Don't put ice cream in the air fryer! This recipe can be made in the oven if you don't have an air fryer. An easy, fast, and clean way to make a delicious Mexican fried ice cream dessert. This is the best Fried Ice Cream Recipe Air Fryer Method without any oil.
Then & Now
My first experience of Fried Ice Cream happened around 1980. There was a chain Mexican restaurant called Chi-Chi's. Were you around then?
It was a warm-coated ball of vanilla ice cream. Crusty on the outside and cold hard vanilla ice cream on the inside. The crunchy coating was drizzled with honey, whipped cream, and a cherry. All of this was placed on a deep-fried flour tortilla.
It wouldn't be until later that Chi-Chi's offered other toppings such as, " Caramel, Strawberry, Chocolate Syrup, or Chi Chi's own Kahlua Hot Fudge Sauce."
Decades ago, I found a recipe in Todd Wilber's Restaurant Copycat Cookbook that made what I considered to be a mock fried ice cream. It was here that he revealed the big secret, that Chi Chi's Famous Fried Ice Cream, wasn't fried. It involved rolling the hard ice cream in a crushed mixture of cornflakes, cinnamon, and sugar.
I reviewed several old menus. Possibly, it was offered deep-fried at one point in time. Here is how it read on the menus from three different decades.
I noticed on one of the menus the "TM" Trademark for "Mexican Fried Ice Cream." On the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, I found that the term "Mexican Fried Ice Cream" was in fact, trademarked in 1990 by Chi- Chi's Inc.
Now, most American Mexican Restaurants have Fried Ice Cream on the menu.
You'll love this Fried Ice Cream Recipe Because...
- NO Grease, No Hot Oil, No Butter
- NO Deep Fryer, no splatters, no mess
- Slightly healthier without the deep-frying
- NO egg whites (noticed some recipes using eggs)
- NO artificially flavored Cereals used, Just Regular Corn Flakes, Crushed
- NO greasy fried tortilla plate or bowl to waste (nobody ever eats those, do they?)
- Use different types of Ice Cream to accommodate lactose, dairy-free, low-fat, or sugar-free.
- Using Coconut Sugar instead of white sugar gives it a deep-fried taste.
- The ice cream balls and coating can be prepped ahead and it's a very fast dessert to put together.
What Happened To Chi-Chi's?
The chain was started in the mid-1970s. The first location was in Minnesota. However, the last location of 237 restaurants was gone by 2005. If you read stories online about what closed them down, they say it was due to food poisoning from raw green onions in the salsa.
Four people died. Additionally, more than 600 people contracted Hepatitis A stemming from that outbreak. They traced it back to a Chi-Chi's located in a mall just south of Pittsburg, PA . Many of the infected were high school students who contracted the virus from the original victims.
At around that time, smaller more authentic family-run type Mexican restaurants started to make a presence so there was more competition. Consumers of Mexican food had more choices.
Back to the ice cream.
The Secret To Making Fried Ice Cream in Air Fryer
No need to put the ice cream in the air fryer! I have made two new changes to the ever-changing fried ice cream recipe from my old recipe box. It is hard to believe my very own recipe box is now a decade past "Vintage."
1. First, we will use an air fryer to cook the crusty fried coating.
The upgrade from the old recipe is that the coating will be warm, more like actual deep-fried ice cream.
2. Second, we use a secret ingredient that gives the crust a crunchy caramelized, deep-fried taste. It's Coconut Sugar! Coconut sugar does NOT taste like coconut.
It has a brown sugar flavor without all the stickiness. I've been updating many of the old recipes from my first recipe box collection.
We elevate the recipe by using Coconut Sugar in the coating.
Coconut Sugar is supreme for caramelizing foods. Read all about it in my post for Easy Air Fry Caramelized Pineapple - 2 Ingredients.
Fried Ice Cream Preparation Overview
1. Dip the Ice Cream Scoop in hot water first. Scoop the creamy vanilla ice cream into balls, cover with plastic wrap, and place back in the freezer.
2. In an electric chopper, blender, or ziplock bag with a rolling pin, pulverize the Kellogg's Corn Flakes and ground cinnamon together. (Do you know the fascinating story of the Kellogg brothers? Extra! Extra! Read All About in Raisin Bran Muffins Recipe.)
3. On a piece of non-stick foil, spread the cornflakes mixture into a thin layer in the center.
4. Mix the coconut sugar gently into the cinnamon and crushed crumb mixture.
5. Fold into a closed packet and air fry at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes or until the coating mixture starts to brown. If you don't have an air fryer, you can bake it in the oven with the same directions. It should be at the stage of just turning darker around the edges. Air fryer temperatures vary, so check the packet every few minutes.
6. The crumbs should be golden brown. Quickly roll the hard ball of ice cream in the hot crumbly coating.
7. Add your favorite toppings, whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and serve!
If you don't have coconut sugar, regular sugar just like the original recipe works just fine. If you don't have an air fryer, you can bake the topping in the oven. Everyone's air fryer cooks differently so check the crumbs every few minutes for doneness.
A simple dessert in less than 20 minutes!
Ideas For Toppings
- Syrups: Maple, Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Peanut Butter, Hot Fudge
- Sauces: Caramel Sauce, Fruit Sauces such as fresh strawberry, blueberry, mangoes
- Fruits or nuts: Chopped apricots, fresh strawberries, raspberries, Preserves, wet walnuts, or almonds
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Best Fried Ice Cream Recipe Air Fryer Method
- 1 Air Fryer
- 1 sheet non-stick foil
- 4 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
- 2 cups Kellogg's Corn Flakes
- 2 Tablespoons Coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 teaspoon honey or chocolate syrup
- canned whipped cream
- 4 masrichino cherries
- Scoop balls of ice cream and place on a plate. Cover and place back in the freezer to harden. (may do this step ahead of time)
- In a food processor or blender, grind cornflakes and cinnamon until pulverized, about two minutes.
- Spread the fine crumbs onto a sheet of non-stick foil. Gently stir in the sugar.
- Fold packet to enclose the ingredients.
- Air Fry on 400 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
- Carefully remove the packet, unfold and roll the hard balls of ice cream to coat each one completely.
- Place in serving dishes and top each with honey, whipped cream and a cherry.