Stock your freezer with this rich, creamy, and delicious rocky road ice cream recipe! A silky chocolate ice cream base mixed with walnuts, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows takes this ice cream to another level. Cool off all summer long with this homemade rocky road.

A white bowl filled with rocky road ice cream with a spoon in the right corner.

The History

Rocky road ice cream originated in Oakland, California where two ice cream makers hold a claim to the name. In 1929 Dreyer’s created a chocolate ice cream mixed with almonds and chopped marshmallows and dubbed it rocky road. Around the same time, Fenton’s, another ice cream maker in Oakland, created an ice cream with a chocolate base mixed with a rocky road-style candy bar.

Despite having competing origin stories the ice cream holds one notable importance. Rocky road ice cream was one of the first ice creams to feature a blend of mix-ins making it incredibly difficult to make and manufacture since more mix-ins increase the ice cream temperature and can cause a more icy frozen finish.

A top down photo of rocky road ince cream in a parchment paper lined bread loaf pan.

Key Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Heavy cream and milk: Used in the chocolate cream base and the custard to make creamy and irresistible ice cream.
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder: Dutch-process cocoa powder will give you the richest finish in this ice cream, but you can substitute unsweetened cocoa powder (like Hershey’s) if needed.
  • Chocolate: Chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate takes this ice cream to the next level. Choose either based on your personal preference.
  • Egg yolks: Used to make the custard to improve the stability of the ice cream.
  • Walnuts: Chop the walnuts into small, bite-sized pieces to avoid large chunks that make it hard to freeze. You can also use pecans, almonds, or peanuts if you do not have walnuts. Alternatively, if you do not want nuts, substitute with additional chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.
  • Mini Marshmallows: You can leave them whole or slice them in half for smaller bites of marshmallow goodness. You could also chop up large marshmallows if that’s all you have.
  • Chocolate Chips: I use classic semisweet chocolate chips, but mini chocolate chips are also fantastic in this ice cream. You can swap in dark, milk, or white chocolate chips, or even chop up your favorite chocolate bar.

Step-By-Step Directions

This loaded rocky road ice cream features a creamy chocolate base prepared and churned in a typical way. Once churned, you stir in the marshmallows, walnuts, and chocolate chips at the end!

  • Mix cocoa and cream: Warm cream and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan (#1). Whisk to blend then bring to a boil, whisking constantly.
  • Add chopped chocolate: Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth (#2). Stir in the remaining cup of cream.
  • Transfer to large bowl: Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl. Set this aside.
Two side by side photos of mixing the cocoa with the cream and melting the chopped chocolate into the sauce pan.
  • Heat milk and sugar: Warm milk, sugar, and salt in the same sauce pan. Whisk egg yolks in a separate medium bowl.
  • Temper the eggs: Pour the warm milk into the egg yolks whisking constantly (#3). Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  • Thicken custard: Stir constantly with a heatproof spatula until thickened (170°F on an instant-read thermometer).
Side by side photos of tempering the eggs and straining into the chocolate mixture.
  • Strain into chocolate: Pour through the strainer and stir into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla (#4).
  • Chill the chocolate ice cream: Stir until cool over an ice bath then chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (#5).
Side by side photos of chilling the chocolate mixture over an ice bath then cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze in ice cream maker: Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (#6).
  • Fold in mix-ins: Once it’s finished churning, fold in the marshmallows, walnuts, and chocolate chips (#7 & 8).
Side by side photos of mixing in the mix-ins and then finished rocky road ice cream.

Recipe Tips + Storage Instructions

  • No ice cream maker? No problem! Check out my tutorial on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker so you can get churn-quality ice cream every time!
  • Storage: Keep your ice cream stored in a wide, flat airtight container. This allows for a quick freeze and reduces the size of the ice crystals while the ice cream freezes, leaving it nice and creamy.
  • Shelf-Life: This creamy rocky road ice cream keeps for up to 2 months in the freezer for ultimate flavor and freshness.
A scoop of rocky road ice cream in a bread loaf pan with an ice cream scoop at the bottom and a cup of ice cream in the top right corner.

Serving Suggestions

As if this chocolate ice cream could get any better, here are a few ways I love to dish it out and dress it up!

Rocky Road FAQs

Why is it called rocky road?

The name rocky road comes from the time period the ice cream was created in. Named after the stock market crashed in 1929, the name rocky road was given to the ice cream as something to give people a reason to smile during the great depression.

What flavor is rocky road ice cream?

The base of a rocky road ice cream is made with chocolate ice cream. I use my life-changing, best-ever chocolate ice cream. Seriously… it’s that good!

What kind of nut is used in rocky road ice cream?

A traditional rocky road ice cream features chopped almonds. My version uses walnuts since that’s what I grew up eating in the Marble Slab version of rocky road. I also use them in my Rocky Road Rice Krispie Treats! See some variations above for other nuts you can use in this recipe as well.

Frozen Desserts to Try Next

An ice cream scoop with a heaping scoop of rocky road ice cream.

Skip the store-bought and make your own rich and creamy rocky road ice cream at home! Packed with mini marshmallows, chopped walnuts, and chocolate chips this homemade ice cream is an absolute dream!

If you make this recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A silky chocolate ice cream base mixed with walnuts, marshmallows, and chocolate chips make this homemade rocky road ice cream!

  1. 1. Warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

  2. 2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

  3. 3. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (and reaches 170 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

  4. 4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to thin it out.) Once the ice cream has finished churning, fold in the marshmallows, walnuts and chocolate chips.

Nutritional values are based on the whole recipe
  • No ice cream maker? No problem! Check out my tutorial on how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker so you can get churn-quality ice cream every time!
  • Swapping out the nuts. Use pecans, almonds, or peanuts if you do not have walnuts. Alternatively, if you do not want nuts, substitute with additional chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.
  • Storage: Keep your ice cream stored in a wide, flat airtight container. This allows for a quicker freeze and reduces the size of the ice crystals while the ice cream freezes leaving it nice and creamy.
  • Shelf-Life: This creamy rocky road ice cream keeps for up to 2 months in the freezer.

Calories: 4898kcal

Fat: 361g

Saturated fat: 175g

Cholesterol: 1675mg

Sodium: 480mg

Potassium: 2325mg

Carbohydrates: 379g

Fiber: 26g

Sugar: 303g

Protein: 66g

Vitamin A: 8965%

Vitamin C: 4.4%

Calcium: 1027%

Iron: 18%

Did you make this recipe?

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Photography by Lauren Grant.