How long can you freeze meatballs?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you freeze meatballs?”, and how to freeze and thaw meatballs?

How long can you freeze meatballs?

Cooked meatballs will keep safe indefinitely if kept at a steady temperature of 0°F. However, they are best used within 3-4 months of freezing for peak quality. Raw metaballs are best consumed within 1-2 months of freezing. 

How to freeze meatballs? 

Freezing raw meatballs

Forming the balls 

Roll the meat into balls, not too big, not too small. Too big balls will clump and freeze into a bigger meat lump, which will be difficult to work with. The size of a ping pong ball is a very accurate measure.

Spread the meatballs on a baking tray 

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil, or grease it with a cooking spray or butter. Do both if you like. 

Spread the meatballs onto the tray in a single layer such that the balls are at a distance of 1 inch from each other.


Slide the tray into the freezer and pre-freeze the meatballs. Meatballs can easily get squished during freezing. So lookout for any accidents of this sort. On average, meatballs will take about 5 hours to fully freeze.

Transfer to an air-tight container 

Toss the frozen meatballs into an air-tight container. Make sure the lid of the container has a tight seal.

Safely thaw the meatballs

Leave the meatballs at room temperature for 2-4 hours or until fully defrosted. Add the thawed meatballs in the stew for boiling or steam-cook them in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. Frying on the stove or baking in the oven are also great options.

Freezing cooked meatballs 

Cook the meatballs as per the recipe card. Add some extra grease while cooking for taste and quality retention after thawing. Make sure the meatballs are brown and slightly crispy from the outside.

Let the meatballs cool completely

It will take at least 7-10 minutes for the meatballs to cool completely. It is important to let the steam escape so it does not get trapped inside the container during freezing. 

This also enhances the freezing efficiency. Coover the meatball with a napkin while it cools. 

Label and freeze 

Put the cooked and cooled meatballs into an air-tight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. Put a clear label on whatever freezing medium you choose. 

This will let you know how long the meatballs have been frozen. It also helps you practice stock rotation and lets you distinguish between the frozen products, which can be hard sometimes.

Reheat the meatballs safely 

The prior cooking step eliminates the need for thawing. You can directly pop the frozen and cooked meatballs into the oven, slow cooker, or in the skillet. 

Tips for freezing meatballs

  1. Cooked and frozen meatballs are easier to work with in terms of cooking and defrosting as compared to their raw and frozen counterparts which need at least 2 hours to thaw fully.
  1. Frozen meatballs can be served along with spaghetti, in a sub, topped on pizza, grilled on skewers, baked into a casserole, or simply served with homemade BBQ sauce.
  1. Frozen meatballs only require to be heated for 2 hours at high in the crockpot with sauce. This is the best quick-fix dinner option.

How to thaw frozen meatballs?

In the fridge 

This is the recommended method for thawing meat or any meat-related food product. But you got to be patient about this. 

It is best if you plan your meal and pop the meatballs in the fridge and let them thaw overnight.

Under cold running water 

This method is handy if you do not have much time. This method will let you thaw the meatballs in under an hour. 

All you have to do is to hold the freezer bag under cold running water. However, this method is not very energy-efficient. But you can fix that. Simply fill a bowl with cold water. 

Dip the freezer bag containing the meatballs inside the bowl. Change the water when it becomes too cold.

Crockpot or stove

Toss the frozen meatball in the gravy or sauce and let them cook. You can use both the crockpot or stovetop methods for this purpose. 

It will take about 2-6 hours to defrost and cook the meatballs to perfect tenderness if you use this method.


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you freeze meatballs?”, and how to freeze and thaw meatballs?


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.