Root Beer Float

Root Beer Float—the quintessential summer treat! with scoops of vanilla ice cream floating in bubbly foamy root beer.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 root beer float


  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Root beer


Spoon a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream into a tall glass. Slowly pour root beer into the glass, allowing the foam to rise and then recede before adding more root beer.

Serve with straws and spoons.

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  • Mark

    Best way to make a float is to add the root beer first. Then add ice cream on top of it. This way it doesn’t foam up as much as the other way around.

    Blend it up slightly in a blender for a root beer “freeze”! :)

  • terry lee

    We have the same thing in Australia,we call it a spider ;)

  • Melissa

    I grew up in Saskatchewan and we had root beer, orange, grape or cream soda floats as a treat at home or at the local A & W. In the winter, a float just didn’t seem appropriate so as kids, we’d often add 2 or 3 tablespoons of cream (like coffee cream) to our root beer. I know, seems disgusting but it really was delicious! Oh, and our name for this treat? Moose Milk of course!

    Love it! ~Elise

  • Sandy

    Root beer floats are good, but the best floats of my childhood were Vernor’s ginger ale floats! Vernor’s was a Detroit institution and had the best ginger ale–spicy and fizzy, with bubbles that leaped out of the glass into your face. (You can still get Vernor’s, but now it’s owned by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and it doesn’t quite have the same fizz and zing that I remember.)
    My favorite thing to do on a hot, sticky day was to pile in the car and head for the local Dairy Isle, where I always had a Vernor’s float. Yum!

  • Kimberly

    Thanks for the inspiration! We had root beer floats for dessert last night, and they were delicious. I had forgotten about the crunchy bits until I read through the comments here and sure enough, that was the best part! I used Boylan root beer, which is sweetened with cane sugar and tastes amazingly great.

  • Kevin

    I love RB floats – you should also try “Purple Cows”! It is grape soda (I like Welch’s the best) and vanilla ice cream. You can also have a Dream Float and use orange soda & vanilla… I don’t support using Cream Soda -I tried it once and it made me throw up -it tasted fine, but WOW did it react bad!!

  • Laura

    try vanilla ice cream with orange pop!!! aaalmost better than a creamsicle.. almost! :)

  • Banana

    A reply to Sandy, who said, “My only concern now is how hard it is to find rootbeer without HFCS – I’ve been using diet rootbeer but it’s not the same”

    Try Virgil’s Rootbeer, it’s made by Reed’s. You can find it at most supermarkets, and I know they sell it at Whole Foods. It’s sweetened with real sugar, no HFCS, and has such an incredible rootbeer flavor. They also make delicious ginger ale! :)

  • Betsy

    This is one of my favorites and one of the best desserts for those of us watching calories or sugar.

    For those of you with Diet restrictions, I use the low sugar Vanilla Ice Cream and Diet Root Beer, neither of which is great by themselves, but great in a float!

  • Tina

    For those of you REALLY into the icy, crunchy root beery crust that forms in root beer floats…
    I detest diet sodas & believe that full-fat ice cream is the only way to go but… during a stint with Weight Watchers, someone recommended making a float with diet root beer (I used A&W) and diet ice milk. The diet soda part was not so bad and the ice crusties were bountiful. My guess is the low-fat in the ice milk creates more crunchy goodness.

  • Patty

    I lived in Rhode Island until I was 8 yrs. old and it was common to have a black cow…root beer with chocolate ice cream.

  • ChiLibrarian

    A few times a summer we’d do a family drive-in night. We kids in our jammies, we’d drive-in for dinner, including root beer floats for dessert, then on to the drive-in movie double feature. Everyone under 10 would fall asleep before the second feature even started. The drive-in restaurant is long gone, but the movie theater is still in business.

