A Root Beer Float is a refreshing summertime treat made with vanilla ice cream topped with root beer, whipped cream, and a cherry on top. If you want to make this an adult version, be sure to try my Dirty Root Beer Float! And don’t miss out on my other Summer Drink Recipes, too.

Adding Ice Cream to a Mug To Make a Root Beer Float.

Root Beer Float

It makes sense that National Root Beer Float Day is on August 6th, one of the hottest days of the year! But, don’t wait until August to enjoy this sweet dessert. This classic root beer float, also known as a ‘black cow’ or ‘brown cow’, starts with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then, the ice cream is topped with root beer, whipped cream, and a maraschino cherry. 


Ice Cream: I added a few scoops of vanilla ice cream to make the float. I will also give you some more flavor ideas later.

Root beer: Use your favorite brand of root beer or diet root beer; I poured almost an entire 12-ounce can over the ice cream. However, the amount you need will depend on the size of glass or mug you are using.

Garnish: Although you don’t have to add the toppings to the root beer float, I love a little cool whip and, of course, the cherry on top!

Pouring Root Beer Into a Mug to Make a Root Beer Float Recipe.

History of the Root Beer Float

Root beer floats can be classified as a drink, a treat, a dessert, or a snack; it really fits in all of those categories. But, who decided to pour soda over ice cream in the first place? The most common answer is that Robert McCay Green was serving cold drinks in Pennsylvania in 1874 when he ran out of ice.

To keep the drinks cold, he added ice cream to the glasses before pouring in the drinks. Thus, a new drink/dessert was made! As for coming up with the root beer float, specifically, they were supposedly first served in a mining camp in Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1893. 

Can I Use Different Kinds of Ice Cream?

Yes! Try it with chocolate ice cream, Neapolitan, or some scoops of root beer ice cream. You could also make the float with gelato or vanilla custard.

Soda Spilling Over the Mug for a Root Beer Float.

Can I Use a Different Kind of Soda?

If you want to switch things up a bit, try a different kind of soda instead of root beer. Try coke (or Pepsi), cherry coke, or Dr. Pepper. Add some orange crush over the ice cream for an orange creamsicle-like dessert.

More Ice Cream Drinks

5 from 1 vote

Root Beer Float

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Root Beer Float is a refreshing summertime treat made with vanilla ice cream topped with root beer, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.


  • 3-4 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 1 can (12 ounces) root beer, or enough to top off the drink
  • whipped topping, for garnish
  • maraschino cherries, for garnish


  • In a large mug, add the scoops of ice cream.
  • Slowly pour root beer over the top. (Be careful when pouring; it will fizz up.)
  • Top with whipped topping and maraschino cherries, for garnish.

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Meet Amanda Rettke

Amanda Rettke is the creator of I Am Baker, and the bestselling author of Surprise Inside Cakes: Amazing Cakes for Every Occasion – With a Little Something Extra Inside.Over the course of her 15+ year blogging adventure, she has been featured in and collaborated with the Food Network, New York Times, LA Times, Country Living Magazine, People Magazine, Epicurious, Brides, Romantic Homes, life:beautiful, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Mail, Star Tribune, The Globe and Mail, DailyCandy, YumSugar, The Knot, The Kitchn, and Parade, to name a few.

Reader Comments

  1. I am a long-time root beer float lover. I use chocolate ice cream and a premium brand of root beer. I stir everything together to make it like a milkshake. Sooo good.

  2. Amanda, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your new book: “HOMESTEAD RECIPES”, by AMANDA RETTKE !! I am really looking forward to trying the many scrumptious, tantalizing-looking recipes colorfully illustrated, along with the mouth-watering ingredients completely and clearly listed with each recipe. Thank you so much also for the surprise, ‘added nugget’: the $100 gift card to help with gas,etc.!! WOW!! THANK YOU also to AMANDA BACON, from “KONP” ,1450 A.M., “RADIO PACIFIC”. Love the local radio station and the ‘GIRL FRIDAY’ SHOW on Fridays @ 1:00 p.m. here in PORT ANGELES, WASHINGTON 98362., LOVE, ROSE M. BENOIT

  3. Amanda, THANK YOU so much for your new book, “HOMESTEAD RECIPES” !! The illustrated recipes look scrumptious!! I look forward to many new adventures in cooking in the near future!! Thank you so much to the AMANDA’S!!! ROSE.

  4. My husband loves drinking bears on weekends. It will be a new surprise for him. Thank you so much.

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