Whether you're an ice cream store, food delivery driver or just taking some home made ice cream over to a friends house being able to deliver ice cream without it melting can be challenging.
It's important to keep the ice cream frozen when delivering it because no one wants liquid ice cream and if the ice cream melts and refreezes then it'll end up icy and won't have the smooth consistency you want when eating it.
But if someone is far away how can you deliver that ice cream and still keep it completely frozen until it reaches its destination? With the right prep it's actually pretty easy to deliver ice cream without it melting.
1. Wrap in Aluminum Foil
The first thing you'll want to do is to wrap the ice cream in aluminum foil. While you can use a cheap roll of aluminum foil if you're doing lots of deliveries then something like a space blanket will be larger and a lot more durable as it has a layer of plastic. This space blanket at Amazon is a good quality one and should do the trick for a super affordable price.
The aluminum is good at insulating against heat radiation and it'll also trap the cool air around the ice cream from escaping keeping it colder longer.
Below is a video of a Door Dash delivery driver who uses both aluminum foil and a cooler to keep ice cream frozen during his deliveries.
For keeping ice cream frozen even longer than a bubble wrap aluminum foil like Reflectix is also a good option.
Even if you're going to put the ice cream in a cooler or other container it's still a good idea to use aluminum foil to wrap up the ice cream first.
2. Keep It In a Cooler
Using a cooler is one of the best ways to keep ice cream from melting when you're delivering it. You want to protect the ice cream from the warmer outside air and an insulated cooler is a great way to do this.
Both hard coolers and soft coolers will work.
Hard coolers are generally better at insulating especially if you buy a high quality cooler that holds ice for a long time. I personally use my Yeti 45 in my campervan and it'll hold ice for 5-7 days at a time if I pack it properly and this allows me to keep ice cream from melting for 24-48 hours or even longer if I add salt to the ice.
However, soft coolers are often smaller and more portable allowing you to carry the ice cream in the cooler directly from the car to the door of the person you're delivering it too. Check out some of the best soft coolers for ice retention as these will keep ice cream frozen the longest, some of them are really affordable too.
I would avoid purchasing a super cheap cooler as these usually don't have very good insulation and your ice cream will melt pretty quickly especially on hot days. Spend just a little bit more to get a cooler that is better insulated.
3. Keep It Separate From Hot Food
Sometimes you'll be delivering both hot food and ice cream in the same order. Stores might even pack it in the same delivery bag.
If you want to deliver the ice cream and have it frozen when you arrive you MUST separate the cold food from the hot food.
Otherwise the heat from the warm food will melt the ice cream super quickly (and the ice cream will cool down the hot food).
You want to make sure you've got separate coolers for hot food and cold food and keep them from touching each other.
Always try to avoid having ice cream and hot food in the same cooler or same bag.
4. Keep Your Car Cold
The temperature of your car will have a big impact on how long the ice cream stays frozen.
On a hot day your car can quickly become an oven and this hot air will melt the ice cream super quickly. Crank on the air con and keep the inside of the car as cold as possible to stop the ice cream from melting.
5. Keep It In The Coldest Part of Your Car
On a hot summers day then it might be a good idea to bring your cooler and the ice cream up to the front of the car near the air conditioning to keep it as cold as possible.
On hot days the trunk of your car often gets extremely hot and the air conditioning rarely reaches it enough to make a big impact.
On colder days when you want to have the heater on in your car the opposite is true. Keeping the ice cream in the cool trunk will then be the best option and will keep it frozen longer.
6. Add Salt To Ice Surrounding Ice Cream
Adding salt to ice lower's its melting point and also lowers it's temperature dramatically. By adding salt to ice in your cooler you can keep your cooler much colder than if you were to just use regular ice.
I've done a full explanation on why adding salt to ice makes it colder here but just know that it works. Adding salt to ice is used a lot when making ice cream because it lowers the temperature of the ice allowing the ice cream to freeze as it is churned.
Fill your cooler up 50% of the way with loose ice and then add a generous helping of salt to the ice. You can use rock salt of ground salt it doesn't really matter.
The ice will then start to melt and at the same time will drop in temperature and stay below freezing until all the ice is melted.
