Filed Under: Homemade | Ice Cream

Chocolate Shell Ice Cream Topping

Recipe By Tessa Arias
June 18th, 2011

Looking for a way to make your ice cream more flavorful? You've found it: Chocolate Shell Ice Cream Topping. Best when it's homemade!

Yield: 1 cup

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook: 1 minute

A Homemade Kitchen series includes recipes that feature homemade versions of your favorite store-bought meals, snacks, treats, condiments and more. Homemade is better for your budget, body, and taste buds.

Coconut oil. Have you heard about it? If you’re a vegan, you definitely have. If you shop at Whole Foods or similar grocery stores, you probably have. Coconut oil seems to be the latest fat in the food world as research is showing it’s actually much healthier then once thought (check out this New York Times article if you’re curious about the dirty deets). Many actually consider it to be a health food and it’s a great alternative to butter and other cooking fats if you suffer from allergies or are striving to be healthier.

But, let’s put health aside for a moment. Because coconut oil has another secret. It’s the key ingredient in those “magic shell” ice cream toppings that come out a liquid but harden once poured on ice cream (coconut oil is a solid at 76 degrees). And it turns out the topping is ridiculously easy to make at home. Best of all, it actually tastes better than the store-bought topping because there’s no extra sugar or artificial flavors or preservatives. And in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t taste like coconut. It’s pretty amazing.

What are your favorite coconut oil recipes?

I’d like to thank the folks from Kelapo Coconut for generously sending me a bottle of their organic, fair-trade Virgin Coconut Oil for me to experiment with. Check out their blog for more recipes & ideas.

How to make
Chocolate Shell Ice Cream Topping

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 4 minutes
Looking for a way to make your ice cream more flavorful? You've found it: Chocolate Shell Ice Cream Topping. Best when it's homemade!



  1. Melt the chocolate in a small metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the coconut oil and heat until dissolved, about 1 minute. Keep the liquid lukewarm until ready to pour over the ice cream. Chocolate will harden into a shell within a few seconds when spooned over ice cream.

Recipe Notes

From Thomas Keller via The New York Times
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Tessa Arias

About Tessa...

I share trusted baking recipes your friends will LOVE alongside insights into the science of sweets. I'm a professionally trained chef, cookbook author, and cookie queen. I love to write about all things sweet, carb-y, and homemade. I live in Phoenix, Arizona (hence the blog name!)

Find Tessa on  

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Recipe Rating

  1. #
    Maris — June 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    That's so awesome. What makes it harden?

    • #
      handleheat — June 18, 2011 at 7:36 pm

      The coconut oil! It's solidifies at cool temperatures.

  2. #
    Karin — June 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I use coconut oil all the time, as a butter replacement in my baking and as an oil replacement while frying or cooking. I love it! But I never made a chocolate sauce like that, great idea!

  3. #
    The Craving Chronicles — June 19, 2011 at 12:25 am

    I totally can't wait to try this!

  4. #
    oddball — June 19, 2011 at 3:33 am

    don't think it's the coconut oil that makes it harden. you could actually just pour melted chocolate over ice cream and the chocolate would harden into a shell, but that would be a thick shell because melted chocolate doesn't flow well.

    the coconut oil simply thins out the chocolate and allows to to be much more fluid. the hardening still comes mainly from the chocolate freezing on contact with ice cream. you could make the same sauce with butter, so coconut oil really is just a vegan substitute

    • #
      MikeW — June 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks! My wife is allergic to coconut, I was wondering if butter would work.

      • #
        handleheat — July 11, 2011 at 1:10 am

        Mike – So sorry for the delayed response, for some reason your comment was flagged as spam :/ Butter would work, probably not as quickly as coconut oil but it should suffice 🙂

    • #
      handleheat — June 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

      Oddball – the coconut oil definitely thins out the chocolate for a nice even layer but it also helps it to harden almost instantaneously because it solidifies at 76 degrees F 🙂

    • #
      KJF — June 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Oddball is partially correct, partially wrong. It isn't the chocolate, it's the oil — but it's not JUST coconut oil. It's any saturated fat. Yes, coconut oil hardens at room temp, but, magic shell and ice magic (another brand) products have been around longer than coconut oil in its most current, popular form has been around. The original recipe for home cooks is chocolate a smidge of butter, and corn oil, and you'll get the exact same result, albeit not quite so thin and delicate and quick. The magic shell product when it was originally sold had sunflower oil, and now has has both, I think — sunflower and coconut. The heated saturated oils harden on standing, or in contact with the cold ice cream.

  5. #
    Lauren @ KeepItSweet — June 20, 2011 at 12:01 am

    I've never tried coconut oil but this looks like a perfect way to use it!

  6. #
    Jenelle — June 23, 2011 at 8:58 am

    i usually use Coconut oil when cooking thai dishes, but this is an AWESOME recipe! Must try this with the 1-ingredient [banana] ice cream for a quick, frugal, and fresh way of desserts.

  7. #
    Akina — June 26, 2011 at 1:40 am

    To elaborate on KJF's response:
    Saturated fats are solid at room temperatures because they lack double bonds. Without double bonds, the molecules can rotate to fit together tightly and thus become solid. Unsaturated fats have double bonds which make it so the molecule can't rotate and have to stay farther apart and thus liquid.

  8. #
    Amber — July 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Don't try it in the microwave. I'll try it again the “right” way later today!

  9. #
    Kate M. Smith — February 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Just read the ingredients of Smuckers brand of chocolate shell, and there it was – Coconut oil. Gotta try this. 🙂

  10. #
    Amber — August 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    So yummy! I just tried it and the recipe works! Normally, I just melt chocolate and pour it on my ice cream. This is better because it hardens faster, harder, and it has a nice texture:)
    P.s. I made it with the microwave! Only one dirty dish!!!!!

  11. #
    Terese Salamon — April 29, 2013 at 2:35 am

    Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years owing to the high saturated fat content.^

    Remember to look out for our own internet page

  12. #
    Yvonne — March 8, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Do I have to use the virgin coconut oil or will any coconut oil work?


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