  • Gerri

    The thing I like the best about root beer floats is what happens to the outside of the ice cream after pouring the root beer over it. There’s this interesting fusion that freezes the ice cream with the root beer, and makes a nice crunchy coating to the ice cream. Definitely my preferred way to have the float. That’s why I don’t like soft serve ice cream in floats. No nifty crust.

    Also delicious is a float made from Squirt and vanilla ice cream.

  • rebecca h.

    Oh, good memories.

    In my (then small) hometown all the shops closed at 5pm, except on Thursdays, when the little local shopping complex stayed open until 9pm. On every Thursday of my childhood and adolescence my mom and I did the grocery shopping at six o’clock, and every Thursday before we did the shopping we would have a snack in the same coffee shop. It was a big deal. Our family didn’t eat out unless it was a special occasion, not even in coffee shops. We would share a simple sandwich, Mom would order a pot of tea for herself and I would always have a root beer float. I would manage to agitate it every time and it would overflow every time. The waitress always brought it with two saucers to catch the inevitable overflow.

    As a teenager trying to be sophisticated my drink order may have changed to mineral water or iced lattes but the Thursday tradition remained the same. Whenever I visit home I still go grocery shopping with my mom on Thursdays and these days I’m back to ordering root beer floats.

    • Larry

      How lucky you are to still be able to relive that childhood enjoyment with your Mother.. keep on enjoying. Blessings

  • islandexile

    My father made and stored root beer in the garage of our Sacramento home. It was one of our favorite parts of the long, hot summers, along with running through sprinklers and playing volley ball after dark. We loved the floats and mourned every bottle that exploded (something to do with the heat & yeast he told us)and was lost. Thanks for bringing back those sweet memories!

    I love running through sprinklers on a hot day. Almost 50 and I still do it. ;-) ~Elise

  • Jennifer

    I grew up in the 50’s in a small town in northeastern Massachusetts and was one of seven kids. My parents seemed to have an endless supply of simple family activities that became unforgettable traditions that we all still talk about when we are together. One of the fondest memories I have is working as a team in the kitchen, making root beer from the little bottle of Hires “magic”. We would set up an assembly line that started with washing and sterilizing a supply of green bottles and moved along through the filling station using a funnel to the end where my oldest brother would use a red metal bottle capper to seal the tops. We would then lie them in a wooden box on their sides, wrapped in newspaper, and store them in a dark damp section of the cellar for what seemed like an eternity until the root beer was ready. Add some hand-churned vanilla ice cream and we were in heaven! Thanks for bringing it back!

  • angela

    My dad would make them for us also as kids.
    But he would use a scoop of vanilla icecream ,a scoop of orange sherpert and orange soda. He would make lime ones with a scoop of vaniila icecream, scoop of lime sherpert and 7 up. Delicious!

    Wow, those sound great! ~Elise

  • Peggy

    My childhood memory is the NYC Egg Cream. You take an 8oz. frosted Coke glass and pour 1″ Fox’s U Bet Chocolate Syrup and 1″ Milk, stir and then add Seltzer. It will fizz up, just like the Root Beer Float, but it is proper to sip it fast, before the fizz of the seltzer goes flat. No, there are no eggs or cream in this, but that is the original NYC Egg Cream. Try it, I guarantee you will love it…..

  • Ben

    The biggest secret to great RB floats is chilled glasses. Put your glass mugs into the freezer for 30-60 mins before preparing. You get nice root beer ice shards.

  • Sandy

    My first rootbeer floats were enjoyed with my brother’s Little League team at the A & W in our little town. Everybody climbed into the back of someone’s pick-up after a hard fought victory. No baseball for the girls back then, but the taste of a rootbeer float was almost as sweet as my brother’s win. Even today, rootbeer floats with the grandkids are a highlight and treat during those dog days of summer!

  • Sarah

    I grew up in my parents’ ice cream store, so I am a root beer float pro!
    The secret to my root beer floats is to mix a tablespoon of ice cream and root beer at the bottom of the glass, and then add the scoops of ice cream and root beer. Always delicious.