ice cream shelf life

Does Ice Cream Go Bad? How to Store and Enjoy It Safely

Quick summary: Yes, ice cream can go bad over time. Freshly produced ice cream is of the highest quality, but it may crystallize and lose its desirable texture over time in the freezer. Unopened ice cream can last a couple of months beyond the expiration date, while opened ice cream should ideally be consumed within a month, and homemade ice cream has a shorter shelf life of a few weeks.

You have an emotional moment, and you really want some ice cream, but you only find an outdated half-eaten can. Can you feast on it or stay deprived of your favorite comfort food?

Ice cream is located in the freezer, a place where all food finds its refuge for long-term storage. You’d think it can’t go bad in such a cold place. And you would be wrong. 

The freezer can keep food fresh for a long time, but no product will stay fresh forever no matter how well your device has cooled the temperature. So, ice cream has its own shelf life.

When you think about it better, ice cream is made of very perishable foods. Inside are mostly milk, cream, and possibly eggs. These are all foodstuffs that you do not want to eat spoiled. 

Yes, the freezer will significantly slow down the spoilage, but it cannot stop it. Unfortunately, your favorite treat can go bad and can cause indigestion.

How Long Does Ice Cream Last?

So, does ice cream expire? 

Ice cream is not a food that gets better over time. It will be the freshest and highest quality immediately after production. 

Later it crystallizes slightly, especially if it contains a higher proportion of water, and even if it does not reach the point of spoilage, it can still ruin the eating moment. So it may happen that the expiration date is not yet close, but the ice cream texture is not nice.

Unopened ice cream

How long does ice cream last in the freezer?

Different manufacturers use different ingredients to create their ice cream, so each has a different shelf life. So follow what is written on the label and be guided by it when storing ice cream. 

However, it is safe to say that typical ice cream should be edible for another 2 to 3 months after the expiration date. After that, you should definitely throw it in the trash.

Opened ice cream

If you are the type who can have ice cream leftovers at all, then it would be good to consume them within a month. It is highly recommended that you store the ice cream for a maximum of two months after opening. Although, who can endure that long at all.

A common occurrence is freezer burnt ice cream. It’s probably edible, and you won’t be harmed if you consume it, but it won’t taste anywhere near what you expected. Unfortunately, you can do nothing in the case of freezer burned ice cream except buy a new supply.

Homemade ice cream

Needless to say, your homemade ice cream will not endure as long as a store-bought one. You’ll probably have a couple of weeks to eat it, depending on what ingredients you use. Keep in a sealed ice cream container.

Can Ice Cream Go Bad?

Yes, unfortunately, your favorite cold treat can spoil and can cause indigestion. We are not saying that it is common, but it is possible. 

A slightly more common proportion of infections is present in gelato ice cream kept at higher temperatures. 

The home version of frozen ice cream should be safer, but it’s recommended not to take the risk. 

Here’s how to tell if ice cream is spoiled:

Sign 1: Pieces of ice

Pieces of ice can appear more often with ice cream that is already open, but they can certainly occur in the unopened one as well. In the beginning, you will probably be able to remove the ice from ice cream’s surface and eat the rest. 

But if the whole mass turned to ice crystals, it was perhaps old ice cream that had seen better days. For your own safety, you’d better throw it in the trash.

Sign 2: Taste is pale

Since the ice cream is very cold, you are unlikely to smell anything wrong. But the flavor can certainly change. If you feel that the taste has completely faded as if it has risen, the ice cream’s quality has probably expired.

Sign 3: Fishy particles

Dairy products are fertile ground for the development of bacteria if a foreign organic substance enters them. 

Anything that doesn’t belong in ice cream is likely to start a faster spoilage process, such as cookies, waffles, etc. If you notice that the ice cream is contaminated with other food, throw it away.

What Is The Best Way To Store Ice Cream?

Needless to say, the only place you need to store ice cream is in the freezer. There is no other alternative. 

The ice cream must come from the store to your home freezer as soon as possible and be there until you finish the box. But here are some more useful tips for maintaining quality for a long time.

Tip 1: Do not defrost it

Some people have an unusual habit of melting ice cream a little first to make it easier to serve. This is a very bad habit because a certain number of bacteria develop with each thawing. 

So, no matter how hard it is, set aside the amount of ice cream you want and immediately return the rest to the freezer. Or buy ice cream in smaller containers to have them ready for serving.

Tip 2: Seal well

Always close the ice cream box tightly after opening it or move to an airtight container. Do not keep it lidless in the freezer, as this will promote faster ice formation on most ice cream.

Tip 3: Don’t double-dip

We know there is no better thing than eating ice cream from a can. But this will, in addition to dissolving it, also ingest some of the bacteria. 

You enter them on the spoon because you are constantly scooping for each bite. Try to separate the desired amount into a different bowl and enjoy the dessert.


How can you tell if ice cream is bad?

You can tell if ice cream is bad by observing changes in its texture, such as ice crystals or a grainy consistency, and checking for off-putting odors or an unusual taste. If any of these signs are present, the ice cream may have gone bad and should be discarded.

Is it okay to eat expired ice cream?

Yes, it’s generally okay to eat ice cream slightly past its expiration date, but it’s advisable to use your senses to check for any signs of spoilage before consuming it.

Can expired ice cream make you sick?

Yes, spoiled ice cream can cause some digestive or health problems. This does not happen as often as with other dairy products, but there is certainly a danger when dealing with gooey and icy mess.

Does ice cream go bad in the freezer?

Yes, ice cream can go bad in the freezer over time due to the formation of ice crystals and changes in texture and flavor. Proper storage and avoiding temperature fluctuations can help prolong its quality.


Probably very few people in the world don’t like ice cream. Which flavor you like the most is one of the common questions when dating and determines your character a bit. Are you more of a vanilla or chocolate team, or do you enjoy fruit flavors? Probably ice cream is a favorite treat of all the housemates.

Without exception, it must be in the freezer and do not keep the package for too long after opening. We advise you to buy fresh stocks of ice cream on a bimonthly basis as this will surely make you enjoy a fresher, better taste. This is not a frozen food that you need to let age, feel free to eat it as soon as possible.

*image by olhaafanasieva/depositphotos

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