Freezer Storage Times: How Long Can You Freeze Foods For?

Tips for Storing Food Safely

Frozen Peas

How long can you freeze food for before it’s no longer safe to eat? See this frozen food storage chart to find out whether or not you can freeze cheese, how long you can freeze chicken for, how long fruit lasts in the freezer, and much more. Plus, find tips for freezing foods correctly.

This is a great chart for people who use the freezer often to store food for a long time. You might be surprised to find that you can freeze most foods much longer than you imagined without a loss in quality.

This chart lists everything from raw meat to ready-to-eat desserts.

NOTE: These times assume that the freezer temperature is maintained at 0°F (-18°C) or colder. The storage times are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe almost indefinitely.

How long can you freeze cheese for?

Product Store in Freezer
All cheeses, except those listed below 6 months
Cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, goat, fresh mozzarella, Neufchâtel, Parmesan, processed cheese (opened) Not recommended

How long can you freeze dairy products for?

Product Store in Freezer
Butter 6 to 9 months
Cream, half-and-half 4 months
Ice cream 1 to 2 months
Margarine (not diet) 12 months
Milk 3 months
Yogurt 1 to 2 months

How long can you freeze fish and seafood for?

Product Store in Freezer
Clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, shrimp 3 to 6 months
Fatty fish (bluefish, mackerel, perch, salmon) 2 to 3 months
Lean fish (flounder, haddock, sole) 6 months

How long can you freeze fresh fruit for?

Product Store in Freezer
All fruit (except those listed below) 10 to 12 months
Avocados, bananas 3 months
Citrus fruit 4 to 6 months
Fruit Juices 8 to 12 months

How long can you freeze fresh vegetables for?

Product Store in Freezer
Artichokes, eggplant 6 to 8 months
Asparagus, rutabagas, turnips 8 to 10 months
Bamboo shoots, cabbage, celery, cucumbers, endive, radishes, salad greens, watercress Not recommended
Beans, beets, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, corn, greens, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, okra, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, soybeans, spinach, summer squash 10 to 12 months
Tomatoes (overripe or sliced) 2 months

How long can you freeze meat for?

Product Store in Freezer
Cooked 2 to 3
Ham, hot dogs, and lunch meats 1 to 2 months
Sausage, bacon 1 to 2 months
Uncooked, ground 3 to 4 months
Uncooked roasts, steaks, or chops 4 to 12 months
Wild game, uncooked 8 to 12 months

How long can you freeze poultry for?

Product Store in Freezer
Cooked 4 months
Giblets, uncooked 3 to 4 months
Uncooked 12 months
Uncooked parts 9 months

How long can you freeze other foods for?

Product Store in Freezer
Cakes 4 to 6 months
Casseroles 2 to 3 months
Cookie dough 2 months
Cookies 3 months
Fruit pies, baked 2 to 4 months
Fruit pies, unbaked 8 months
Pastry, unbaked 2 months
Pumpkin or chiffon pies 1 months
Quick breads 2 months
Raw egg yolks, whites 12 months
Soups and stews 2 to 3 months
Yeast breads 6 months
Yeast dough 2 weeks

Note: When freezing liquids or foods with liquid, be sure to leave space in the container for expansion.

