Is It Bad to Put Hot Food in the Fridge?

Article published at: Jun 23, 2024 Article author: Durbl-Megan
Is It Bad to Put Hot Food in the Fridge?
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We've all faced this situation: you’ve just finished cooking a delicious meal, but there are leftovers, and you wonder, "Can I put hot food in the fridge?" The answer isn't straightforward, but let's delve into why you should or shouldn't do it.

Thermal Shock and Glass Containers

Firstly, if you're using glass containers, you need to be cautious. Glass has a property known as thermal expansion. This means it expands when hot and contracts when cold. If you place a hot glass container directly into the fridge or freezer, it can experience thermal shock and potentially shatter. This risk is especially high with standard glass, but using borosilicate glass can mitigate the risk as it's more resistant to thermal shock. Still, it's best to avoid sudden temperature changes.

Refrigerator Efficiency

Putting hot food directly into the fridge isn't ideal for the appliance's efficiency. Hot food raises the fridge's internal temperature, making it work harder to cool down, which can affect its overall performance and longevity. This can also impact other foods stored in the fridge, potentially leading to spoilage.

Food Safety

Contrary to popular belief, placing hot food directly into the fridge is generally safe from a food safety perspective. The danger zone for bacterial growth in food is between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C). Leaving hot food out to cool for extended periods can actually pose a greater risk than refrigerating it immediately. The key is to cool the food down quickly. You can do this by dividing it into smaller portions or placing it in shallow containers before refrigerating.

Practical Tips

  1. Cool Down First: Allow food to cool slightly on the counter before placing it in the fridge. You can use an ice bath to speed up the cooling process.
  2. Use the Right Containers: Use shallow, wide containers to store food, which helps it cool faster. Opt for borosilicate glass or food-grade silicone like Durbl bags, which can handle temperature changes better.
  3. Avoid Overloading: Ensure there is enough space around containers in the fridge to allow air circulation for faster cooling.


So, is it bad to put hot food in the fridge? It depends on the circumstances. For food safety, it's generally okay, but consider the type of container you're using and your fridge's efficiency. Cooling food quickly in shallow containers or using an ice bath can mitigate many of the potential issues. Remember, keeping your food safe and your fridge running efficiently are both achievable with a few mindful practices.
By following these tips, you can enjoy your leftovers safely and keep your fridge in good working order. Happy cooking and storing!

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