How long does ice cream last?

If you are running a catering business, then you are probably going to include ice cream in your repertoire of delights.

And whether you make it in-house, or its produced elsewhere, it’s essential that you understand how long it can be kept.

After all, you want to serve it at its best and ensure it isn’t going to turn into a reputation-damaging health hazard.

What is the standard shelf life of ice cream?

So how long does ice cream last? Well, usually in most households not very long, but in a catering setting it is a different matter. Buying ice cream in bulk, or making a sizeable batch of each particular flavour ,will most definitely entail it being kept for weeks and maybe even months.

The good news is that it is entirely possible to keep a commercially made ice cream for around two to three months, if all the conditions are right.

For an ice cream which may have been made by a restaurant chef de partie, the time will be reduced to around a month. This is because artisan made ice creams will contain fewer additives. They just have to be eaten more quickly, so remember to calculate your portion sizes carefully when you are making your iced desserts, then you won’t have to throw out any left hanging around in the freezer for longer than recommended.

Waste will always eat into your restaurant’s profits.

However, it is not just that simple, because as well as ensuring that your stocks of ice cream are consumed within a certain time scale, to make them last, they need to be stored in the most effective way. If you don’t use the right kind of container, or store at the correct temperature. then the shelf life of your ice cream will be a lot shorter.

The truth is that ice cream can definitely go bad. It can suffer from freezer burn if it comes into contact with warm air and can even fall prey to harmful bacteria if it is left too long in the freezer.

So, the best way to ensure that ice cream remains as fresh as possible for as long as possible is to:

Store in the correct container

The container for your ice cream is intrinsic to the question how long does ice cream last? This is because when you store ice cream it has to be in an airtight environment. Allow air to come into contact with your frozen creations and you will reduce its longevity, not to mention ruin it’s deliciously concocted flavour.

Another reason you need the right container for your ice cream is the quality of the material from which it has been made.

Some plastics will get brittle if they are frozen, so you need a container that is safe enough to use in a super chilled environment.

You might also want to look at ice cream containers that are stackable as they will ensure the space in the freezer is used more efficiently and will work beautifully in harmony if you intend to keep all your ice creams in one place (top tip: You should!).

Ensure it is kept at the optimal temperature

For ice cream the optimal temperature is 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C).

Do not open until ready to serve

If you can, calculate just how much ice cream you are selling each week and store it in the appropriately sized container. In this way, you can be assured that you are likely to have used it all up within the correct timescale.

Avoid leaving ice cream out for too long

This will definitely impair the texture and flavour and reduce your ice cream’s shelf life.

Store at the back of the freezer

In this way you will avoid the fluctuations in temperature that can result in your ice cream becoming impaired in taste and quality. It’s all about keeping the temperature consistent. Failure to do so will result in ice cream that is grainy in texture and rather unpleasant to taste.

Our tips are:

  • Keep the freezer door closed as much as possible. Ensure that staff are familiar with the layout of the freezer and where to find certain items so they are not standing there with the door open trying to work out where everything is and letting warm air in, in the process.
  • Do not store your ice cream close to the door of the freezer as the front will undergo more temperature changes than the back.
  • Do not place warm foods directly into the freezer as anything warm placed beside all that freezing ice will definitely cause your ice cream to melt.

Key timeframes to be aware of when storing ice cream


  • Unopened ice cream can last up to three months if stored correctly in the right container.


  • Opened ice cream will last up to a month.


  • Ice cream that has been made fresh from natural ingredients will not contain the preservatives and stabilizers of artificially preserved ice creams and will therefore only last two to three weeks when opened.

Points to remember

  • If ice cream is melted and re-frozen its taste and quality will be impaired and you should bin it for reasons of health and safety.
  • Vitally important if you want your ice cream to last is the storage container you use. This needs to be airtight as this will keep the temperature consistent and slow down the rate at which the ice cream will melt or get too cold.

So, the upshot is that if stored properly, ice cream can last for several months and enjoyed at its optimum quality.

Want to find out more about ice cream containers and how you can ensure that your frozen desserts are kept fresh and delicious for as long a time as possible?

Then take a look at our fantastic range of food-safe products.

And if you need any further information, we are always here to help.