Frozen bread rolls

Food-Freezing Tips

  • To freeze or not to freeze? Foods that shouldn’t be frozen include eggs in shells and food in cans. (Once food is out of a can, it may be frozen.) Pressurized liquids also shouldn’t be frozen, as they can expand and burst.
  • Freeze at 0°F (-18°C). To retain vitamin content, color, flavor, and texture, freeze items at peak freshness and store at 0°F or lower. Food stored constantly at 0°F will always be safe to thaw and eat; only quality suffers with lengthy freezer storage. (However, freshness and quality at the time of freezing will affect the condition of frozen foods.)
  • Label foods for easy identification. Write the dish name/contents, number of servings (1 quart=4 servings; 1 pint=2 servings), and date on containers or bags.
  • Freeze individually. To prevent sticking, spread food to be frozen (berries, hamburgers, cookies, etc.) on a cookie sheet and freeze until solid. Then place in plastic bags and into the freezer.
  • Freeze for guests. Most cookies freeze well and thaw quickly—a convenience when entertaining. Simply cover a plate of assorted cookies with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and put it in the freezer.
  • Freeze foods more quickly by placing them directly against the side of the freezer.
  • Organize your freezer by food. Arrange the contents of the freezer by food category to make things easier to find and to minimize the time the freezer door is open.
  • Leave the freezer be. If power is interrupted or if the freezer is not operating normally, do not open the freezer door unless absolutely necessary. Food in a loaded freezer will usually stay frozen for up to 2 days. 

Refreezing Foods

  • Once food has thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through defrosting.
  • After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. And if previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion.
  • If you purchase previously frozen meat, poultry, or fish at a retail store, you can refreeze if it has been handled properly and kept at 40°F or below at all times.

Effects of Freezing

If frozen for too long, the quality of some foods will suffer. Here are some examples:

  • Canned ham … will become watery and soft
  • Cottage cheese, sour cream, cooked eggs, yogurt, mayonnaise … texture will suffer
  • Crumb toppings … will become soggy
  • Fried foods … may become rancid
  • Home-stuffed whole poultry on carcass … may become contaminated due to freezing or thawing
  • Lettuce, cabbage, radishes, green onions, celery … will become mushy
  • Milk, cream, custard, and meringue filings … will separate
  • Sauces heavy in fat … may separate or curdle
  • Whipping cream … may not re-whip

Learn More

Discover the best way to freeze blueberries! Plus, find out how to freeze other foods, such as cookies, corn, and spinach.

Do you have any freezer storage tips? Let us know in the comments!

Source: 

Adapted from Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

Reader Comments

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Proper Packaging and Low Freezer Temps Make a Big Difference

I think these guidelines must be for freezers attached to fridges that don't get too much colder than freezing, for items in store packaging. I have two full-size, frost-free upright freezers that are kept at or below 0 degrees. I use vacuum seal bags, Tupperware intended for the freezer, and in some cases like freezer jam and pesto, glass jars. Kept at zero or below, and in airtight/vacuum sealed packaging foods will keep much longer than these guidelines. There is a possibility of textural degradation over time, depending on the food and packaging, especially prepared foods and fruits and vegetables that by their lumpy nature have some air in the packaging, but as long as the food has been kept frozen it should be safe to eat. If I run across veggies in the freezer that have freezer burn I use them in my next batch of stock - fruit ends up in sorbet. After removing all the store packaging, I vacuum seal all my meat heading to the freezer, and it does not get freezer burn. I have used it, with no noticeable difference in texture/taste, after it's been frozen 3 to 4 times longer than these guidelines. I garden, and have learned that I can grow things that hog space like tomatillos and basil every other year, prepare and freeze the harvest and it will keep until the next harvest of that crop, two years on. Carefully prepping food headed to the freezer and maintaining a very low freezer temperature makes all the difference.

frozen foods

This is something that I have been researching for many years now. I can tell you that most of their times listed here are wrong. At least double all their times listed and on some of those add half of that to the doubling and you'd be closer; without affecting the taste. Stored at freezer temps it will be safe indefinitely.

Freezing veggies, zuke bread

green beans, blanched and frozen in a zip lock bag (sandwich size)-put 2 of them in a large zip lock bag and we use them for up to 1 year since they need to be cooked after being unfrozen. We routinely use the 2 zip lock bag approach with zucchini bread and have found no issue with eating it up to 1 year after freezing. We do try not to wait so long, but you know large freezers.

Freezing food

Your article, How long can you freeze food?, would be more accurate to ask, How long is frozen food good for. Food can be frozen forever, but at what point is it unsafe to eat.

Home made peperpot dish

How long frozen peperpot is good to eat. Need an answer.

