Root Beer Float Cake

Root beer floats. Cake. Root beer float cake. Totally genius. And so delicious.

I adore root beer floats. Actually, floats of any kind. I have been known to throw a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a bowl and pour Diet Coke over it. There are many things I am not above doing all in the name of getting a sweet fix. Remember a few years ago when Wendy’s introduced their Frosty Floats? At the time I lived less than half a mile from a Wendy’s and made an embarrassing number of drive-thru runs that summer for those floats. It’s so much better to make a root beer float cake in the privacy of your own home and enjoy it without perceived judgement. Unless you’re judging yourself. For licking a wee bit too much of the “leftover” frosting out of the bowl. And giving yourself a stomachache. When you were supposed to be sticking to fruits, vegetables and grains. Oops. It’s not really my fault. The frosting cast some sort of addicting spell…

Given my love for root beer floats, you’d think I could remember the last time I actually had one, but I can’t. Which made finishing the bottle of leftover root beer so, so glorious. Ahh, sweet bubbly.

There is a whopping 2 cups of root beer used in the batter for this cake, and another ¼ cup is used in the frosting, so you definitely get the root beer flavor. Plus, the cake sort of soaks in the flavors the longer it sits. If you bake the cake, cool it and then wrap it well in plastic wrap and serve it the next day, the root beer flavor will have intensified.

After having made Guinness chocolate cupcakes and Guinness chocolate ice cream for St. Patrick’s Day, it should have dawned on me that if a deep velvety beer was a great pair with chocolate, then it stood to reason that root beer would be as well. It has the same type of complementary effect – it brings out the depth and richness of the chocolate, while imparting its own unique flavor. Quite simply, it’s awesome. And the frosting is so far out of this world insanely good, I have no other words. You just have to make it. You have to.

The other thing you have to do is serve this cake with vanilla ice cream. Aside from the obvious float connotation, the ice cream complements this cake perfectly. It is a very rich cake, and the cool smoothness of the ice cream helps to balance it out. Also, there is a reason there are two scoops of ice cream in the pictures (even though one would have made for a better picture). You simply need two scoops. One won’t cut it. Trust me.

I’m pretty sure that this is the perfect summer dessert. Going to a picnic or graduation party and need to bring something? (Perhaps even this weekend for Memorial Day?) This is your new secret weapon. Everyone will love you and want the recipe. And the kicker? You don’t need a mixer of any sort for this cake. A saucepan and three bowls for everything (including the frosting). This really is a magical cake. And it’s a bundt cake. Which is all sorts of retro chic right now. Which I happen to love.

P.S. The leftover root beer and vanilla ice cream? Homemade root beer floats, woo!

One year ago: Blackberry Pie Bars
Two years ago: Greek Celebration Bread – Christopsomos
Three years ago: Buttermilk Pancakes

Root Beer Float Cake

Yield: One 10-inch bundt cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 to 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


For the Root Beer Bundt Cake:
2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs

For the Root Beer Fudge Frosting:
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2½ cups powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F*. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter the pan and dust with flour, shaking out the excess flour; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy, which is okay. Do not overbeat it, as it could cause the cake to be tough.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.

6. To make the Root Beer Fudge Frosting, put all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and satiny, scraping the sides of the food processor a couple of times. (If you don't have a food processor, simply throw it all into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl using a hand mixer and mix on medium-low until combined and satiny smooth.)

7. Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the cake in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving. Store leftovers wrapped well or in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Note: If you are using a dark, nonstick pan, heat the oven to 300 degrees F.

(Recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)


116 Responses to “Root Beer Float Cake”

Comment Pages 1 2
  1. Julie on May 26, 2011 at 1:19 am

    You had me at root beer! But then you also threw in chocolate and vanilla ice cream and now I have no choice but to make this!

    Your pictures are fantastic!


  2. Lauren at Keep It Sweet on May 26, 2011 at 6:52 am

    You must have read my mind because I was JUST thinking about making root beer cake! This looks dellcious!


  3. Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) on May 26, 2011 at 7:58 am

    So when can you come over and make this?! Holy crow… it looks amazing. Considering the root beer float is one my favorite treats, I’d say this is a winner. I only wish I had your baking skills!


  4. Penny Wolf on May 26, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Ironically I just had to tend to a serious craving for a root beer float this past week! I am going to make this cake for the weekend. I just made FULL fat vanilla ice cream and have 3 bottles of root beer left. In other words your timing is perfect. here is a great article on the difference between a black cow and a brown cow and a root beer float.


  5. Amber @FromTheHeartsOf on May 26, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Can you believe it, I have never had a root beer float!? I know it’s a sacrilege. But if I make this cake does that count as my first root beer float? Who cares-I can’t wait to try this out!


  6. Jil @ Big City, Lil Kitchen on May 26, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Oh – wow. This looks incredible!


