Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake

Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake is a dessert that has ice cream sandwiched between devil food cake. Shoney’s and Bob’s Big Boy aren’t around as much as they used to be, but you can make this menu item at home.

Copycat Shoney's hot fudge cake on a plate.

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Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

When I was growing up, I would spend large parts of my summer in Jefferson City, Missouri. My grandparents loved eating at Shoney’s and I did too. They had two dessert items you had to try. One was the Strawberry Pie and the other must-try dessert was their famous Hot Fudge Cake.

Who doesn’t remember this glorious dessert from Shoney’s Big Boy (or Bob’s Big Boy)? The iconic hot fudge cake was many a suburban kid’s birthday dessert. It’s a retro vibe and the irresistible combination of moist devil’s food cake, creamy vanilla ice cream, thick and rich hot fudge sauce, billowy whipped cream, and cherry on top is not to be missed, even if you’ve never tried it before.

And don’t forget National FREE Hot Fudge Cake Day at Shoney’s! Last year, it was December 6th, so keep your eye on the calendar for when you can enjoy this treat for free. Until then, make and enjoy this copycat version whenever the mood strikes!

What Makes the Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake So Unforgettable? 

Few can resist the pull of a thick slab of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two layers of moist chocolate cake, drenched in warm hot fudge sauce, and topped with a dollop of creamy whipped cream and a cherry.

For decades, this Hot Fudge Cake has been a favorite way for guests at Shoney’s Big Boy restaurants to end their meals. If you have never had a slice, you don’t know what you are missing. The good news is that you can make your own with this copycat Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake recipe. 

Why Do You Want To Try This Recipe for This Hot Fudge Cake?

The thought of making a homemade ice cream cake may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but even if you don’t ordinarily make such fancy desserts, don’t skip this Hot Fudge Cake recipe.

It is easier to put together than it seems, and it’s so worth it. Serve this cake for any occasion or just as a special treat.

Hot Fudge Cake Recipe Ingredients

To make the cake, you’ll need:

  • Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • Eggs
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Water
  • Vegetable oil
  • Vanilla paste or extract
  • Kosher salt
  • Vanilla ice cream

To make the hot fudge sauce, you’ll need:

  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Bittersweet chocolate
  • Water
  • Syrup or dark corn syrup
  • Salt
  • Vanilla paste or extract

Garnish the cake with:

  • Whipped cream
  • Maraschino cherries
Copycat Shoney's hot fudge cake ingredients on a marble surface.

Ingredient Notes

To save time, make the cake and use premade hot fudge sauce. Just be sure you get a good-quality fudge sauce that contains real cream and butter, like Herrell’s Original Hot Fudge Sauce.

There is no need to buy fancy vanilla ice cream for this recipe, but you need to get a brand that comes in a rectangular brick container. This will make cutting the ice cream into slices much easier. 

How To Make Hot Fudge Cake

Breaking this recipe down into two separate procedures makes it more manageable. You can make the cake days before you serve it, but the hot fudge sauce is best when it is fresh. 

How to Make the Cake Component

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Oil the inside of a 9 X 13-inch metal cake pan with straight sides
  3. Line the bottom of the pan with oiled parchment paper. 
  4. Combine the cake mix, eggs, chocolate syrup, water, oil, vanilla extract, and salt in a large bowl. 
  5. Mix at low with a hand or stand mixer for 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the speed to medium and mix for two minutes. 
  6. Pour the batter into the cake pan and smooth.
  7. Bake until the top of the cake is springy, 22 to 25 minutes. 
  8. Let the cake cool slightly to release the sides. Run a butter knife along the edges and turn the cake onto a cooling rack.
Collage of making chocolate cake for homemade Shoney's hot fudge cake.
  1. Once the cake cools, cut the cake into two 6.5 x 9-inch pieces. Wrap one half and save for another use. 
  2. Use a serrated knife to level the top of the remaining cake. Then cut the cake in half horizontally. 
  3. Put two long overlapping sheets of plastic wrap on your work surface and lay the bottom half of the cake on top.
  4. Slice the brick of ice cream into enough 3/4-inch slices to cover the bottom half of the cake. Trim off any overlapping ice cream, and cover with the top half of the cake. 
  5. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for at least two hours or solid
Collage of assembling homemade Shoney's hot fudge cake.

To make the homemade hot fudge sauce:

  1. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, bittersweet chocolate, water, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Stir continuously until the chocolate melts. 
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and cover to keep warm. 
Collage of making hot fudge sauce for homemade Shoney's hot fudge cake.

To serve the cake:

  1. Take the cake out of the freezer and unwrap it.
  2. Slice cake into 6 portions and put them on dessert plates.
  3. Spoon the warm hot fudge sauce over the cake.
  4. Top with whipped cream and a cherry.
  5. Serve immediately.
Collage of steps for serving homemade Shoney's hot fudge cake.

Recipe Note

This recipe only uses half the sheet cake, so either make 2 hot fudge cakes to use all the cake or save the other half for another use. Regardless, it will be easier to assemble the cake if you work with half at a time.

If you decide to make the whole cake into fudge cake, you will have enough fudge sauce for all the slices, but you will need to get 2 containers of ice cream, of which you will probably use about 1 1/2 of it.

