the dq crunch cone: mystery solved

Candy Crunch Cone

In reality, my small, Minnesota hometown did not have a lot of dining options. But in my 10 year old mind, it had all it needed: a DQ. Seasonally open, we anxiously awaited the sight of the lit neon sign in the window. It was hands down the best spot in town. After hours of perfecting our dives at the public pool, it was the spot we’d use the last ounce of remaining energy to pedal to the cool retreat under the cherry red awning. Our parents took us there for acing our math test and doing our chores. It was the spot where during track practice, we’d conveniently map out a route that ended at the order window. As we got older, it was the spot we’d go hand-in-hand with the crush of the week and share a milkshake. Over the years, many memories were made at nothing more than a chain Dairy Queen.

My favorite frozen concoction has and always will exhibit A:


Simply known as the elusive crunch cone, the ingredients have always been a mystery. You knew the basics: sprinkles and some kind of candied nut, but are they peanuts or cashews? Toffee or Caramel? For the first time in the history of the world wide web, the internet was not helpful for the search. In fact, turns out the crunch cone topping is only available in certain geographical locations and the ingredients are more difficult to track down than Busch’s Baked Beans. At this I was determined to show the world the brilliance that is the Dairy Queen Crunch Cone.

Upon a few trial and error experiments, it’s actually simple and the results are a near replica. As you can imagine, it was quite the day in my household and I don’t even want to share the amount of ice cream that was actually consumed….

DQ Candy Crunch Cones
1/2 Canister (12 oz) of Butter Toffee Covered Peanuts
1 Shaker (4 oz) of Multi-colored Sprinkles
Vanilla Ice Cream
Cake Cones (I used these adorable mini cones)

Pulse peanuts a few times in a food processor
Pour into a shallow dish and add sprinkles
Put ice cream in cone and roll in crunch mix

Do the DQ Dip

Even now, living in a bigger city with endless fro yo, custard, gelato, and novelty ice cream shops within mere minutes of my apartment, I find myself craving the sweet candy coating covering a mound of soft serve ice cream in a [sometimes stale] cake cone valued at $2.09 from the neighborhood DQ.



  1. I just searched “DQ crunch cone” and found your blog. I’m obsessed with the “crunch coat” too!!! In fact, I just ate one from my local DQ. ;)
    So glad I found this recipe. Now I can put sprinkles in the bottom of the cone before I add the ice cream, like I’ve always dreamed of…
    Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I love Crunchies!! Best place was Big Star in Stroudsburg, PA. My home town. I miss it! No one in Maryland understands. Thank you for the recipe!!

    1. Well I understand completely Jan haha :) BUT upon the suggestion of a friend, adding some peanut brittle in the mix definitely adds the tiny bit that was missing in the original recipe!

  3. So glad I found this! I grew up in a small town with a seasonal dairy Queen and loved the crunch coat! It was something that wasn’t on the menu for some reason and soon I forgot about it. That dairy Queen closed a couple years ago. But when I went home in June people told me that another place had them and there it was… Crunch coat! Not the sprinkles but it tasted pretty much the same! So, if you are ever in Fairmont, west Virginia, from late spring to early fall, stop at the dairy cream corner! Thanks for posting a recipe. I’ll have to try it out.

  4. Yes! I am ADDICTED to DQ’s crunch cones! I grew up in a small town and had it ALL the time and when I moved to the city 7 yrs ago, o realized that they didn’t carry the crunch cone! I thought it was discontinued in all DQ’s until I stopped by one after a dental appointment in my old small town (yes, going to DQ after a dentist visit was always tradition) and saw that they indeed still had it. I ventured out to other small town DQs after visiting my friends and found that there are 2 DQs 45 minutes away from where I live holding my favorite treat as hostage. Shame on these big city stores! I don’t care about froyos or Coldstone too much, I just want my crunch cone! I make sure I get the crunch cone every chance I get when out of the city and in one of these small towns. Sometimes I will make an excuse to visit solely for the thought of getting a crunch cone before bidding goodbye. I will definitely try this recipe and see if it curves my craving xD

  5. I buy a side of crunch everytime I go to Dairy Queen! I stock up on it so I can use it when I have I’ve cream at home :)

  6. Thanks for this post. I’ve been on a bit of an epic quest for quite some time to re-experience the crunch coat taste of my childhood. I was nearly ready to give your recipe a whirl when I found myself back in Ohio for a visit with my wife’s family. They live near the Campus of Bowling Green State University. The DQ there is a total hole in the wall (barely resembles a DQ) but lo and behold … I discovered they had the CRUNCH COAT!!! I can’t really express my emotional state at the time, but it ranged somewhere between disbelief and enthralled giddiness. heh Needless to say, I bought a cup full to bring home with me. Figure I’ll dump it on a few McD’s cones in the future and buy some more on the next trip back. But if I’m pinched in the inbetween times, I’ll dial up your recipe. Thanks again.

