You’ll ruin these foods and drinks if you put them on ice, ice, baby. 🧊


Karla Walsh

Published on February 23, 2024

stacks of frozen foods in a freezer

If you take a peek at the archives of our food section, you’ll quickly realize that our Test Kitchen—like many BHG readers—swear by our freezers. But as much as we consider the freezer our friend, it’s not ideal for everything. This has less to do with food safety and more to do with quality. Discover the worst foods to freeze, plus a category of drinks that should never be frozen.

“Food stored constantly at 0° F [the USDA’s recommended freezer temp] will always be safe, because freezing slows down the movement of molecules, causing microbes to enter a dormant stage,” Meredith Carothers, food safety specialist for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service in Washington D.C.. “Freezing preserves food for extended periods because it prevents the growth of microorganisms that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness.”

Foods that are frozen for long periods of time may start to lose flavor or dry out. They’re still safe to consume, Carothers confirms, but will not be as delicious and satisfying as they could be. ( has a handy guide for cold food storage timelines.) 

Also on the quality side, if moisture content, composition, or packaging of the food or drink isn’t amenable to the cold conditions, they’re basically taking up space in the freezer on the way to the trash or compost.

7 Items You Should Never Store in Your Freezer

As a general rule, Sarah Brekke, M.S.Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen brand manager, says that you shouldn’t freeze:

  • Tender fruits and vegetables
  • Vegetables with a high water content
  • Liquids packaged under pressure
  • Foods or drinks in containers (natural or otherwise) without space for expansion
  • Emulsified recipes and anything with gelatin

Avoid freezing the following foods and drinks, Brekke and Carothers advise.

Moisture-Rich Vegetables (and Some Fruits)

Vegetables with tender leaves and/or a high water content (such as lettuce, cucumbers, and celery) don’t do well in the freezer. Once thawed, “they will be limp, slimy, waterlogged, and oxidized,” Brekke says. Store those vegetables in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer instead, and aim to use them within 7 to 10 days. Raw potatoes also have a high moisture content. Once those spuds are thawed, they will likely be mushy and grainy. Store raw potatoes in a cool, dark, dry location in your home; ideally, something similar to root cellar conditions.

Test Kitchen Tip: If you want to freeze potatoes, we recommend at least partially or fully cooking and cooling them first. Potato recipes like mashed potatoespotato casseroles, and potato soup freeze and reheat well. (Just be sure to skip the potato salad…)

Emulsified Items

That’s because anything that relies on emulsification to stay together, like mayonnaise (a common ingredient in potato salad and many other creamy creations) and salad dressings, tends to separate after being frozen and later thawed. Keep store-bought or homemade mayo and dressings in the refrigerator. Aim to use homemade dressing within 4 days and from-scratch mayo within 2 weeks. Use purchased varieties of either by the date listed on the jar or bottle. 

Test Kitchen Tip: Keep in mind that there is some wiggle room with those “best by” and “use by” dates.  Here’s what experts say about eating food past its expiration date

Sour Cream and Other Dairy Products

You can freeze hard cheeses and firm shredded cheeses, although ideally, you’ll keep those in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. It’s best to keep soft cheeses and other viscous dairy products like sour cream, cottage cheese, and cream sauces out of the icebox, “because when thawed, they will be watery, separated, and have a less-than desirable texture,” Brekke says. Store these items in the refrigerator, and use them within the timeframes specified by the USDA.

Gelatin Recipes

Any foods or drinks that contain gelatin don’t tend to freeze well because “the ice crystals damage the structure of the food and the result, when thawed, is a soupy mess,” Brekke says. To preserve those jiggly qualities and the desired consistency, keep those sweet and savory gelatin recipes in the fridge instead.

Canned or Bottled Beverages

From soda to Sauvignon Blanc to stouts, bottled and canned beverages should never be frozen. This opens up the very real possibility for a safety issue (and a mess).  “These drinks will expand as they freeze,” Brekke says. “The pressure will increase and the packaging may burst or shatter.”

Raw or Hard-Boiled Eggs in their Shells

Similar to freezing a can of soda, the contents inside the shell will expand during the freezing process and the shells will crack, Brekke says.  Plus, freezing raw eggs “causes the yolk to become thick and syrupy so it will not flow like an unfrozen yolk or blend very well with the egg white or other ingredients,” Carothers adds. If you do need to freeze eggs in their raw state, beat the egg whites and yolks together, then store them in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 1 year. Allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Although cooked eggs can be frozen—and we often rely on this for make-ahead breakfast burritos, egg bakes, and egg sandwiches—BHG Test Kitchen experts prefer cooking them fresh from the refrigerator when possible. Store eggs in their shells in the refrigerator and plan to get cracking with them within 3 weeks after purchase.

How to Tell if Eggs are Bad: 3 Simple Methods

DIY Fried Foods

The freezer section of the supermarket is full of fantastic fried foods such as chicken tenders, fish sticks, potato tots, and French fries. “These items have been expertly crafted to cook at home with great results,” Brekke says. On the flip side, home-fried foods will never be the same after freezing because the batter, crumb, or tempura coating will absorb moisture during the freezing process. After thawing, your fried fishfried chickenfried pork, or other fried fare will be rocking now-soggy breading. Store any leftover fried, oven-fried, or air-fried food in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and shoot to enjoy the extras within 4 days of prep. Reheat in an air fryer or on a rack in the oven for best results.