My wife is in the habit of making ice cream easier to serve up by defrosting it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to soften it. After serving, the ice cream goes back in the freezer until the next time.

I estimate that a 2 litre tub of ice cream may well be microwaved and then re-frozen 6-8 times.

Is it safe to do this? Is it safer, or less safe, than just letting the ice cream defrost at room temperature for half an hour?

  • 5
    If you have to do this, your freezer is set at way too low a temperature for ice cream. If you have multiple drawers, keep it in a warmer drawer.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 4, 2015 at 9:23
  • My freezer has multiple drawers but no temperature controller. As far as I know, all the drawers are the same temperature.
    – Carl H
    Jun 4, 2015 at 18:03
  • Safe? Yes. Cringe? Also yes. (I love my wife dearly and can easily overlook her habit of putting perfectly good ice cream in the microwave.) Jul 26, 2021 at 0:29

3 Answers 3


It's perfectly safe to do this, it's not great for the ice cream's consistency to keep warming it and cooling it as you'll start to get big ice crystals. I'd suggest you get a metal ice cream scoop and put it in hot water instead.

If you have to thaw it to use it I'd leave it on the counter for 10 minutes instead of nuking it so you get an even thaw, using the microwave tends to melt one spot and leave another solid.

  • And if you still want your ice cream to be a little less cold, use microwave-safe ceramic bowls and put those in the microwave.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 4, 2015 at 13:22
  • 1
    A real ice cream scoop might well make it easier to serve regardless, if they'd been using an ordinary spoon before.
    – Random832
    Jun 4, 2015 at 13:28
  • 4
    That's certainly true @Random832, the right tools help. With some ice cream a hammer and chisel would seem to be the most effective.
    – GdD
    Jun 4, 2015 at 13:52
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    @GdD: I wish I could consider that a joke, but having bent and even broken ice cream scoops on too-hard ice cream in the past, I have to regard it as "sad but true". :( Jun 4, 2015 at 14:42
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    Softening isn't melting @Lilienthal, softening to me means making it less frozen. As long as it stays frozen, or at least close to it, then all should be fine. 20 seconds in the microwave shouldn't be a safety issue. Letting ice cream completely melt and re-freezing over and over could be a safety issue, but that does not appear to the case here.
    – GdD
    Jun 4, 2015 at 17:31

Many, but not all, ice cream recipes contain raw egg or only partially-cooked egg.

Most commercial ice cream recipes do not.

The health-risks of raw egg depend on where in the world you are, but increase signficantly if the food it is in is being heated high enough that some of it will be at incubation temperature (won't happen for ice cream as a whole unless you end up accidentally melt it all, but could in hot spots). Even in Europe I'd be cautious of doing this repeatedly with raw-egg containing ice-cream, and I'd be very cautious indeed in the US.

With other ice cream recipes I'd just be worried about what it would do to the consistency of the ice cream in terms of how pleasant it felt.

  • 1
    Every egg-based ice cream recipe I've met is a custard-based recipe where things got cooked above 65C before cooling and freezing.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 4, 2015 at 18:59
  • @Ecnerwal are you in the US perhaps?
    – Jon Hanna
    Jun 21, 2015 at 1:18

Heating ice cream in the microwave, is severely bad for you and others using that particular ice cream. The dairy, and raw egg particles absorb the microwave heat and cause heat spots to form inside of the ice cream. The heat YOU use for the microwave, is also unnatural heat, and can cause pancreatic cancer. I am a scientist that studies heat sources and how they react on such things, and I suggest to NOT heat up Ice cream or any dairy product in the microwave for your own safety. Thank you. 🙂

  • 5
    Yes, heating things in the microwave heats the food, sometimes with uneven hot spots. The rest is totally false: microwaves are not a food safety issue, and do not cause cancer.
    – Cascabel
    Jan 28, 2017 at 21:24

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