How to make an ice bath for cooking

How to make an ice bath for cooking

John Davis

Ice baths are a perennial favorite recovery tactic among college runners who have easy access to a training room. Taking a 10-15 minute dip in icy water is pretty easy when there’s always a tub ready to go. But taking an ice bath is much more of an ordeal for the rest of us who have to fill up, cool down, and hop into a regular bath tub. I’ve even known some dedicated runners living in apartments without tubs who’ve taken ice baths in garbage cans!

But putting that kind of effort into an experience few people describe as pleasant only makes sense if there’s some evidence that it actually helps. So, for that reason, we’ll look at the scientific evidence behind ice baths.

We’ll also try to get a better idea of the specifics of ice bathing: how cold should the water be, and how long should you immerse your legs?

The science of ice baths

Often, training interventions have only a few low-quality studies that analyze their usefulness. Fortunately, cold-water immersion (science-speak for an ice bath) has been the subject of a review by the Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit organization of scientists and doctors who support evidence-based medicine. The Cochrane Collaboration puts most of its efforts into reviews on medical care for critical topics like cancer, heart conditions, and pregnancy & childbirth, but some time is also dedicated to more peripheral topics, including exercise-related muscle soreness. In 2012, the Cochrane Collaboration published a lengthy examination of the results of seventeen studies on ice baths.

While the Cochrane Review criticized the small size and low (by medical standards) quality of the studies, they nonetheless found that there was evidence that following intense exercise with cold water immersion reduced muscle soreness over the next several days.

While not the focus of the Cochrane Review, many of the studies also found that taking an ice bath reduced the drop in performance that follows a high-intensity, long-duration effort (like distance running).

However, the review noted that the mechanisms by which ice baths work remain unclear and called for further studies in this area. Most studies in the review used water temperatures between 50 and 59° F and immersion times around 12 minutes.

How water immersion reduces muscle soreness and limit performance drops

Another masterful review on the topic of ice baths and immersion therapy in general was authored by Ian Wilcock, John Cronin, and Wayn Hing at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Their 2006 review focused on how ice baths reduce muscle soreness and limit performance drops in the days following a hard effort.

Interestingly, it seems that much of the benefit comes from the immersion, not the actual temperature.

Immersing yourself in water (of any temperature) introduces a pressure gradient as a result of the weight of the water surrounding your body. The deeper underwater any part of your body is, the greater the pressure. This phenomenon should be familiar to everyone who has ever swum underwater in a pool and felt the pressure in their ears build up at greater depths.

Standing in water will result in a hydrostatic “squeeze” being applied to your legs. During and immediately after a hard workout, fluid from your blood diffuses into your muscles and the blood itself pools in your extremities.The hydrostatic pressure from water immersion counteracts both of these effects: the increased local pressure on the muscles squeezes the fluids back into the blood, and the overall pressure gradient squeezes blood from your legs back towards your core.

The increased exterior pressure also increases the efficiency of your heart, allowing it to move more blood per beat. It’s postulated that these three reactions are why biological markers for fatigue and muscle damage are reduced following cold-water immersion: the water pressure helps clear out waste products and reduces inflammation in the muscles.

The effect of cold temperature

The effects of cold temperature are less well-understood, since only a few studies have contrasted cold water immersion with room-temperature immersion.

However, it is known that cold water immersion reduces the ability of fluids to diffuse into and between muscle cells, which reduces inflammation and so-called “secondary” damage. This is why doctors recommend icing immediately after an acute injury like an ankle sprain, since the damage can be exacerbated by prolonged swelling and inflammation from fluids pooling at the injured site. It is likely that the same prolonged swelling exists (albeit on a smaller scale) inside muscles after long, hard efforts.

Cold water temperatures also decrease nerve impulses, reducing pain from soreness or injury, and for unknown reasons, further reduce the levels of biological markers of muscular damage. It’s not clear whether or not this is indicative of a true reduction in muscle damage.

Are ice baths worth it and how do you use them

Happily, ice baths seem to be a fairly low-tech way of reducing muscle soreness and perhaps avoiding a sharp drop in performance in the days following a long, fast, or particularly hard running workout. While these benefits may reduce injury risk, no studies have looked at whether ice baths can change injury rates.

