Cooking for One

Cooking for One: A List of Ice Cream Toppings You Can Make with Ingredients You Already Have

Ben and Jerry may be our friends, but dessert for one can be so much more than just a pint.

Published Oct. 19, 2020.

Indulging in the delight of dining alone is one of life’s greatest pleasures. If you're one of the 36 million Americans who live alone or one of the countless others who cook for themselves for other reasons, you'll love our cookbook Cooking for One, which has more than 160 perfectly portioned recipes, along with approachable tips that will help you become a smarter, more confident, and less wasteful cook.


Jump to a Section
Sara Mayer

It’s late. My boyfriend is away for work and I’m by myself (save for my beagle). I just ate dinner, and now I’m craving something sweet, but I don’t feel like turning on my oven for a dessert just for me. 

We all know that feeling, whether we’re cooking for one or not. Maybe your partner just doesn’t have a sweet tooth, or maybe your kids are in bed and you just want a silent moment with something sweet.

When we started working on our Cooking for One cookbook, we knew we wanted to include a robust dessert chapter of no-fuss, scaled-down sweet treats. In the end we created 22 recipes that are simple enough to make any night of the week. All are perfectly portioned, many require no cooking at all, and the selection is varied enough—from Chocolate Chip Cookies for One to No-Baked Apple Crisp for One—that you’ll be sure to find the right recipe to match your mood.

One of the desserts we focused on is one that most people already have in their freezer right now: ice cream. Sure, ice cream is great by itself, but you have a veritable sundae bar waiting in your pantry. Here’s a list of simple, creative toppings that will take it from convenient to standout.

Sign up for the Cooking for One newsletter

A one-week meal plan featuring recipes from our best-selling book.

Creative Ice Cream Toppings

  • Extra-virgin olive oil and flaky sea salt: Whether you prefer light and fruity or robust and peppery olive oil, add a pinch of flaky sea salt and you’ve just created a combination any gourmand would approve of.
  • Crumbled potato chips and M&M’s: Like putting chocolate chips in salty popcorn, this topping will deliver that classic salty-sweet experience.
  • Balsamic glaze and gorgonzola: This combination is all about balance: sweet, tart, and a little funky. It’s for the grown-ups in the room.
  • Bourbon and cinnamon: Think of this like the Italian affogato. It’s a great nightcap!
  • Jam and peanuts: Turn the lunchbox staple into a mouthwatering dessert. You could even up the ante by swirling in a spoonful of peanut butter while you’re at it.
  • Matcha powder and honey: Turn your basic vanilla ice cream into green tea ice cream. The combination of honey and matcha tempers any bitterness while elevating the floral nature of each.
  • Crumbled nori and sesame seeds: Nori and sesame each add umami and bitterness, making your ice cream taste more complex and less one-note.
  • Chopped crystallized ginger and shaved dark chocolate: The ginger adds a little spice while shaved chocolate adds a dose of sweetness that melts in your mouth.

Granola for One

Granola is another one of my go-to ice cream toppings, and it turns out that you can make your own single-serving in the microwave! 

3 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
1 tablespoon nuts and seeds
1 teaspoon oil
1½ teaspoons maple syrup
Pinch salt

1. Combine all ingredients in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until golden and started to get cripsy, 1½ to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. (Microwaves vary in strength, so your cook time may be slightly shorter or longer. And be careful—the bowl will get hot!)

2. Let granola cool for 3 minutes in the bowl (it will crisp up more as it cools). If you like some chunks, transfer to parchment paper while hot and press to compact then let cool. Break up granola and sprinkle over ice cream (or whatever else you'd like!).

Solo dining never tasted so good

Cooking for One

More than 160 perfectly portioned, easy-to-execute recipes, flexible ingredient lists, and ideas for improvising to your taste.
Save 17%

Whipped Cream for One

No sundae is complete without a dollop of whipped cream, right? No need to break out the stand mixer: This mason-jar version whips up just enough for one serving!

¼ cup heavy cream, chilled
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in 1- or 2-cup mason jar. Close lid tightly, then shake jar until cream is thickened and holds shape on spoon, about 2 ­minutes. Serve. 

Want more info on cooking for one? Check out this collection of time-saving tips and other helpful resources, and our Cooking for One cookbook.

This is a members' feature.