Frozen juice or frozen punch freeze up as a solid block of ice. I want them to be more like a sorbet or gelato, though still solid enough to hold the shape.

How might I make them softer? Either aerated, or polycrystalline without having to "do anything" while it's in the freezer?

One thought is to somehow make it more syrupy so it will hold air long enough to stay there while freezing. Gelatin comes to mind, but I wonder if something better is advised?

  • Could you edit to clarify your goals a little bit? I worry that "nice" and "more interesting" are going to attract a lot of random tips over time, rather than focused answers. Given that you later mention aerated and polycrystalline as options, it sounds like you're just trying to turn them soft and edible?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 23:10
  • Yes, not a rock-hard block of ice.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 6:38
  • This may be a cultural problem, but I was certain you want them to be rock hard, the kind meant to be licked, not bitten. If you want them soft, you are simply asking how to make sorbet.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 7:22
  • 1
    I see, @rumtscho. Store-bought popsicles can't be used as hammers. Though still solid, you could bite them easily. They seem to be more like compacted snow, not rock-hard blocks of ice.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 8:54
  • OK. I have never seen actual brand name popsicles (they seem to be an US product) and here in Europe, I have encountered both sorbet-on-a-stick products and small pieces of fruit drink ice, which are rock-hard and meant to be sucked on slowly. For some reason, I always imagined that "popsicles" refers to the second kind. Anyway, googling popsicles turned up quite a few recipes for homemade ones, you can probably just try them out.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 10:10

7 Answers 7


The main factors are a gelling agent, alcohol, sugar and air/stirring.

  • Sugars may decrease the freezig point - add enough sugar and your ice remains soft-ish. Unfortunately this can mean your ice gets too sweet. So instead of using plain sugar, add some "inverted sugar": glucose syrup (aka corn syrup), which stays runny and doesn't crystalize.
    You could even take it up a notch and use trehalose, which is basically two linked glucose molecules. It is used in ice-cream making to inhibit the formation of ice crystals. It tastes also less sweet than regular sugar, allowing for less sweet ice cream. Find an award-winning sample recipe here (further down). And if you really must have some hard science, a study on the use of trehalose in ice cream.

  • Alcohol has a low freezing point. But apart from the question whether you want to use it at all, you should note that you need a certain amount of ethanol to have a noticeable effect - high-proof alcohol and yes, you will taste it.

  • Glycerine (a sugar alcohol) helps keep ice cream soft.

  • Likewise the addition of gelling agents may inhibit the formation of ice crystals - locust bean gum is often used to replace eggs in custard-based ice cream and agar agar and pectin may serve a simmilar purpose.

  • And finally you can mechanically avoid / hinder the formation of large ice crystals by churning your juice first and freezing the slush instead of pouring the juice straight in the molds. The ice will still be rather hard, but not as much of a "solid icicle", especially if combined with one of the additives above.

  • IIRC, corn syrup forces the water and sugar to go microcrystalline on freezing. Yes, here: duckduckgo.com/… Glycerine or galactose or any other odd sugar you have around should break up the crystal struck about as effectively. Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 23:51

I love to make popsicles out of store bought yogurt. They stay creamy and are delicious in any yogurt flavor.


A great choice for that is adding alcohol, as long as everybody eating them can also imbibe. Since pure alcohol resists freezing until it's as cold as -114°C (-173.2°F), it doesn't take a whole lot of alcohol to inhibit popsicles from freezing hard. A great list of recipes for use as a guide can be found here.

  • The freezing point of pure ethanol is impressively low, but it takes reasonably high concentrations to get a decent drop in freezing point with a water mixture. engineeringtoolbox.com/ethanol-water-d_989.html The sugar in the juice is a big contributor to this actually working, I think.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 7:51
  • I seem to recall recipes adding a small amount of alcohol to ice cream. If the stated reason is wrong, it might still affect the crystallization while it's being machined.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 11:12
  • 1
    @JDługosz My comment isn't meant to say this doesn't work, just that the reason it doesn't take much alcohol is that there are other factors pushing the freezing point down, so you don't need to lower it much more with the alcohol.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 22:20

I have two tips that will make your Popsicles soft and perfectly Quiescently frozen treats every time!

First, pre-freeze some of your ingredients or get them all soft frozen and then blend them into a pourable slush before putting in the popsicle molds.

PLUS the addition of a little bit of natural guar gum powder while you’re blending all ingredients into a slush.

This makes the perfect consistency soft, beautifully textured frozen treats!!


Simply adjusting (increasing) the sugar level will do it, and/or other things that interfere with crystal formation, such as pectin (either use some jelly/jam in making the mixture, or add pectin sold for making jelly/jam to your mixture.)

I'd encourage doing some practical tests where you add known amounts of sugar to your mixture until you find a level that works for the texture you want. If your juice label tells you how much sugar it has per volume, try adding sufficient sugar to have 30g/100ml as a "typical known to work" level - but you may want to aim higher or lower based on personal preference.


I know exactly what you mean,not like an ice cube, more scrunchy that you can bite in to, there are 15g of sugar in just one! my guess is that it's mostly that and possibly fast freezing with a liquid gas, like nitrogen, plenty of sugar and press the fast freeze button on your freezer and make them tomorrow, is as near as you will get.


If you have rock hard pops, just let them set out for a few minutes. They will develop desired texture.

  • Waiting for popsicles to soften is a challenge for kids (who are often the ones the popsicles are for), but regardless, this doesn't really answer the question of how to avoid solid popsicles in the first place. (I also don't think it works, because setting out a juice ice cube just results in melting juice and a smaller cube, not a softer "biteable" consistency throughout.)
    – Erica
    Commented Jun 16, 2018 at 13:18
  • 1
    Right: it works for ice cream and proper sherbet, but dos not work for solid ice, which is what the question is about.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 2:30

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