Can you freeze a takeaway curry? (safety recommendations)

In this article, we answer the following question: “Can you free a takeaway curry?” and discuss what is the shelf life of frozen takeaway curry, how to freeze takeaway curry, how to defrost and reheat takeaway curry and how to know if takeaway curry has gone bad. 

Can you freeze a takeaway curry?

Yes, you can freeze takeaway curry. Takeaway food can be stored in the freezer or the fridge, similar to any food leftover (1). 

Improved care should be given while handling and storing takeaway food because improper handling can lead to food contamination and consequently foodborne diseases (2). 

Food outbreaks have been reported due to the consumption of takeaway curry related to the pathogenic bacteria Escherichia coli.

How to freeze takeaway curry?

To freeze takeaway curry, you should wait till it cools down to a temperature of about 20 °C (70 °F) and transfer the food leftovers to an airtight container. It is recommended to label the container before placing it in the freezer (1).

A fast cooling process is necessary to reduce the growth of microorganisms or the germination of spores in the food. Cooked foods should be cooled to 20 °C (70 °F) within 4 hours after cooking and further from 20 °C (70 °F) to 4 °C (40 °F) within 2 hours (3).

Good protection from exposure to moisture and oxygen are required during the storage of leftover food to reduce undesirable changes in the sensory properties (3, 4).

How to defrost takeaway curry? 

To defrost takeaway curry, you should remove the frozen dish from the freezer the day before and place it overnight in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can defrost it in the microwave. However, when using the microwave to defrost frozen food, it is necessary to consume or to recook the food immediately.

The reason for this is that during the defrosting in the microwave, part of the food is exposed to a temperature above 4 °C (40 °F), which favours microbial growth. As a consequence, the food may no longer be safe to be stored in the refrigerator (1, 3, 6).

How to reheat takeaway curry?

To reheat takeaway curry, you can use the stovetop, the oven or the microwave. Independent from the reheating method, it is necessary to reach an internal temperature of 165 °F (74 °C) in the reheating process to ensure safe consumption (1, 6).

On the stovetop: place the curry in a cooking pan, set the heat to medium and stir till the temperature reaches 165 °F (74 °C).

In the oven: set the oven temperature to 325 °F (160 °C). Place the curry in an oven-safe dish and cover with an aluminium foil. Reheat till the temperature of the food reaches 165 °F (74 °C).

In the microwave: place the curry in a microwave-safe dish, cover using a microwavable plastic foil or a glass plate and cook at medium-high energy till the temperature reaches 165 °F (74 °C).

What is the shelf life of takeaway curry?

The shelf life of takeaway curry is 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator and 3 to 4 months in the freezer (1, 6). This is an estimated shelf life, as the exact shelf life cannot be determinated.

The shelf life of food during storage depends on many factors, such as the hygienic conditions during cooking, the ingredients used and if food preservatives were used, the cooling rate of the cooked food and the storage temperature (3, 4).

How to know if takeaway curry has gone bad?

To know if takeaway curry has gone bad, you should check the sensory properties of the curry and try to identify any possible signs of spoilage. Some possible indications of spoilage are (3, 4, 5):

Generation of off-odours and off-flavours characterised as rancid, sour, fermented, oxidised, and putrid: negative aspects in the odour and flavour can result due to the action of microorganisms or chemical and enzymatic reactions.

Generation of gas: fermentation of food can be caused by yeasts or bacteria, resulting in gas production, which bloating of the package.

Formation of slime or biofilm on the surface: the presence of a biofilm on the surface of the food or a slimy texture indicates microbial action.

Changes in the texture or discolourations can also be a sign of spoilage and indicate food deterioration.

Other FAQs about Curry that you may be interested in.

Can you reheat the Indian takeaway after 2 days?

What is the Difference Between Jamaican and Indian Curry?

Does Thai Curry Paste Go Bad?


In this article, we answered the following question: “Can you free a takeaway curry?” and discussed how to freeze takeaway curry, how to defrost and reheat takeaway curry, what is the shelf life of takeaway curry and how to know if takeaway curry has gone bad. 

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1.- [cited 2023 Sep 15]. Available from:,temperatures%20above%2090%20%C2%B0F.


Newitt S, MacGregor V, Robbins V, Bayliss L, Chattaway MA, Dallman T, Ready D, Aird H, Puleston R, Hawker J. Two linked enteroinvasive Escherichia coli outbreaks, Nottingham, UK, June 2014. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2016 Jul;22(7):1178.


Coorey R, Ng DS, Jayamanne VS, Buys EM, Munyard S, Mousley CJ, Njage PM, Dykes GA. The impact of cooling rate on the safety of food products as affected by food containers. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety. 2018 Jul;17(4):827-40.


Rawat S. Food Spoilage: Microorganisms and their prevention. Asian journal of plant science and Research. 2015;5(4):47-56.

6.- [cited 2023 Aug 11]. Available from: