How long will food last in your freezer?

An open freezer with a drawer pulled out, filled with frozen produce
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

When it comes to storing food, nothing is so heavily relied upon as the freezer. And why wouldn’t it be? Simply chuck the items in there, and you’ve technically got an indefinite storage solution — your food will be safe to eat as soon as it’s defrosted. However, while this appliance may seem like it can do no wrong, you should know that the quality of food stored in the freezer will degrade over time, even for the best refrigerators. So, if you’re guilty of leaving forgotten items at the back of the freezer, odds are these won’t taste as good as they once did.  

It’s for this reason that you need to keep on top of what you’ve frozen, as well as how long each product will likely last before it starts to spoil. To help you out, we’ve pulled together a grid to break down exactly how long commonly frozen items will last, taking guidance from, which is provided by government agencies, including the USDA, the FDA and the CDC. We've also considered what the manufacturers themselves suggest as well as experts in the field. 

Consequently, we've covered most things you should find in your freezer. Plus, we will discuss the best freezer storage tips, so you can keep on top of your frozen goods in the future. Here’s how long your food will last in the freezer.

A freezer shelf filled with contained foods and a smiley face drawn on one container

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Before we begin, we should stress that the following timelines are based on the items being frozen and maintained at the correct temperature. For a freezer, this is at or below 0°F or -18°C. When stored at this temperature, your food can technically be kept for as long as you like and still be safe to eat, but if you want to keep the flavor, texture and appearance intact, we recommend sticking to the following dates.    

How long will food last in the freezer?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CategoryTypeFreezing time
Fresh meatSteak4-12 months
Row 2 - Cell 0 Chicken or turkey (whole)12 months
Row 3 - Cell 0 Chicken or turkey (cutlets/pieces)9 months
Row 4 - Cell 0 Chops4-12 months
Row 5 - Cell 0 Bacon1 month
Row 6 - Cell 0 Sausage1-2 months
Row 7 - Cell 0 Hot dogs1-2 months
Row 8 - Cell 0 Hamburger/Ground meat3-4 months
Row 9 - Cell 0 Ham (fresh, uncured and uncooked)6 months
Row 10 - Cell 0 Ham (fresh, uncured and cooked)3-4 months
Meat-free alternativesTofu1 month
Row 12 - Cell 0 Seitan6 months
Row 13 - Cell 0 Quorn (cooked)1 month
Fresh fishSalmon2-3 months
Row 15 - Cell 0 Tuna2-3 months
Row 16 - Cell 0 Cod6-8 months
Row 17 - Cell 0 Haddock6-8 months
Row 18 - Cell 0 Trout4-8 months
Row 19 - Cell 0 Crab meat2-4 months
Row 20 - Cell 0 Lobster2-4 months
Row 21 - Cell 0 Shrimp6-18 months
Row 22 - Cell 0 Squid6-18 months
Row 23 - Cell 0 Cooked fish3 months
DairyMilk6 weeks
Row 25 - Cell 0 Yogurt2 months
Row 26 - Cell 0 Cream3 months
Row 27 - Cell 0 Butter4 months
Row 28 - Cell 0 Ice cream3-6 months
BreadLoaf or sliced3 months
Row 30 - Cell 0 Dough6-12 months
EggsEgg whites and yolks (raw and blended or separate)12 months
Row 32 - Cell 0 Egg whites and yolk (blended and cooked)3 months
ProduceFruits and vegetables8-12 months
LeftoversCooked meat2-6 months
Row 35 - Cell 0 Pizza1-2 months
Row 36 - Cell 0 Chicken nuggets1-3 months
StewsVegetable or meat2-3 months

 Freezer storage tips

  • Keep it filled — Your freezer will actually run more efficiently at full capacity, so don’t be afraid to fill the space. This will save you energy because the frozen items inside help maintain the temperature whenever you open the door.  
  • Don’t overload it though — Overfilling the freezer can potentially damage the appliance if you block the air vents. It can also make it more difficult to manage the contents, so more food goes to waste in terms of quality. Here are 3 Reasons why you shouldn’t overfill your freezer for more detail. 
  • Defrost your freezer when necessary — Unfortunately, some freezers will need defrosting. This is necessary when excess ice builds up on the walls of the freezer, preventing the draws from sliding in and out. It needs addressing because it can affect the performance of your freezer as well as consume additional energy. Here’s how to defrost a freezer for guidance.

Freezer with Ice

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
  • Use the fast freeze setting — If your freezer comes with a fast freeze setting, make sure you’re taking advantage. This essentially drops the internal temperature for a period of time. It’s useful if you’ve suddenly added a load of groceries to the mix.
  • Always label your food — Make sure you label anything unclear in the freezer, such as leftover stews and home bakes. That way, you know exactly what it is and when it was frozen.
  • Rotate the contents — Make sure the items at the back don’t get forgotten about —every time you fill your freezer, move the items at the back to the front so they get used first. Just make sure you avoid any of these 14 foods you should never put in the freezer.
  • Remove packaging where space is tight — If your freezer is low on space, feel free to remove the packaging from your frozen food. You can still label it and keep the packaging outside of the freezer for cooking guidance.

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Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.