Can You Freeze Half and Half for Coffee? It Depends


Can you freeze half and half for coffee? It all depends on how much fat is in your half and half. Let’s find out if freezing it to prolong its shelf life and usage is the best idea for you.

pouring half and half in coffee
pouring half and half in coffee

What is Half and Half?

Half and half is simply a mixture of equal parts of heavy cream and whole milk. It’s a dairy product that can be used for a variety of purposes such as creamer in coffee.

Half and half is generally found in the fresh refrigerated section of the grocery store, along with the dairy products.

Ingredients in Half and Half

There are only two ingredients found in half and half. It gets its name because of the ingredients.

It’s equal parts of whole milk fat and heavy cream. Thus, its name, half and half, half milk and half cream.

What Happens to Half and Half When it’s Frozen?

The quality of half and half can be somewhat compromised when it’s frozen, depending on its fat content. The more fat, the better the outcome after the half and half is frozen.

pouring cream in coffee
pouring cream in coffee

The same is true on the flip side. The less fat, the more compromised the outcome of the mixture will be after it’s frozen.

Lower fat half and half has a greater risk for being separated after it’s frozen, developing chunks, and having a strange consistency.

Can You Freeze Half and Half for Coffee?

Yes, regular half and half for coffee can be frozen.

You’ll just want to choose one of the three methods below for freezing it and follow our step-by-step instructions for the best success.

Can You Freeze Fat-Free Half and Half?

We don’t recommend freezing fat free half and half because the results aren’t as desirable. It’s not a good idea as it takes quite a bit of processing for the manufacturer to make it resemble half and half, because after all, it’s labeled fat free.

It only has one-tenth of the fat, compared to the regular version with higher fat content.

half and half for coffee
half and half for coffee

So, it’s not half cream and half whole milk.

To mimic the texture of the real thing, manufacturers add thickeners as well as sometimes corn syrup for texture and flavor.

Can You Freeze Half and Half in the Carton?

Yes, it doesn’t hurt anything to freeze half and half in its original packaging that comes from the store. Just remember that when liquid freezes it expands.

So, if you think your carton will risk bursting because it’s already full, you’ll want to remove some of the liquid from the carton before preparing it for the freezer.

The excess that’s removed can be frozen by one of the other methods.

freezer for coffee creamer
freezer for coffee creamer

How to Freeze Half and Half for Coffee

Following are our step by step instructions for how to freeze half and half for coffee. We describe 3 methods for you to choose from as you decide which freezing process is best for you.

Zipped Freezer Bag

To use a zipped freezer bag, you’ll want to think about the portion size you anticipate using after you’ve thawed the half and half. Then you’ll want to match the bag size closely to the quantity size.

Begin by adding the freezing date to your zipped freezer bag and labeling it with the anticipated contents.

Next, transfer the desired amount of liquid into the bag, and securely zip the bag shut.

Finally, carefully place the bag into the freezer and store it there until you’re ready to use it, for up to three months.

Ice Cube Tray

If you anticipate using single or smaller portions, you might choose to flash freeze your creamer into ice cube trays. To use this method, follow these steps:

Using an ice tray, carefully pour small amounts of liquid into each receptacle.

Place the tray in the freezer overnight or until the cubes are frozen solid.

Next, transfer the cubes to a zipped freezer bag that’s been labeled with the date and contents.

Zip the bag shut until it’s secure and place it back into the freezer.

how to freeze half and half for coffee
how to freeze half and half for coffee

This method allows you to use one or two ice cubes or whatever quantity is desired at a time, rather than thawing out a large quantity and having to use it within a few days.

In the Carton

Did you know you can freeze half and half in its original packaging carton? Here’s how to do it.

If your carton is still full, the first thing you’ll want to do is decide whether there will be enough room for the liquid to expand when it is frozen, without causing the carton to break.

We recommend leaving at least an inch of space at the top so it can expand.

If you think you’ll need more room, transfer some of the liquid to a zipped freezer bag or ice cube tray to be frozen using that method.

Then proceed with freezing the remainder in the carton.

Using a permanent marker, label the packaging with today’s date so you can monitor the length of time it is in the freezer.

Then make sure you have adjusted the airtight lid tight to the carton.

Finally, carefully place the carton in the freezer to be used when desired, or for up to 3 months.

How Long Does Half and Half Last in the Freezer?

