23 Foods You Should Never, Ever Freeze (and Why)

Lettuce and soda with freezer burn

Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Lettuce and soda with freezer burn
Cheapism / DALL-E 3

Icy Mistakes

Sure, the freezer helps you extend the life of foods and beverages, a bonus in these tough economic times. But there are a number of items that simply do not do well on ice because the process impacts their appearance, texture, or taste. Keep the following list in mind to avoid ending up disappointed or with a lot of waste. 

Here are 23 foods you should avoid freezing.

Glass jar of mayonnaise with a spoon.
Oleksandr Todorov/istockphoto

1. Mayonnaise

So, you overbought ingredients for your tailgate party’s top recipes? Avoid freezing leftover mayo, as it will change the condiment's consistency. Mayonnaise separates when frozen, resulting in an unappetizing, grainy liquid.

Ruby Red Leaf Lettuce

2. Salad Greens

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service notes that salad greens are one of the items that don't fare well in the freezer. Defrosted lettuce is not only weird-looking and difficult to thaw out, but tastes just as unappealing.

Plate of Delectable Golden Brown Crispy Fried Chickens on Wooden Background

3. Fried Foods

Unless it’s french fries or onion rings, which can both be successfully reheated, avoid freezing food that’s already been fried. These items lose their signature crispiness and become soggy. Definitely not appetizing.

Fresh avocado on cutting board

4. Avocados

It’s tempting to think you can have the main ingredient for guacamole or avocado toast on hand at any time, but because avocados have a high water content, freezing them causes ice crystals to form, removing the fruit’s creamy texture. Worse, they often turn brown as they thaw.

Related: Creative and Delicious Recipes for Avocados, According to Redditors

Pint Milk Containers Arranged In Rows

5. Milk

There are those who swear by freezing milk, but there are numerous caveats. The thawing process can cause the milk to separate and turn grainy. To drink it, you should defrost milk in the fridge to prevent possible bacterial growth, and even then you may need to put it in a blender to regain its original texture. Worth it? We don't think so.

Related: 12 Creative Ways To Use Canned Coconut Milk

Yellow noodles or spaghetti cooking in boiling water pot.
Nopadol Uengbunchoo/istockphoto

7. Raw Potatoes

It’s tempting to chop up a bunch of potatoes and throw them in the freezer for use in soups, stews, hashes, and the like, but raw potatoes simply do not freeze well and therefore should be cooked, or partially cooked, beforehand.

For more clever hacks and money-saving tips, please sign up for our free newsletters. 

Eggs composition

8. Whole Eggs

Making little egg “muffin” cups or freezing leftover frittatas in pieces for future meals can be a real time saver. But avoid putting whole eggs in the freezer, even if you score a dozen on sale. Once frozen, the insides expand and the shells often crack. 

Philadelphia Cream Cheese

9. Cream Cheese for Spreads

As with many items, cream cheese can be frozen, but that process will curtail how it’s best used after defrosting. While you can freeze cream cheese, freezing will change its texture, making it grainy and possibly more crumbly once it’s thawed. If you’re not baking or cooking with it, simply avoid freezing it to use again as a spread.

Homemade honey mustard sauce in a glass jar

10. Salad Dressings

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This is another example of that practice. Due to the varied ingredients, some dressings may never fully freeze, while others separate after thawing.

Victor Yee/istockphoto

11. Cucumbers

Despite the urge to slice up those extra cukes for future salads, avoid throwing this water-filled veggie into the freezer. As the National Center for Home Food Preservation notes, along with other veggies such as cabbage, celery or radishes, after thawing, the cucumber will appear limp and quickly develop an off color, aroma, and flavor.

Variety of full and halved citrus fruit

12. Citrus

If you’re dreaming of a juicy orange after a stint in the freezer, dream again. Citrus becomes mushy after being frozen. Instead, preserve oranges and grapefruits by canning, while lemons are best preserved in salt and spices. All citrus can also be dehydrated.

