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I have a confession.

This may come as a shock to you being that I have a cooking blog and love to cook but…

Right now, I hate cooking.

ice cream buffet party

It’s true. Something about hot weather makes me lose cooking motivation and despise being in the kitchen. It just feels…foreign. And so I try to avoid it as much as possible. Is that weird?

Well just in case you are also giving your kitchen the side eye these days, let me share with you what has been my no-cook dessert savior and the talk of my summer entertaining.

Three words for you my friend. Ice. Cream.Buffet.


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Pool parties, baby showers, bridal showers, cookouts, birthday parties, family dinners,  you name it and I bet you an ice cream buffet would be the perfect ending, the cherry on top (get it?) to any event. I mean, it’s ice cream for heavens sake!! Folks supposedly scream for this stuff, right?

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I’ve been using ice cream buffets for all of my summer entertaining this year and people go nuts over them. Like seriously. Something about seeing a table full of colorful topping options and ice cream just automatically evoke smiles from kids and adults.

This is a huge win in my book because it only takes a few minutes to throw together, can satisfy a crowd and requires no cooking.

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I can’t even tell you how many “oh my gosh!”, “this is so cool,” and “Monique, you’re an ice cream Goddess” comments I’ve heard.

Ok so that last one was a lie but being that ice cream buffets are so quick and easy to create, I totally feel like I’m cheating and getting more credit than I deserve.

And well… I kinda like it! So let’s cheat together.  Yesterday I set up a really simple ice cream buffet on the porch after dinner and of course the boys loved it!

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Thankfully, JCPenney was my one-stop-shop for pretty much everything I needed to create this ice cream buffet. Take advantage of their hot summer sales going on right now! I’ve linked directly to the products I used in this post to make it easier for you.

You ready?

5 Steps to Creating An Awesome Ice Cream Buffet

1. ) Get a table-  Any table will do. I used a quick folding table and covered it with a pure white “to the floor” length table cloth designed specifically for folding tables. I love how elegant this tablecloth made my raggedy old pale grey table look. I hide all of my topping refills under the table.

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If you’re going with a theme, the tablecloth is a great way to add some personality to your ice cream buffet. For example, a brightly colored tablecloth with a raffia table skirt would look great for a backyard luau.

Get this tablecloth here.


2.) Grab some ice cream- Keep it simple or serve up multiple flavors! I usually keep it simple and go with a homemade vanilla bean ice cream since it pairs well with various toppings!

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I used the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with my ice cream maker and added fresh vanilla beans.

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I’d suggest bringing the ice cream out only when you are ready to serve it or placing the cartons of ice cream in a bucket of ice to keep it frozen.

Get ice cream maker here.


3.) Gather up lots of toppings: This is the fun part and what makes ice cream buffets so cool!! The options are limitless. Be as wild or tamed as you like, bacon anyone?

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I used my families favorite; crushed Oreos, crushed chocolate chip cookies, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, strawberries, and bananas.

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Clear, glass bowls paired with clear spoons are perfect for showcasing all of the toppings.  I placed the bowls on this gorgeous crystal tiered server to display them better.

Get crystal tiered server here.

Get spoons here.

4.) Choose cones, bowls, cups, etc: You’ll need a way to serve the ice cream. I opted for sugar cones, sundae glasses, and porcelain ice cream bowls. You can jazz up store-bought cones by brushing the rims with chocolate and adding sprinkles.

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If you’re really feeling creative or want to have colorful waffle cones to match your theme try using a waffle cone maker to create your own homemade waffle cones!  

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Get ice cream bowls here.

Get waffle cone maker here.

5.) Add the finishing touches-  Now that we have everything in place, we just need to add some finishing touches to give it some “wow”.  If you going with a theme now is a great time to add themed items.  Create an ice cream buffet banner, throw on some colorful table confetti or create custom topping name cards.

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Be creative and think outside the box, chances are you probably already have things in your house that can be used for your ice cream buffet. I used mason jars to hold the waffle cones and a colorful, upside down storage box to display my white porcelain bowls.

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That’s it! Easy right?

Head to your nearest JCPenney or to gather items to create your own ice cream buffet!  Just be prepared for lots of “oohs” and “aaaah’s” from your guests.

ice cream bar

What’s your favorite thing about summer entertaining? 

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