  7. Jen on May 26, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Okay, it’s Friday in our house today (four day weekends for the win!) so to celebrate, I am making this cake. Like right now. I have all the ingredients except for the ice cream (gasp) and my husband can stop on his way home from work for that. This looks AMAZING.


  8. Jarrett on May 26, 2011 at 9:05 am

    This looks wickedly awesome! I can still remember the very first root beer float I had as a kid at my aunt and uncle’s in Iowa. It was, and remains, Nectar of the Gods. There is another ice cream-drink treat that has potential: Mated Milk. Again, when I was a kid, my grandma would bake me Malted Milk Cake. It was a packaged mix, from someone such as Duncan Heinz. Long unavailable, I’ve been thinking it could be great to recreate it and improve on it by adding crushed malted milk balls to the malted frosting in the filling and on the top. Feel free to play with the idea if you like. I am impressed with everything that you do and how our taste buds must be cousins. You aren’t from Iowa are you? :-)


  9. Jess on May 26, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I made this cake for New Year’s Eve and it was to die for! I actually sprinkled some coarse sea salt onto the top of the cake and that made it even more amazing!


  10. Emily Malloy @Cleanliness on May 26, 2011 at 9:16 am

    This is amaaaaazing.


  11. Molly on May 26, 2011 at 9:22 am

    An excellent idea whose time has come. Yum!


  12. Nee Nee on May 26, 2011 at 10:01 am

    YUM! I love Root Beer Floats – I will definitely try this one!

    Maybe even boil down the left over root beer to make a syrupy drizzle at the end? I’m sure it doesn’t need it, but maybe it would be fun! Hummm….


  13. Erin on May 26, 2011 at 10:31 am

    I LOVE rootbeer. I actually collect all the different types that come in glass bottles, found in various grocery stores or shops around the country. I have 59 to date, displayed on shelves in my living room. In other words I really like root beer and while I’m at it I also think I should proclaim my love for ice cream as well. What I’m trying to say is I think I will love this cake :-)


  14. Sommer J on May 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

    You have my heart right here. I absolutely love this!!


  15. joan on May 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Hi, This is a cautionary tale: I made this cake a while back when the Baked cookbook first came out. The first time I made it, I left it in the bundt pan to cool completely, as the instructions indicate. I could not get it out of the pan! I ended up with a pile of crumbs (which were delicious, BTW). I couldn’t even patch it together. I think I might have used them to make a black-out cake. Maybe I didn’t do a good job @ lubricating my pan. I made it again, and removed the cake after cooling it for 10 minutes, and it slid out without a problem. It was definitely worth the effort!


  16. Paula on May 26, 2011 at 10:59 am

    If I knew every word to describe delicious they would be included in this comment!


  17. Jen of My Tiny Oven on May 26, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I remember my dad making us rootbeer floats as kids! I love them.
    What a great idea!!


  18. Jessica on May 26, 2011 at 11:08 am

    You are a mind reader! I just had a baby on Tuesday (yes, I’m surfing from the hospital), and I know my 2 year-old son/kitchen helper is going to need some extra momma loving in the next few days adjusting to his little sister, so I think we’ll have to whip this up for the holiday weekend.


  19. Fran on May 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

    YUM! Last year I made a Dr Pepper cake that was very much like this.
    I think Root Beer would be even better. Thank you :)


  20. jen @ the baked life on May 26, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I’m completely addicted to blue sky’s creamy root beer right now and am currently craving this cake.


  21. Barbara | Creative Culinary on May 26, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Root beer floats rank with one of my favorite guilty (and memories from childhood) pleasures. What a great idea and I’m only embarrassed that I’m now wondering if I have any root beer in the garage cause I know I have vanilla ice cream in the fridge.

    I have the Baked cookbook but hard to believe I have not even opened it. I went on a shopping spree and have a pile of them to work through…now I’m excited to dig into it next!


  22. Jarrett on May 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Off topic here, and I hope it’s OK chatting as well as commenting. Since you have been exploring different flavors to combine with chocolate, I wanted to tell you that my local co-op, in there bulk foods section, has chocolate covered candied ginger … about the size of a small malted milk ball. The combo is fantastic, with the mellow sweetness of the chocolate offset by the sweet burn of the ginger. I have long planned to do some cookies with them chopped up and added. Either a chocolate cookie, or a ginger cookie … oh heck, I bet you’d do a chocolate cookie with some powdered ginger in it and the chopped candies. Thanks for letting me blather. It’s just another one of those “chocolate improves almost anything” ideas.


  23. Aimee on May 26, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Yum. Totally bookmarking this cake! I heart root beer. I recently made Orange Crush cupcakes. But this? This looks perfect. Thanks for sharing!!


  24. Danielle on May 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Ooooh Girl! You’re bad, but soooo good! I will be making this for our Memorial Day BBQ! I can’t wait!


