Today, I’m sharing with you lots of uses for ice in your kitchen. Aside from putting some in your drink, there are many ways to use ice in cooking and baking.

If you’re a fan of these sorts of informational posts, you may also enjoy my post about the different kinds of water baths used in the kitchen.

For ease of browsing, you can find all my Fundamental Friday posts in one place. Thanks for being here.

A vertical image of a small metal bucke filled with ice next to a larger bucket of ice.

Uses for Ice in Baking

  • I use ice to keep my water very cold when making pie dough. The way to get a flaky crust is to keep the fat in rather large pieces. The best way to keep it from mixing completely into a dough is to keep it very cold.
  • When my caramel has gotten to be the perfect color, I kill the heat and throw a little handful of ice into it. Then, I stir madly. This shocks the caramel and keeps it from getting any darker and possibly burning. Don’t worry, the little bit of extra water will cook off.
  • Custards are not only tasty, but they contain a lot of things that bacteria like to eat. In order to cool a liquid custard quickly and get it out of the dreaded Temperature Danger Zone (reverb, please), I pour the cooked custard into a metal bowl set inside a larger metal bowl containing ice water. Then, I stir and stir until the custard is cold. This bowl-in-bowl contraption is called an ice bath. (again, see my water bath post for more information.
  • I whip cream in an ice bath, too. It keeps the fat nice and firm, resulting in a more stable foam. The whipping might take a little longer, but there’s much less chance that you’ll over-whip it and have it go all grainy and sad.
  • When I’m whipping a European-style buttercream and it’s a little warm in the kitchen, I’ll hold some flexible ice packs (or a bag of frozen peas) against the outside of the mixer bowl to keep the fat cool and plastic.
  • When baking bread, I often will throw a handful of ice on the floor of my oven, or in a pan on the lowest rack in my oven. As the ice melts, it keeps the oven nice and moist so the bread rises higher. In a dry oven, the crust can set too quickly resulting in a more dense loaf.

Uses for Ice in Cooking

  • If I’m afraid that my instant read thermometer is not measuring correctly, I take a glass full of ice, add some water and stir well. I insert the thermometer, wait 20 seconds, and then make sure it’s reading 32 degrees, F. If not, I adjust it.
  • Add some crushed ice to your meatball mix. It will keep the meatballs nice and cold, keep you from over-mixing and making them dense, and keep them nice and juicy, especially if you sear them before simmering in sauce.
  • Plunge any food that you’ve just boiled or blanched into a bowl filled with ice and water. This will immediately stop the cooking process and ensure that especially tender greens don’t overcook.

Uses for Ice in Candy Making

  • If you don’t own an instant-read or candy thermometer, you can test your sugar by dripping a little bit into a dish of ice water. Based on how the sugar syrup behaves when rapidly cooled, you can tell what stage the sugar has been cooked to: soft ball, hard ball, soft crack, etc. This is called the ice water test.

Kitchen Safety

  • Keep a bowl of ice water handy whenever you are working with hot sugar or oil for deep frying. If you inadvertently get some molten sugar or hot oil splattered on your hand, stick it into the ice water to cool it quickly and minimize burning.

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