It’s Kinda It: How To Make SF’s Finest Ice Cream Sandwich At Home


Written and Illustration by Nicole Dobarro
Photos by John Ornelas

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in San Francisco, meaning you’ve hopefully tried one of the best things this city has produced. Not boring sourdough or those ridiculous carne asada fries. An It’s-It. Yeah, that piece of heaven delivered to you in the most adorable mint box that turns a bad day into a damn good one.

Originating on a San Francisco boardwalk, the It’s-It ice cream sandwich was created by George Whitney and has remained a favorite for over eighty years. It has endured economic downfall and notorious earthquakes because it’s just that good. The ice cream, oatmeal and chocolate trinity is clearly here to stay.

The best part is that you can make the whole thing from scratch and feel like a total badass. Starting from scratch can be scary. But follow this recipe with a little common sense and a little more whiskey, you will make the impossible happen.

I’ve created a recipe with a new take on the popular thrill. Of course I stuck with the classic oatmeal cookie and chocolate shell. The mint flavored It’s-It has been my favorite from day one, so I decided to stick with it. But, to keep it refreshing I’ve added some Thai basil to change it up. This recipe is a guide to make the ice cream, cookies and chocolate shell from scratch. Feel free to replace any components with different cookies or flavored ice cream.

Sorry vegans and paleo followers, but this recipe isn’t for you.


Thai Basil + Mint Ice Cream

Photo by John Ornelas
Photo by John Ornelas
  • 2 bunches mint (2 cups)
  • 1 bunch Thai basil (1 cup)
  • 2/3 cup condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whole fat milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla pod w/ seeds
  • green food coloring (if you wanna have a lil’ fun)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1.  Bring mint, Thai basil (leaves only!) and split vanilla pod in milk to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour.
  3. Strain and keep flavored milk (place milk in fridge to keep cool).
  4. Whip heavy whipping cream over ice bath until soft peaks form.
  5. Quickly fold in salt, mint-basil milk, condensed milk and food coloring.
  6. Pour into parchment lined container, cover and freeze for six-plus hours.


Half-Baked OG Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups oats
  1. Mix butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in egg.
  3. Beat in vanilla extract and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and oats.
  5. Mix dry ingredients with the wet. Cover and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350°.
  7. After 1 hour, scoop dough balls  onto tray lined with parchment paper or greased tray (be sure to place dough balls about 2 inches apart, or you’ll be stuck with one giant cookie).
  8. Bake for 6 minutes, pull then let cool.


Mint + Thai Basil It’s Its

Photo by John Ornelas
Photo by John Ornelas
  1. Scoop ice cream onto one oatmeal cookie and sandwich between another.
  2. Cover and place back in freezer for at least 1 hour.
  3. To melt chocolate bring pot of water to a boil. Place a metal/ceramic/glass bowl into the water. Add chocolate and coconut oil to dry bowl and mix until melted.
  4. Remove frozen ice cream sandwiches from freezer. Dip into melted chocolate and place on metal rack or  parchment paper.
  5. Place back in freezer for five minutes then devour.

Alright, so I know most of us would love to make this for friends or ourselves, but won’t. While you’re figuring out if the attempt is worth it or if you’ve already given up, there’s still hope. This recipe can easily be modified by purchasing pre-made ice cream and cookies. Slap some ice cream in between, dip in chocolate and you’ve got yourself a faux It’s-It. Or, if you’re like me and are incredibly impatient when it comes to sweets, you could just go buy some. Happy snacking!

 *Recipe adapted from Mary McDonald (Pixel + Crumbs), Peggy Saas (Cake Crumbs + Beach Sand) and through trial and error.