Skip to content


How to Keep Ice Cream Frozen in a Cooler

How to Keep Ice Cream Frozen in a Cooler


When it comes to enjoying ice cream on a hot summer day, we all know the struggle of it melting too quickly in our coolers. Even the slightest increase in temperature can turn your perfect scoop into a soupy mess. To learn how to keep ice cream frozen in a cooler, scroll down below.


how to keep ice cream frozen in a cooler


How to Prevent Ice Cream From Melting in a Cooler


To ensure that ice cream stays frozen in a cooler, follow the tips below:


Step 1: Pick the Right Cooler

 man holding cooler outside

Credit: Envato Elements/ cavanimages


To stop ice cream from melting, consider getting a tough plastic cooler or a similar hard-sided cooler. These coolers can keep food cold for a long time, and they usually mention how many hours they can do it. For ice cream, look for coolers that can stay cold for at least 16 hours.

Avoid metal coolers since they have a tendency to absorb heat more quickly. Also, avoid using soft nylon cooler bags. These might be good for short distances or for foods that are not temperature-sensitive, but they're not the best choice for keeping your ice cream cold.


Step 2: Pre-Chill the Cooler Before Placing the Ice Cream Inside

 ice cubes

Credit: Envato Elements/ FabrikaPhoto


To keep your ice cream super cold, make sure your cooler is as cold as possible before putting the ice cream in it. You can do this by adding a big chunk of regular ice, either homemade or storebought, inside the cooler. Close the lid and let it cool for at least 4 hours. Your cooler should be all set when it's time to leave.


Step 3: Line the Interior of the Cooler With Aluminum Foil

 Nice Packs thermal insulated liner

Credit: Nice Packs


To ensure that your cooler stays cold and your ice cream does not melt, it's essential to keep the heat out. You can do this by using aluminum foil to line the interior of your cooler. Additionally, thermal liners can also help keep hot air out and cool air in.


Step 4: Place Your Ice Cream Container at the Bottom of the Cooler

 blue cooler

Credit: Envato Elements/ iStock


After pre-cooling the cooler, it's time to pack your ice cream in it. Since cold air sinks, the bottom of the cooler will be the coldest part. Therefore, it's essential to pack ice cream at the bottom to keep it from melting.


Step 5: Pack Your Cooler With Dry Ice Packs and Fresh Ice


Nice packs dry ice packs
Credit: Nice Packs


It's time to stock your cooler with dry ice packs and normal ice to keep the ice cream from melting. To ensure that the ice cream stays at the ideal temperature, make sure the ice and ice packs are as cold as possible. 

Now that your cooler is packed with your ice cream, it's time to stock it with dry ice packs and ice cubes. This is what will actually maintains the temperature of your ice cream during the trip, so choose wisely. Compared to ice cubes, dry ice packs are the better choice since they don't make a messy puddle when they melt. If you're using ice cubes, be sure to put them in zip-lock bags first, especially if your ice cream is in cardboard boxes.


Step 6: Add Rock Salt

 rock salt in bowl

Credit: Envato Elements/ vvoennyy


To slow down the melting process of the ice and ice packs, sprinkle rock salt or regular salt in the cooler. Rock salt used to be a component for keeping ice cream cold in the past. This trick is still effective today.


Step 7: Fill Up Any Extra Space in the Cooler

 crumbled up newspaper

 Credit: Envato Elements/ Yuliasis


Empty spaces in the cooler will cause the cooler to warm up more quickly To keep your cooler cold, it is essential to fill up any empty spaces. If you don't have sufficient ice cream to fill up the space, you can use blankets, towels, or crumpled newspaper.


Step 8: Close the Cooler and Keep It Away From Direct Sunlight

 cooler on sand at beach

Credit: Envato Elements/ LightFieldStudios


Last but not least, keep the cooler closed while not in use. Opening it regularly could cause the ice to melt and eventually the ice cream. Also, try your best to keep the cooler out of direct sunlight. If you're having a picnic outside on a sunny day, you can put the cooler behind a chair, in a shady spot, or under an umbrella.


How Long Can Ice Cream Stay Frozen in a Cooler?

 hand holding ice cream in a cone

Credit: Envato Elements/ Rawpixel


Ice cream will remain frozen in a cooler as long as the ice packs and the ice does not melt. Typically, if all the conditions are ideal, it will stay frozen for 12 hours with dry ice packs and regular ice. If only regular ice is used in the cooler, it will stay frozen for 2 hours.


At What Temperature Should You Store Ice Cream to Prevent It From Melting?

 cherry ice cream in container

Credit: Envato Elements/ magone


To keep ice cream frozen, the cooler's temperature must be lower than 32 °F (0 °C). If the temperature is higher than this, the ice cream will melt and you will land up with a soggy mess. To ensure that the ice cream stays frozen, you can use thermal liners, dry ice packs, and regular ice. To check the temperature of your cooler, use a small fridge thermometer.


Can You Use Frozen Gel Packs Instead of Dry Ice Packs?


woman holding blue ice gel pack

Credit: Envato Elements/ towfiqu98


Yes, frozen gel packs are a good alternative to dry ice packs. They stay cold for a long time and are less messy than regular ice. However, they might not be as effective as dry ice packs in keeping temperatures extremely low for extended periods.


Can You Refreeze Melted Ice Cream if It Softens but Doesn’t Fully Melt?


different flavor ice creams in a white container
Credit: Envato Elements/ towfiqu98


Refreezing slightly softened ice cream is generally safe, but it might affect the texture and quality. Ice crystals can form, making the ice cream less creamy.


What Is the Best Way To Pack Ice Cream if I Have Multiple Flavors or Containers?


different flavor ice cream in containers
Credit: Envato Elements/ Art-family


Pack the ice cream bowls or containers tightly together to reduce air gaps. If you have multiple flavors, consider separating them with a layer of cardboard or insulated material to maintain their individual temperatures.




Keeping ice cream frozen in a cooler is a challenge, but it's manageable with the right steps. Remember to use a hard-sided plastic cooler, line it with aluminum foil, and pack it with dry ice packs and regular ice.

When it comes to keeping your ice cream perfectly frozen, Nice Packs are your ideal solution. Designed for maximum efficiency, these dry ice packs are a game-changer in maintaining low temperatures in your cooler. Shop with us today.

Back to blog