  • Cold temperatures seem to confer some benefit, but the bulk of the advantages of ice baths seem to come from the water pressure, not the temperature. It’s also worth noting that the hydrostatic pressure from standing in a pool, lake, or ocean will be much greater than the pressure from sitting in a fairly shallow tub. So to that end, hopping into a swimming pool or a lake will be almost as good for you as taking a true ice bath.
  • More moderate temperatures are also less of a hassle to prepare and endure. But if you do want to take a bona fide ice bath, the ideal temperature range seems to be between 50 and 59° F for somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes. Don’t go much colder than 50° F; you’ll have a much less pleasant experience without any additional proven benefit.
  • From what we know so far, it seems that the most effective time to hop into the tub is immediately after you’re done with your workout. Waiting too long will probably diminish the effects of the ice bath, but you also don’t want to cool your muscles off if you plan on doing any strength exercises within an hour or two.

Here are all the possible meanings and translations of the word ice bath.

Wiktionary (3.00 / 2 votes) Rate this definition:

A receptacle containing ice and water (and sometimes salt) that is used to lower something’s temperature, or to keep it cold

Anagrams for ice bath »

How to pronounce ice bath?

How to say ice bath in sign language?


The numerical value of ice bath in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

The numerical value of ice bath in Pythagorean Numerology is: 3

Examples of ice bath in a Sentence

I’ve done everything to recover. Hopped in the ice bath, had a massage. I’m ready to go. the body is feeling good, it’s (the Sydney title) given me a lot of confidence. To be able to do it at my home in front of my friends and family, it’s always that much more special.

It is like an accelerated air conditioner blowing on your body, it’s not unbearable but I could tell you that for anybody that has been an athlete and has been in an ice bath, it is (comfortable) compared to submerging your body in a water bath.

Getting out on the match court. the adrenaline helps numb some of the pain. I moved well today and thought I did pretty well for the first match, i’ll spend some time with my physio this evening, get an ice bath, then have a light practice tomorrow. I’ll work a bit on my passing shots and lobs because it will be a different match against Dustin Brown.

Here in the Epicurious Test Kitchen we have a big industrial ice maker. Yes, it comes in handy on Friday evenings, when we often make a big batch of cocktails. But that’s not why it’s there. It’s there because ice is a fundamental—yes, fundamental—cooking tool that can be used in so many ways. Here are a few of them.

1. Shock vegetables

A quick boil in salted water, then a plunge in a bowl of ice water yields cooked vegetables that are vibrant in color and crisp-tender in texture. The ice water halts the cooking process instantly, so that the vegetables keep their color and their texture.

2. Make tomatoes and peaches easier to peel

The easiest way to peel tomatoes and peaches is to blanch them: cut a little X into the skin, slip into boiling water, then transfer to a bath of ice water. The skin slides right off!

3. Make boiled eggs easier to peel

After boiling your eggs—either soft or hard—transfer them to a bowl of ice water and let sit until completely cooled. Once you see how much easier this makes peeling eggs you’ll never do it any other way again.

4. Make better shrimp cocktail

You don’t want to overcook boiled shrimp—it gets chewy real fast—so stop the cooking process just as you would for vegetables: by dunking the shrimp in a bowl of ice water as soon as they’re done cooking.

5. Cool hot custard faster

This one works best with metal mixing bowls, since they conduct heat faster. If you’re making a custard base for ice cream (or any other kind of custard you need to chill), speed up the cooling process by putting the bowl of hot custard over your bowl of ice water, then stirring and rotating the custard until cool.

6. For that matter, cool anything faster

Food safety 101: cool any cooked food before refrigerating it. Make this happen faster by pouring the hot food into a metal bowl and setting it into a bowl of ice water.

7. Refresh fresh herbs and delicate greens

Is your parsley looking a little sad and wilted? Dunk it (or any fresh herb or lettuce) in a bowl of ice water and let sit for a few minutes. It should revive nicely—just don’t let it sit too long.

8. Get crispier crudités

There’s a reason old-school steakhouses serve their crudités on a bed of ice: it makes them crisp. Sliced fennel or radishes soaked in ice water get significantly crispier—you can even store them overnight in a bowl of ice water in the fridge to use in salad the next day.

Join the Community

How to make an ice bath for cooking

A cold water bath is a cooking technique that immediately arrests the process of whatever a person is cooking by directly immersing it in cold or even ice water. The simplest method is to pour cold water on foods like pasta while it still sits in the colander. This can help keep the pasta al dente for recipes like pasta salad. Placing food in cold water is also common when a cooks is blanching, or lightly cooking, vegetables for use as a side and in salads.

The reason chefs employ a cold water bath is because food that is heated will continue to cook slightly, even after it is removed from the heat. When a cook is minimally cooking food and needs it to retain a certain texture or firmness, he can still end up overcooking it if it’s not cooled quickly. This may also be called shocking the food, since its result is to immediately end the cooking process.

