Things You Should Never Store in the Freezer, According to Pro Chefs



One of the most common freezer mistakes is freezing bread. The starches in bread can crystallize when frozen, resulting in a gritty, dry texture once thawed.

“Freezing bread dries it out terribly and ruins the texture,” says Chef John, a 20-year veteran chef. “The crumb gets very crunchy and tough.”

Instead of freezing bread, Chef John recommends storing it at room temperature in a bread box or paper bag. This allows the bread to slowly stale while maintaining its soft interior crumb. Sliced bread will keep this way for 2-3 days, while a whole unsliced loaf can last up to 5 days.

If you do have leftover bread, Chef Alice suggests using it for breadcrumbs or croutons rather than freezing it. “That way you still get use out of the bread without compromising the texture.”

Raw Potatoes

Raw potatoes are another food that does not freeze well, according to the chefs. The high water content in raw potatoes causes them to turn mushy and mealy after thawing.

“Freezing actually breaks down the cell structure of raw potatoes,” explains Chef Brian. “Once thawed, they’ll be mushy with a blotchy appearance.”

Instead of freezing raw potatoes, the chefs recommend storing them in a cool, dark place for up to 2 months. Unwashed potatoes with the skins still on will keep the longest.

If you do need to freeze potatoes, Chef Alice suggests blanching them first. “Blanch or parboil the potatoes briefly before freezing. This helps them hold their shape better when thawed.”


Most chefs agree that milk does not belong in the freezer. The proteins and fat in milk coagulate when frozen, giving milk a grainy, lumpy, and watery consistency after thawing. The texture is extremely unappetizing.

“Freezing causes the components of milk to separate,” says Chef Brian. “It ruins the emulsion and makes it watery. I don’t recommend freezing milk under any circumstances.”

Instead of freezing milk, the chefs suggest buying only small quantities that can be used up quickly. Ultra pasteurized milk also has a longer shelf life of up to 2 months when properly refrigerated. If you do have excess milk, Chef John recommends using it up in cooking, baking, or making yogurt before freezing it.


Mayonnaise is an emulsion of oil, egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, and seasoning. Like milk, mayonnaise does not retain its texture after freezing.

“Freezing causes mayo to separate and turn watery,” cautions Chef Alice. “The emulsion breaks down and it will look curdled or lumpy when thawed.”

Chef Brian agrees: “I don’t recommend ever freezing mayo. The texture just won’t be the same once thawed.”

Instead, store mayonnaise in the refrigerator and use within 2-3 months for best quality. If you do freeze mayonnaise, Chef John says to use it only for cooking and baking purposes after thawing – not for spreading or dipping.


Fresh, crisp cucumbers do not freeze well at all. The high water content turns mushy and limp during freezing. The chefs recommend avoiding freezing cucumbers.

“Cucumbers are about 96% water. Freezing ruptures the cell walls, resulting in mushy cucumber slices once thawed,” says Chef Brian.

Chef Alice suggests pickling cucumbers for longer storage instead of freezing them. “Pickled cucumbers retain their crunchiness much better than frozen ones.”

For short term storage, cucumbers will keep for 1-2 weeks when refrigerated in a plastic bag. Plan to use fresh cucumbers within 5-7 days for the best texture.

Canned Foods

Surprisingly, canned foods like tuna, vegetables, and soup should not be frozen either according to the chefs. This is because the canning process already preserves and sterilizes the contents. Freezing is unnecessary.

“Don’t freeze canned foods! The canning process itself preserves the shelf life for 1-2 years or longer,” says Chef Brian.

Chef John explains that freezing can cause the metal in cans to deteriorate and leach into the contents over time. “Just store cans in a cool, dry pantry. Freezing them adds no benefits at all.”

Salad Greens

Fresh salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and arugula do not retain their texture well when frozen. The cold temperatures cause the greens to wilt and turn soggy.

“Greens go limp and soggy when frozen. It ruins the cell structure,” says Chef Alice.

Chef Brian recommends using fresh greens within 3-5 days for the best quality. If you do have excess greens, he suggests blanching and shocking them before freezing to help retain some texture. However, the chefs agree fresh greens are still best avoided in the freezer.


Onions can become mushy, mealy, and lose their flavor when frozen. The chefs do not recommend freezing raw onions.

“Onions are very high in water content. Freezing ruptures those cells, resulting in a mushy thawed onion,” explains Chef John.

If you need to freeze onions, Chef Alice suggests sautéing them first before freezing: “Sautéing removes some of the moisture and helps maintain the texture better.” Raw onions will otherwise turn soft and watery when thawed after freezing.


Like milk, yogurt tends to separate and turn watery when frozen and thawed. The texture becomes extremely unappetizing.

“The proteins in yogurt break down during freezing. Thawed yogurt will be grainy and watery,” says Chef Brian.

Chef Alice suggests making yogurt smoothies or parfaits before yogurt expires rather than freezing it. For best results, store yogurt in the refrigerator and use within 7-10 days after opening. Unopened yogurt may last 1-2 months past the sell by date when refrigerated. But avoid the freezer.


While freezing fully cooked casseroles seems convenient, Chef John cautions against it. “The ingredients used in casseroles like cream, milk, potatoes, pasta – they all degrade in texture with freezing.”

Instead of freezing casseroles, Chef Alice recommends dividing into portions and refrigerating for 3-4 days max. You can also cook the components separately and assemble the casserole right before serving. Avoid freezing prepared casseroles for best quality.


What happens when you freeze bread?

Freezing bread causes the starches to crystallize and turn the interior dry and gritty in texture. The freezer ruins the soft, fluffy crumb bread is known for.

Why can’t you freeze milk or cream?

The fat and proteins in milk and cream separate when frozen, resulting in a grainy, lumpy, watery consistency after thawing. The emulsion breaks down.

Is it OK to freeze potatoes?

Raw potatoes turn mushy when frozen. Blanch or parboil them first before freezing to help maintain their shape. Avoid freezing raw potatoes.

Can you freeze salad greens?

Greens like lettuce and spinach turn limp and soggy when frozen. Blanching before freezing helps a little, but fresh greens are best avoided in the freezer.

Is freezing canned foods necessary?

No, avoid freezing canned goods! Canned foods are already shelf-stable for 1-2 years. Freezing them adds no benefits.

Should you freeze casseroles?

Avoid freezing prepared casseroles. The ingredients degrade in texture. Cook components separately and assemble casseroles right before serving.


Maintaining frozen food quality comes down to understanding ingredients and how they react to freezing temperatures over time. Some foods simply don’t freeze well. Heed the recommendations of professional chefs and avoid freezing bread, raw potatoes, milk, mayonnaise, fresh greens, canned goods, and casseroles. With a few adjustments, you can optimize your frozen foods for fresh, appetizing results every time.