Does Ice Cream Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 2nd, 2022

4 months is the exact answer.

Ice cream is prepared from cream or dairy milk and then frozen before being served as a dessert or snack. Vanilla and cocoa are two sweeteners commonly used to produce ice cream.

cup of ice cream

Ice cream may often be stored unopened for up to four months. As a result, in this post, we’ll look at how long ice cream lasts and why.

Does Ice Cream Go Bad? 

Yes, ice cream can spoil. Ice cream has a finite shelf life, even though it resides in the freezer, where no food appears to go bad. It’s understandable if the thought never occurred to you, but your favorite dairy-based treat does have an expiration date.

Ice cream has a shelf life of up to two months in an unopened container, after which it is no longer at its finest. The time starts ticking after the ice cream is opened, and you have around one to two months to finish it without complications.

With that in mind, remember that “best by” dates might be a touch conservative. Some claim that you may consume unopened ice cream for up to two to three months after the written date, so take that as you will.

How Long Does Ice Cream Last?

Ice Cream StateTime
Unopened in FreezerFour months
Opened in FreezerThree weeks

As previously stated, ice cream has a two-month shelf life while unopened; however, once opened, its shelf life is reduced to three weeks. It should be stored at 00 degrees Fahrenheit to have a two-month shelf life when unopened.

You can safely drink ice cream after three to four months.

However, after the fourth month, the ice cream is deemed dangerous for consumption. Once opened, it should be consumed within two to three weeks.

When ice cream remains in the freezer for an extended period, it gets freezer burn. When liquid from the interior of the ice cream flows to the surface and freezes, causing freezer burn to occur.

Because the production of ice crystals destroys the flavor and texture of the ice cream.

When moisture escapes from the ice cream and freezer burn develop, it is impossible to recover the flavor and texture of the ice cream. On the other hand, ice cream with freezer burns is safe to eat despite losing its taste and texture.

Bacteria are always a major issue when it comes to melting ice cream. Because warmth typically promotes the growth of microbes, keeping ice cream at room temperature is not recommended.

When your ice cream melts, refreezing will aid in killing and preventing microbial development.

Why does ice cream last so long?

Ice cream shelf life is affected by a variety of factors, including:

  1. Recrystallization is how ice cream crystals alter size, shape, and quantity due to their unstable nature after freezing. Recrystallization inhibits the growth of microorganisms, extending the shelf life of ice cream.
  2. Stabilizers are a class of substances used in the production of ice cream, including sodium alginate, xanthan gum, and carboxymethyl cellulose. These stabilizers aid in the establishment of resistance to melting, hence preventing the production of moisture.

Furthermore, stabilizers aid in the smoothness of the ice cream body and the reduction of lactose crystal buildup during storage.

What exactly is Freezer Burn?

Because of freezer burn, the quality of ice cream might decline while it is in the freezer. But what exactly is freezer burn? Moisture from within this delectable dish may occasionally seep to the top surface of the ice cream. This moisture subsequently comes into touch with the freezer’s cold air.

As a result, the moisture on the top surface of the ice cream freezes. As a result, we have ice crystals. This is known as freezer burn. To eat the dessert, we normally scrape off the layer of crystals on top. Unfortunately, freezer burn can alter the flavor and texture of ice cream.

Because of freezer burn, frozen desserts’ unique creaminess might be lost. This is because the moisture content of the ice cream is critical to its texture. When moisture escapes, the taste and texture of the product alter, even if it remains safe.

How to Prevent Freezer Burn

If you prefer ice cream, you probably want to buy your full month’s supply while grocery shopping. All of the ice creams are placed in the freezer. However, if ice cream is kept in the freezer for an extended time, it might develop freezer burn.

So, how are you going to avoid freezer burn? The first step is to ensure the ice cream does not melt and refreeze. Spoon out as much ice cream as you require. Then, before replacing the lid and placing the container back in the freezer, wrap it in cling film.

Check to see if the freezer temperature is low enough to prevent melting. Still, if you discover that the ice cream has begun to melt, turn the container upside down and place it in the freezer. This is a fantastic strategy to keep the unmelted ice cream from being freezer-burned.

It is also not a good idea to buy ice cream in quantity. Buy as much as you can consume in a short period. The longer you keep the ice cream in the freezer, the more likely it may suffer freezer burn. Isn’t it preferable to make a few journeys to the supermarket than to consume non-creamy ice cream?

How Long Does Ice Cream Keep in the Fridge?

When it comes to keeping ice cream in the refrigerator, the best scenario for consuming it later is after one or two days. Ice cream may generally be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two. However, because some ice cream components cannot tolerate refrigerator conditions, the ice cream may spoil within a few days.

