WebstaurantStore / Food Service Resources / Food Storage & Refrigeration / Ice Cream Storage Guide

Ice Cream Storage Guide

Whether you run a busy ice cream parlor, ice cream truck, or retail store, it is vital to store your ice cream correctly to keep it fresh and cold. Investing in the right ice cream freezer ensures your inventory remains unspoiled and ready to serve. Use this ice cream storage guide to learn the best temperatures to keep ice cream fresh and the types of freezers available. Check out our commercial ice cream freezer reviews for more details on your chosen freezer.

Shop All Ice Cream Freezers

Use the following links to learn more about ice cream storage options:

  1. Does Ice Cream Expire?
  2. How Long Does Ice Cream Last in the Freezer?
  3. Freezer Temperature for Ice Cream
  4. Types of Ice Cream Freezers
  5. Ice Cream Freezer Accessories
  6. Frozen Dessert Storage Chart

Does Ice Cream Expire?

Person scooping ice cream out of an ice cream freezer into an ice cream cone

Unlike many frozen goods, ice cream expires within a few months after purchase and even more quickly once opened. Frozen desserts have a best by date printed on the container stating the recommended time to eat the ice cream. While you could still eat the ice cream past that date, the quality will drop and it might grow harmful bacteria. Therefore, serve any frozen dessert inventory before the best by date.

Ice cream can also go bad before the best by date if it melts and refreezes, is opened, or is exposed to freezer burn. To ensure you don't serve spoiled ice cream, check the following areas for signs of expiration.

  • Freezer burn: Check for ice crystals on the underside of the lid or on top of the ice cream.
  • Texture: Ice cream is normally somewhat fluffy and smooth. If it looks gooey or accumulates ice shards, it's time to throw it away.
  • Smell: Any foul odor is a definite sign that your ice cream is unsafe to serve. Dispose of it immediately.

How Long Does Ice Cream Last in the Freezer?

Unopened ice cream will last 2 to 3 months in the freezer, and opened ice cream lasts 1 to 2 months. However, other frozen desserts have different shelf lives due to their contents and churning process.

  • Ice cream: Lasts 2 to 3 months unopened or 1 to 2 months opened
  • Gelato: Lasts up to 6 months unopened or 2 weeks to 1 month opened
  • Frozen yogurt: Lasts 2 to 3 months unopened or up to 1 month opened
  • Sorbet: Lasts 2 to 4 months unopened or 1 to 2 months opened

Freezer Temperature for Ice Cream

Your freezer should store your ice cream between -5 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. While frozen yogurt is also kept between -5 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit, store gelato and sorbet between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below. When you're ready to serve, the ideal temperature is 0 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

When using an open or display freezer, always store your products below the freezer line. This tactic may result in a freezer that doesn't quite reach its storage capacity, but the items inside will remain colder, fresher, and more appetizing for guests.

Types of Ice Cream Freezers

Ice cream freezers are great for servicing, storing, and merchandising products. Depending on how much ice cream you plan to serve, you may need more than one type of freezer to accommodate service and storage. Read on to see some benefits and recommended uses of each ice cream freeze to decide which is best for your location.

Restaurant Equipment

1. Commercial Chest Freezer

Perfect for back-of-house bulk storage, a commercial chest freezer is essential for any establishment serving ice cream. These freezers are specifically designed to store large quantities of frozen products efficiently and effectively. With thick walls and superior insulation, commercial chest freezers keep ice cream and other frozen treats at the perfect consistency.

  • Usage type: Storage
  • Capacity: 5 to 20 cu. ft. of space
  • Service: Full-service or self-serve
  • Best for: Snack shops, ice cream shops, convenience stores, cafes
Restaurant Equipment

2. Ice Cream Dipping Cabinet

Designed to showcase your ice cream while keeping it at the right temperature, an ice cream dipping cabinet features a glass top for easy viewing of your products. You can choose between a self-serve or high-volume unit for large quantities of ice cream. Some models also include extra storage space for other frozen treats.

  • Usage type: Display
  • Capacity: 3 to 39 containers
  • Service: Full-service or self-serve
  • Best for: Ice cream shops, cafeterias, buffets
Restaurant Equipment

3. Gelato Dipping Cabinet

For gelaterias and sorbet establishments, a gelato dipping cabinet is an excellent choice to display and store your products as you serve them. These cabinets hold multiple flavors under a glass display lid, allowing customers to see different options and choose their favorite. Their insulation keeps gelato fresh and cold even with the top open during service.

  • Usage type: Display
  • Capacity: 20 to 48 pans
  • Service: Full-service
  • Best for: Gelato shops, Italian restaurants, sorbet shops
Restaurant Equipment

4. Glass Top Display Freezer

A glass top display freezer is perfect for keeping prepackaged frozen treats fresh while on display. Many models feature an angled, curved, or flat lid to allow customers to find individual ice cream sandwiches or popsicles. Moreover, these freezers encourage impulse purchases if placed near the checkout area.

