How to Keep Ice Cream Frozen in a Cooler

Although it’s ideal to keep ice cream in your freezer, sometimes you just have to bring it on the go (we’re looking at you, birthday parties at the park or beach!). The best option for keeping ice cream perfectly frozen in your cooler is dry ice, although you can get by with regular ice, too.

Howdy! I’m Michelle, a self-taught baker who’s enjoyed creating different treats and desserts for the past ten years. Although I love making goodies like cakes and brownies, there’s nothing quite like ice cream. I’ve had to take ice cream on the road a few times, and I’ve figured out the best way to do it.

Do you need to transport some ice cream in the near future? Don’t fear opening the lid to a melted disaster (and unhappy party guests). Follow my simple how-to guide below to allow your ice cream to remain frosty in your cooler. (It’s not difficult, I promise!)

Melted mishaps? No way. Discover how to keep all of your ice creams perfectly frozen inside your cooler below!

2 Ways to Keep All of Your Ice Cream Frosty Inside of a Cooler

When it comes to keeping ice cream frosty while transporting it in coolers, you have two options: dry ice or regular ice. Dry ice will offer better results, but you don’t “have” to use it. Either way, here’s how to do it successfully:

1. Dry Ice Method

Dry ice is essentially a frozen form of carbon dioxide that stays at a temperature of -109F (yes, it’s that cold). That said, you must be careful of two things: ending up with frostbite on your fingertips and accidentally turning your container of ice cream into a frozen block. 

Here’s how to use dry ice to keep all of your ice creams frosty (but not ruined):

  • Place your ice cream containers on the bottom of the cooler. Items on the bottom will remain chilled for more extended periods. Also, you want to be able to place the dry ice on top.
  • Put on a pair of thick, protective gloves. Your hands should not make contact with the dry ice. There is a severe risk of frostbite.
  • Wrap the dry ice with a towel. Not only will this ensure the dry ice doesn’t evaporate (no, it doesn’t melt like regular ice), but it will protect your precious ice cream from becoming a frozen, inedible block of ingredients.
  • Place the dry ice on top of the ice cream. This doesn’t need an explanation, right?
  • Fill any empty space with regular ice cubes. Empty space is begging for melted ice cream. That said, fill up the remainder of your cooler with regular ice to be on the safe side.
  • Open the air valve or keep the cooler slightly ajar. This will allow the gasses from the dry ice to escape the cooler, avoiding pressure buildup that can eventually lead to a mini explosion.
  • Enjoy your ice cream! Keep the cooler away from the sun, and enjoy your ice cream when ready. If you finish all the ice creams, simply allow the dry ice to evaporate by keeping the lid of the cooler open.

2. Regular Ice Method

Dry ice is a little intensive, and some might not want to take the risk. If that’s the case, don’t worry – you can also rely on the regular ice in your freezer. 

With this method, there’s a higher risk of melted ice cream. However, if you have a highly insulated cooler and follow these instructions step-by-step, your ice cream should remain frozen and delicious for several hours. 

  • Chill the cooler before adding ice cream. You don’t want to add ice cream to a warm cooler – that’s a recipe for disaster! That said, fill the cooler with ice cubes before moving to step two.
  • Remove ice cubes and add ice cream. Once the cooler is chilled, remove the ice cubes and place the ice cream on the bottom. (Remember – items on the bottom stay chilled for extended periods!)
  • Fill the cooler with ice cubes. Larger ice cubes are recommended. You can make larger ice cubes by filling a container with fresh water and freezing it. If you only have smaller ice cubes, you can use them, too.
  • Apply some rock salt to the ice cubes. After filling the container with ice cubes, sprinkle some rock salt on top. Rock salt will slower the melting rate, ensuring your ice cream doesn’t melt prematurely.
  • Keep the cooler shut and out of the sun. Always make sure your cooler is kept in a shady, cool area. Refrain from opening until you’re ready to eat the ice cream.
  • Enjoy your ice cream! When you’re ready to consume the ice cream, open the cooler and enjoy – it should be perfectly frozen and ready for consumption!


There you have it, folks – two excellent ways to keep your ice cream frosty while sitting in your cooler. While I’m sure you’re ready to prepare your cooler for your ice cream, I suggest looking at these frequently asked questions first. You might learn something important!

How long will ice cream stay frozen while in a cooler with ice?

With regular ice and proper preparation – using an insulated cooler, chilling the cooler beforehand, and using rock salt and more giant ice cubes – your ice cream should remain frozen for around five hours (up to seven maximum). If you use dry ice, ice cream stays frozen over 24 hours.

How long can ice cream sit out without melting?

Ice cream will expire in two hours if left sitting at room temperature or one hour if the temperature exceeds 90F. Even though the ice cream might not be entirely melted, it’s still unsafe to consume at this point as it enters the “danger zone” where bacteria multiply. That said, make sure you stick your ice cream in the freezer ASAP or use the two methods above to keep it safe during transportation.

How does DoorDash keep the ice cream frozen?

According to DoorDash, “dashers” use insulated carriers to ensure ice cream stays frozen during delivery. That’s why some ingredients – such as whipped cream toppings – might not be allowed when ordering through DoorDash, as they will lose shape quickly.

Ready to Transport Your Fave Ice Cream Flavors?

Transporting ice cream coolers is a cinch. Dry ice will provide the most longevity for your ice cream, but it comes with a few potential risks that some may find unenjoyable. Regular ice cubes can also be used, but you’ll need to take additional steps, such as chilling the cooler and using rock salt. 

How do you keep your ice cream frosty in your cooler?

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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