Can you freeze old bread?

This article is about storing a whole loaf or individual bread slices in the freezer and how you can thaw it back. In this article you will understand what happens when bread is frozen.

Can you freeze old bread?

Yes, you can freeze old bread in a freezer for an extended time. 

Bread is a short-shelf-life product, so its freshness is quickly reduced due to physicochemical changes such as loss of moisture (staling and hardness) and volatile aroma compounds and microbiological changes. The main purpose of freezing is to extend the shelf life of bread (3).

What is the shelf life of frozen bread?

Freezing the bread can increase its shelf life for more than 12 weeks. Commercial breads can be stored for about 6 months. But frozen bread can lose its flavor and increase in hardness after four weeks. 

Homemade bread, because they don’t contain preservatives, has a shorter shelf life, of 3 months (4).

What is the shelf life of frozen old bread?

The shelf life of frozen old bread depends on how old the bread was prior to freezing. In general, the shelf life of fresh commercial bread is 14 to 18 days at room temperature and the shelf life of fresh homemade bread is 3 to 5 days (7). 

If the bread is frozen as soon as it is bought or baked, its shelf life will be extended to the maximum, as expected. However, if the bread is frozen at the end of its at-room-temperature shelf life, the frozen storage is reduced.

This is because the staling process and microbial growth were already initiated in the bread and the bread is no longer fresh, rather it is an old bread. As a result, even if frozen, the bread has already lost its original quality, which will not be returned through freezing. 

What happens when you freeze bread?

When you freeze bread, you are able to extend its shelf life. Although freezing and frozen storage cannot completely destroy all microorganisms in foods, freezing prevents their growth (6). 

In addition, freezing can significantly decrease harmful processes in food, a variety of physical and chemical changes, which lead to the loss of quality. As a consequence, freezing is one of the most effective methods to extend the shelf life of foods.

Freezing cannot improve the quality of bread. There is a decrease in the rate in which the texture changes, although they will still occur. According to studies, one month of storage of bread at room temperature equals over three months in frozen conditions, in terms of texture changes. 

However, with increasing freezing storage time, an increase in firmness is observed. At long frozen storage durations, frozen water is more susceptible to melting due to temperature fluctuations than at short freezing storage durations, causing water redistribution and the formation of large ice crystals (3).

How to Freeze bread?

  • Prepare the bread: You can freeze a whole loaf, but It is better to slice the bread to be stored easily in plastic wraps or bags. When freezing bread slice, make sure to flash freeze them before wrapping
  • Wrap the Bread: Wrap bread thoroughly in plastic or another wrap available
  • Remove moisture: When wrapping bread, make sure there is no surface moisture on the bread
  • Placing it in the freezer: Place the wrapped bread in the freezer; label the storing date to avoid freezing it past shelf-life

What should you be aware of when freezing bread?

  • Make it moisture free: If you are freezing bread, make sure it is free of water. You can do this by touching it and getting rid of any surface moisture or wet bread slice
  • Cooled down completely: If you are freezing home-made bread, make sure it is cooled down thoroughly after the baking. You can do this by giving the bread a resting time after baking
  • Cut or Slice the bread: If you are freezing the whole loaf, you have to use it daily. You can freeze each slice in separate wraps to quickly thaw them when needed

Other FAQs about Bread which you may be interested in.

How to freeze french bread?

Does flatbread have yeast in it?

Can you freeze bread dough?

You can also freeze bread dough as a whole loaf or remaining dough after required usage. You can do it only after the first rise; make sure to line the container with plastic wrap to avoid sticky bread dough. 

Knead the bread before freezing and give it shape again. The longer dough pieces are stored under retarded conditions, the poorer the final product quality will be. As a general rule the storage period for frozen dough seldom exceeds 3 days mainly because of quality losses associated with dehydration of the dough (5).

Lower freezing temperatures are preferred, because the faster the dough freezes, the best are the results. During the freezing process, the yeast can still ferment and produce gas and during storage, enzymes still work. 

For example, alpha-amylase breaks down the damaged starch to produce soluble carbohydrates and dextrins, some of which caramelize during baking to give the product a darker crust color which may be undesirable. 

The rate of moisture loss with increasing storage time is greater at higher storage temperatures Therefore, lower temperatures during storage are also better (5).  

How to Thaw Bread?

Thawing of frozen bread is done by placing it in the refrigerator for some time before using it. The slices frozen individually can be thawed in a toaster, but they might take more time than unfrozen cuts. It almost takes 15 minutes more for a frozen piece to be toasted (2).


You can freeze old bread and reheat it to use it again. In this article you could understand what happens when bread is frozen and how freezing affects the quality or texture of bread.


  1. Eglite, Aija, and Daiga Kunkulberga. Bread choice and consumption trends. Baltic Conference on Food Science and Technology FOODBALT “Food for consumer well-being”. Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies. 2017.
  2. Beech, Linda K. Freezing baked goods. Kansas State University.
  3. Gerardo-Rodríguez, Jesus Enrique, et al. Effect of part-baking time, freezing rate and storage time on part-baked bread quality. Food Sci Technol, 2021, 41, 352-359.  
  4. FSIS Food Keeper Data. United States Department of Agriculture.
  5. Cauvain, Stanley P., Linda S. Young, and Stanley P. Cauvain. Dough retarding and freezing. Technology of breadmaking. 2007.
  6. Evans, Judith A., ed. Frozen food science and technology. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.  
  7. FSIS’ FoodKeeper. US Department of Agriculture