Tempura fried ice cream is an impressive dessert that is easier to make than you think! Creamy vanilla ice cream wrapped in pound cake, dipped in tempura batter and coated in panko bread crumbs for the ultimate crispy shell.
I've only had tempura fried ice cream a handful of times at Asian restaurants and every time, I was intrigued at how they made this dessert without melting the ice cream!
Fried ice cream is typically served at Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese restaurants.
It wasn't until when I worked at my cousin's sushi restaurant that I had a behind the scenes look at how they made this whimsical dessert.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's made with simple ingredients! Fried ice cream may look like a complicated dessert but the ingredients are fairly basic.
- The prep time is only 20 minutes! Most of the time is spent waiting for the ice cream to harden in the freezer.
- It's a hot and cold dessert! The warm outer shell combined with the cold ice cream makes this a unique treat!
You can make restaurant quality tempura fried ice cream at home with just a few simple ingredients.
I used Entenmann's butter loaf cake but any pound cake or castella cake will work. If you're in a pinch, soft white sandwich bread with the crust removed is a good substitute.
The layer of cake acts a barrier between the ice cream and the hot oil.
How to Make Tempura Fried Ice Cream
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper, scoop out 4 balls of ice cream onto it, and freeze for an hour. This will harden the ice cream before the next step.
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and lay 4 slices of loaf cake in a single layer while slightly overlapping. Flatten the cake with a rolling pin.
- Take one ice cream scoop out of the freezer and place it in the center of the cakes. Use the plastic wrap to help bring the cake around the ice cream. Some of the cake may crumble but don't worry, just patch the areas. While wrapped in plastic wrap, gently press the cake into the ice cream to form a ball and freeze for 2 hours. Repeat with remaining ice cream, working with one ice cream ball out of the freezer at a time.
- Prepare 2 bowls. One with panko bread crumbs and another for the tempura batter. To make the tempura batter, mix flour with cold water. Small clumps are fine. You can add flour or water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to achieve the consistency of pancake batter.
- Take one ice cream ball out of the freezer and dip it in the tempura batter then coat it evenly with panko bread crumbs.
- Deep fry the ice cream for 20-30 seconds in 400°F oil.
- Use your favorite ice cream flavor! Chocolate, matcha, and red bean are all delicious!
- Work with one ice cream at a time. Leave the ice cream balls in the freezer until you're ready to work with them. This will ensure the ice cream doesn't melt.
- Use a slotted spoon or spatula to help lower the ice cream into the oil and remove it.
- Serve with your favorite toppings! Chocolate syrup, whipped cream, strawberries, sprinkles, anyone?
Tempura fried ice cream is made from ice cream that is breaded with pound cake, coated in tempura batter and flash fried in oil. Some recipes just coat it in the tempura batter, but I like including the panko bread crumbs for extra crunch.
Fried ice cream should be enjoyed immediately.
You can store the ice cream balls wrapped in pound cake for up to a month. Just dip it in tempura batter, coat it in panko bread crumbs, and fry when you have a craving!
More Easy Desserts You'll Love
Japanese Tempura Fried Ice Cream
- 2 cups vanilla ice cream or flavor of choice
- 16 slices butter loaf cake or pound cake ¼ inch slices
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 quart canola oil
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar optional
- Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out 4 balls of ice cream onto the baking sheet. Freeze for 1 hour.
- Lay 4 slices of cake on a sheet of plastic wrap and gently flatten the cake with a rolling pin.
- Take one ice cream scoop out of the freezer and place it in the center of the cakes. Use the plastic wrap to help bring the cake around the ice cream. Some of the cake may crumble but don't worry, just patch the areas. While wrapped in plastic wrap, gently press the cake into the ice cream to form a ball and freeze for at least 2 hours to harden. Repeat with remaining ice cream, working with one ice cream ball out of the freezer at a time.
- In a small pot, heat oil to 400°F. The oil should be at least 3 inches high to deep fry.
- In a bowl, make the tempura batter by mixing flour and water. The consistency should be similar to pancake batter and small clumps are fine; don't overmix. Prepare another bowl with panko bread crumbs.
- Once the oil is at 400°F, take once ice cream ball out of the freezer and coat it in the tempura batter. Let the excess drip off then coat it in panko bread crumbs.
- Deep fry the ice cream for 20-30 seconds until golden brown and drain on a wire rack.
- Serve with powdered sugar dusted on top, or with your favorite toppings.
- Prep time does not include freezing.
- For the tempura batter, add more flour or water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to achieve the consistency of pancake batter.
- Nutrition estimate is based on Entenmann's butter cake and does not include oil absorbed during frying.