  25. Omega on May 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Why no diet RB? What happens if you use diet?


    • Michelle on May 26th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Omega, Although the recipe didn’t state the reason for no diet, I imagine there are two reasons: #1 regular will have a much more concentrated flavor which will come through in the cake; and #2 the artificial sweeteners in the diet may throw off (chemical reaction-wise) the rest of the ingredients.


  26. shawna on May 26, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Ok i’m so in love with this cake…. i love love love root beer! I can’t wait to make this cake – thanks for posting this and all the wonderful yummy recipes… i love your site!


  27. Paula on May 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    We just bought two KEGS of root beer at costco yesterday. :) we *love* root beer. And therefore, I’m 99% sure that we will love this cake. :) I’ll let you know when I make it. :)


  28. Katrina on May 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Rootbeer floats are a definite fav of mine. This cake sounds so tasty. Awesome!


  29. BabetteBakes on May 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve had the Root Beer Bundt on my To Be Baked list for ages, this post is just the reminder I need to move it to the front of the pile!

    I too, am a float lover since childhood. Here are my favorite combinations: Vernor’s gingerale with vanilla ice cream, and root beer (I like Sprecher’s) with coffee ice cream. The latter one may sound strange, but it’s delicious!


  30. Debbie on May 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    I had to go to a training class last week at an office that’s right across the street from an A&W. Guess what I stopped for on the way back to my office. Mmmhmmm. Root beer float.

    I’m excited to try this recipe. I made a root beer cake from a Paula Deen recipe a few years ago and it was so gross that I brought it in to the office to let everyone else eat it. And nobody would.


  31. Dana@TheSundaySweet on May 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I love rootbeer floats and would never have thought of putting the idea into a cake! Amazing!!


  32. Erin on May 26, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Ok WOW!!! I want to live at your house, you always have the best food!


  33. Lori Lange on May 26, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    What a fun idea! I made some root beer pulled pork recently. That was good stuff too. And I was addicted to root beer when I was pregnant. Must make this cake!


  34. Jan on May 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I haven’t had a root beer float in years! I think there was a rootbeer cake in the original Baked book, wasn’t there? I really appreciate your tip about letting the cake rest, wrapped up overnight to intensify the root beer flavor! Thanks for sharing :)


  35. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking on May 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    no way – this is just waaayyy to good to be true! My family would FLIP if I made this. I think I should surprise them.
    Can I borrow the recipe and link it back to you?
    I am absolutely drooling and I can taste it now…


    • Michelle on May 26th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

      Hi Lynne, Absolutely! Enjoy the cake!


  36. Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) on May 26, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    I need to send this to someone in my family and have them make it for my birthday for me! Sounds amazing!


  37. jaclyn on May 26, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    love this! i think i might have to make an emergency trip to the store for some root beer now!

    virgil’s is such a great brand of soda. have you tried their black cherry cream soda? to die for!


    • Michelle on May 26th, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Oooh I have not, but they have a whole display of Virgil’s in the healthy/organic section of my grocery store, so I will have to start sampling!


  38. Maris (In Good Taste) on May 26, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Not only does the cake look amazing but you chose my favorite ice cream!


  39. Amanda on May 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    I was going to make this in a couple weeks for a coworkers birthday, glad to know you put the “delicious” stamp of approval on it! So far everything I’ve made from Baked has earned that stamp from me :)


  40. BigFatBaker on May 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    This sounds amazing. And I love Virgil’s root beer!


  41. Happy When Not Hungry on May 26, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Wow this looks beautiful and so moist and delicious! Great recipe!


  42. Adrienne on May 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Mmmmm…this cake looks amazing. I think I’m going to try and make it’s sister, a red cow cake 😀 Check out the site to see when its posted!


  43. Marissa on May 26, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    I have made this before- or a very similar recipe- and it is SO yummy! Most people don’t even realize there is root beer in it until I tell them. Its just so moist and delicious! My version is here:

    Thanks for sharing!


  44. Mariah on May 27, 2011 at 12:13 am

    I love this idea! I just got my first bundt pan, and I feel as though this would be an appropriate christening! Thanks for sharing it.


  45. Sue L. on May 27, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Oh, this looks fantastic. I’m toying with the idea of baking this in the “mini” Bundt cake pans. We shall see. I enjoy reading your posts. Thanks!


  46. Mike@The Culinary Lens on May 27, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Somebody on another blog had made root beer cupcakes and I suggested adding mini scoops of ice cream to make root beer float cup cakes. I had not seen this, I must have been channeling you :-) This looks delicious


  47. Jennifer @ Oh Sweet Day! on May 27, 2011 at 6:20 am

    This sounds SO good and perfect for a summer party!


  48. Shannon on May 27, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Uh oh, after reading this I might have changed my mind about what I’m making for dessert this weekend. This looks incredible!


  49. Peggy on May 27, 2011 at 7:58 am

    Root beer floats are one of my all time faves! To make them into a cake?? Genius, of course! Can’t wait to try this one out!


  50. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie on May 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

    I’ve been wanting to bake a bundt cake and this looks like the perfect summer cake!


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