To create the dessert, a large mound of ice shavings are first placed on a plate. In the past, ice shavings were created by hand, either by using a large mallet to crush ice into fine pieces, using a large freehand blade to shave off ice, or turning a hand-cranked machine to do the same. In modern times, a special machine is used, resulting in ice-shavings which are much finer and thinner than in the past. Some establishments may still produce their ice by hand, and thus the texture varies across the island. To the ice shavings a variety of toppings may be added. In the past, sugarcane juice was added to it to give a mild sweet taste, like drinking sugarcane juice with ice cubes. Later, colored syrup was added to it in a manner similar to Italian ice. Today, however, numerous toppings are used, and the syrup is sometimes left out. Fruit toppings for baobing might include strawberries, mangoes, watermelon, and so on.
Various pre-set combinations also exist, including "Eight Treasure Ice" (Chinese: 八寶冰; pinyin: bābǎobīng) whose ingredients will vary from vendor to vendor, but usually include some of the following: taro, azuki beans, mung beans, yams, sweetened peanuts, almond junket, and grass jelly. These ingredients can also be ordered separately as the customer desires.
Condensed milk and cane syrup water is sometimes poured over the baobing as a final touch and to give an added sweetness. This can give it a texture and flavour which is very much like ice cream.