Sometimes people add salt to the water, about 0.5 teaspoon (3 g) for every quart (liter) of water used. This can help the food retain its natural sodium, though many skip this step with fine results. The simple bath is composed of lots of ice covered in water. Some recipes recommend that cooks fill a bowl about two-thirds with ice, and then add enough water to cover it.

Food like blanched vegetables are then placed in the cold water bath and allowed to sit for a minute or two. They can then be removed and will not cook further. Cooks can store most vegetables that have been shocked for a few days in the refrigerator. They may want to consider placing them in airtight bags or lidded containers to keep them fresh. The vegetables should also be dried slightly if they will be stored, so that excess moisture does not ruin them.

This method should not be used for pasta when the cook plans to keep the food hot and serve it immediately. In fact, many recipes for pasta should not include a shock process, since even pouring cool water over pasta can remove the starchy coating pasta gets when it is cooking. This starch may be necessary when pasta is added directly to thin sauces, since it helps to thicken them. Similarly, if a cook is adding hot potatoes to thin sauces or soups to make them thicker, they should not be rinsed or shocked.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent DelightedCooking contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent DelightedCooking contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

You might also Like


Readers Also Love

Related Articles

  • How Do I Choose the Best Bath Salt Containers?
  • What is a Blancher Pot?
  • What is Parboiling?

Discussion Comments

I would just lie to add that you can successfully shock pasta in water that you are planning to use immediately. I worked in the restaurant industry for years, and I always shocked the pasta for consistency reasons. The trick is to flash heat the past just before serving.

I cook the noodles to a perfect al dente, shock the pasta to firm it up slightly, and then drop the pasta in a hot water bath for one minute before plating. I also season the water with a touch of sea salt and some EVOO to give the pasta that perfect flavor. The pasta is always perfect whether I serve it five minutes after being cooked, or five hours after being cooked. Alchemy August 22, 2010

If you want to make your own frozen vegetables, you should blanch them and then shock them in a cold-water bath. Blanching the vegetables for 30 seconds to two minutes, depending on the vegetable, will allow it to retain its color, flavor, and taste after a month or two in the freezer. This is cheaper than buying previously frozen vegetables, and you can ensure the vegetables are as fresh and high quality as you like.

Once a month I spend a couple of hours blanching and freezing vegetables that I plan on freezing. I can make my own custom frozen vegetable mixes using the freshest organic produce, and I can control the size of the bag of frozen veggies (Who wants to eat the second half of a bag of frozen veggies that has been sitting in the freezer for two weeks!). I simply blanch the vegetables, shock them in cold water, and spin them in a salad spinner before dividing them into freezer bags.

Discover how easy it is to make delicious homemade ice cream that rivals what you’d stand in line for at the best ice cream shops.

Once you learn the basics, you can turn out your own small-batch artisanal frozen desserts (you could totally call it that) in any flavor imaginable. Get ready, here’s how to make ice cream at home.

Types of Ice Cream

Homemade ice cream comes in two basic styles: Custard-style (also called French) and Philadelphia-style (also called New York or American).

  • Custard-style ice cream starts with a cooked base enriched with egg yolks, sugar, and cream. This style of ice cream has the smoothest, creamiest, richest texture and flavor.
  • Philadelphia-style ice cream contains no eggs, eliminating the need to cook a base. The texture is lighter and more delicate than custard-style ice cream. It’s also faster to make because there’s no cooked base to cool before churning, although you do want to make sure the mixture is quite cold before it hits the ice cream machine.

How to Make Custard-Style (French) Ice Cream

Get the recipe for a classic cooked custard Ice Cream Base.

What Do You Need to Make Homemade Ice Cream?


  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)


  • Bowls
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Heatproof spatula (this $8 set is an Amazon #1 best seller)
  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Ice cream maker (like this popular model from Cuisinart)
  • Freezer container


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and half of the sugar. Set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan, stir together the cream, half-and-half, salt, and remaining sugar. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring often, until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium.

3. Add about 1/2 cup of the cream mixture to the egg mixture while whisking constantly (this helps prevent the eggs from cooking). Repeat with another 1/2 cup of the cream mixture.

4. Using a heatproof spatula, stir the cream mixture in the saucepan constantly as you pour the egg mixture into the pan.

5. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and mixture coats the back of the spatula, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

6. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl and whisk in the vanilla extract. Set the bowl in an ice bath and stir the base occasionally until it’s cooled to room temperature. Remove the bowl from the ice bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 to 4 hours or overnight before churning, either in an ice cream machine or by hand (see below for tips on how to churn ice cream).

VIDEO: See how to make Maple Ice Cream

This creamy maple-sweetened ice cream tastes like it came straight from the sugar house. It’s a simple custard-style ice cream recipe that just replaces refined sugar with maple syrup for a just-sweet-enough maple-y treat. Feel free to dress it up with mix-ins or toppings or just enjoy it plain.