    And anyone who’s reading this and wishing they had a crunch coat and are near Northwest Ohio, visit the BGSU campus DQ. It’s worth a Harold and Kumar-esque road trip. Extremely friendly staff and the crunch is just as ya remembered. :o)

  7. The small town in SW PA that I grew up in had a local restaurant nearby with an ice cream counter that was many a local teen’s first job. It was called The Dairy Delight (or Delite it may have been). It was one of my joys in life back then to get a chocolate soft serve cone covered in “crunchies” as I called them to the point where you couldn’t see the ice cream at first. That ice cream counter endured a few different incarnations and configurations over the years, even being resurrected in the wake of the terrible Mon Valley flood of November 5, 1985 that resulted in the building being completely underwater. It no longer exists today but the taste of those “crunchies” that, thankfully, my local DQ here in eastern Ohio still offers will always take me back to the innocent and much simpler days of my youth.

    1. Hi Jason!
      Don’t you just love things that bring you down memory lane!? If your ever in a spot that limits your access to the illusive, strangely delicious crunch coat, make sure you try out my recipe and let me know what you think!

  8. I just love the crunch cones, but havn’t seen them since I left Nebraska over 20 years ago. The Dairy Queens here in Georgia don’t sell them. It must be a midwestern thing, but I sure do miss them. I didn’t think DQ’s still sold them. I guess I need to make a trip to the midwest to get one.

  9. I recently moved and was shocked that no one knew what crunch coat was. I even checked a local DQ.

    Thank you for posting this!

    1. I grew up in NE Ohio and moved to the south.

      I worked in DQs back home and was shocked when they said they didn’t have that here.

  10. My parents owned a Tastee Freeze in Michigan, when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. This was my favorite food! I moved to Vermont and left behind my favorite childhood (and adulthood) treat. Nobody in the northeast had any idea what crunch coat was. I tried to explain, but plenty of blank stares. Over the past 27 years, I have found a Tastee Freeze up in the middle of nowhere, about an hour northeast of Lake Placid, a place in Lake George ,NY, and a small shop in Rhode Island. There is also one DQ here in Ct. I have found in the past couple of years. They don’t call it crunch coat though. Last summer I finally hit the mother load!!! A little wholesale spice place near me started selling crunch coat, but they don’t call it that, in big containers. Yeah!!! I can die happy now! I love this article. It was sent to me by one of the daughters, of my hometown DQ. The arch nemesis of Tastee Freeze. Hahaha……… Can’t wait to try your homemade version.

  11. Crunch coat is my absolute favorite! I moved to a town that does not have a DQ anywhere near enough to justify the drive for a craving. On our way back from a day trip, I spotted a DQ, and we made a detour. I ordered my medium twist crunch coat ice cream cone, and after correcting the girl on the other end of the speaker a couple of times, who kept saying “chocolate coating”, we drove up to the window. To my great disappointment, I was handed a chocolate coated ice cream cone. I kept trying to communicate to this little girl what I was craving, but she looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. She had no idea the amazing treat that I was after! So, we drove away, my husband with his blizzard and me with the saddest ice cream cone I have ever eaten. We should have just gone to the Baskin Robbin’s next door.

  12. You can get the crunch cone at many DQ’s around metro Phoenix, az. I have stopped at several in Texas and they have absolutely no idea what I am trying to describe to them. I’m glad I checked this out!!!

  13. Thank you for this. I have been craving it and I can’t seem to find even a person who has HEARD of this, let alone the topping itself! Will definitely be trying!

  14. Well, you must try the crunch coat topping with the Cherry dip…mixed together in a Blizzard! I am too from MN but living in the South and cannot find either. :(

    1. AL- that sounds AWESOME! I am going to try that this weekend- sorry to rub it in :) Thank you for the recommendation.

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