my freezer has defrosted can i refreeze food

My freezer has defrosted can I refreeze food?  I remember having to ask my neighbor in college the same question.

Freezers could get defrosted due to numerous reasons, either through a damaged door or damaged gas pipes.

Either way, leaving our food items in the freezers after being defrosted could cause the food to get spoilt. And this could lead to throwing it out.

But then again, it depends on what type of food item and how long it was thawed.

We’ll be looking at all of this in this article, read along!

Most certainly, you can refreeze your food items after getting thawed. However, refreezing thawed food could lead to loss of quality, taste, flavor, and even color.

What Causes Freezer To Defrost?

what cause a freezer to defrost

It is very much unlikely to have a freezer and it doesn’t get defrosted for one reason or the other.

The most likely cause of the freezer getting defrosted is a power failure.

It’s either the cable is faulty or there is a power outage that results in the freezer staying off for days.

Other reasons are listed below.

Reason #1: Freezer Door Left Open

Another common reason could be the mistake of leaving the freezer door slightly or completely open for a long time.

This is a common mistake by users or rather can be a good way if you want to thaw the entire freezer.

Reason #2: Faulty Internals

the faulty internals

Other internal faults, such as a faulty pipe, a faulty decompressor, or faulty wiring could lead to the freezer getting defrosted.

Regardless of the cause, it is best to detect it on time to avoid all your food items getting completely thawed as that can both be unhealthy and unsafe.

And the question arises- how safe is it to refreeze thawed food?  

Tip: If you are traveling for days, having a friend or neighbor check on your house is best to reduce the chances of having your freezer completely defrosted.

Beliefs Behind Refreezing Thawed Food

When it comes to refreezing thawed food and the safety of refreezing, it can be quite tricky for a lot of people.

I once had a friend whose mum always advised us on how best to deal with thawed food.

She told us that once food gets thawed either cooked or uncooked, it has to either be cooked, consumed, or thrown away.

the beliefs behind refreeezing

This and numerous other beliefs when it comes to the topic of refreezing. However, most of these beliefs are not entirely wrong as most are just there to help us.

The process of thawing a food item and then refreezing should be done with caution.

This is because it can pose certain health risks when they are eventually consumed.

Is It Safe To Refreeze Thawed Food?

Food items such as meat (all types), seafood, cooked food, vegetables, and some other uncooked items are prone to bacterial growth.

And this growth is only put to a halt when we freeze them. Therefore, thawing such food items would resume the growth of such bacteria.

And a misconception amongst others is that refreezing kills those bacteria.

Sadly, refreezing doesn’t kill those bacteria.

This bacterial growth is only put to a halt and resumes stronger and builds heat resistance when next you thaw the food.

Therefore, you should cook the food when you first thaw it before refreezing.

My Freezer Has Defrosted Can I Refreeze Food?

can i refreeze food

So what if your freezer defrosts can you refreeze the food? Having your freezer get defrosted can be a pretty scary situation.

This is because now that means you either eat the entire food items or throw them away. But does it really have to be that way?

While it might not be entirely safe, to refreeze thawed food, throwing out your entire food items because of a defrosted freezer can be heartbreaking.

However, you can most definitely refreeze thawed food items but I should warn you, it depends.

A benefit of noticing your freezer getting defrosted is that it saves you some extra time to figure out how to refreeze your food.

It takes hours before your freezer will get completely defrosted and all the ice crystals on your food items melt away.

Bacteria won’t resume growth below 4°C or 40°F, early detection would help.

Also, several food items can be refrozen but might have a loss of quality in taste.

What Food Can Be Refrozen When The Freezer is Defrosted

what food to be refrozen

As said earlier, not all food items can be refrozen after being thawed.

Needless to say, there are food items we can refreeze easily. Let’s have a look at the food items that are best to be refrozen after being thawed.

And we’ll also look at how long they can stay thawed before being considered not suitable for refreezing;

Foods That Can Easily Be Refrozen

The foods listed below can be kept at room temperature (above 40°F) without risk for a couple of days.

Even if the electricity is down for one or two days, these foods are safe to eat;

foods easily refrozen
  • Grains
  • Peanut butter, butter, and Mayanoise
  • Fresh Vegetables and Fruits
  • Bread, cookies, and cakes
  • Cheddar, Swiss, and other hard cheese
  • Nuts and other dry fruits
  • Fruit Juice
  • Ketchup, Mustard, BBQ Sauce.
Note: Foods containing yeast, such as pastries, should be thrown away if mould has begun to grow on them.

Which Should Be Thrown Away?

If kept above 40°F for longer than two hours, some refrigerated foods may not be safe to eat.

The following foods need to be thrown out;

  • Cooked Meals
  • Raw or cooked meat, poultry, seafood
  • Pizzas and pastries containing meat or seafood
  • Soft Cheese and opened yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Vegetables that have spent days before being put in the freezer
  • Stews and soups

However, these food items can be safely restored if there are still ice crystals on them or are detected before they defrost completely.

How To Safely Refreeze Thawed Food

how safely refreeze thawed food

It is important to know how to safely refreeze thawed. This will reduce the amount of damage that could be caused by moisture and bacteria.

Depending on the current nature of the food item, some precautions need to be put in place.

Firstly, it is necessary to determine how long the food has been exposed for thawing.

If the food has been exposed for an hour or two and remains frozen or cold, then you can simply put it back in the freezer.

For Uncooked Meal

But in situations of uncooked meat, fish, pork, or vegetables that have stayed out for more than two hours and have lost the majority of their coolness.

Then in such situations, it is best to cook them or apply some heat to the food item, then put it in a ziplock bag before storing it in a far corner of the freezer.

For Grains

Uncooked grains such as brown rice and other types of grains, can be thawed and refrozen at any time.

for your grains

However, the constant thawing and refreezing of grains will reduce the quality.

It is therefore advisable to consume them after four to five thawing processes.

Tip: Store grains in measured partitions of air-tight jars and zip lock bags for instant consumption.

For Cooked Meals

For all cooked meals, that have been thawed and then wished to be refrozen, it is best to apply some heat to them.

You can do this either by recooking it or by microwaving it.

Then it should be kept in a tight container like a disposable plate and should be consumed within one to two weeks.

Tip: The best way to thaw food is to either microwave it, put it in the refrigerator, or inside cold water.

Read Next: How to Stop a Refrigerator From Tripping a GFCI Outlet?


Therefore if your friend says to you “my freezer has defrosted can I refreeze food? You know exactly what answers to give.

Ultimately, you can refreeze food but as discussed above, it depends on what type of food, and how long the freezer has been defrosted.

You don’t have to discard the entire content of the freezer due to defrosting.

Some food items can be cooked and reheated and refrozen while others can be stored immediately. And then some should be consumed immediately.

And should the food item show signs of spoilage, ensure to discard it to avoid food poisoning.