Top-rated French custard-style ice cream recipes to try:

  • Very Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Strawberry Ice Cream
  • Butter Pecan Ice Cream
  • Richer Than Rich German Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Gelato
  • Divine Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream

How to Make Philadelphia-Style Ice Cream

Philadelphia-style ice cream contains no egg yolks and does not require cooking. It’s based purely on cream and sugar. You simply mix the ingredients in your recipe, chill, and churn in an ice cream machine or by hand. Tip: Chill the ice cream mixture for 1 to 2 hours before churning.

Top-rated Philadelphia-style ice cream recipes to try:

  • Coconut Ice Cream
  • Black Walnut Ice Cream
  • Vanilla Ice Cream V
  • Easy Chocolate Ice Cream
  • Rocky Road Ice Cream
  • Caramel Macchiato Ice Cream

How to Churn, Ripen, and Store Ice Cream

You can churn, ripen, and store French custard- or Philadelphia-style ice cream recipes using the same method.

Churning: Churning (by hand or in a machine) prevents large ice crystals from forming in the ice cream and produces the smooth texture that makes ice cream feel so rich and luxurious when you eat it. Ice cream churned in a machine will generally have more air whipped into the mixture than hand-churning can achieve.

  • If you’re using an ice cream machine, churn following the manufacturer’s instructions. When the mixture has thickened and is hard to stir, remove it from the ice cream maker and transfer it to a freezer-safe container. (You might like this top-rated ice cream maker from Cuisinart.)
  • If you don’t have an ice cream machine, pour the chilled ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. After an hour, stir vigorously (spatula, whisk or electric hand mixer) in order to break up any hard ice crystals. Repeat every 30 minutes for the next 2-3 hours or until frozen. If not eating immediately, cover until ready to serve.

Ripening: Freshly churned ice cream will have the loose consistency of soft serve ice cream. To get a more scoopable texture, you’ll want to “ripen” the ice cream by storing it in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Your patience will be rewarded. Tip: To keep your ice cream from becoming super-hard as it ripens in the freezer, make sure both the ice cream maker and the mixture are kept ice cold as you’re making the ice cream.

Storing: To store leftover ice cream in the freezer, place it in an airtight container with a layer of plastic wrap pressed onto the surface to prevent it from absorbing odors or forming ice crystals.

Adding Flavors to Homemade Ice Cream

Popular add-ins include ripe summer fruits, chocolate, and toasted nuts. Other good choices? Vanilla beans, lavender, green tea, fresh peppermint, and candied ginger.

How to make an ice bath for cooking

Editor’s Note: Nothing beats homemade ice cream! In celebration of National Ice Cream Month, Galen Lehman, president of Lehman’s and son of founder Jay Lehman, is sharing how to make this sweet treat in a traditional ice cream freezer (like the one pictured above).

Our family spent 10 years in Africa doing missionary and disaster relief work. In those days, dairy products and especially ice cream were rarely available. Our version of a great party included homemade ice cream (if we could find the ingredients). Fortunately, the list is short: Cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla. And, if you can’t get the first three ingredients, Carnation Condensed Milk and vanilla makes a passable (but not especially great) substitute.

The real question with every homemade ice cream party is “hand cranked” or “electric”?

Of course, in the African bush it was always hand cranked. This has the added benefit that (supposedly) hand-cranked ice cream is smoother. And, that will be true if you are strong enough to increase the cranking speed as the ice cream hardens, which is a true test of strength and endurance. My job as a child was to stand on the hand-cranked freezer to help hold it down, since the men were all trying to “out crank” each other. (And, believe me, standing on the ice-cold cast iron crank head of an ice cream freezer is its own test of endurance. I even did it once…and ONLY once…in my bare feet.)

If testing your strength against your friends and sweating over the crank of an ice cream freezer isn’t your idea of a good time, then electric is the answer. In my family, it’s an excuse to stand around and talk while the electric motor on the ice cream freezer does the heavy lifting.

How to make an ice bath for cooking

The Immergood Ice Cream Freezer offers both a hand-crank version (pictured above) and an electric version. Find them at

You will need 20 pounds of ice and one to two cups of rock salt (table salt can also be used). Funny story – the ice and salt go on the outside of the ice cream container to promote freezing, of course. The first time my brother-in-law watched us make home made ice cream, he saw us pouring all that salt over the ice and he commented, “Wow that is going to be some salty ice cream.”

