Go Back

Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert

Use canned pumpkin and creamy vanilla ice cream to create this layered Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert. It’s the perfect make-ahead dessert recipe for Thanksgiving!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword dessert recipes using canned pumpkin, frozen pumpkin dessert, ice cream dessert, make ahead dessert, pumpkin dessert, pumpkin recipe, Thanksgiving dessert recipe
Prep Time 30 minutes
Freezing Time 6 hours
Servings 12 servings


  • ¾ cup pecans chopped coarsely (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 40 Biscoff cookies or gingersnaps, though you may need extras to cover your 9x13” dish if you substitute different cookies
  • ½ gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • whipped cream for serving, optional


  1. Toast the pecan and spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant, roughly 5 minutes. Don’t overdo! It’s easy to burn pecans. Transfer to plate to stop the cooking and let cool.
  2. Arrange half the Biscoff cookies or gingersnaps to cover the bottom of a 9”x13” baking dish (a little overlapping is ok).

  3. Scoop the ice cream into a large bowl and soften by mixing and mashing with a wooden spoon. When the ice cream is soft enough to stir (but not melting!) fold in the pumpkin, sugar, salt, and the cooled pecans/spices until combined.
  4. Spoon half the ice cream mixture over the cookies in the baking dish and gently smooth the surface. Add the remaining cookies to the top of the ice cream and then finally, top with the rest of the ice cream mixture. Cover the top with plastic wrap (two layers is best especially if preparing in advance) and then freeze until firm, about 6 hours.
  5. To serve, cut into squares and top with whipped cream. If you are feeling fancy you could toast additional pecans and top with pecans and a sprinkle of cinnamon too!

Recipe Notes

My husband’s original recipe does not call for pecans. I thought they were a fun and festive addition from the American’s Test Kitchen, but if you prefer to skip, you certainly can.

This recipe serves 12 generously. If your Thanksgiving menu includes other desserts, you could plan that this would serve 16 (or maybe even up to 20) alongside those other treats.

One standard 8.8 oz package of Biscoff Cookies includes 32 cookies, meaning you’ll need to buy two to have enough for this recipe. However, I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding a way to finish off that 2nd package.

Make it ahead: Prepare the Pumpkin Ice Cream Dessert through step 4 and then leave it in the freezer until needed, up to 1 week (though we have done slightly longer to no ill effects!). The ease of making this ahead makes it a perfect choice of dessert to finish well before the Thanksgiving holiday!

This original recipe is from my husband's grandmother and was found nearly identically in the American's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. This version is a hybrid of the two, with the additional twist of substituting the gingersnap cookies for Biscoff, a family favorite.