Copycat Shoney's hot fudge cake on a plate and a bowl of maraschino cherries.

Best Ways To Serve Hot Chocolate Fudge Cake

Maintaining the contrast in temperatures between the hot fudge sauce and the cold ice cream is essential for the best eating experience. Shoney’s traditionally garnishes the cake with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry, but you can add crushed nuts, chocolate chips, or Reeses Pieces. 

Storing Hot Fudge Sundae Cake

Keep this cake in the freezer for up to a month, covered in plastic wrap. Put the cake inside a hard-sided container to prevent it from being crushed. 

You can store the hot fudge sauce for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. Reheat the hot fudge on the stove in a small saucepan over low heat. Remember to throw away any reheated leftover hot fudge sauce. 

Hot Fudge Cake Sundae FAQ

What Is the Difference Between Chocolate Fudge Cake and Chocolate Cake?

The main difference between these two types of cake is the texture. A chocolate cake is light with a delicate crumb and small air pockets. On the other hand, a chocolate fudge cake has a thick, dense texture, more like a slightly unbaked brownie. Adding the chocolate sauce to the cake batter makes this hot fudge cake extra deliciously gooey.

What Is the Difference Between Hot Fudge and Chocolate Sauce?

Authentic hot fudge sauce is thick and rich because it contains dairy, while the base for chocolate sauce uses water or corn syrup. Hot fudge sauce may also have other flavorings, such as vanilla, missing from chocolate sauce.

Many national brands that advertise themselves as fudge sauce don’t contain real cream or butter, so try to purchase a fudge sauce that does, like, Herrell’s Original Hot Fudge Sauce.

How Many Calories Are in a Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake?

A slice of the cake served at the restaurant has 620 calories — 210 come from fat.

Copycat Shoney's hot fudge cake on a plate and a fork.

Love chocolate cake? Try these recipes

Be sure to check out more of my copycat cake recipes and easy homemade desserts.

This recipe is from Jenni Field from the Online Pastry Chef, be sure to check out more of her recipes on her blog.

Copycat Shoney's hot fudge cake on a plate.

Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake Sundae

You can make your own Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake at home. 
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Hot Fudge Cake, Shoney’s Hot Fudge Cake
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 709kcal



  • 15.25 ounces Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 32 ounces rectangular carton vanilla or vanilla bean ice cream Do not use French vanilla

Hot Fudge Sauce

  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 ounces (by weight) bittersweet chocolate (chips or chopped chocolate)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup or dark corn syrup
  • 1 heavy pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract


  • 1 cup lightly sweetened homemade or canned whipped cream
  • 6 maraschino cherries drained and patted dry



  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13-inch metal cake pan (don’t use glass; metal pans provide straighter sides). Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • Place all the cake ingredients (except for the ice cream) in a large bowl. Mix with an electric hand mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl. Then mix on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spoon or spatula. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until the cake starts to shrink away from the sides of the pan and springs back when pressed lightly.
  • Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cake from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and place the cake on the wire rack to cool completely.

Hot Fudge Sauce

  • Combine all the sauce ingredients (except for the vanilla) in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until all the chocolate has melted.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Keep warm or reheat before serving.

Ice Cream Cake Assembly

  • If the top of the cake is uneven, level it with a knife. Carefully slice the cake in half horizontally, creating two thinner layers of cake, each about 3/4 inch thick. Leave the layers in place and cut the cake in half along its width to create 4 rectangles, each about 9 x 6 inches. Set half of the cake aside (for another use or to make a second hot fudge cake).
  • Place 2 layers of plastic wrap on the counter, large enough to wrap the assembled ice cream cake. Place one rectangle of cake onto the wrap.
  • Peel off the cardboard from around the ice cream and slice the ice cream into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices on top of the cake so that the surface of the cake is completely covered.
  • Trim the ice cream to match the dimensions of the cake and put any leftover ice cream in a freezer container to eat later.
  • Place the second rectangle of cake on top of the ice cream and press down lightly.
  • Wrap the cake with the plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.

To Serve

  • Slice the cake into 6 squares and place each square on a serving plate.
  • Pour some of the hot fudge sauce over each square and top with whipped cream and a cherry.


Calories: 709kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 503mg | Potassium: 584mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 64g | Vitamin A: 670IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 293mg | Iron: 3.4mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Linda Brewer

    My sis worked at Shoney’s for years. They thinned the hot fudge with premade coffee, which was necessary often. That is party of the flavor most people’s have experienced. I would add it to the recipe.

  2. Vicky

    Just a note on this recipe…ice cream hardly ever comes in those cartons any more! I’ve been making this dessert for YEARS and have found that I can either form the ice cream in a pan using parchment for easy take out and then lay on cake layer OR if in a hurry, I just use ice cream sandwiches and lay them out on the cake layer. Not quite the same, but in a hurry, it works.

  3. Sharon C Scian

    Thanks Stephanie…you have given me a great idea for our monthly luncheon. Might try this with other flavors of cake and ice cream. Cherry comes to mind since cherries are in season and plentiful right now. You always get me rave reviews when I use your recipes.

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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