As a result, it is not suggested that you experiment with melting ice cream that has been sitting in the fridge for a few days. It is better to avoid the ice cream entirely. This is because bacteria may spread much quicker than we imagine. You should avoid putting your gut health in danger at all costs, especially if you have a delicate metabolic system.

Is it possible to refreeze the ice cream left in the fridge?

It is usually OK to refreeze ice cream sitting in the fridge for a few days. Because there isn’t much time for the ice cream to deteriorate or go sour, you may safely refreeze it again.

However, you should carefully inspect the texture and scent of the ice cream before refreezing it. Depending on the type of ice cream, you may be able to detect a problem by smelling it or noticing changes in the texture. If you observe any of these symptoms, you should stop eating ice cream and not jeopardize your health for something you can acquire whenever you want.

Is it OK to eat ice cream after it has melted?

It is generally safe to consume if the melting occurs within several hours. However, eating ice cream that has melted over time is extremely dangerous. Ice cream has a specific quantity of sugar, providing an ideal environment for germs to develop and spread when melted.

Eating ice cream that has remained melted for the whole day would be dangerous and irresponsible owing to the potential of food illness or anything similar. Even refrozen ice cream may sometimes be deadly, so avoid it.

When ice cream melts, it quickly becomes a breeding ground for germs. As a result, the FDA’s ice cream standards require distributors to keep frozen treats below 41 °F. Because the carbohydrates in ice cream feed germs, it’s a perfect storm for food illness.

What Should You Do With Melted Ice Cream?

If ice cream has completely melted in warm conditions, it is dangerous to refreeze and eat it later. Ice cream melted in frigid conditions, such as the refrigerator, is not the same as the ice cream melted at room temperature. As a result, it is not advisable to refreeze already melted ice cream that has not been kept cool.

An exception will be if the ice cream has somewhat melted owing to warm weather from the time you take it out of the store until you get home. That is a brief period that is not considered harmful, and it is generally insufficient time for germs to spread and thrive throughout the ice cream.

How Can You Tell If Ice Cream Is Bad?

Let’s be real. Many of us buy more ice cream than we can consume. When the best-by date has gone, it’s a problem. As an ice cream enthusiast, you need to know when to save and when to throw away your favorite dessert.

Check these indicators to see if your ice cream is worth saving.

1. Freezer damage

If ice crystals develop only on the surface, you may scoop this layer and enjoy the remainder of the ice. However, if the damage had been more extensive, the entire ice cream batch may have spoiled.

2. Re-frozen several times

Assume you left an ice cream at room temperature for too long, it melted, and you placed it back in the freezer. In that instance, dangerous germs like Listeria may live and develop in the freezer.

3. noxious odor

Perhaps the cover isn’t properly closed, and ice cream absorbs scents from other meals.

You may use your senses to determine whether ice cream has gone rotten. If you’re still unsure after a thorough examination, it’s probably better to say goodbye. The same is true if you have stored ice cream in the freezer for an extended period.

Is it possible to become sick from eating old ice cream?

Many ice cream fans are concerned about this issue.

You may believe that ice cream cannot go bad and is especially damaging to your health, but this dish may.

Of course, if your ice cream displays slight degradation (such as little ice shards here and there), it is still safe to consume – remove the shard-covered portion from the carton!

However, if you see that the ice cream has become sticky or has been completely pierced by ice shards, transforming the delicate delicious into an icy clump, it must be discarded.

Because ice cream is created with dairy components, it becomes hazardous to your health when it spoils.

Furthermore, if ice cream is manufactured according to strict safety guidelines, it may be contaminated with pathogens such as Listeria! Eating that item can lead to food sickness and possibly hospitalization!

How to store Ice Cream

It’s best to keep your ice cream in the back of the freezer, where it’s the coolest.

Reduce the quantity of oxygen exposed to your ice cream.

After serving, do not leave it out or allow it to defrost.

The easiest approach to keep your ice cream or ice cream cakes fresh for as long as possible is to put them at the back of the freezer.

Despite having a predetermined temperature, certain regions of freezers experience significant temperature changes due to door opening and shutting.

As a result, it’s critical never to store your ice cream behind the door. Otherwise, it will spoil faster.

Another wonderful technique for storing ice cream is to keep as much air out of the container as possible.

Before replacing the top of a standard carton, lay a piece of cling wrap over the ice cream. Others like to slip the entire carton into a freezer bag.

Any storage method that reduces the ice cream’s oxygen exposure will help limit the number of germs that develop.


The shelf life of your ice cream is mostly determined by the type of preservation utilized. The shelf life of your ice cream will be extended if you refrigerate it after usage. As a result, once opened, ensure that it is adequately conserved to avoid the formation of bacteria.


Editorial Staff

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