If stored properly in an airtight container or zipped freezer bag, half and half can last in the freezer for up to 3 months, compromising little to no quality for later use.

creamer for coffee
creamer for coffee

How to Defrost Half and Half

The best way to defrost it is to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before and let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

If you’re in a hurry, you can also allow it to defrost at room temperature. To use this method, you’ll want to leave your frozen half and half in a zipped freezer bag and submerse the whole bag in a bowl of cold water.

Using this method, the water should be changed to be fresh cold water every 30 minutes until it’s completely thawed.

If the liquid appears to be separated after it has thawed or has a curdled appearance, give it a good whisk to bring it back together. This is a great way to revive it.  Or, you can place it in a blender to blend it back together.

How Long Will Thawed Half and Half Last?

Once it’s no longer a frozen product, your half and half that has been thawed will last at room temperature for up to 2 hours if the room temperature is 90F degrees or less. After that, it’s considered to be spoiled if it continues to sit out at room temperature.

coffee creamer splash
coffee creamer splash

Half and half that’s been thawed and has been transferred to the refrigerator can be kept for up to 2 days. During that time, it should be used or thrown away for the best results.

How to Use Frozen Half and Half?

Frozen half and half can be used directly in hot dishes such as soups, stews, and casseroles.

If you want to use it in your coffee, you can also place an ice cube of half and half directly into your cup of coffee, depending on what temperature you like to drink it.

It can also be made into a half light cream mixture if desired.

How Long Can Open Half and Half Be Used?

Always start by checking the expiration date or best if used by date to know approximately when it should be used.

pouring coffee creamer in blender
pouring coffee creamer in blender

Then, you can use your senses to determine whether there are any key indicators of spoilage. Begin by looking at its appearance. If there is no discoloration, that’s a good sign.

Next, sniff the liquid and if you notice that it smells off in any way, you’ll want to assume it’s spoiled and throw it away.

If the texture has changed from what it should be, such as lumps have formed, chances are it has spoiled.

And the last thing to look for is a sour flavor or a taste that doesn’t seem quite right. This would also indicate that your half and half has gone bad and needs to be thrown away.

Can You Refreeze Half and Half?

No, you should not refreeze half and half because this poses a food safety risk.

Once your half and half has been thawed, it either needs to be used within 2 days or thrown away.

Substitutes for Half and Half

Let’s say you’re needing half and half for a recipe, but you don’t have any and maybe the grocery store is all out. What can you use in place of it? Some of these might or might not be viable for use in your cup of coffee.

Heavy Cream. Heavy cream can be used as a one-to-one substitute for recipes that should have a creamy outcome.

If you don’t want it to be quite as rich, consider diluting your heavy cream with part milk.

coffee creamer
coffee creamer

Evaporated Milk. Using evaporated milk is a good solution for creamer in your coffee. The nice thing about evaporated milk is that it’s shelf stable until it’s been opened.

Then it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. Evaporated milk can be used as a one-to-one substitute.

Sour Cream. Sour cream is a dairy product that can be used as a substitute depending on your personal preferences. You might not want to use it in your morning coffee, but it works great in many recipes.

Cream Cheese. Cream cheese has the creamy consistency and works well as a substitute for half and half, but again you might not appreciate the flavor it adds as a coffee creamer.  

Greek Yogurt and Milk. Greek yogurt and milk

Soy Milk and Olive Oil.  Here’s one that’s perfect for dairy free diets. Use soy milk and a bit of olive oil to add a similar texture to your coffee as a non dairy creamer for a creamy taste.

What to Do with Leftover Half and Half?

If you don’t want to freeze leftover half and half, what can you do with it? It’s great for making homemade ice cream, puddings, pasta, and soups. 

Do a search for recipes that use half and half, and you’ll find several ideas. No need to throw it away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to can you freeze half and half for coffee. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Can half-and-half coffee creamer be frozen?

Yes, half and half for coffee that has been packaged properly, can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Can half & half or whipping cream be frozen?

Yes, both half and half and whipping cream can be frozen. After they have been frozen, they are best if thawed first before they’re added as an ingredient to any recipe.

Can I freeze heavy cream in the carton?

Yes, heavy cream can be frozen in the commercial packaging carton that it’s purchased in. If it’s full, you might want to remove some of it before placing it in the freezer to allow for room for expansion.

Can you freeze milk for coffee?

Yes, milk for coffee can be frozen. The higher the fat content, the better the results when freezing milk. The opposite is true as well. The lower the fat content, the greater the quality will be compromised when it’s frozen.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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