Can I put warm curry in the fridge?

In this brief article, we will answer the question “Can I put warm curry in the fridge?” and discuss the consequences of putting warm or hot curry in the fridge. We will also list down some tips on how to store hot food and mention a few types of most preferred curries.

Can I put warm curry in the fridge?

No, you can not put warm curry in the fridge. It is always best to cool down the curry at least to room temperature before storing it in the fridge to avoid it from getting spoiled.

What happens when you put hot or warm curry in the fridge?

All perishable food items should be stored in the refrigerator to avoid spillage. If you made curry in large amounts and wish to store it for a couple of days, you should put it in the refrigerator. The reason why you should not put warm curry in the fridge is because it will take a long time to cool down and during this time, it can serve as a breeding ground for pathogens. 

In Australia, the financial impact of foodborne illness was estimated to be $1,249 million per annum. In 2014, 17% of food product recalls in the United States were due to microbial contamination by either Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, or Listeria spp (2).

Studies show that improper cooling of cooked food is the most important contributory factor for frequently identified in outbreaks of staphylococcal food poisoning, salmonellosis, C. perfringens enteritis, Vibrio parahaemolyticus gastroenteritis, and B. cereus gastroenteritis. Foods that have been stored in large/deep containers in refrigerators have been frequently implicated as vehicles in outbreaks of foodborne diseases. This is an extremely high risk operation. Hazard analyses have also shown that this practice is commonplace. The Food and Drug Administration’s Food Service Sanitation Manual stipulates that cooked foods should be cooled from 60°C (140°F) to 7°C (45°F) within 4 h. It’s difficult, however, to achieve such a rapid decrease in temperature unless either very shallow layers of foods are put into cold environments (such as a rapid-chill refrigerator) or some method of rapid cooling (e.g. ice baths or water baths) is used (1).

Especially if you added chicken in your curry, Salmonella can overgrow quickly. Other pathogens can also get time to overgrow. Some pathogens can survive in the refrigerator as well, so once they have overgrown, there’s no stopping them. Cooling products too slowly will hold microorganisms within its optimum growth temperature for an extended period of time. The cooling of products should not be neglected during the food processing, which should be considered a unit operation of production, as any surviving microorganisms can grow or spores rejuvenate when the products are held at its optimum temperature (2).

Moreover, warm food will make your fridge work harder and mess up its temperature (3). If the temperature in the fridge rises due to the warm food, it can also lead to other food items in your fridge to go bad.

The steam from food can also lead to condensation and form liquid droplets or even form ice on the walls of the fridge. Differences in temperature inside appliances result in condensate formation and thus a relatively constant source of water which holds large quantities of cells of pathogenic microorganisms (4).

How to safely store hot curry

Hot food should not be left out for longer than 2 hours. It should be refrigerated within 2 hours. If, due to any reason, you are short on time, you can use the following tips to store your food, according to the USDA.

  • If you made a large portion of curry, split it up and place it in several shallow bowls to allow faster cooling. Small portions also allow even and thorough cooling.
  • Place the curry container in a safe and clean spot for it to cool and to protect it from getting contaminated.
  • If you have any commitments and do not have enough time to let it sit at room temperature for it to cool down, fill your sink with water and ice and place your container(s) in it to allow for even faster cooling.
  • Do not leave the curry out for more than 2 hours.
  • Once the curry has cooled down, cover the container with foil or an airtight cover to ensure no contamination occurs. It also helps to keep odors of different food items in the fridge from getting mixed up.

Different types of curries

Curry is a dish of Thai cuisine. Essentially there are three most popular curries that people like: yellow, green, and red. They differ not only in color, but also some ingredients. Let’s have a look (5):

  • Green curry: The main ingredient in thai green curry are green chillies. Green chillies mixed with fresh coriander give the curry its vibrant green color. The other ingredients that are usually added are lemongrass, vegetables, and sauces. It is one of the most popular curries. Proteins such as beef, chicken, or prawns are also used. 
  • Red curry: The main ingredients in red curry are red chillies or red chili powder. It is distinct because of its spiciness from the red chillies. Alternatively, red chili paste can be used. Paprika and cayenne pepper are also used. It is mostly served with chicken or salmon. Vegetables like peppers, onions, ginger, and garlic are added to enhance the flavor and also to add more color.
  • Yellow curry: Yellow curry gets its color from ground turmeric. Coconut milk is added to give the curry a nice texture. Fish sauce, curry paste, and chili peppers are also used. Chicken usually goes best with thai yellow curry. Other ingredients like ginger and garlic are also added to further enhance the taste.

Other FAQs about Curry that you may be interested in.

What is the difference between curry paste and curry powder?

What is the difference between green and yellow curry?

Is red or green curry better?


In this brief article, we answered the question “Can I put warm curry in the fridge?” and discussed the consequences of putting warm or hot curry in the fridge. We also listed down some tips on how to store hot food and mentioned a few types of most preferred curries.


  1. Bryan, Frank L. Risks of practices, procedures and processes that lead to outbreaks of foodborne diseases. J food protect, 1988, 51, 663-673.
  2. Coorey, Ranil, et al. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Comprehen Rev Food Sci Food Safe, 2018, 17, 827-840.
  3. Geppert, Jasmin, and Rainer Stamminger. Analysis of effecting factors on domestic refrigerators’ energy consumption in use. Energ Convers Manage, 2013, 76, 794-800.
  4. Novak Babič, Monika, Cene Gostinčar, and Nina Gunde-Cimerman. Microorganisms populating the water-related indoor biome. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol, 2020, 104, 6443-6462.
  5. Kanchanakunjara, Taddara, et al. Traditional curry pastes during Sukhothai to Ratthanakosin: The subjective experience of the past and present. Asian Cult Hist, 2015, 7, 175.