Ice crystal growth and microstructure of sugarsolutions prepared with stabilizers (carboxymethyl cellulose [CMC], xanthan gum, locust bean gum [LBG], and gelatin) with or without milk solids-nonfat (MSNF) after freezing in a scraped surface heat exchanger and temperature cycling (5 cycles from -6 degrees C to -20 degrees C) were studied. Ice crystal growth was calculated from brightfield microscopic images acquired from samples before and after cycling. Freeze-substitution and low-temperature embedding (LR-Gold resin) were sample preparation techniques utilized for structure analyses by light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy. Differential staining for carbohydrates and proteins allowed the identification of stabilizer gel-like structures in LBG, gelatin, and gelatin/MSNF solutions. In the absence of milk proteins, xanthan and LBG were the most effective at retarding recrystallization, while in their presence, only xanthan had an effect. Cryo-gelation of the LBG was observed but is not the only mechanism of stabilizer action. Thermodynamic incompatibility between biopolymers was observed to promote localized high concentrations of milk proteins located at the ice crystal interface, probably exerting a water-holding action that significantly enhanced the stabilizer effect. Qualitatively, solution heterogeneity (phase separation) was directly proportional to ice crystal growth inhibition. It is suggested that water-holding by stabilizer and proteins, and in some cases steric hindrance induced by a stabilizer gel-like network, caused a reduction in the kinetics of the ice recrystallization phenomena and promoted mechanisms of melt-regrow instead of melt-diffuse-grow recrystallization, thus resulting in the preservation of the ice crystal size and in a small span of the ice crystal size distribution.