Rocky Road Ice Cream – A Couple of Cooks

There is nothing better than Rocky Road ice cream! This combination of chocolate ice cream with nuts and marshmallows is a true classic.

rocky road ice cream

If you’re a fan of ice cream mixes, there’s nothing better than the good old classic. Icy Rocky Path! This flavor of ice cream is almost a century old and still as popular as ever. The creamy chocolate base contains pieces of toasted nuts and marshmallows, creating irresistible contrasts of texture and flavor. Make it homemade and you can also add pieces of chocolate (why not?!). Here is the Best Homemade Rocky Road Ice Cream Recipe and some notes on where this funky flavor came from!

Why is it called Rocky Road Ice Cream?

The rocky road to ice cream flavor was invented in 1929 by business partners William Dreyer and Joseph Edy, who co-founded the Dreyer’s and Edy’s ice cream brands. At that time, ice cream flavors were simple (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry). Rocky Road was one of the first combination flavors, using the mixture of chocolate, nuts, and marshmallows from a candy bar that Joseph Edy had invented. The name alluded to the “rocky” economic times of the Great Depression.

The story goes that William Dreyer used his wife’s sewing scissors to cut the marshmallows into pieces, since there were no mini marshmallows at the time! The original ice cream used nuts, but they were later replaced with toasted almonds. Some current versions also use chocolate chunks, but the original version only had a chocolate base.

Either way, we owe the idea for ice cream mixes to Dreyer and Edy, who pioneered the concept in the 1920s. (Ben and Jerry thank them, we’re sure!)

Icy Rocky Path

Rocky Road Ice Cream Ingredients

Sure, you can buy Rocky Road ice cream at the store. But it’s a fun and satisfying home project! There’s nothing better than that rich, creamy chocolate base with crunchy mix-ins. This is what you will need:

  • Cornstarch: cornstarch helps thicken ice cream and keep it smooth after freezing; is absolutely essential in our book!
  • Whole milk
  • Thick cream
  • cocoa powder
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt
  • Vanilla extract
  • almonds (or nuts)
  • marshmallows
  • Chocolate chips or chunks

for the marshmallows

There are a few options for marshmallows at Rocky Road Ice Cream. Turns out it’s tricky to cut marshmallows into pieces! They are very sticky and almost impossible to cut with a knife. So, we take a cue from the inventor of flavor, William Dreyer! You can also use mini marshmallows.

  • For large marshmallows, cut them with kitchen curtains! Soak the scissors in hot water before cutting each marshmallow, and if necessary, wipe the blades clean with a towel or paper towel. They’re a bit complicated, but we like the organic look of the large cutout shapes.
  • Or use mini marshmallows! These little marshmallows are much easier to handle. We don’t like the look that much though (feel free to use whatever you choose).
Icy Rocky Path

Add chocolate chips or chunks if you like.

The original Rocky Road ice cream recipe had no chocolate chips or chunks. But for us, the more chocolate the better! Some modern versions of Rocky Road include extra chocolate, but the original simply used chocolate as the base. Use whatever you like (we couldn’t resist a little more chocolate).

Required equipment: refrigerator

This Rocky Road ice cream recipe calls for a special piece of equipment: an ice cream maker. You’ll find it’s a great investment that you can use to make sherbet, sherbet, and ice cream all year long! There are two main types of refrigerators:

  • Ice Cream Maker in Freezer Bowl: This type of refrigerator is the most economical option. Here is the 2 quart ice cream maker we use; It has held up very well over the years. Be sure to freeze the ice cream maker base overnight before making this recipe.
  • Automatic ice cream maker: Do you make ice cream often? consider this automatic refrigerator, which is bigger and more expensive. It does not require prior freezing of the base, so you can make ice cream at any time.

How to Make Rocky Road Ice Cream (Basic Steps)

This homemade Rocky Road ice cream recipe uses the classic method of making ice cream: make a flan on the stove, cool it, churn it in an ice cream maker, then freeze it to “ripen” the texture. This is what you will have to do:

  • Make the pastry cream (5 minutes): Simmer the cornstarch, whole milk, cocoa powder, and sugar for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the heavy cream, more milk, vanilla, and salt.
  • Chill custard (1 hour or overnight): Cool the pastry cream before whipping it. You can do this in several ways. The quickest is to transfer the mixture to a large metal or glass bowl and place the bowl in a smaller bowl of ice water for 1 hour.
  • Churn (25 minutes): Beat the ice cream in the fridge.
  • Add Plugins: Add toasted almonds, marshmallow pieces, and chocolate chips.
  • Freeze or “mature” to get a hard ice cream texture (at least 2 hours or overnight): Freeze ice cream for 2 hours or overnight for a hard ice cream texture that can be scooped out.
Rocky Road Ice Cream Recipe

More ice cream flavors

And that is! Let us know if you try this homemade Rocky Road ice cream and what you think! (Edy and Dreyer would be proud.) If you have an ice cream maker, there are some more classic ice cream flavors you might enjoy:

This Rocky Road ice cream recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten free.


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There is nothing better than Rocky Road ice cream! This combination of chocolate ice cream with nuts and marshmallows is a true classic.

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, divided
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups thick cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup laminated almonds
  • ½ cup chopped large marshmallows or mini marshmallows*
  • ¼ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)

  1. In a small saucepan, slowly mix the cornstarch into 1 cup of the whole milk, then whisk together the cocoa powder and sugar. Heat over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until almost simmering and the mixture thickens.
  2. Get out of the fire. Add the remaining ½ cup milk, heavy cream, salt, and vanilla extract.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large metal or glass bowl. Place the bowl in a smaller bowl of ice water for 1 hour, making sure not to splash water into the custard. Alternatively, simply place the bowl in the refrigerator and wait 3 hours or overnight, until the temperature drops to 40°F.
  4. While the base is cooling, prepare the ingredients. Toast the almonds. To chop the marshmallows, use kitchen shears and dip them in hot water before cutting each marshmallow (wipe them clean with a towel or paper towel; you can also use mini marshmallows instead).
  5. Blend according to ice cream maker instructions, about 25 minutes for a soft serve consistency.
  6. Transfer the ice cream to a loaf pan or freezer container. Add ingredients with a spatula and mix to combine, saving a few ingredients to sprinkle on top.
  7. Sprinkle with the remaining ingredients. Then freeze in the freezer for at least 2 hours or up to 4 hours. Store in a loaf pan with a sheet of parchment on top or in a sealed container for up to 2 weeks.


*Easier to use mini marshmallows as large marshmallows are hard to chop: but kitchen shears work. However, we like the look of the organic shapes of the large marshmallows better.

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