Can half and half be frozen? Yes, you can freeze half and half! Freezing half and half will allow you to safely store it for much longer than is possible in the refrigerator. This longer shelf life means more savings for you and less food waste for the environment.
Most people probably will not be drinking previously frozen half and half straight from the glass to notice, but freezing half and half can cause some separation and subtle taste changes.
The separation is because proteins, fats, and water all take different amounts of time to thaw. Some dairy manufacturers will advise against freezing milk and cream for that reason.
However, after a quick whisk, thawed half and half should taste just fine in your morning coffee or hot cocoa. From French toast to fettuccine alfredo, many different recipes work wonderfully using frozen half and half.
How to Freeze Half and Half
When freezing any dairy product, you should think about your cooking habits before you just put the whole container in the freezer and lose it behind some frozen peas. How much half and half do you usually use at one time? Are you going to use small amounts for coffee creamer or a large amount for a recipe later?
If you usually only use a little half and half at a time, the best option is to divide it into smaller portions before freezing. You can use an ice cube tray to freeze the half and half, then move the cubes to a plastic freezer storage bag or container later.
If you plan on using it for recipes that require more than a few tablespoons, you can freeze half and half in cup-sized containers or even in the original bottle itself if you’re in a pinch. Just make sure to leave about an inch of space at the top of the container before putting it in the freezer. Like other liquids, half and half needs a little room to expand while freezing.
You can also freeze half and half directly in the freezer bags. Make sure you choose a bag with a good seal and press as much air as possible out before freezing. Lay the filled bags flat on a cookie sheet or baking pan and leave them in the freezer for at least two hours. After the half and half has frozen, the bags can be stacked to save freezer space.
Remember to always date your containers and freezer bags. The date will help give you an idea of how long you’ve kept your half and half frozen, and how much longer it should be safe to consume.
Related article: How to freeze yogurt
Several different factors can influence the shelf life of half and half. The way it was packaged, processed, pasteurized, and stored all can affect how long it will last once it has made its long journey into your kitchen.
On average, half and half stored below 40°F in the refrigerator lasts about 5-7 days after opening the container. You can also expect unopened half and half to be safe to consume for up to 7 to 10 days past the expiration date listed on the label.
When properly frozen and stored in the freezer, it can last for more than three months. Half and half—and all other foods—kept at a constant 0°F will last indefinitely, but the quality will likely decrease over time.
How to Tell if Half and Half Is Bad
How can you tell if your half and half has gone bad? Give it a whiff! Half and half that has gone bad will give off that distinct, unpleasant spoiled milk smell.
Even if the smell doesn’t signal any signs of spoilage, take a moment to check its color and consistency. Some separation is normal in frozen half and half, but if it spoiled it might also become discolored and have a thick or cottage cheese-like clumpy texture.
If your half and half seems past its prime, go ahead and toss it. It is better to throw it away than risk getting sick.
Half and half can be used as a substitute for milk in many recipes to get a creamier and richer flavor. Alternatively, when you want to lighten up a dish or are counting calories, half and half is an excellent substitute for cream.
Frozen half and half can be used like refrigerated half and half for cooking and baking. Just remember after thawing to give it a quick whisk before using it in your recipes. Whisking the half and half will help recombine any separation and improve its texture.
Here are some delicious dishes that can be made using frozen half and half:
- French Toast: Baked or pan-fried, this classic comforting breakfast can be even more decadent when made with frozen half and half.
- Scrambled Eggs: Use a couple of cubes of frozen half and half to make this kid-friendly staple even silkier.
- Hot Cocoa: Melt bittersweet chocolate and frozen half and half together for a decadent French-style breakfast beverage.
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes: Frozen half and half blends in perfectly with this fluffy and buttery side dish.
- Fettuccine Alfredo: This classic and creamy Italian dish is versatile and easy to make. Using the frozen half and half, you have on hand makes it even easier.
- Chicken and Dumplings: Replace the heavy cream with half and half for a filling, comforting meal that is a little easier on your waistline.
- Custard and Puddings: Sweet and customizable puddings and custards are a crowd-pleasing way to use up frozen half and half stores.
- Hot Fudge Ice Cream: This summertime favorite is perfect if you have lots of extra frozen half and half. Both the ice cream and the hot fudge sauce can be made using half and half.
There are a few different methods you can use to thaw frozen half and half. The best method is to place your frozen half and half in the refrigerator and let it sit for several hours or overnight.
The cooler refrigerator temperature will allow the half and half to thaw without dipping below food safety guidelines.
You can also thaw frozen half and half by submerging the storage container or freezer bag in cold water. Smaller portions should thaw in under an hour or so, while larger containers will take more time. Change out the water every 30 minutes to maintain safe temperatures.
You might also be tempted to use the defrost setting on your microwave. This will thaw out the half and half quickly but can cause uneven heating.
Some portions of your half and half might be scalding hot, while others are still frozen solid. This can have a further impact on separation and texture. Use the half and half for cooking and baking immediately after microwaving.
It is not recommended to re-freeze half and half. Re-frozen half and half will likely further separate and deteriorate in quality.
You also have an increased risk of food-borne illness if the half and half was stored at lower temperatures during thawing.
You can avoid freezer burn by keeping out excess air from the containers or storage bags. Press as much air as possible out of the bags when freezing half and half directly inside them.
If you’re freezing the half and half in a container, use a smaller size or cover the tops of the containers with plastic wrap to keep out excess air.
Maintaining a constant freezer temperature and using your frozen half and half within a few months will also help prevent freezer burn. The more the freezer temperature fluctuates and the longer the half and half is stored, the more likely it is to develop freezer burn.
The best container for freezing half and half will be leak-proof and maintain an air-tight seal. The size and shape of the container will depend on your storage space and how much half and half you want to freeze.
Freezer quality plastic storage bags and containers work well to freeze and store portions of frozen half and half. They are safe to use in the freezer and don’t run the risk of cracking like glass containers sometimes do.
Separation is normal for frozen half and half. Proteins and fats can separate from the water content in the cream and milk. This can sometimes make frozen dairy appear curdled.
If your half and half has no sour smell or discoloration, chances are it is still fine to use. Half and half that smells rancid, has significant discoloration, and has an excessively thick and chunky texture has likely gone bad and should be thrown away.