Garlic cloves on a wooden board

13. Garlic

You might be tempted to chop up your garlic in advance and throw it in the freezer until it’s needed. Resist the urge. Along with other spices such as pepper, cloves, and some herbs, garlic tends to get strong and bitter after freezing. 

Greek salad with vinaigrette dressing topped with grilled chicken

14. Prepared Salads

Whether it’s egg, chicken, tuna, ham, or macaroni salad, share the leftover wealth quickly. These crowd-pleasing preparations simply do not freeze well, according to FoodSafety.gov.

Ham sausage package

15. Canned Ham

FoodSafety.gov is blunt in its guidelines for unopened canned ham that’s labeled keep refrigerated: “Do not freeze.” Who are we to argue?

Homemade vanilla Christmas drink Eggnog in glass with grated nutmeg and cinnamon sticks

16. Homemade Eggnog

Heed this advice from FoodSafety.gov, especially around the holidays. It does not recommend freezing homemade eggnog at all, which is not surprising as we’ve already established eggs and dairy do not do well in the freezer.

Tins of different sizes and opening

17. Canned Food

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture cautions against freezing canned food in no uncertain terms: “You can freeze almost any food. Some exceptions are canned food or eggs in shells.” As it explains, even cans frozen accidentally (left in a car or cold basement, for example), can present health problems. 

several aluminum soda cans in assorted colors

18. Canned Soda

Do not freeze a can of soda despite the appeal of a rapidly iced Coke. You know you’re going to forget to go back and drink it right away. It will pop and create a giant mess in the freezer. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offers details as to why this happens.

Three Lobsters

19. Live Shellfish

This suggestion from FoodSafety.gov is broad, as it says it’s simply “not recommended” to freeze live shellfish, from crab or lobster to clams, mussels, oysters, and scallops. If you’re lucky enough to score some live shellfish, wouldn’t you want to cook it immediately, anyway?

Risotto with brown champignon mushrooms
Nelea Reazanteva/istockphoto

20. Mushrooms

Since mushrooms contain a lot of water, when you freeze them raw, the water inside the mushroom cells can form ice crystals. As these crystals expand, they rupture the cell walls, resulting in a slimy and mushy texture upon thawing. If you must store mushrooms, place them in a paper bag and pop them in the fridge for up to a week. The bag will absorb excess moisture and prevent them from getting soggy. 

Striped buttercream birthday cake with colorful birthday candles and sprinkles

21. Cakes

Cakes adorned with delicate frostings or fillings, such as whipped cream or fruit compotes, can undergo unfavorable changes when frozen. The texture of the frosting might turn grainy and fruit fillings can release moisture — turning the cake into a sad, soggy fest. 

Instead, place the cake in the fridge in an airtight container for short-term storage. If long-term storage is essential, consider freezing the cake and frosting separately, and then assemble when needed. 

Grapes - Fall
Larisa Davydova/istockphoto

22. Grapes

While frozen grapes can be a delicious snack, it's generally not recommended to freeze them if you plan on eating them fresh. This is because freezing grapes causes the water inside them to expand, which can damage their cellular structure and result in a mushy texture once thawed. 

The delicate skin of grapes can also suffer from freezer burn — especially if not stored properly. If you plan on storing them for a while though, you can freeze grapes for up to up to a year. Just be sure to wash, dry, and store them in airtight containers or freezer bags to preserve their quality and prevent any bacterial growth. 

Shot of coffee beans and a cup of black coffee on a wooden table

23. Coffee

Can't function without that morning cup of joe? Same here. Just be sure you're storing your java properly. Avoid keeping coffee beans or grounds in the freezer for daily use. The repeated process of freezing and thawing can lead to condensation, which can negatively affect its flavor or aroma. Also, coffee is highly absorbent and can pick up flavors and odors from other items in the freezer. 

Instead, store your java in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dark place. This will help preserve its freshness and flavor by protecting it from air, moisture, and light — all of which can degrade your coffee's quality over time.