Is Your Freezer Set to the Right Temperature?

Love to store make-ahead meals in your freezer? Be sure that your food stays fresh by finding the right average freezer temperature.

Freezers are one of the most helpful kitchen appliances of all time. They allow cooks to stock up on groceries on sale, preserve veggies and fruits in season, stash freezer meals and provide endless trays of ice cubes. To make sure that food stays safe and fresh, you’ll want to keep it properly chilled. What’s the average freezer temperature for optimal performance? Read on.

The Ideal Temperature Range

The freezing point for water and many foods is 32º Fahrenheit, so you might think that your freezer would be safe set around there. Wrong! The ideal temperature for freezers is 0º Fahrenheit. The colder temp ensures that food freezes through, and prevents deterioration. Make sure your freezer is at this temperature before you freeze food.

Does a Colder Temperature Mean More Freezer Burn?

Nope. Freezer burn occurs from exposure to air, not excessive chill. To prevent freezer burn, which causes an off taste and texture, wrap food tightly. Bonus points if you wrap food in two different materials: a plastic freezer bag, which you can press the air out of, and then a second layer of aluminum foil.

The Other Key to Freezer Performance

While a low-temperature setting is crucial, there’s another key element to ensuring that the freezer works properly: circulation. Freezers need proper airflow to maintain the proper temperature and keep every zone of the freezer equally chilled. Don’t cram the freezer full, and avoid blocking the fan. The same rules apply to keep your fridge temperature safe, too.

More Tips for Optimal Freezing

  • Defrost your freezer regularly, to keep it working efficiently (and prevent ice build-up from taking up valuable real estate!)
  • When adding food to the freezer, consider putting it in the back to encourage yourself to eat foods that have been frozen longer
  • Use a freezer thermometer to keep track of the temp

Food kept in a freezer at the proper temperature will keep safe indefinitely, though the texture and flavor will deteriorate the longer it’s kept. Learn exactly how long frozen food lasts.

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Kelsey Rae Dimberg
A former in-house editor at Taste of Home, Kelsey now writes articles and novels from her home in Milwaukee. She's an avid cook, reader, flâneur, and noir fanatic. Her debut novel, Girl in the Rearview Mirror, will be published in June 2019 by William Morrow.