Root Beer Floats with Vanilla Bean Gelato

When we embarked on the homemade ice cream path, the next obvious step was consumption of all the delicious gelatos and ice creams that were filling the freezer. First we ate bowls of vanilla bean gelato with mint leaves for garnish, we smooshed it between cookies, made shakes with fresh strawberries, topped it with strawberry sauce and, of course, as root beer floats. Note: Good root beer floats always starts with a good root beer. Goose Island? Pure cane sugar? Check.

While dating Ole, I learned quickly that there was a proper way to construct a float. I remember clearly the day we spent at Five Points in Columbia, South Carolina. We had stopped by Adriana’s (back when they had gelato still) and ordered root beer floats, and he instantly started complaining about the soda-to-gelato ratio.

You see, he complains (ahem, readily) when there is not enough root beer. For a root beer float to really be a float, the ice cream or, in this case, gelato, should, well, float. A cup full of ice cream with root beer drizzled over the top is not a float. It is a root beer sundae. And a puddle of root beer topped with ice cream, also not a float. It will become a root beer shake as you try to get the root beer to cover the ice cream and just end up stirring it all in. Start by filling the vessel you’ll be using a third full with soda.

Next comes your ice cream of choice. I went with the vanilla bean gelato because, well, I was trying to make room for another flavor combination I wanted to try. What? You can never have too much ice cream in the summer. It is not possible.

At this point, your glass should be about two-thirds full. Scoops will depend on the size of your scoop and, of course, your glass.

Finally, pour root beer over the ice cream again. This will give you the nice foamy quality that you are so used to, where the foam gets nice and thick, taking on a consistency all its own.

And the root beer that is left? That is to be served with the float, of course. Those places that keep it behind the counter? Blah. And splitting one bottle into two floats? Definitely not allowed, unless, of course, they’re child-sized floats.

However you make yours, root beer floats make a great summertime treat with the cold, bubbly root beer mixing with smooth vanilla ice cream. The kids know the minute we buy soda what it is for. It is a family favorite at our home that will have the kids squealing and begging the minute they know the root beer is in the house and cold and the ice cream is ready.


  1. I don’t drink soda, so I am not a float fan, but I do love me some ice cream:)

  2. We don’t drink soda either, with exception for desserts. When we do, we try to choose sodas without HFCS, like the Goose Island Root Beer here. Besides, root beer floats are just so satisfying on hot days, and we love to share our favorite memories with our kids.

  3. Oh, heck yes!!!! I guess I like root beer ‘shakes’ b/c I love the majority of it to be ice cream with the root beer sort of as the syrup topping. Next time I have both the ingredients in my house I will make a true root beer float though, I need to give it a chance 😉

  4. Where can you find Goose Island Root Beer in Minneapolis?

  5. Floats are the only reason I drink pop. Root beer, most definitely – although I still like to have mine with a spoon.
    Another favourite is mango ice cream with ginger ale.

  6. Delish. I guess I never knew the right way to make a root beer float before…thanks, Ole!

  7. Wow – this is over the top! The vanilla gelato looked amazing and now you used it in a root beer float. Delish!

  8. Katherine says:

    Mmm looks good – now if you take this idea and turn it into a cupcake or cake….WOW 😉

  9. Stellar! Totally love it!!!
    .-= thepinkpeppercorn´s last blog ..super moist chocolate cake & to-die-for nutella frosting =-.

  10. Delicious! I don’t like that much soda but I so love root beer and haven’t had a float in years. You’ve inspired me to give this a try!

  11. Yum! A nice take on a classic nostalgic summertime staple 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend!
    .-= Savory Tv´s last blog ..Five Delicious Grilled Corn Chef Recipes =-.

  12. Cowpunkmom says:

    I know it doesn’t make sense, but the only time of the year our family consumed root-beer floats was on Christmas Eve. We didn’t buy pop very often, and so when Dad came home with a case of root beer a few days before Christmas, we all got very excited.

    Love floats, but they don’t make me think of summer. They make me think of Christmas!

  13. simple and delicious. i love that when you start with great ingredients, it’s very hard not to have a great dish. this is a prime example of that. craft made root beer with gourmet gelato equals a fantastic treat.


  1. […] Ice cream may seem intimidating to make, but really, it’s easy. Even seemingly complicated recipes don’t end up being that much work, and the luscious, silky flavor of homemade ice cream is always worth the effort put into it. These are fantastic to make with the kids as well. If you don’t make ice cream regularly, they’ve probably never even considered making their own. Bring them along for the flavor ride. Vanilla Bean Gelato | Simple and smooth, this gelato is perfect for ice cream sandwiches or as a base for your favorite toppings. It even makes a mean root beer float. […]

  2. […] Root Beer Floats :: Food for My Family […]

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