How Does Sugar Affect the Freezing of Ice Cream?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: Does the amount of sugar in homemade ice cream affect how fast it freezes?

Sent by Kamaya

Editor: Sugar’s role in ice cream is a starring one, as it’s one of the major factors in determining the texture of the finished product. The Kitchn’s done some digging into the science of ice cream in the past, and touched on the topic of sugar and freezing as well. This is what we learned:

As ice cream freezes, ice crystals separate from the liquid cream base. These crystals would normally join together into a solid mass (like a cream ice cube), but sugar molecules dissolved in the cream get in the way. In effect, this increases the time it takes to freeze ice cream because it takes longer for the ice to solidify around the sugar.

So, Kamaya, the short and sweet (ha!) answer is that the more sugar added and dissolved into the cream base, the longer it takes to freeze. Sure, the ice cream will take more time, but it’s for a good reason — you’ll get a smoother, creamier scoop. Careful, though — excess sugar can have a negative effect; add too much and the ice cream won’t set at all. It’s all about finding the right base. We can help you with that, too.

Find the Ice Cream Base That’s Right for You: The 4 Essential Ice Cream Bases You Should Know