Root Beer Crunch

November 14, 2014

Sometimes the best dishes come about as a way of using up leftovers. That is exactly what happened with this dessert, which has quickly become my kids’ most requested treat. Here is how it came about. For my kids’ birthday parties I always ask them what food they want to serve. For my oldest son’s most recent birthday he requested two things, root beer and a veggie platter with dip. So that’s what we had (and a few other things as well). I decided to make it extra fun so I bought a keg of high quality root beer for the party. Everyone enjoyed it but when the party was over we had almost half a keg of root beer left. And the root beer was going flat very quickly since the keg was open.

My first thought was to freeze the root beer into a granita that could be served over ice cream to make a deconstructed root beer float. I poked around on the internet a bit to see if others had made this before (mostly because I was wondering if I should let the soda go flat before freezing it) and stumbled upon a recipe from Epicurious that not only turned the root beer into granita, but also made a reduced root beer syrup to serve over the top. So half of my root beer went into the freezer and the other half into the pan to be reduced to syrup. And I am so glad it did.

This easy treat is so much better than the sum of the parts. The textural and flavor combination of creamy vanilla ice cream and crunchy root beer granita is utterly divine, and the syrup adds a wonderful intensity to the dish. It is an elegant way to serve a childhood classic, and it is sure to be a big hit.

It is extremely important to use high quality root beer, because cooking down the soda into a syrup concentrates all the flavors, both the good and the bad. Cheap supermarket root beer sold in 2 liter bottles just will not be as good, It is worth the investment to get the good stuff. I use Virgil’s root beer, which is a delicious micro brewed root beer,  because I think it is the best, but other high quality root beers would work as well.

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Ingredients & Quantities

  • 8 cups (64 oz) good quality root beer, preferably micro brewed
  • 1 pint Not So Plain Vanilla Ice Cream or good quality store bought dairy-free vanilla ice cream

Cooking Instructions

Pour 4 cups root beer into 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Freeze for one hour. Scrape any ice crystals that have formed with a fork and throughly mix with the liquid. Freeze for another hour and repeat. Freeze until fully set, at least two hours more. (This can be made up to two days ahead. Once it has frozen fully cover the pan well to prevent freezer burn.)

Place the remaining 4 cups of root beer in large saucepan and boil it until the root beer is reduced to 1/2 cup. The should take about 30 minutes, but how long it takes depends on the size and shape of the pan. Cool root beer syrup completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (This can be made up to one week in advance, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Using tines of fork, scrape frozen root beer into icy flakes, then mix gently in pan to blend. Place 3/4 cup of the root beer granita into each of 6 clear glasses or dessert cups. Top granita with scoop of ice cream. Drizzle each with a tablespoon of root beer syrup and serve immediately.

Recipe Times


2 Minutes


30 Minutes


4.5 Hours

Recipe Yield

6 servings

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