Foods That Freeze Well and How to Defrost Them

Foods in storage containers

Foods That Freeze Well and How to Defrost Them

I have a much deeper relationship with my freezer these days. Not only have I been buying more frozen veggies, I’ve been using it to extend the life of other ingredients. This helps avoid food waste and ensures that I’m well-stocked no matter how recently I’ve been to the grocery store. Here are nine foods that freeze well; you just might be surprised by some of them!

1. Bread. Whether it’s regular sandwich bread or more artisanal bread that you slice yourself, bread can get moldy quickly on the countertop. In my little family of three, we have a hard time making it through a whole loaf before that happens. Now, when we get a new loaf, I wrap half of it in plastic wrap, put it in an old bread bag, and freeze it. (Yes, I’m trying to avoid plastic wrap, too, but it’s important to double-wrap the bread and make the first wrapping as airtight as possible. I think beeswax wrap is worth a try.) You can defrost the bread on the countertop or slice by slice in the toaster.

2. Butter. This baking staple freezes like a champ! I buy boxes when it’s on sale and stash it in the freezer for months. It will defrost overnight in the fridge or on the counter in an hour or so. If you have a box of butter in your fridge and you’re not going through it fast enough, put the rest in the freezer.

3. Fresh berries. The trick here is to spread out the berries on a parchment-lined sheet pan before freezing. Once frozen, transfer them to a ziptop bag or other storage container. This way they won’t freeze into an icy block. Defrost in the fridge overnight, on the stove-top, or in the fridge overnight. Or, stir them directly into muffin or pancake batter or even hot oatmeal.

Bowl of Brown Eggs

4. Pancakes, waffles, muffins, and cookies. Follow the same method as for berries: freeze in a single layer and then transfer to another container for more convenient storage. Defrost pancakes or waffles in the microwave, or my favorite method, in the toaster. Muffins and cookies defrost on the counter in under an hour or quickly in the microwave. (Looking to shake up–and veg up–your waffle routine? Get my recipe for Zucchini Bread Waffles!)

5. Cookie dough. Speaking of cookies, if you’re a fan of fresh baked cookies (and, um, who isn’t?), next time you’re baking a batch, bake half and then portion the remaining dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet for freezing. Transfer to another container and bake directly from frozen, adding a couple of minutes to the regular baking time. This is especially great because you can bake only a couple cookies at a time…if you want.

6. Baby food. Chances are, if you’re making your own baby food you are already freezing some, but if not, you should start! Prep a big batch of purées or finger foods and freeze in individual-sized containers for easy defrosting. Baby food is best thawed in the fridge overnight, but you can also defrost on the stove-top or in the microwave in a pinch. Just be sure the food is only barely warm before serving to your baby.

7. Nuts. Freezing nuts can help extend their lifespan, ensuring that they don’t go rancid in your pantry. They defrost in minutes, and you can toast them directly from frozen.

8. Eggs. I learned from Jenny at Solid Starts the best way to freeze eggs. Crack them open, and mix with a fork. Transfer to ice cube trays, storage containers, or freezer bags. Tip: to keep track of how many eggs you’re freezing and, later on, defrosting, freeze only two eggs per container. Defrost them in the fridge overnight.

9. Cooked Rice and Other Grains. Transfer cooked, cooled rice or other grains (think farro or wheatberries) to a ziptop bag or other airtight storage container before freezing. Defrost in the fridge overnight, or transfer directly to a pan on the stove-top. This way the grains thaw quickly, and as a bonus, get crispy.

What other foods that freeze well do you keep on hand?

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Jenna Helwig