For safety reasons related to uncooked eggs, the mixture should be heated to 160 degrees, NOT 110 degrees, and you should use a cooking, cheese or dairy thermometer and stir often to keep it from scorching.

How to make an ice bath for cooking

Here is the recipe we use (ignore all the handwritten notes). IMPORTANT: Remember to let the mixture reach 160 degrees, (NOT 110 degrees as listed).

Some tips:
• Too much salt and it freezes too fast, making the ice cream grainy.
• The only penalty of too little salt is that it takes longer to freeze.
• Make sure the weep hole on the side of the freezer is always open.
• Use a broomstick to pack the ice around the container.
• Remember that the salt water you will create in the process can harm concrete floors and will kill plants.
• Open the freezer carefully: Salt water and ice cream are not an especially great flavor combination!
• The ice cream hardens best if you let it set for 20 minutes or so when it’s done cranking.
• Kids love helping you clean the dasher competing to see who can scoop off the biggest drips of ice cream.

Watch the video below to see three generations of the Lehman family make ice cream.

This article was first posted July 2020.

Trending photos on Facebook suggest that an ice bath can completely revive mushy, blemished strawberries.

It’s amazing what a little ice water can do for fruits, veggies, and even flowers. In the latest trending internet hack, photos by Facebook user Brittany King shows show how an ice bath can bring your mushy, blemished strawberries “back to life.” Her before and after images show the amazing transformation of formerly sad-looking strawberries appearing good as new. But would they actually taste as good as new? We consulted the experts in the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen to find out whether this hack is worth the effort.

Just as the Facebook post says, all you have to do is drop your “kind of sad” strawberries into a bowl of ice water for approximately 20 minutes. According to our Test Kitchen’s trial, the strawberries appear to be more vibrant in color than they were before. As for the texture, they were still soft. So while this trick might make your berry a little brighter, there’s not much difference in the texture after sitting in water. It won’t hurt to give them a little more life, so go ahead and give this one a shot if your carton is looking lackluster. Fresh strawberries are highly perishable, so don’t try to revive moldy strawberry using this hack. If they’ve got mold, they’re too far gone. We didn’t test other berries, but suspect blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries would also likely benefit from this treatment.

Strawberry season is right around the corner. Use these tips for making the most of your strawberry haul.

  1. When purchasing or picking berries, they should be firm, but not crunchy. Unlike apples or bananas, strawberries do not ripen after they are harvested. Avoid bruised or shriveled berries or berries that look dull. Berries with a bright red surface will have maximum sweetness and flavor.
  2. Store strawberries in the crisper drawer of the fridge as soon as you get home and plan on consuming them within 3 to 4 days. Keep in the container they came in or a produce keeper ($12.99, Bed Bath & Beyond)
  3. To help berries retain flavor, texture, and nutrients, avoid washing or removing their caps until ready for use.
  4. Yes, you should always wash your fruit! If you want proof, just watch this trending TikTok video on the creatures that can live in your purchased strawberries.
  5. Strawberry flavor is at its best at room temperature. Remove the berries from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving.

Keep in mind that the shelf-life of your juicy berries depends on how ripe the fruit was when purchased or picked. Enjoy them asap for the best quality. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat them all before they go bad, put them to delicious use in a berry-filled sweet such as strawberry shortcakes or easy strawberry jam.

Common kitchen wisdom dictates that hard-boiled eggs must be “shocked” in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and make them easier to peel, but only half of this is true, and the other half can be easily mitigated, meaning you can leave the ice in the freezer.

Plunging hot eggs into a bowl of ice water has absolutely no affect on their peel-ability. I know this because I have recently been cooking and eating a massive number of hard-boiled eggs, and nary an ice cube has been used to accomplish their peeling. The only water temperature that affects eggs and how easy they are to peel is their starting temperature, which should be boiling; starting eggs in cold water and bringing it to a boil bonds the eggs to the membrane, which makes it extremely hard to separate from the shell. Start your boiled eggs in hot water, and you won’t have this problem. (The only exception to this is pressure-cooked eggs , which are also super easy to peel)

Bless Your Deviled Eggs With Grated Cured Yolks

I have been making a lot of sours, which means I have been using a lot of egg whites. The…

Setting your boiled eggs in a bowl of merely cold water, particularly if you’re only cooking a few, is all you need to get them cool enough to handle. Once they’re no longer finger-blisteringly hot, you can peel them like normal without marring the white.

So ice water won’t affect your egg’s peel-ability, but it is true that it stops the cooking process. Luckily, eggs aren’t as delicate as something like asparagus (a vegetable that really benefits from a good shocking ), and you can prevent the carryover heat from overcooking your eggs by simply cooking them for a shorter amount of time in the first place.