Why Doesn't My Freezer Freeze Ice Cream?

When serving ice cream, consumers often notice that some ice cream remains in a semi-solid state while other brands or flavors freeze all the way through. Though consumers often blame frozen ice cream on the freezer, the composition of the ice cream plays a role in its likelihood of freezing.

Ice cream typically does not freeze solid in a residential freezer.

Freezing Temperature

A typical residential freezer should keep its contents at temperatures between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, little or none of the water contained in ice cream will freeze at those temperatures. For this reason, ice cream in typical residential freezers should not freeze solid.

Freeze Concentration

A typical commercial serving temperature for ice cream reaches 16 degrees below zero. Even at this temperature, only about 72 percent of the ice cream water content is frozen; the rest of the water remains in a liquid state in the form of a sugary solution.


Different freezers may keep contents at different temperatures, and many residential freezers can reach temperatures cold enough to freeze ice cream. In addition, ice cream composition plays a role in its tendency to freeze; ice creams with higher water content may freeze at warmer temperatures than those with higher fat and sugar content.