Freezer storage times

I have found by personal experience that results vary wildly! The best thing to remember is that if it has been stored at zero degrees or below, was in good condition when it went in your freezer and was safely defrosted and cooked. It WILL be SAFE to EAT. It may or may not be nice to eat but that's another thing :)

Whole Frozen Chicken

Thank you so much for this information as I have had the Chicken for at least 3 or 4 months.
So this tells me it will still be good to use for Thanksgiving. Again I thank you for all your great information. I have bookmarked this information for future reference.

frozen chicken

Thanks for taking a moment to comment, Debra. Your chicken should be fine to cook and enjoy for Thanksgiving. Happy holidays!

Freezer Storage (all articles pertaining to this subject)

thank you much for this article....i now have the chart in my phone in a special file so that I can now refer to it when needed!

storing the storage chart

Thank you for considering this information “special,” Shellie! We appreciate your interest in the Almanac and Almanac.com! Happy days—

Freezing food chart

What is the method of wrapping food? Any difference using a vacuum seal?

how to wrap food to be frozen

We are going to align with the US Dept of Agriculture on this one: Proper packaging helps maintain quality and prevent freezer burn. It is safe to freeze meat or poultry directly in its original packaging, however this type of wrap is permeable to air and quality may diminish over time. For prolonged storage, overwrap these packages as you would any food for long-term storage. It is not necessary to rinse meat and poultry. Freeze unopened vacuum packages as is. If you notice that a package has accidentally been torn or has opened while food is in the freezer, the food is still safe to use; merely overwrap or rewrap it.

About vacuum packaging, we defer to the National Center for Home Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/vacuum_packaging.html

i like this page

i like this page

Vacuum Sealer

In most cases, food that you bring home is not eaten all of it right away. This forces you to have effective means of storage to maximize the flavor and nutritional value of the food. You also don’t want to eat food that stale or not fresh.

I was recently cleaning out

I was recently cleaning out my freezer and came across some steaks and pork chops that I remember buying over 18 months ago from a meat market. They've been frozen the whole time. Are they still good to eat?

The recommendation for

The recommendation for uncooked meat is to discard after 12 months.

how long will bullhead keep

how long will bullhead keep in the freezer and if its been at least five years will it still be ok to eat?

The recommendation for

The recommendation for catfish is to discard after 8 months in the freezer.

bullhead

catching a lot of bullhead as a kid from a nearby creek my dad would clean and put fillets in plastic coke or milk jugs fiil them with water and freeze they would last for years as no air can get to them

I vacuum pack my beef as soon

I vacuum pack my beef as soon as I pick it up . Already cut wrapped and frozen. Put it in the freezer.my ground beef lasts at least 2 yrs and the whole cuts I don't know how long found a roast buried in the freezer that was 5 yrs old and it was perfect!

I defrosted a pork chop in

I defrosted a pork chop in the refrigerator and forgot about it for two days. Is this pork chop safe to eat. It smells fine and is not slimy. Help! Thank you.

After thawing a properly

After thawing a properly frozen pork chop in the refrigerator, it should remain safe to eat within 3 to 5 days. You might be interested in the following publication from the USDA:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/w...

May I ask what method was

May I ask what method was used to freeze these cuts of meat? i.e., freezer paper and plastic wrap, vacuum sealer, freezer bags, tin foil, etc? Thanks

I made a pot roast from a

I made a pot roast from a chuck roast that had been in my freezer, uncooked, at zero degrees, for SIX YEARS! Also made a corned beef that had been frozen for five years. By the way, they were delicious!

the corned beef stayed there

the corned beef stayed there for too long its freeze life was from 2-4 years....

As far as I'm concerned, if

As far as I'm concerned, if it tasted delicious and didn't make anyone sick the freezer life is at least what it was! I had a Stouffer's frozen lasagna in the same freezer for 10 years and it too was just like new. I don't know where you got your figures, but mine were from personal experience.