How Long Can You Keep Frozen Food In The Freezer

How Long Can You Keep Frozen Food In The Freezer?


Have you been making the most out of your freezer? Freezers are a must-have for most homes since they help reduce food waste and prolong the life of food products. Some people save a lot of money by purchasing reduced food items and putting them in the freezer before their use-by date. 

Almost all foods can be frozen, except some foods like eggs that are still in the shell, which expand and crack under freezing temperatures. Bacteria won’t grow under freezing temperatures, so food can remain frozen indefinitely and technically be safe to eat. 

However, food is all about taste, and as time passes, all frozen food will degrade in quality and become unappetizing to eat when you defrost it. In this article, let us take a closer look at how long we can keep frozen foods in our freezers and if bacteria can grow on them whilst frozen.

Do Frozen Food Products Spoil?

As we mentioned earlier, if your goal is only to store food in your freezer, you can store almost any food in it indefinitely. However, we’re sure you want to eat that food at some point and want to know how long you can keep it in your freezer before its quality deteriorates. 

After all, eating food that’s already changed in appearance, texture, and, most importantly, taste is disagreeable. Unfortunately, not all food items have a universal shelf life. The storage time of different foods varies depending on the type of food you wish to store. 

Can Bacteria Grow on Frozen Food?

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), freezing food inactivates any bacteria. This also includes yeasts and molds. Once thawed, however, these microbes can become active again, multiplying under the right conditions to levels that can directly lead to foodborne complications and illnesses. 

Since they will then grow at about the same rate as microorganisms found on fresh food, one must handle thawed food as they would any perishable food.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that bacteria can live in the freezer itself, compounding the possibility of your frozen foods getting affected. While most are eliminated by freezing temperatures, it has since been confirmed that several species of bacteria can survive freezing environments and, thus, can do the same in both freezers and frozen food.

As long as you keep the freezer relatively clean, you shouldn’t worry much about your frozen food containing harmful bacteria. Just make sure that you give it the same care as you would like any perishable goods, and you will be fine.

Can You Get Sick From Eating Food Frozen For Too Long?

Frozen food can remain safely edible for months in the freezer; however, once you thaw them, the clock that measures its ‘safe-to-eat’ phase starts to dwindle significantly. Refreezing food hurts its overall quality even if you have thawed food safely in the microwave, refrigerator, or cold water bath. 

Furthermore, if you thawed exposed food at room temperature, which is an unsafe practice in itself, your food could become a host for several pathogens and bacteria. You definitely don’t want that.

That being said, how about those that have stayed in the freezer for way too long? The ones that may have lingered in your freezer for months now – perhaps forgotten that it ever existed there or have, unfortunately, been buried by new foods. Can you get sick from eating them?

Well, the answer to that is as straightforward as it gets. Check when they were originally produced via their label and see whether they have passed their recommended freezer storage time. If they have already exceeded it and visibly suffered in quality, it’s better to just throw them out rather than risk yourself eating them. 

To help you with that, we have prepared a list of food products alongside their recommended storage time below.

Summary Tables

After scouring the internet, we’ve compiled our findings in the following table to give you a quick idea about how long each type of food will last in your freezer before its quality begins to suffer. 

How Long Can I Store Cheese In My Freezer? 

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Processed cheese (opened), cream cheese, cottage cheese, fresh mozzarella, goat, Parmesan, Neufchâtel,Not Recommended
Any other cheese not mentioned above6 months

How Long Can I Freeze Dairy Products In My Freezer?

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Ice Cream1 to 2 months
Yogurt1 to 2 months
Milk3 months
Cream, half and half4 months
Butter6 to 9 months
Margarine (not diet)12 months

How Long Can I Freeze Fish And Other Seafood In My Freezer? 

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Fatty Fish (mackerel, bluefish, perch, salmon)2 to 3 months
Mussels, clams, scallops, oysters, shrimp3 to 6 months
Lean fish (sole, flounder, haddock)6 months

How Long Can I Freeze Fruit In My Freezer? 

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Bananas, avocado3 months
Citrus fruits4 to 6 months
Fruit Juices8 to 12 months
All other fruits except those listed above10 to 12 months

How Long Can I Freeze Vegetables In My Freezer?

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Celery, endive, bamboo shoots, radishes, cucumbers, watercress, salad greens,  cabbage, Not Recommended
Tomatoes (sliced or overripe) 2 months
Eggplants, Artichokes6 to 8 months
Turnips, rutabagas, asparagus8 to 10 months
Beets, bok choy, beans, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, carrots, carrots, cauliflower, corn, kohlrabi, greens, mushrooms, leeks, onions, okra, peppers, parsnips, peas, peppers, summer squash, spinach, soybeans10 to 12 months

How Long Can I Freeze Meat In My Freezer? 

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Bacon, sausage1 to 2 months
Hot dogs, ham, lunch meats1 to 2 months
Cooked2 to 6 months
Uncooked, ground3 to 4 months
Uncooked steaks, chops, or roasts4 to 12 months
Wild game, uncooked8 to 12 months

How Long Can I Freeze Poultry In My Freezer? 

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Giblets, uncooked3 to 4 months
Cooked4 months
Uncooked parts9 months
Uncooked12 months

How Long Can I Freeze Other Foods In My Freezer? 

Food ProductRecommended Storage Time
Yeast dough2 weeks
Chiffon or pumpkin pies1 month
Quick breads2 months
Cookie dough2 months
Pastry, unbaked2 months
Casseroles2 to 3 months
Soups, and stews2 to 3 months
Fruit pies, bakes2 to 4 months
Cookies3 months
Cakes4 to 6 months
Yeast breads6 months
Fruit pies, unbaked8 months
Raw egg yolks, whites12 months

Friendly Tip: Please ensure to leave space in the container for expansion when you’re freezing liquids or foods with liquid. 

Tips When Freezing Food

  • Never freeze eggs still in their shell and foods in cans (you can freeze canned foods after removing them from their container). You shouldn’t freeze pressurized liquids since they can expand and burst. 
  • Freeze foods at 0°F (-18°C), Freezing items at peak freshness, and this temperature helps retain texture, flavor, color, and vitamin content. Food constantly frozen at 0°F will always be safe to thaw and eat. Only your food’s quality will suffer if you freeze it for too long. 
  • Labeling helps with identification. You can easily identify and retrieve food items you’ve placed in containers, know what date you’ve stored them, and the number of servings for a particular food item. 
  • Don’t freeze everything at the same time. Instead, freeze foods individually. You can lay out food on a cookie sheet and freeze them until solid. Afterward, you can place them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. Properly freezing foods can prevent freezer burn.


Freezers are a wonderful tool that can help make food items last longer and reduce food waste. However, different foods have different storage times, so knowing when they degrade in quality is essential. While food items don’t spoil in freezing temperatures, they degrade in quality the longer you freeze them. With that in mind, you can be more confident storing your food items and enjoying them at your convenience.