You can often get salted ice to stay anywhere from 19-28ºF (-7ºC to -2ºC) which is cold enough to stop ice cream from melting for 24-48 hours if kept in a high quality cooler.
Just make sure that your ice cream is in a waterproof container otherwise it'll get wet and it'll end up extremely salty (yuk!)
7. Use Dry Ice To Keep Ice Cream Frozen For Long Deliveries
One of the best ways to keep ice cream from melting when delivering it (especially long distances) is to use dry ice.
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide and it has a temperature of -109.2ºF (-78.5ºC) which is more than cold enough to keep ice cream frozen.
It ‘sublimates' or turns directly from a solid into a gas so you don't have to worry about any liquid mess ruining your ice cream or paper ice cream container and dry ice can last 1-3 days for deliveries.
When delivering ice cream using dry ice make sure to keep your windows open and airflow in your car otherwise the carbon dioxide the dry ice lets off can asphyxiate you and in extreme cases lead to death. However, that's easy to avoid as long as you have good airflow in your vehicle.
Also, when using dry ice for ice cream delivery it's important to note that the dry ice will make your ice cream SUPER HARD. It will make it frozen like a rock because the temperatures are so cold.
You can avoid this by placing the dry ice in your cooler but away from your ice cream and don't let the ice cream touch the dry ice. Just let the ambient cooling of the dry ice keep the ice cream frozen.
If the ice cream does end up being rock hard advise people to place it in their freezer to thaw out and return to normal temperature. Trying to thaw rock hard ice cream at room temperatures will lead the outside to completely melt while the inside stays rock hard.
8. Use a Vacuum Insulated Container
The best way to keep ice cream frozen for extended periods of time when delivering it is to use a vacuum insulated container like a Yeti, Hydro Flask or Thermos. Yes you can put ice cream in a thermos and it'll stay frozen for ages.
For small amounts of ice cream that you are delivering to friends you can scoop it into a tumbler cup or insulated food container and then place it in a cooler as advised above. This can keep the ice cream frozen for days at a time and is a really effective method to stop it from melting.
Yeti tumbler 30oz mugs are actually the perfect size to keep small tubs of ice cream (like those from Baskin-Robbins) frozen. This could be the perfect solution for delivering smaller buckets of ice cream.
If you don't want to drop the money on a Yeti then an Ozark Trail 30oz mug has almost identical dimensions and should do the job just as well and will cost a fraction of the price. See the latest price of Ozark Trail 30 oz mugs at Walmart.com.
For larger batches or buckets of ice cream a thermal cooker can be a great way to keep the ice cream from melting while you deliver it. Thermal cookers are basically large vacuum insulated containers.
People use them to keep food hot but you can also use them to keep ice cream cold. Below you can see a video of someone who made home made ice cream in a thermal cooker and it stayed frozen long enough for them to go camping and having frozen ice cream for dessert.
9. Take Ice Cream Out Of Freezer As Late as Possible
The less time ice cream spends away from the freezer the less time it has to melt. When organizing your delivery make sure to only take the ice cream out of the freezer at the very last second.
Don't take it out and have it sitting around on the bench at room temperature for 20 minutes or so while other items are being prepared. Leave it in the freezer and only when everything else is completely ready get it out and take it on your delivery run.
This little adjustment in when you take the ice cream out of the freezer can sometimes mean the difference between a nice frozen ice cream delivered to someone's door and a sloppy mushy ice cream. So take care with this.
If picking up from a store make sure the staff only grab the ice cream at the last possible second. If you suspect the ice cream has been out for a long period of time ask the about it and consider asking for a fresh one from the freezer if you need to.
10. Deliver It As Quickly As Possible
Ideally the faster you can deliver ice cream the better as this gives it less time to warm up and melt before the person can either eat it or put it in their freezer to keep it frozen.
The tips above should help you to keep ice cream frozen for long periods of time when delivering it but the shorter the time ice cream is away from the freezer the better.
So don't waste your time, once you've got that ice cream ready for delivery get it out there. If possible deliver to that customer first before delivering orders to customers who don't have ice cream.