  • Usage type: Display
  • Capacity: 4 to 19 cu. ft. of space
  • Service: Self-serve
  • Best for: Convenience stores, ice cream shops, cafeterias, retail stores
Restaurant Equipment

5. Drop-In Freezer

A drop-in freezer allows you to store your products right at the counter, making it convenient for your customers and staff. This style speeds up the ordering process and helps create a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. These freezers feature a space-saving design, allowing smaller ice cream parlors to maximize their limited space. Constructed with durable stainless steel, these freezers can retain cold temperatures efficiently.

  • Usage type: Storage
  • Capacity: 6 to 12 gallons
  • Service: Full-service
  • Best for: Ice cream shops, concession stands, snack shops

Ice Cream Freezer Accessories

Check out some of our ice cream freezer accessories to enhance customer experience and staff efficiency.

Sneeze Guards

You might not be able to escape the threat of germs and bacteria, but you can prevent them from contaminating your novelty ice cream treats. Sneeze guards are a great way to block external contaminants from tainting your ice cream.

Dipper Wells

A dipper well is used to keep your spades and dippers clean. Add a dipper well to your ice cream freezer or cabinet to keep fresh water available to rinse your utensils between orders.

Frost Shields

Nobody likes the taste of freezer-burnt ice cream, and frost can ruin your entire inventory. A frost shield is easy to install into your unit, accumulating the frost that would otherwise form on your ice cream. Not only do frost shields help improve the taste of your ice cream, but they also save you money by preserving your inventory and keeping it fresh for longer.

Can Holders and Tub Covers

Can holders and tub covers will help organize your ice cream and maintain a sanitary environment. Tub covers and can holders can be removed at the end of a shift and wiped clean to keep your freezer hygienic and visually appealing for customers. Tub covers sit on top of ice cream containers, so check the size of your gallons and match them with coordinating covers.

Flavor Tags

Use flavor tags to brand your hand-crafted flavors, promote monthly feature flavors, or show ingredients. They allow customers to easily find their favorite ice cream and check for allergens in different flavors.

Frost Top and Cold Slab Units

Designed to provide a reliable cold work or display area, these frost tops and cold slabs prevent your ice cream from melting. Customers can watch you mix their ice cream and toppings without worrying that their treat will melt. They fit easily into a countertop cutout and wipe clean with ease.

Refrigerated Ice Cream Topping Rails

Refrigerated ice cream topping rails are convenient for syrup jars and containers with a dipping cabinet or storage base underneath. The topping rails are made of durable stainless steel, making them easy to clean after a busy night. The unit also features a flip-lid design, so you can scoop your ice cream and smother it with delicious toppings without going to another station.

Frozen Dessert Storage Chart

Reference our frozen dessert chart below to learn about the shelf life and storing temperatures for ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet.

ice cream graphic
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

Related Resources

How to Start an Ice Cream Truck

An ice cream truck represents a unique opportunity for aspiring business owners. Low startup costs , minimal staffing requirements, and schedule flexibility allow you to design a business model that fits your lifestyle. Below, we'll walk you through the process of starting an ice cream truck, the costs associated with it, and various marketing tactics you can use to ensure your ice cream truck business starts out strong. Shop All Ice Cream Truck Supplies How to Start an Ice Cream Truck Business Though starting an ice cream truck business isn't as complicated as starting a restaurant , it comes with its own set of challenges. If you aren't familiar with the ice cream truck industry, you might not know where to start. Follow the steps below t

Types of Ice Cream Cones

The cool, creamy sweetness of ice cream combined with the crispy crunch of an ice cream cone makes for the perfect summer treat . Cones enhance the taste and texture of your ice cream, so they are just as essential as the ice cream itself. Whether you operate an ice cream parlor or an ice cream truck , having different ice cream cone types at your establishment increases your profits and reveals new ways to serve your most popular ice cream flavors. Shop All Ice Cream Cones Use the following links to learn more about the different types of ice cream cones: Waffle Cone Sugar Cone Cake Cone Different Ice Cream Cones Ice Cream Cone Accessories Ice Cream Cone Size Chart

How to Start an Ice Cream Shop

Enjoyed by children and adults alike, ice cream is a classic summer treat. The industry has expanded in recent years thanks to emerging types of frozen treats , the growth of the mobile vending industry , and the normalization of pop-up and seasonal shops. For many, getting ice cream with friends and family is a summer ritual, meaning there is plenty of demand for local ice cream shops. Check out our ice cream shop startup guide and learn how to open your own ice cream business. Shop All Ice Cream Shop Supplies Skip to the ice cream shop startup information that interests you: Ice Cream Shop Concepts and Branding Ice Cream Shop Business Plans Ice Cream Shop Start-Up Costs How to Secure Funding for a New Business Business Licenses and Permit

Join Our Mailing List

Receive coupon codes and more right to your inbox.

Recipe converter
WebstaurantStore blog
Videos of demonstrations, how-tos and more