How hot can you put food in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “ How hot can you put food in the fridge ? ”. We will also discuss the process and procedures of storing hot foods in your fridge, the food safety of the food in your fridge and the ways of taking care of your fridge.

How hot can you put food in the fridge?

Food that is hot can be put in the fridge which is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below within two hours of cooking to properly store for further consumption. The USDA’s food safety guidelines also state that if food not stored in the fridge within two hours is not fit for consumption.

With human civilization moving forward with inventing fire and methods of cooking food, proper storage of food has been an ever-discussed topic. In modern times, the fridge has been an important household appliance to store food, be it hot food or not. 

Storing hot food in the fridge is essential to avoid the growth of bacteria which may cause sickness. Proper ways of cooling and storing hot food need to be implemented to preserve the flavour and hygiene and keep hot food safe from pathogens which might cause foodborne illness.

Though there is no harm in storing hot food in the fridge, one has to keep in mind that the flavour and texture of the food items will change and will not be in their original form.

Is it safe to refrigerate hot foods?

The myth about how hot food can spoil the fridge is totally wrong. Everyone thinks that putting hot food directly in the fridge can increase the ambient temperature of the fridge and disrupt the temperature of other items inside. 

But that is not the case, as new technologies and appliances are available in the market with dual-zone climate control to store different food, the fridges do all the hard work to maintain the coolness of the inside of it. So no issues with storing hot food in the fridge.

The safety and hygiene of the food stored in the fridge depend on how much effort has been put into doing so because if hot food is not stored properly and timely can help pathogens such as Salmonella to grow which causes various gastro related illnesses. 

How long can hot food stay outside the fridge?

The simple rule of thumb is that the food once cooked can only stay outside the fridge for not more than two hours. Hot food left outside with a temperature between 40 F  to 140 F will certainly help grow bacteria and pathogens because they thrive in this environment.

Any hot food left outside for more than two hours should be discarded to avoid any food-borne illnesses. People practising proper food storing methods have no food poisoning issues. 

Rapid cooling of food needs to be done in case of large batches of hot food being prepared at home, for example, big pots of soup, stew or curries.

How to store hot foods hygienically and quickly? 

Your fridge can handle the job of cooling down the hot food inside it but we can help speed up the process with these handy tips.

Cook well

It is really important to prepare your dishes well. The food needs to be cooked properly. For example, the meat’s internal temperature needs to be at par to avoid any bacterial growth during storage.

Cool quickly

It is crucial to rapidly reduce the temperature of the hot food within the two-hour time frame in order to reduce the risk of pathogens’ growth to avoid any sickness. A big batch of soup or stew or curries can be decanted into smaller containers to help them cool faster.

Using an ice bath or cold water in a vessel to place the smaller container can help reduce the temperature rather quickly. Storing hot food in shallow containers can also help in the process. In the case of foods like lasagna or meat dishes, it can be cut into smaller pieces which can speed up the cooling process.

Wrap properly

As important as cooling the hot food, wrapping the containers well is as crucial as it helps preserve the flavours and stops the mixing of smell from other food inside the fridge. It also helps prevent the growth of bacteria. 

The steam from the hot food can cause condensation which can settle in the back wall of your fridge and turn into ice. This will turn any food items touching the wall to freeze. For example, any fresh fruits or vegetables touching the fridge wall will freeze and get spoilt.

One thing to keep in mind is to avoid stacking the containers as spacing is very important for the air to flow around to help cool quicker.

How to help run your fridge efficiently?

Your fridge is capable of doing all the hard work to keep the food safe and pathogen free if stored properly in a safe and hygienic manner. But as the owner, we do have our duty and responsibility to look after the fridge to help it run efficiently. We can follow these steps:

Check for seals that need to be replaced

A regular check of the seals needs to be done to see if they are still air tight. If any broken seals are to be seen, they need to be immediately replaced.

Cover hot food

Any food that is stored in the fridge needs to be covered with a lid or wrapped properly to avoid any condensation.

Defrost the fridge on a regular basis

All fridges have either a manual defrost button or an automatically defrosting mechanism. Regular defrosting of the fridge is necessary.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query,  “How hot can you put food in the fridge?”. We have also discussed the process and procedures of storing hot food in your fridge, the food safety of the food in your fridge and the ways of taking care of your fridge.

I hope you find this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.