Ice cream that has previously melted and been refrozen will often take on an icy consistency. Whether it can be fixed or not is a common question. Over the course of my 50 years in the kitchen, I’ve tackled this issue numerous times, and this article is a result of that experience.
You can fix icy ice cream by moving it to the fridge for half an hour until it becomes soft. Another method is mixing the ice cream in a bowl or mashing chunks until they’re smooth. You can also thaw the icy ice cream using a microwave or hot water.
The rest of this article will teach you how to turn icy ice cream into a soft, delicious dessert that melts in your mouth.
1. Move the Ice Cream From the Freezer to the Refrigerator
If you’re not in a hurry and have the self-control to wait half an hour before indulging in your favorite treat, you can soften icy ice cream by moving it from the freezer to the refrigerator.
Storing your ice cream in the fridge for half an hour slightly increases its temperature, making it perfectly scoopable.
The ice cream will melt evenly in the fridge, making it soft throughout without creating a pool of ice cream sludge on top. This method won’t leave behind icy bits on the bottom.
To know if the ice cream has reached the ideal temperature, press your finger in the middle. If the pressure creates a slight indentation, it’s ready for you to scoop.
2. Mix the Ice Cream Until Smooth
You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to turn icy ice cream into a smooth dessert. Scoop your overly frosty ice cream into the mixing bowl. Use the paddle attachment and mix the ice cream for a few minutes at medium speed.
If you have a hand mixer, break the ice cream down with a knife and transfer it into a bowl. Mix the ice cream with your hand mixer for a few minutes. In the beginning, the ice cream will be chunky and hard to mix, but as long as you keep trying, it will eventually become soft and fluffy.
3. Cut and Mash the Ice Cream
If you don’t have a stand mixer or a hand mixer, you can use a potato masher to fix icy ice cream. Cut the ice cream using a knife and move the pieces to a deep plate or a flat bowl. Mash the chunks up until they become smooth. Don’t over-mash, as the ice cream can melt and become watery.
4. Invest in a Quality Ice Cream Scoop
A good ice cream scoop might be all you need to fix icy ice cream. First, cut your ice cream in the container with a knife heated under hot water. Cut the ice cream into a checkerboard pattern one inch deep (2.5 centimeters).
Next, take a high-quality, stainless steel ice cream scoop and heat it in hot water. Wipe the ice cream scoop dry to prevent water from forming ice crystals. Glide the hot scoop through your ice cream until you reach the perfect texture.
The following video from BuzzFeed shows you how to use an ice cream scoop to fix icy ice cream:
If you keep having problems with icy ice cream, investing in an ice cream scoop that conducts body heat is the way to go. I recommend this aluminum ice cream scoop from Amazon. It has an aluminum handle filled with a heat-conducting liquid that requires no additional heat except the body heat from your hand to form a perfectly smooth scoop of ice cream.
The improved aluminum alloy is resistant to oxidation and corrosion, and the shape of the scoop allows you to grab 20 percent more ice cream than usual. This US-made product is NSF approved, and the Zeroll ice cream scoop has been used in homes and ice cream parlors since 1935.
5. Fix the Ice Cream Using a Microwave
If you’re in a hurry to serve ice cream, you can use a microwave to slightly lower its temperature and make it easier to scoop.
Place the ice cream container in a microwave. Set the timer in 15-second increments on low heat until the ice cream becomes scoopable.
If your microwave has a “soften ice cream” setting, you can simply use this preset. If not, you can also use the setting for softening butter—just avoid completely melting the ice cream.
If you choose this method, make sure you don’t plan to store the ice cream back in the freezer. Even though it will help you to get the ice cream to the perfect scooping point, thawing will permanently ruin the texture of the ice cream if you re-freeze it.
6. Submerge the Ice Cream Container Under Hot Water
If you don’t have kitchen appliances or other tools available, you may use plain old hot water to fix icy ice cream. When doing so, make sure the container is tightly closed. The perfect serving temperature for ice cream is 8 degrees Fahrenheit (-13 degrees Celsius), so feel free to use a thermometer to check it.
I recommend using a digital meat thermometer like this one from Amazon. This thermometer takes only 2 to 4 seconds to read the temperature of your ice cream and is precise up to ±2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). It displays temperatures from -58 to 572 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 to 300 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for checking your ice cream and pot roast.
Why Did My Ice Cream Turn Icy?
Your ice cream turned icy because of too much water in the mixture, or it was stored for very long periods. The low temperatures of the freezer react with the water molecules in your ice cream, causing them to evaporate. As the evaporated water freezes, it forms ice crystals.
The smoothness of ice cream depends on the size of the ice crystals in it since most ice creams have a water content of 55% to 64%. It’s easy to see where the ice crystals come from.
The re-freezing of the water in your ice cream creates a freezer burn. This leaves the ice cream looking unappetizing and changes the texture to a crunchy, icy mess. However, it doesn’t affect the product in a way that would make it unsafe to eat.
Another reason your ice cream became icy is the fact that it partially melted while you were driving home from the store. The ice crystals in the ice cream are small and uniform directly after churning, but sometimes just the act of transportation from the store to your home is enough to melt them.
When you put the ice cream back into your freezer, the crystals reform, only bigger and less uniform, making the ice cream less smooth.
How To Prevent Ice Crystals in Ice Cream
To prevent ice crystals in ice cream, you must minimize oxygen exposure and prevent temperature fluctuations during storage. Place the ice cream container in a resealable plastic bag before storing it in the back of the freezer.
Follow these tips to keep your ice cream soft and easy to scoop:
- Layer plastic wrap or parchment paper over the top of your ice cream before placing the lid back on. Doing so makes the surface exposed to air smaller, enabling the ice cream to stay soft for longer.
- Keep the ice cream in the back of the freezer, where the temperature fluctuation is minimal. The freezer temperature can also affect the temperature of your ice cream. Most freezers have different temperatures in the front and back areas.
- Avoid opening the freezer door. Every time you open your freezer door, the temperature rises a bit. The items on your freezer door experience the most effects of temperature fluctuation.
- Make sure that the temperature of your freezer is right. Ideal temperatures for ice cream storage range from -5 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to -18 degrees Celsius). Lower the thermostat if the temperature exceeds 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
- Don’t leave ice cream in the freezer for too long. Keeping your ice cream stored in the freezer for many months will cause it to become icy and hard. Moisture in the ice cream can freeze, resulting in an icy texture that’s less than appetizing. It’s best to consume ice cream within two to three months after purchase.
- Try storing your ice cream upside down. Keeping it stored this way will allow the melted ice cream to drip onto the lid, making it practically impossible for the water to evaporate from the rest of the ice cream, keeping it as smooth as when you opened it.
- Avoid choosing ice cream that has a lot of frost on the outside. Before buying, check if the ice cream feels too firm. If there’s a lot of space in the container, the ice cream might have melted and re-frozen in the freezer, causing it to lose the air bubbles that make it soft and fluffy.
I hope this article has been helpful.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss Can You Freeze Yogurt and Eat It Like Ice Cream?
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.