Last Updated on March 25, 2022
Do you quickly need to make an ice cream dessert, but don't know how to soften ice cream that has become rock hard? This guide can help you!
In this article, we will discuss why ice cream becomes hard and how to prevent it. Then, we will look at some of the best ways to soften ice cream so that you can easily use it for delicious ice cream cakes, sandwiches, milkshakes, or even just a soft creamy garnish.
Rock Hard Ice Cream - Why It's A Problem
When you think of ice cream, the first thing that probably comes up in your head is its incredibly creamy, smooth, a delicately semi-soft texture. Unfortunately, more often than not, your freezer makes this sweet treat rock hard.
Now, while this isn't necessarily a problem when sitting in front of the TV digging your way through the tub, there are some situations where rock-hard ice cream simply isn't usable.
Luckily, we have compiled a list of the best ways to soften and defrost ice cream without having to completely melt and reset it or adding more ingredients to it. And the best part is that all of these methods are incredibly easy and relatively quick.
The other problem with rock-hard ice cream is the ice crystals that they have. These crystals form when the ice cream has been left inside the freezer for far too long or when the ice cream wasn't stored correctly.
If you choose the correct thawing method, you can get rid of the ice crystals completely without again, completely having to melt and reset the ice cream.
Best Ways To Soften Or Defrost Rock Hard Ice Cream
Today, we will be covering some of the best methods for how to unfreeze ice cream. This softened ice cream will be much easier to work with for recipes, but will also simply give it a more appealing mouthfeel.
1. Thaw in the fridge
We always highly encourage people to defrost ice cream and other frozen ingredients inside of the fridge instead of at room temperature. This is because of two reasons. The first is because of the temperature danger zones. This is a range of temperatures (around room temperature) at which bacteria thrive and multiply quickly. Leaving your food there, especially once defrosted, poses a risk of bacterial growth.
The second, and arguably the most important, is that by slowly defrosting your food in a colder area, it won't affect the texture and flavor of the item too much or in too drastic of away. This is the same reason we don't defrost food at high temperatures (like in the oven).
While this is the best method to precisely control the texture of your ice cream, it does take a bit of time and isn't a quick-fix method. Depending on the size of your ice cream tub, it can take anywhere between 10-30 minutes to defrost and soften.
2. Use a microwave
Okay, so we know we just said don't use extreme temperatures to soften the ice cream, but this is the quickest method if you are in a hurry. You can use the microwave in two ways; at a high temperature or on the defrost setting.
Only place the ice cream inside the microwave (on the high heat setting) for 10-second intervals. This will help prevent quickly melting the ice cream and will allow you to better determine exactly how soft it should be.
Alternatively, you can use a lower temperature or the defrost setting and place it inside for slightly longer. This will work in a much gentler setting and soften the ice cream slowly.
3. Cut your ice cream
This might sound like the strangest method you have ever heard of, but trust us, it works! How it works is that you are essentially creating a bigger surface area. The larger surface area will cause the ice cream to soften quicker and more evenly.
You can leave your ice cream at room temperature or inside the fridge. Either way, it is quicker than using the fridge method alone.
What You Will Need To Defrost Ice Cream - Mixing The Ice Cream
This method is also very quick and extremely easy to do. And, you can also precisely control how soft you want to make the ice cream.
- Stand mixer with the paddle attachment
Step by step instructions for softening ice cream
Step 1: Slightly thaw the ice cream
Remove the frozen ice cream from the freezer and allow it to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. This will only take out the initial hardiness of the ice cream and make it easier to remove from the container. But, it shouldn't defrost or soften at all.
Step 2: Beat the ice cream
Scoop or the ice cream into the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure you are using the paddle attachment and that it is tightly secured. Then, starting at a low speed, start mixing the ice cream.
Once it has softened a little bit, increase the speed to medium and continue mixing. Be careful not to mix it for too long that it gets soupy or melts.
Step 3: Remove and use
Once silky smooth and softened, you can remove it from the bowl and either use it immediately or place it back inside a container to use later.
How To Unfreeze Ice Cream - Tips And Tricks
- We highly recommend using an electric stand mixer when softening ice cream. A hand mixer usually doesn't have enough power to mix the rock-hard ice cream and will also require more work on your part. By using the stand mixer you simply add the ice cream and mix - that's it!
- While mixing the ice cream, you can also add something to it. This can be sprinkles, chocolate chips, cookie crumbs, or anything else that you'd like.
- You can have a look at this extremely insightful article on handling and correctly storing ice cream. This will help prevent the ice cream from becoming too hard in the fridge and is also just a generally useful guide on correct and safe handling procedures.
Hopefully, this guide will help you get that perfect silky smooth ice cream texture that we are all drooling over. And, if you know of anybody who will find this article helpful, give it a share and also let us know what you think about it in the comments below!
How To Soften Ice Cream
- Stand mixer with the paddle attachment
- Slightly thaw the ice cream.Remove the frozen ice cream from the freezer and allow it to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. This will only take out the initial hardiness of the ice cream and make it easier to remove from the container. But, it shouldn't defrost or soften at all.
- Beat the ice cream.Scoop or the ice cream into the bowl of a stand mixer. Make sure you are using the paddle attachment and that it is tightly secured. Then, starting at a low speed, start mixing the ice cream.Once it has softened a little bit, increase the speed to medium and continue mixing. Be careful not to mix it for too long that it gets soupy or melts.
- Remove and use.Once silky smooth and softened, you can remove it from the bowl and either uses it immediately or place it back inside a container to use later.
Lindy Van Schalkwyk is a culinary specialist with a background in Advanced Cooking, Advanced Pâtisserie, Media Communications and Nutrition. She has gained invaluable experience in the culinary industry having worked in some of the top restaurants in Africa in 2016 and 2017. Her expertise in nutrition has enabled her to develop recipes for special dietary needs. In 2018, Lindy began working in the Food Media industry, focusing on recipe development, recipe writing, food writing and food styling.