Root Beer Floats with Malted Milk Ice Cream


I grew up spending summers at my family’s cottage in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the little ice cream store in town had a sundae topped with a big spoonful of malted milk powder. Nights were chilly but never too cold to go out for ice cream after dinner, and since then anything malt flavored always makes me nostalgic for the first warm days of summer.


These Root Beer Floats with Malted Milk Ice Cream are my little homage to those sundaes, and are also inspired by a dessert I had in a restaurant recently, a homemade malted milk ice cream with a splash of bitter Fernet-Branca liqueur. The combination of sweet and bitter immediately reminded me of a root beer float, and I realized I’d totally forgotten how good root beer floats are. Why doesn’t anyone eat them anymore? They are really good. 


Most ice cream recipes require making a custard with egg yolks and cream, cooling that mixture, and then freezing it in an electric ice cream machine. But by whipping together sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream, you can make ice cream that is just as creamy and rich as traditional custard-based recipes, but way easier. This recipe has only four ingredients and the only piece of special equipment you need is a hand mixer. (Technically, you can even make it with a whisk if you have the patience to whip cream by hand. I don’t.)

You might have some leftover ice cream -as if that’s ever a problem- but I can guarantee it’s just as good straight from the container or with some hot fudge on top.

Root Beer Floats with Malted Milk Ice Cream


  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 8 tbs malted milk powder, such as Carnation
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (12 oz) bottles root beer, such as Stewart’s or Boylan’s


  1. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream, malted milk powder and vanilla extract. Using a whisk or hand-mixer, beat until the mixture has thickened and forms soft peaks (about 3 minutes with a mixer.)
  2. Transfer the mixture plastic containers or a loaf pan and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, scoop ice cream into 6 tall glasses, and fill to the top with root beer. Serve immediately with straws and spoons.
1 Comment
  1. our group loves root beer floats but to “mature it up” we add a shot of Root Beer Schnapps to each float…we will trying this but will be adding our grown-up touch. Thanks Lidey.

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