How Long is Ice Cream Good for in the Freezer?

Mmm, ice cream. If you ask my Mom, she will tell you that I have been a fan of ice cream since I was a young girl – and my love for ice cream rings true to this day. Needless to say, I always have ice cream in my freezer, and I know exactly how long it lasts.

How long ice cream lasts in the freezer depends on whether it’s unopened or opened. Unopened ice cream can easily last for three months beyond the expiration date, while opened ice cream containers will be good for about six weeks (if stored properly).

Hello! My name is Michelle, and I’ve been the self-proclaimed “Ice Cream Queen” for as long as I can remember. I love all of the flavors, from mint chips to chocolate chip cookie dough and more. I’m here to share some of my knowledge about ice cream storage.

Let’s find out how long ice cream is good for in the freezer!

How Long Can Ice Cream Last in the Freezer? 

The obvious (and only) place to store ice cream is in the freezer. But how long is it actually good for? Well, it depends on whether you’ve opened the container yet or not.

  • Unopened. An unopened container of ice cream can easily last up to three months beyond the “best by” date listed on the packaging.
  • Opened. Opened containers of ice cream will typically last up to six weeks with proper storage (more on that later!).
  • Homemade. Are you making homemade ice cream? Store it in the freezer for up to two weeks.

How Can You Tell If Ice Cream Has Gone Bad? (3 Signs)

Ice cream has a pretty long shelf life, but that doesn’t mean it will last forever. Much like any other food – especially dairy products – ice cream goes bad. Look out for these three indicators of spoilage.

1. Ice Shards on the Lid and Ice Cream

The most significant indicator that your ice cream is going bad is the presence of ice shards. These tiny ice formations will appear on the lid and top layer of your ice cream. While these are “safe” to consume, they will have a negative impact on the flavor and texture.

My suggestion? Toss it and buy a fresh container of ice cream.

2.  A Gooey or Slimy Texture

Take a good look at your ice cream. Do you notice a change in the texture? Ice cream that is past its prime will develop a gooey and slimy texture, both of which are highly unappealing. If you notice these textural changes, toss the ice cream right away.

3. Stale Odor

Ice cream should smell sweet and inviting. If yours is starting to smell stale, there’s a reason – it’s spoiled and needs to be thrown away. 

It can be somewhat challenging to determine whether ice cream is spoiled based on scent alone, so you will want to check for other signs of rancidness like a change in texture or the presence of ice shards.

How to Store Ice Cream for Longevity (4 Tips)

Unopened ice cream containers can last for three months beyond the “best by” date, while opened containers can last for six weeks – but that’s only if it’s stored properly. Here are four tips to ensure you’re getting the most extended longevity from your ice-cold treat.

1. Store in the Back or Bottom of the Freezer

It’s no secret that ice cream must be stored in the freezer. But where in the freezer? The bottom or back of the freezer is the ideal location for ice cream. These locations have fewer temperature fluctuations, ensuring your ice cream can last longer.

2. Keep it Sealed

Ice cream containers come with a lid that should securely fit onto the container. When you’re done scooping your bowl of ice cream, make sure the lid is on tightly and securely before placing it back in the freezer

This will ensure that air, moisture, and other contaminants are kept away from your precious container of ice-cold, creamy deliciousness.

3. Use an Airtight Container, If Necessary

I’ve broken a few ice cream containers/lids in my lifetime. How about you? If the container is broken, the lid isn’t fitting correctly, or there are any other types of damage that can hinder the security of your ice cream, always stash it in an airtight container.

Don’t think your ice cream container needs to be flawed to use an airtight container. I am a big fan of doubling up on protection, especially when it comes to a favorite food like ice cream.

That said, you can always keep your ice cream inside its original packaging and store it in an airtight container. With a double barrier, there is no chance of contaminants hindering your ice cream. 

Homemade ice cream will need to be stored in an airtight container from the get-go.

4. Never Refreeze Melted Ice Cream

Unless you’re a fan of food-borne illnesses, refrain from refreezing ice cream that has melted. Ice cream that has melted is more prone to bacterial growth, which can make you ill if consumed.

A little bit of meltiness is okay. For example, when you’re driving home from the grocery store and the top and sides have gotten a little melted. However, if it’s been sitting out for a few hours and resembles soup rather than ice cream, it’s best to toss it out.


Now you know how long ice cream is good for in the freezer, plus some other helpful info like how to tell when it’s gone bad and how to store it properly. Check out these frequently asked questions if you want to learn more!

Can old ice cream make you sick?

Like any other dairy product, old ice cream can make you sick. However, the texture and flavor are likely to be so off-putting at this point that the risk is minimal. The highest risk comes from ice cream that’s melted and been refrozen.

Can you eat ice cream after the expiration date?

Most ice cream containers come with a “best by” date rather than an expiration date. This is simply a date that indicates when the ice cream is freshest – not safest. The best thing to do is check for signs of spoilage before consumption.

What does spoiled ice cream taste like?

Spoiled ice cream will likely have a chewy texture, thanks to the presence of ice shards. However, rancid ice cream can also be gooey and slimy. Regardless, spoiled ice cream will not taste fresh, creamy, and delicious. There is a noticeable change in the flavor.

How long is ice cream cake good for in the freezer?

Ice cream cake does not last as long as its ice cream container counterparts. In fact, ice cream cake lasts for a maximum of seven days in the freezer (when stored properly). Ice cream cake will taste best within the first few days.

Final Words

Ice cream has a pretty impressive shelf life. Unopened containers can easily last three months beyond the “best by” date, and opened containers can last six weeks when stored properly. Homemade ice cream has a much shorter shelf life of just two weeks. 

How long do you keep your ice cream in the freezer? How do you store it for longevity?

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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