How Long Does Ice Cream Last – (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4 months

Ice cream is made from cream or dairy milk; it is then frozen and served as a dessert or taken as a snack. There are various sweeteners used in making ice creams, such as vanilla and cocoa.

Often when unopened, ice cream can last up to four months. Therefore, in this article, we shall discuss how long does ice cream last and why.

How Long Does Ice Cream Last

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 months shelf life when unopened; however, this shelf-life reduces to 3 weeks once opened. Its storage temperature should be 00 Fahrenheit for it to have two moths shelf life when unopened.

Precisely, you can consume an ice cream after approximately three to four months safely. However, after the 4th month, the ice cream is considered unsafe for use. Once opened, you should consume it within a period of two to three weeks.

When ice cream sits in the freezer for long, it develops freezer burn. When moisture moves to the surface of the ice cream from its inside and freezes, which leads to the formation of freezer burn.

This ruins the flavor and texture of the ice cream due to ice crystal formation.

Whenever moisture escapes the ice cream and freezer burn sets in, you cannot restore the flavor and texture of your ice cream. However, ice cream with freezer burns is safe for consumption despite losing its taste and texture.

Bacteria are always a significant concern when it comes to melted ice cream. Warmth often favors the development of microorganisms; therefore, storing ice cream at room temperature is not recommended.

Once your ice cream melts, refreezing, it will help in killing and preventing the growth of microorganisms.

Why Does Ice Cream Last That Long?

There are various factors that affect ice cream shelf life such as;

  1. Recrystallization: This is a process in which ice cream crystals undergo a change in size, shape, and numbers due to the unstable nature during freezing. Recrystallization helps in preventing the growth of bacteria hence increases ice cream shelf life.
  2. Stabilizers: This is a group of ingredients such as sodium alginate, xanthan, and carboxymethyl cellulose, among others, which are used in making ice cream. These stabilizers help in creating resistance to melting hence blocking moisture formation.

Furthermore, stabilizers help in making the ice cream body smooth and reduce the accumulation of lactose crystal during storage.

How to Tell a Spoilt Ice Cream

You should always note that having proper hygiene, as well as practicing food safety techniques, will help in preventing foodborne illnesses. The formation of a tiny ice shard at the top of ice cream is a common trait of it being spoilt.

There are various health risks associated with the consumption of rotten ice cream; therefore, it is advisable to avoid its consumption.


The shelf life of your ice cream will depend mainly on the method of preservation used. Once you refrigerate your ice cream after use, its shelf life will increase. Therefore, once you open it, you should ensure that it is well preserved to prevent the growth of bacteria.


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