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What Is an Ice Cream Buffet?

By Amber Eberle
Updated May 17, 2024
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An ice cream buffet is a dessert station concept that allows a person to choose different flavors of ice cream and then enhance them with a variety of toppings and sauces. This buffet can be set up in a private residence and are also commonly found at restaurants. Many people choose to have an ice cream buffet at weddings, large parties, or corporate events.

In a restaurant, an ice cream buffet is usually built into a counter top. In a home, one can be set up on a long table. Caterers who offer this type of dessert station usually have their own methods of setting it up at events. The area is usually set up with a place for dishes and utensils, followed by the ice cream, then the sauces, and finally the toppings. People usually serve themselves at an ice cream buffet, but at more formal events or restaurants there may be servers available to prepare the sundaes, based on a guest's instructions.

Many different types of ice cream can be used for this type of dessert buffet. One flavor, such as vanilla, can be featured or a variety can be offered. A home ice cream buffet usually includes ice cream that is purchased at a grocery store or made in a small ice cream maker. Restaurants or caterers commonly also use soft serve machines, which dispense softened flavors.

Ice cream can be served in bowls or cones. If the ice cream is being dispensed out of a carton, an ice cream scooping utensil is needed. When serving the frozen sweet in bowls, each person will require a spoon. Napkins are usually also provided for personal use and to clean up any ice cream that spills.

There are typically a number of sauces included in an ice cream buffet. Common ice cream accompaniments are hot fudge, caramel, strawberry, and butterscotch sauces as well as whipped cream. These can be purchased or made from scratch. When setting up the buffet, care should be taken to ensure that the hot sauces stay warm and the whipped cream is cooled to prevent it from melting.

Toppings included in an ice cream buffet can vary according to personal taste. Popular ones generally include sprinkles, hard candies, chopped nuts, coconut flakes, and chocolate chips. Many people also like to place a cherry on top of their ice cream creations. These items can be placed in serving dishes with the proper serving utensil.

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Discussion Comments

By Buster29 — On Apr 30, 2014

I look forward to visiting the ice cream buffet whenever I go out to those kinds of places. But my problem is that I'm just about too full from all the other salad and main entree items that I'm only able to enjoy a small sundae or put a little soft serve on a slice of pie. One of these days I'm going to eat dessert first at one of these all-you-can-eat places. My grandson would do that every time if we let him.

By Inaventu — On Apr 29, 2014

When I worked at an all-you-can-eat restaurant, we had a very popular ice cream buffet station. We had vanilla and chocolate soft serve, but we also had about 6 hard packed flavors, too. There were at least a dozen dry toppings to choose from, along with the traditional sauces like caramel, chocolate and hot fudge. I have to say I enjoyed showing up every morning for work there.

However, that ice cream buffet was one of the hardest areas to maintain. Children would pull down on the soft serve machine and then allow excess ice cream to pour out everywhere. The scoops for the hard packed ice cream would rarely get placed back into the holder with running water. They would get left behind in one of the cartons or dropped on the floor.

All of the dry toppings would get mixed together, and then end up in the wet toppings. But a lot of customers really didn't mind the mess, we discovered.

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