Ice Cream Soda Recipe

Homemade Ice Cream SodaDelicious Ice Cream Soda (Source: ©iStock/liveslow)

My ice cream soda recipe will reveal step-by-step how to make the traditional soda fountain beverage. It's easy, and you don't need any special equipment. An ice cream float recipe is also simple to make. Both drinks draw from the days of the old time ice cream parlor and will taste perfect anytime.

How to Make an Ice Cream Soda

© by Don Bell


Did you know that Lou Costello of the classic Abbott and Costello comedy duo really loved ice cream sodas?

On March 3, 1959, his dying words were: "That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted."

Here's my easy ice cream soda recipe that's based on the original pharmacy soda fountain method once used by soda jerks. Use it to make an old fashioned ice cream soda the same as your great grandparents once enjoyed.

First, put two to four tablespoonfuls of flavored fountain syrup into a tall, frosty soda glass.

Carefully drizzle the flavored syrup down around the sides of the glass and then slowly fill the glass with chilled soda water to about 2 inches or so beneath its rim.

Now add a large, round scoop of frozen vanilla ice cream so that it carefully rests directly on the rim of the glass allowing the ice cream and soda water to foam beneath.

The ice cream must be positioned on the glass just right: If it's resting too deep in the soda water the foam will overflow the glass; if it's situated too high on the rim there won't be enough foam produced to call it a true soda. With a bit of practice, you'll get it right.

Insert a drinking straw and a long-handled spoon between the ice cream and the rim of the glass and top the beverage off with a garnish of whipped cream and a big red maraschino cherry.

Experiment by combining different fountain syrups and your favorite ice cream flavors. There are infinite possibilities — all are delicious!

Plain soda water is available for sale in the beverage section at most food or convenience stores. But instead of soda water and fountain syrup, you may substitute your favorite flavor of homemade soda pop.

Purists will cringe at the thought of substituting soda pop saying, "It's not a genuine ice cream soda without the soda water," but it still tastes great.

Classic Ice Cream Soda Recipes

The Dispenser's Formulary or Soda Water Guide (1915)

The standard ice cream soda recipe calls for a delicious combination of ice cream, fountain syrup flavoring, and soda water to make a beverage that's widely appealing. The following recipes produce a "glorified soda" — that is, they are similar to the standard ice cream sodas in method of mixing and serving, but by the expert combination of flavors employed, they enter the extra-fancy class of beverage.

Chocolate Noir

2 ounces chocolate syrup, 1/2 glass plain milk, 3 spoonfuls ice cream. Mix in 12-ounce glass, fill with carbonated water, and serve with a spoon. Price, 10 cents.

Chocolate Mint

2 ounces chocolate syrup, scoopful of ice cream, sprig of mint. Crush the mint against the side of glass, add ice cream, and fill glass with carbonated water. Price, 10 cents.

Frosted Chocolate

Place 2 ounces of chocolate syrup and 2 ounces of cream in a glass, and half fill with carbonated water. Add 1 ounce of vanilla ice cream, then fill the glass with carbonated water. Top off with whipped cream. Sells for 15 cents.

Mixed Fruit Soda

1 ounce vanilla syrup, 1/2 ounce cream, 1/2 glass carbonated water. Add 2 tablespoonfuls of mixed fruit, finely cut and thoroughly saturated with simple syrup. Serve with spoon and straws.


Take a small amount of each fruit in season, cut very fine into a dish, adding enough simple syrup to cover, and let stand for several hours. In serving put 2 tablespoonfuls of the mixture into a 12-ounce glass, add ice cream and carbonated water as in other crushed fruit drinks. Price 10 cents.


1 fluid ounce strawberry syrup, 1 fluid ounce vanilla syrup, 1 spoonful ice cream. Place ice cream in a 12-ounce glass, add the syrups and fill with carbonated water.

New York Beauty

1 ounce strawberry syrup, 1 ounce plain syrup, 1-1/2 ounces ice cream. Mix in 12-ounce glass and fill with carbonated water, fine stream.

Allee Samee

3/4 ounce strawberry syrup, 3/4 ounce vanilla syrup, 1/2 ounce rich cream, 1 teaspoonful powdered sugar. Place in a glass and mix with fine stream carbonated water, filling glass with coarse stream.

Strawberry Soda Deluxe

Mix 2 ounces of fresh strawberries with an equal weight of powdered sugar and allow to stand all night; in the morning crush the fruit, and use with a scoopful of ice cream in a large soda glass. Now take an egg, and whip it using an egg beater to a foamy froth, which add to the fruit and cream mixture, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Top with whipped cream.

The author classes this beverage with the "sodas." Made up in larger quantities than called for in this formula, a better flavor may be produced. Sells for 20 cents.

Ladies' Choice

2 ounces raspberry syrup, 2 ounces sweet cream, 2 spoonfuls peach ice cream. Serve with 12-ounce glass like any soda drink with coarse and fine streams of carbonated water to fill glass. Charge 10 cents.

Maple Frostbite

1 ounce maple syrup, 1/2 ounce vanilla syrup, 1/2 glassful shaved ice. Rub the rim of a tall frappe glass with a piece of orange and dip the rim of the glass into powdered sugar, which will adhere to it.

Shake the syrup and ice, using a heavy glass and a shaker, then pour carefully into the frappe glass so as to not wash off the crusting sugar, and fill to about half an inch of the top with plain soda water. Add a slice of orange. Serve with paper napkin and straws. Price—10 cents.

About the Ice Cream Soda Recipe

The first ice cream soda recipe came about by accident at the Philadelphia Exposition in October of 1874. It was there that Robert M. Green invented the now familiar ice cream soda.

It had become the common practice for pharmacists of that day to add an ounce or two of fountain syrup — vanilla was the favorite flavor — and a tablespoonful of thick, sweet cream to soda water. The "cream soda" as it was called was very well liked by soda fountain regulars.

The story goes that one day Mr. Green ran out of fresh cream and purchased some vanilla ice cream from a nearby ice cream vendor. He planned to let it melt and use it as cream, but he became so busy that he added a big spoonful of the frozen ice cream to his customer's cream soda instead.

It was an instant hit! Word spread and the frosty, refreshing beverage that he created proved to be so wanted that his profits were said to have risen from $6 to $600 in a single day! A princely sum in 1874.

The popularity of the ice cream soda spread quickly and soon pharmacies and trendy soda fountains across the land began duplicating Green's recipe and offering the new frosty sodas to their thirsty customers. And the rest, as they say, is now history.

Supplies for Ice Cream Soda Recipes

Soda Jerk Serving Ice Cream Soda

For making perfect ice cream sodas, I recommend using flavored fountain syrups from The Prairie Moon Company (see below). They can supply both modern and traditional ice cream parlor flavors.

Or, you can make your own flavoring syrups using the original soda fountain recipes.

The Prairie Moon Company can also supply vintage  glassware, fluted soda glasses, long-handled spoons, and straws for serving. Everything you need to set up your own ice cream parlor and impress your friends.

Soda Fountain Syrups

Make your beverages with  flavored syrup concentrates from The Prairie Moon Company. Choose from over 50 old fashioned soft drink flavors including Root Beer, Sarsaparilla, and Cream Soda. Simply add water and your own sugar or sweetener. Low cost shipping to U.S. and Canadian customers. I highly recommend them!

You May Also Like

Homemade Soft Drink Recipes


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