There’s no wrong way to enjoy ice cream, whether you prefer it in a sugar cone, waffle cone, or just a paper cup. What can often be overlooked, however, is the general usefulness of the ice cream cone, a versatile vessel that functions perfectly well in the spotlight without its traditional partner in crime. Here are 12 ways to use ice cream cones beyond ice cream.
Not everyone has the will power to deep-fry a batch of cannoli shells, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying this cream-filled Sicilian delicacy. Simply buy or make a cannoli cream (or make this easy cannoli pudding) and use it as the filling in an ice cream cone. Top with chocolate chips, or dip it in some melted bittersweet chocolate for a more stunning presentation.
Making a batch of cupcakes? Let ice cream cones help you with that. Flat-bottomed cake cones function as the perfect vessel for these sweet little desserts; simply portion the batter directly into the cone where the ice cream would normally go, and the cupcakes bake up tidily inside (no fluted paper cups neded). Once cool, the cakes can be decorated to look like ice cream if you want a clever way to trick your guests—simply pipe the icing in a swirl on top to mimic soft-serve. No more scraping stubborn bits of burnt batter from your muffin tin.
Savory treats pair with cones just as much as sweet ones do. Since they’re mild in flavor on their own, sugar or waffle cones can be used as an edible vessel to hold popcorn, Chex Mix, chips, or pretzels. This makes a great idea for children’s parties, since kids will also love eating from cones filled with dried fruits, fresh berries, animal crackers, or yogurt-dipped anything.
Consider using the trusty waffle cone to assist with savory entrees. So-called waffle cone chicken, which uses crushed-up cones in the breading, is a great recipe to add to your repertoire, not only because it’s delicious but because it’s a great way to make use of a package of damaged ice cream cones no longer fit for holding ice cream. Waffle cones, though frequently paired with sweets, are essentially made from wheat flour and vegetable shortening with a little sugar, so they’re super versatile to work with.
Waffle cones make a lovely addition to trail mix; simply crumble them up and throw them in with nuts, dried fruits, granola, and whatever else satisfies your trail mix must-haves. If time is on your side, you can even fill the cones with melted chocolate, let them dry, and then crumble them into the mix to add a little more pizzazz. (Those flavorful, chocolate-filled points will be the tastiest, of course.)
No-bake pie crust
During the warmer months, using an oven to bake isn’t very appealing—but there’s a wide world of no-bake desserts out there to satisfy your sweet tooth, and that’s where the waffle cone pie crust comes in. With just a few pulses of a food processor, some melted butter, and the optional addition of brown sugar (since waffle cones aren’t super sweet on their own), you’ve got yourself the perfect foundation for all sorts of desserts, from cheesecake to chocolate pie. Don’t have a food processor? Simply crush up some waffle cones in a Ziploc bag using a rolling pin or wine bottle.
Here’s a secret about waffle cones that will change your dessert-making forever: You don’t have to be at the mercy of its natural shape. If you steam the waffle cone, it becomes malleable, and you can reshape it as you wish. So long as you work quickly with the newly flattened waffle while it’s still warm, you can roll it with a shot glass to create a tubular or taco shape. From there, it’s all about experimentation. The fillings for your dessert taco can be cream and berries, s’mores-inspired, triple chocolate—wherever your sweet tooth leads you. Yes, you can even dip the top of the “taco” in a chocolate coating if you’d like to evoke the Choco Taco.
Here’s a bit of information we trust you to use wisely: You can make yourself a giant crunchy Swiss roll just because, no reason needed, whenever you’ve got waffle cones handy. Whether you’re going the chocolate-and-cream route or the buttercream-and-strawberry one, a waffle cone can be rolled up to hold all that precious cargo by using the steaming-and-reforming techniques described above with dessert tacos. In place of soft sponge cake, the waffle cone adds a crunch to this classic treat, minus the baking.
Sugar cone cookies
How about elevating your sugar cookies by turning them into sugar cone cookies? These are exactly what they sound like: cookies with crushed sugar cones folded into the batter. They can be added to virtually any type of cookie, whether you opt for brown butter, sprinkles, chocolate chips, etc. What you’ll get is a slight crunch, if using waffle cones, and a bit of sweetness if using sugar cones. For a fun twist, try using chocolate cones if your grocery store has them.
If you want a low-effort dessert to look more like a showstopper, consider incorporating waffle cone baskets. Given their lack of sweetness, you can count on a dessert basket to hold already sweet ingredients without outshining them. Simply use the waffle cone steaming technique outlined above, letting waffle cones lay in a colander atop a boiling pot of water for the steam, then unraveling them into flat circles. Once placed individually into cupcake tins, they’ll take on a basket shape and can be filled with fruit, candy, brownie bites, mini muffins, doughnut holes, and other small treats. You can also use them as a cute vessel for pudding, or even yogurt and berries.
Sweet chips and dip
Got broken waffle cones? Here’s one way to make sure they don’t end up in the garbage can: Use them as chips. No, they aren’t savory, but not every dip needs to be savory either. Making a sweet appetizer like this Nutella dip or this s’mores dip and pairing it with some waffle-cone-shards-turned-chips is a resourceful way to use up the cones and get a little more creative than graham crackers. Just don’t break up the cones too much, or you’ll be serving a sweet dip with a side of sand.
Waffle cones are a sturdy structure to work on (if not overly handled), so decorating them can be a fun all-ages activity. Consider the cone a blank canvas for frosting, candies, and food coloring; decoration ideas include Christmas trees, Santa hats, witch hats, unicorn horns—the list goes on. You can also make a cute drip cake that looks like an ice cream cone melted on top.