Is it Safe to Put Hot Food In the Fridge?


Question: Can I put hot food in the refrigerator? When I eat a late dinner, I would rather not have to wait until the food has fully cooled down before refrigerating it.

Answer: It’s okay to place hot food directly in the refrigerator, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.

How long does food have to cool before putting it in the fridge?

You can put hot food in the fridge immediately. Don’t worry about overheating the fridge — as the U.S. Department of Agriculture points out, the refrigerator’s thermostat will keep it running to maintain a safe temperature of 40° F or below.

What you do need to worry about is whether the hot food will cool off quickly enough to reach a safe temperature once it’s in the refrigerator. So never put deep containers of hot food in the refrigerator — instead, place the hot food in shallow containers so it will chill quickly.

A large pot of soup or stew, for instance, should be divided into smaller portions and placed in smaller containers before being refrigerated. A large cut of meat or whole poultry should be divided into smaller pieces and wrapped separately or placed in shallow containers before refrigerating.

If you prefer, you can also quick-chill the food in an ice water bath before refrigerating it.

Either way, be sure you refrigerate the food within 2 hours of cooking it.


See Also:

Should You Store Bread on the Counter or in the Fridge?

How Long Does Thawed Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Power Outages: How Long Does Food Last in the Fridge and Freezer?

About Our Authors

Have a question? Click here

Today's Tips