanilla ice cream
  • pistachio pudding with pistachio ice cream
  • white chocolate pudding with cherry ice cream

While I’m partial to the coconut, some of these combinations sound so good that I may need to give them a try!

ice cream pudding dessert on plate.
ice cream pudding dessert in dish.

And that’s a wrap on one of my favorite childhood desserts. Whether you want to call it Ice Cream Pudding Dessert or Ice Cream Salad, I hope you’ll give this old-fashioned recipe a try. It may even become one of your favorites too.

More Desserts You May Love

Have I intrigued you enough to try this Ice Cream Salad recipe? I think you should! I know you’re going to love! If you do, please stop back and leave a comment and a 5-star rating below. 

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ice cream pudding dessert on plates.

Ice Cream Pudding Dessert

This old-fashioned Ice Cream Pudding Dessert (or Ice Cream Salad as it’s known in my family) is an easy-to-make dessert recipe comprised of a salty Ritz cracker crust and creamy toasted coconut ice cream pudding filling. I know you’re going to love it.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coconut, ice cream, pudding, ritz crackers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
Servings: 12
Calories: 536kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Start by removing your ice cream from the freezer to allow it to soften. (Do not let it melt.) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Crush the Ritz crackers with a blender or food processor, or in a plastic baggie to a fine crumb.
  • In a bowl, add the crushed Ritz crackers, melted butter, and sugar. Mix to combine. Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9×13 pan.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, then allow to cool completely.
  • In a large bowl, add the two boxes of instant coconut pudding and the milk. Use a hand mixer to combine. Once smooth, add in the softened ice cream and mix again until smooth. Add about 2 tablespoons of the toasted coconut and stir to combine.
  • Pour this mixture into the cooled prepared crust. Top with the remaining toasted coconut.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours or until ready to serve.

Notes

Our family enjoys this dessert refrigerated. I’ve seen similar recipes where it’s frozen. Either method would be fine.
You can create variations of this recipe by using different flavors of pudding and/or ice cream.
How to Toast Coconut:
Preheat your oven to 325ºF. Spread out 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut on a large baking sheet. Put the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven and bake for 3 minutes. Watch carefully as the coconut can go from toasted to burnt in an instant.

Nutrition

Calories: 536kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 325mg | Potassium: 374mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 50g | Vitamin A: 932IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 246mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




15 Comments

  1. I had this dessert at a funeral luncheon and knew I wanted to try to make it. I made two different flavors for our 4th of July cookout. When it said “2 boxes” of pudding mix I wasnt sure what size. So I did one with the smaller 2.9 oz boxes, and one with the bigger 4.2 oz boxes of pudding. I made both the day before the event so they had plenty of time to set up. The larger box of pudding was the perfect consistency. The smaller box of pudding was still a soupy mess when I pulled it out. I refrigerated both. I ended up throwing the soupier one in the freezer in hopes that it would work. It was okay.

    So go with the larger 4.2 oz boxes of pudding.

    (Also, the one that set up right was so good. I did an Oreo pudding with a cookies and cream ice cream. It was a hit!)

  2. This recipe is very similar to one that was a favorite in my neck of the woods in Sauk County, WI. But the favorite flavour mixture was pistachio pudding and butter pecan icecream. And our recipe included Cool Whip softened and spread over the top with some reserved Ritz cracker/butter mixture sprinkled over the top.
    I didn’t have the recipe anymore and had it mostly memorized but looked it up to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. I found yours and I’m thankful for it. Thank you.
    Oh yeah, I in later years did the chocolate flavor…but I think I did the chocolate oudding with the butter pecan icecream as well. Sooo good. My sister-in-law asked me to make her a whole 9×13 pan just for her one time.

  3. I am a lover of coconut in any form and with the hot summer temps we are having in N.C this recipe sounds wonderful. Now to make it. Hope I can find the coconut pudding. It’s been hard to find lately., May have to make my own!

  4. This dessert is the BEST of the BEST. Remains perfect sitting out while your crowd is helping themselves to your dessert bar!! I have made this dessert more times than I can count. It is so easy to make and is fool-proof. I always have made the coconut version — but I am sure that all of the other suggested pudding flavors would be deeelicious. Enjoy!!!!!!

  5. I made this for Easter 2022. I could not find coconut pudding so I substituted with a cheesecake pudding. It turned out great! Wonderful texture and it held its shape when served with a spatula. Thank you for a new instant family favorite!

  6. I’m totally cracking up over this dessert being called a salad. Back in the day I guess that made it permissible to enjoy dessert with your meal AND after???

    1. I did little research and back in the day salad was also know as “small pieces of food (such as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing (such as mayonnaise) or set in gelatin” …. so I think that’s where it came from.

      xo Michael

  7. Another winner! Putting the ingredients on my grocery list to make VERY soon! I, too, am a fan of the Ritz cracker crust and always use Ritz crackers instead of graham crackers when I make my key lime pies. Love the salty sweet flavors.