Does Ice Cream Expire? Things to Know

does ice cream expire

If you’re searching for that pint of Ben & Jerry’s that has freezer burn, you might be wondering whether ice cream can actually spoil. The answer is that ice cream does go bad and does expire. You can find out more about the shelf life of ice cream by reading this article.

A popular, icy-cold treat, ice cream is especially welcome in the sweltering summertime. If the temperatures suddenly skyrocket and you check your freezer for something to cool down, you will be delighted to find a tub of ice cream. But what if it’s expired? Can you still eat it?

Ice cream has a “best by” date rather than an expiration date. While the quality of the ice cream may deteriorate, it will still be safe to consume for a few months after the “best by” date as long as there are no signs of spoilage.

Does Ice Cream Expire?

Yes, ice cream does go bad. Ice cream has a limited shelf life even though it is kept in the freezer, a place where nothing seems to ever go bad. It’s totally understandable if you hadn’t thought to look before, but your favorite dairy-based dessert does have a best-by date.

According to legend, unopened tubs of ice cream have a shelf life of up to two months before they stop being at their freshest. Once the ice cream is opened, the timer starts, and you have one to two months to finish it without encountering any issues.

With that in mind, it’s worth remembering that “best by” dates can tend to be a little conservative. Some say you can really eat unopened ice cream for up to two to three months past its printed date, so do with that information whatever you will.

You may be interested in Is There Gluten in Ice Cream?

How Long Does Ice Cream Last?

does ice cream expire

Ice cream doesn’t last forever, so don’t be shocked. It’s simple to think that food stored in the freezer will always stay fresh. Ice cream, regrettably, is an exception to that rule. Ice cream is a dairy product after all. It can therefore become spoiled by microorganisms. Not to mention the chance of freezer burn. Here is How Long Does Ice Cream Last in the Freezer?

The precise shelf life may vary based on the ingredients and preparation technique. Only one thing is certain. How long the ice cream remains delectable and secure for consumption is also influenced by storage conditions.

A producer of ice cream places a best-by date on the label to specify how long, with proper storage, this sweet treat should remain fresh.

You can wait a month or two after the suggested date if it hasn’t been opened. However, it’s better to be on the safe side if it exhibits the aforementioned unusual changes.

An opened ice cream is best to eat as soon as possible or up to a couple of months, assuming that it’s safe from freezer burn.

The recipe and method of preparation have an impact on how long homemade ice cream will keep. But because it lacks emulsifiers and preservatives, it definitely lasts less time than the store-bought variety.

Can You Eat Expired Ice Cream?

It is generally safe to consume expired ice cream as long as there are no signs of spoilage. That’s because ice cream is stored in the freezer, which does not create the optimal environment for bacterial growth.

does ice cream expire

But that does not imply that ice cream is eternal. Ice cream’s quality can and will deteriorate as time goes on. So, even if it’s “safe” to consume, it might not taste that great.

Even ice cream can go bad. For example, ice cream that has melted and refrozen can cause mold to grow, in which case the expired ice cream would not be safe to consume.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Ice Cream?

So, what happens if you dig your spoon into a batch of ice cream past its “best by” date? Probably nothing – again, as long as it is not spoiled. You might even find the flavor to be unappealing and decide not to eat it.

In the chance that you eat expired and spoiled ice cream, the most you will likely end up with is a stomachache. It’s best to be aware of and comprehend the symptoms of ice cream spoilage because some people may experience more severe symptoms.

How to Tell If Ice Cream is Bad?

Contrary to popular belief, freezing food does not stop bacteria from growing on it.

  • Ice shards. On the top and lid of your ice cream, there are tiny icicle-like ice shards. While they may not be necessarily harmful, they will affect the quality negatively.
  • Change in texture. Ice cream ought to be solid. It’s spoiled and needs to be thrown away right away if it has a slimy or gooey texture.
  • Stale odor. The ice cream should definitely be smelled last. It’s past its prime and should be thrown out if the aroma isn’t sweet and delectable but rather stale and unpleasant.

If your ice cream melts and is re-frozen, it will spoil fairly quickly. If your ice cream melts to the point it resembles soup more than ice cream, it’s best not to try and save it. Discard it and purchase or make some new ice cream.

does ice cream expire

How to Store Ice Cream?

Ice cream is a dairy product, as you are probably aware. The main ingredients are dairy (milk, condensed milk, or heavy cream), sugar, water, flavoring, and stabilizers. To accommodate customers who are vegan or have lactose intolerance, non-dairy ice cream is now also offered.

You should treat it similarly to other chilled goods when shopping. As you make your final stop before heading to the register, choose your favorite ice cream.

Bring your own freezer bag to protect the ice cream from warm temperatures if you’re out shopping on a steamy summer day. Make sure to finish your grocery shopping before heading home.

If you don’t intend to consume the ice cream right away after arriving home, put it back in the freezer. Ice cream containers that haven’t been opened can be stored in the freezer without being opened.

If you prefer homemade ice cream, make sure to keep it in a sealed airtight container. To allow for emulsion expansion when it freezes, leave ½ inch of headspace.

The optimum storage temperatures are between -5 °F and 0 °F (or -20 °C to -18 °C), while ice cream is best served between 6 °F to 10 °F (or -14 C to -12 C). Since the temperature in this area can vary greatly, avoid keeping ice cream there. (*)

After serving, immediately return it to the freezer. The consistency of ice cream may change into an unpleasant lump if it softens and is repeatedly frozen.

To avoid the growth of ice crystals, make sure the lid is tightly closed. You can also place a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap on the ice cream’s surface.

Avoid putting ice cream next to exposed or even raw foods. Ice cream may become contaminated and become unsafe to consume.

does ice cream expire

Naturally, eating ice cream straight out of the tub is very tempting. Better portion it into a bowl if you won’t finish in one sitting, and use a clean spoon to scoop out the tasty bits.


Can Old Ice Cream Give You Food Poisoning?

You can get food poisoning from eating spoiled or old ice cream. This is especially true for ice cream that has melted entirely and is placed in the freezer. That’s because melted ice cream is prone to swift bacterial growth that won’t be killed off when re-frozen.

Does Frozen Ice Cream Expire?

Frozen ice cream expires at one point, but it’s generally safe to consume for a few months beyond the “best by” date. However, the quality will deteriorate beyond the “best by” date, so you might consider purchasing or making a fresh batch.

Is It Okay to Eat Melted Ice Cream?

When ice cream is left to melt, it will quickly turn into a breeding ground for bacteria. Because of this, distributors must keep frozen desserts below 41 degrees Fahrenheit per FDA ice cream guidelines. Because the sugars in ice cream feed bacteria, it’s a dangerous setup for food poisoning.

Final Thoughts

If not stored correctly, ice cream will go bad. Consuming ice cream that has passed its expiration date is generally safe. If your ice cream is past the “best by” date, it’s best to check for other signs of spoilage before consuming it.

To preserve its quality and safety, ice cream must be kept frozen constantly. If you give it proper storage, ice cream should stay delicious until its “best-by” date and possibly longer. If freezer burn starts to take over or something doesn’t smell right, forget about this date.

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