The Hot Knife Hack To Quickly Soften Ice Cream

Smooth and silky, creamy and rich, and as sweet as can be — there's no denying that ice cream is one of the most beloved, delicious treats imaginable. It's one of those tried and true, deeply dependable desserts that's sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. But sometimes you're ready to satisfy that sweet tooth, and the ice cream isn't.

It's not the ice cream's fault; by nature, it's a frozen dessert — and sometimes, it gets a little too frozen. That means it can often require a bit of time — sometimes up to 30 minutes — to go from a rock-hard block to a smooth, scoopable ice cream. But don't worry ... there's a hack for that. 

Next time you pull out some ice cream from the back of the freezer that's way too hard to scoop, and you simply can't wait for it to thaw, all it takes is a knife and some hot water to cut through the dessert, bringing you a softened hunk of ice cream along with a heaping serving of instant delight.

How to cut through rock hard ice cream

To execute this hack, simply grab a knife from your kitchen — a butter knife or paring knife will do — and run it under some scalding hot water for a few seconds to heat up the metal. Just be sure to give the knife a quick pat-dry, as water particles may freeze solid and make the ice cream more difficult to scoop next time. No matter how hard and frozen the ice cream is, the hot knife will slice right through it, slightly softening the ice cream it touches in the process and allowing for easy removal.

For a typical gallon carton of ice cream, an effective tactic is to use the knife to slice through the ice cream in a grid pattern to soften and loosen it up a bit. Then you can take your ice cream scoop and slide out the sections as you normally would. If you need to get deeper into the carton, you can repeat the process.

But this hack works with any metal utensil — whether it's a knife, an ice cream scooper, or a regular old spoon. So you can pick your tool strategically depending on what kind of form your ice cream is in. If it's one of those rectangular blocks or it happens to be an ice cream cake, a knife will work wonderfully and no scoop will be necessary. If it's a small pint-sized carton, try a smaller heated spoon.

Prevent freezer burn and overly frozen ice cream

The hot knife trick is a crucial one, but if you're still concerned about the consistency of your ice cream, there are a couple of easy ways to keep your frozen treat from getting too frozen. First, you can cover the carton with a tightly sealed freezer bag. This will keep any extra air out of the carton, making sure the ice cream stays a little softer and stopping freezer burn in the process.

Speaking of freezer burn, being smart about how you store your ice cream can ensure that won't be a problem. Aside from extra coverage with a zipper-sealed bag, you can also store your ice cream carton upside down to help prevent freezer burn. Stay away from the freezer door — every time you open and close it, the ice cream will melt and refreeze, which will make it more susceptible to freezer burn and ruin its creamy texture. So be sure to reserve a special spot in the back of the freezer for your favorite chilly dessert.