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What is Ice Cream Overrun?

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What is Ice Cream Overrun? 2017-08-03T15:28:17+10:00
Scoops of Ice Cream

What is ice cream overrun?

Unless you’re an ice cream manufacturer, you probably have never heard of the term ice cream overrun. To me, the thought of being overrun by ice cream souds pretty enjoyable. I could live with it. Sadly, overrun means something completely different and we’ll look at what is means now.

Ice Cream overrun

Typically, ice cream is made by churning milk, cream, sugar and a few other ingredients in an ice cream machine. As the dashers rotate, they whip air into the liquid. By the end of making a batch of ice cream, the ice cream hardens and can easily double in size. This increase is called overrun.

Overrun is the amount of air that is added to ice cream while it is being churned. High overrun results in more ice cream being produced at the end of churning.

Supermarket shelves full of ice creamIs overrun a bad thing?

It isn’t necessarily all bad.

  • contributes to a lighter, warmer ice cream.
  • helps stabilise the product so that it doesn’t melt as soon as you take it our of the freezer.
  • helps your waistline as you’re eating more air (ok we might be stretching it with that one).

The dark side of overrun

You could argue some ice cream manufacturers love overrun a little too much. After all, it allows them to sell 1L of ice cream and market it in a 2L tub. Admittedly that’s a pretty extreme case though.

100% overrun = an ice cream base that doubles in volume thanks to air.

Quick Fact: Governments regulate how much overrun can be incorporated into commercially made ice cream to ensure customers aren’t “ripped off” excessively.

How to avoid the excessive ice cream overrun trap

  1. Buy premium: An ice cream with low overrun is generally a more premium product. It is a denser, creamier ice cream. Examples include brands like Ben and Jerry’s and of course, your very own, Scoop Club. That’s part of the reason premium ice cream costs more. What you see is what you get.
  2. Another option is homemade ice cream. For those of you who like to make ice cream at home in an ice cream maker, the overrun is very low compared to the large industrial machines that pump out huge quantities each day. We encourage people to have a go at making your own ice cream to find out how good fresh ice cream can really taste made with seasonal, locally procured ingredients. Or, if that sounds too hard, check out the benefits of our membership which gets you two new flavours of ice cream delivered to your door each month.

Ice Cream v Gelato

Overrun doesn’t just vary by brand, it also varies by dessert type. Ice cream tends to have a lot more overrun than gelato which is why you may have noticed the two have a different texture and taste.

Dessert TypeIce CreamGelatoFrozen Yoghurt
 Overrun (Approx)50-100+%20-30%50-60%


Five different ice cream flavours in scoopsEvery tub of ice cream you buy at the supermarket or in a gelato store will have overrun. It’s a necessary part of ice cream which helps provide that delicious texture. Overrun can vary a lot depending on what brand you buy; higher quality ice cream will have a denser texture with less overrun. The very cheap no-name branded ice cream will have very high overrun which is part of the reason they can keep the price so low.

If you love the texture of cheaper ice cream then overrun shouldn’t really be the main reason for not buying it. Let’s face it, candy floss is sugar and air but many consumers are happy to buy the stuff. In saying that, cheap ice cream tends to be full of inferior ingredients – but we’ll save that discussion for another time.

Want to learn something new? Check out our ice cream scoop guide which helps you choose the right scoop for your needs.