The Secret Ingredient to the Perfect Mug Cake

image source: sheri silver
image source: sheri silver

Is it me, or have mug cakes taken over the Pinterest-verse? Seriously, I’ve been overwhelmed by the countless variations on these cakes you can bake in a mug.

I didn’t get it at first — I mean, what’s the big deal? But as I read (and read) through several recipes, I began to understand the appeal. The recipes require only a few ingredients (and utensils) — all of which are likely found in your pantry and fridge. The batter comes together in a matter of minutes — perfect for those “sudden” cravings. And these cakes are all baked in the microwave, allowing college students (and novice bakers) everywhere to have their cake and eat it too.

But my favorite feature of the mug cake? Its size. Typically, the smallest cake a recipe makes is an 8 x 8 square — still too large for one or two people (especially those of us with — ahem — restraint issues). A mug cake’s single serving size means you can indulge yourself in less time and with no tempting leftovers.

So I succumbed, and made a mug cake. And then another. And yet another still. And while I couldn’t challenge their fast, easy, and convenient nature, I have to say that I was disappointed. Spongy, dry texture. Meh flavor. In short, not worth even the minimal time and effort it took to pull together.

And then I discovered a promising recipe that used melted ice cream, and had to give it a try.

three ingredient ice cream mug cake
Image source: Sheri Silver

With only three ingredients, and NO bowl, I was excited about the prospect of an even easier (and hopefully more delicious) version of this popular cake.

three ingredient ice cream mug cake
Image source: Sheri Silver

We had a winner.

The flavor and texture were vastly improved, and the whole thing came together — from start to finish — in five minutes.

It took a few tries to get the measurements and timing just right, and you’ll likely need to play around with the timing, based on your microwave and mug size and shape. But here are a few helpful hints to ensure success:

  1. You must use cake flour for the most tender texture. All-purpose flour will result in a tougher cake.
  2. This recipe works best with full-fat ice cream.
  3. Because this recipe contains no butter or eggs, you can easily make this a vegan treat by using a coconut milk-based ice cream. Again, the higher the fat content, the better the results.
  4. You can use any flavor ice cream you like but the more intensely flavored the better (think double chocolate chip, salted caramel, mocha, etc.).
  5. A wider, shorter mug is better than a tall, narrow one — you’ll have less overflow and the cake will bake more evenly throughout.

Ready to “bake”?

three ingredient ice cream mug cake
Image source: Sheri Silver

3-Ingredient ‘Ice Cream’ Mug Cake

Makes: 1 serving


  • 1/2 cup full-fat ice cream (I used chocolate-chocolate chip)
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. Melt ice cream in microwave for 20 seconds. Whisk until smooth. Add flour and baking powder, and whisk again until smooth and flour is no longer visible.
  2. Microwave for 2 minutes, checking after 1 minute. The cake will puff up and then begin to settle. It is ready when the puffed-up portion no longer looks wet and shiny.
  3. Remove from microwave and let sit for 2-3 minutes to cool slightly (cake will deflate as it cools). Sift with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Serve immediately.
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