I Worked At Cold Stone For Three Years: Here Are The 10 Best Things To Order
Ah, Cold Stone. The Hibachi grill of the dessert world. The place we go to to be treated to decision overload of flavor and topping options, while meanwhile getting dirty looks from an impatient (socially-distanced) line of ice cream lovers like ourselves.
If you’ve ever eaten at Cold Stone, you know how it feels to walk in and smell that signature waffle cone aroma (no, it’s not a bottled smell they use just to hook customers, it really is the homemade waffle cones.) You’ve faced that the lineup of every single candy, cookie, and ice cream topping imaginable, and you know how it can send your brain into both a state of bliss and overwhelm. You’ve seen the hand-dipped waffle cones with sprinkles, nuts, and and/or chocolate. And, like the Dalai Lama, you may want to order one with everything. Until you realize the additional charge for waffle cones and each mix-in (which varies from store to store, but generally around 70 cents for each mix-in after the first free one) can rack up fast.
You either get a job there, eat one free ice cream creation a day, and trust that your metabolism will make up for the extra calories… or you can listen to a trusted ice cream creator who did all that taste-testing for you.
Here is an experienced ice cream-ista’s take on the best items on the menu…or not on the menu. Plus: hacks on how to get the most bang for your buck.
10. Cherry Loves Cheesecake Shake
While this one’s a retired item, most stores will still make it for you if you ask. If your server doesn’t know it, you can use the Create Your Own option and cheesecake ice cream in a shake with cherry pie filling as your mix-in.
If you’re a pie crust lover, add graham cracker pie crust as an additional mix-in. Here’s a tip: ask your server to layer the pie filling on top of the shake instead of blending it in — you won’t lose that crumby texture, and you can use your straw to swirl it into every bite.
9. Oreo Overload
One of Cold Stone’s Signature Creations, Oreo Overload is made with fudge sauce, mini chocolate chips, and double the Oreos.
Hack: the Love It size comes with a standard serving of two Oreos, so if you’re getting the Oreo Overload, the serving gets bumped up to four…as opposed to two in the Like It size of the Oreo Overload. If you’re in it for the Oreos (and really, who isn’t?) spend the extra forty cents and upgrade to the Love It size.
8. Cotton Candy Ice Cream Mixed with Raspberry Sorbet
Little-known fact: at Cold Stone you have to pay extra for each mix-in, but as long as your server can fit then into the right 5-, 8-, or 12-oz cup, you can mix as many flavors of ice cream as you want.
These two may not sound like they go together, but Cold Stone’s Cotton Candy Ice Cream and Rasperry Sorbet is a match made in ice cream heaven.
Hack: I had many a customer order gummy bears with either of these flavors. But unfortunately for Cold Stone lovers, gummy bears harden quickly after touching the stone’s frozen surface. My advice? Ask your server to skip the mixing, cutting out the time spent on the cold stone, and just sprinkle the gummies on top. They may still harden, though, so if you prefer, go with sprinkles — who doesn’t love sprinkles?
7. Savory Strawberry Shake
Cold Stone makes good shakes, using real ice cream blended with not-too-much milk and flavorful mix-ins. This ice cream connoisseur really couldn’t decide between them, so today they all get a mention. For the Savory Strawberry, with strawberry ice cream and 2–3 scoops of strawberries, you can’t really improve on this classic…unless you ask your server to throw in half Cheesecake ice cream. Then you can improve on it.
= 7. Milk n’ Oreo Shake
The Milk n’ Oreo Cookies Shake, mixing Sweet Cream ice cream with 2–4 Oreos, is worthy of its status as a top seller.
= 7. Cake n’ Shake (aka The Cake Batter Shake)
But the holy grail of Cold Stone shakes? The Cake Batter Shake, a.k.a. The Cake n’ Shake. Made with Cake Batter Ice Cream and yellow cake pieces blended in, this shake is like drinking cake batter…real, golden, glorious cake batter. You can add mix-ins for fun, but in this ice cream connoisseur’s humble opinion (in other words I tried every mix-in in the shake and the verdict is…) this shake stands best alone.
6. Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream
Cold Stone has two pumpkin-themed flavors: Pumpkin Cheesecake and straight-up Pumpkin. Regular Pumpkin is stronger, and not everyone’s cup of overhyped seasonal spiced latte, and may not be available every season at your local Cold Stone.
To this ice cream connoisseur, both flavors are better different…in different but better ways. Pumpkin Cheesecake is subtler, one that might even convert the most die-hard pumpkin haters among us. Good with any combination of pecans, caramel, whipped cream, coconut, cinnamon, graham cracker pie crust…the list goes on.
5. Hot 4 Cookie
One of Cold Stone’s “Hot Stone” lineup of desserts, the Hot 4 Cookie is a warm chocolate cookie topped with warm chocolate chip cookie dough, piled high with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. You can sub out different ice cream flavors for this one: a few great options are salted caramel, chocolate, or peanut butter.
Hack: Cookie dough is one of the best value mix-ins, as you get a big honkin’ puck of cookie dough for the same price. Splurge and ask for double cookie dough for the price of an additional mix-in. Because you’re worth it.
4. Cake Batter Ice Cream
Cold Stone’s most definitive offering, Cake Batter Ice Cream, has a cult following of its own. Try as they might, other brands’ attempts to replicate it just aren’t as good.
In addition to the aforementioned Cake n’ Shake, one of the most popular mix-ins for Cake Batter is a big honkin’ puck of cookie dough. Its hand-in-hand Signature Creation is Birthday Cake Remix, made with Cake Batter Ice Cream and sprinkles, brownies, and hot fudge. This writer’s favorite riff on the Remix: subbing Oreos for the fudge and yellow cake for the brownie. Then it’s always your birthday.
3. Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Peanut Butter is a rotating flavor, meaning not available at all Cold Stones. So if you find it, you’re lucky. My go-to break food for the first year I worked there was Peanut Butter ice cream with cookie dough, fudge, and Reese’s cups. Also great with half Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
2. Coffee Ice Cream
Cold Stone’s Coffee ice cream is made with real coffee and is far better than any coffee ice cream you can find in a grocery store. It’s more versatile than you’d think, as it has a boatload of great combinations that go with it. For starters, it boasts two correlated Signature Creations: Coffee Lover’s Only and Mud Pie Mojo.
The Coffee Lover’s comes with almonds, Heath Bar, and caramel. I had one customer that would come every three weeks and order three gallons of the stuff to take home — that’s how good it is.
The Mud Pie, however, became my favorite during the last year I worked at Cold Stone: peanut butter, fudge, almonds, and Oreos. (Only I would usually swap out the almonds for a warmed-up brownie and the PB for Reese’s; I exercised a lot.)
Pro Tip: If you can find a Cold Stone with Amaretto ice cream, you’re in luck. A half coffee, half amaretto shake with chocolate chips as your mix-in is the best thing I ever had at Cold Stone.
1. Founder’s Favorite
Okay. So the name kind of gives it away. This one was, obviously, the founder of Cold Stone’s fave, if you couldn’t tell. But for good reason. It’s Sweet Cream ice cream with pecans, fudge, caramel, and brownies. Try swapping out the ice cream flavor — it’s free and this one is great with Salted Caramel or French Vanilla.
Hack: If the store’s not busy and you can be reasonably certain your server won’t hate you (in other words, you know them…or you are giving them a really, really big tip) ask them to warm the brownie up and use hot fudge instead of regular fudge. It’s HEAVENLY.
Interested in reading more my food + baking adventures? I write a baking and lifestyle blog at www.SugarSaltGrace.com. Now tell me it’s not a good day for some ice cream?