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Is it safe to freeze soup in plastic containers?

Quick Answers

Freezing soup in plastic containers can be safe if done properly. Some key points:

  • Use plastic containers specifically made for freezing. Look for HDPE or PP plastic.
  • Avoid containers not meant for freezing – they can crack or leach chemicals.
  • Leave headspace in containers for expansion during freezing.
  • Allow soup to cool fully before freezing.
  • Freeze for 3-6 months maximum for best quality.
  • Thaw in refrigerator before reheating.

Choosing the Right Plastic Containers

Not all plastic containers are well-suited for freezing soup. It’s important to choose containers specifically designed for freezing and cold storage. Here are some guidelines:

  • Look for plastic containers labeled as “freezer safe.” These are designed to withstand freezing temperatures without cracking or becoming brittle.
  • High density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics are good choices. Look for these resin codes on the bottom of containers.
  • Avoid containers made from polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polystyrene (PS). These tend to crack more easily when frozen.
  • Steer clear of plastic containers not intended for food use. Chemicals could leach into the soup.
  • Rigid plastic containers are better than flexible plastic bags, which are more prone to cracking.

Sturdy, freezer-safe plastic containers provide insulation to help keep frozen soups cold. Their rigid sides also prevent soups from getting freezer burn. Reusable containers are economical and environmentally-friendly options.

Allowing Headspace for Expansion

Liquid expands as it freezes, so it’s important not to fill plastic containers to the brim. Leave some headspace for soup to expand without cracking the container.

  • For rigid containers, leave at least 1 inch of headspace.
  • For zip-top freezer bags, leave 3/4 inch headspace.
  • Lay bags flat in the freezer to prevent seam splits.

If containers are overfilled, you run the risk of lid displacement, distorted container shape, and soup overflowing once frozen. Allowing headspace prevents pressure buildup from damaging containers.

Cooling Soup Fully Before Freezing

Hot soup should be cooled to room temperature before freezing in plastic containers. Freezing soup hot can create unsafe temperature fluctuations that nurture bacteria.

Here are some tips for cooling soup properly:

  • Let soup sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes until warm.
  • Transfer to shallow containers to quicken cooling time.
  • Place containers in an ice bath, stirring occasionally.
  • Once cooled, immediately refrigerate or freeze.
  • Avoid putting piping hot soup straight into the freezer.

Rushing the cooling process can also lead to potential food safety issues. Patience is key – cool soup gradually to preserve quality and prevent bacterial growth.

Freezing Timelines for Best Quality

For optimal flavor and texture, frozen soups should be consumed within these timelines:

  • Vegetable and chicken soups: 3 months
  • Hearty bean and meat soups: 4-6 months
  • Cream-based soups: 1-2 months

The higher fat content in creamy soups means they don’t freeze as well. Leaner broth-based soups maintain quality for longer when frozen.

Freezing for longer periods isn’t unsafe, but can lead to diminished flavor, color, and texture. Set reminder alerts to use up frozen soups within the recommended windows.

Thawing Safely

Always thaw frozen soups in the refrigerator, never at room temperature or in hot water. Slow thawing in the fridge helps prevent bacterial growth.

Here are some thawing guidelines:

  • For quickest thawing, transfer frozen soup to a shallow container.
  • Allow 24 hours for thawing in the refrigerator.
  • For faster thawing, you can place the bag or container in a bowl of cold water.
  • Change the water every 30 mins to keep it cold.
  • Reheat gently on the stovetop or microwave just until hot.

Rapid thawing can create an environment where bacteria multiples quickly. Take your time and keep temperatures cold for food safety.

Reheating Properly

When reheating thawed frozen soups, proper technique is important to restore flavor and ensure food safety:

  • Bring soup to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir regularly to distribute heat evenly.
  • For microwave reheating, heat soup on 50% power until steaming.
  • Avoid reheating more than once – reheat only the portion size needed.
  • Discard any soup left sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Vigorous boiling helps preserve taste and quality. This helps evaporate off-flavors and restore viscosity. Only reheat the amount you plan to eat right away.

Choosing Containers for Freezing Different Soups

The best plastic container for freezing depends on the type of soup:

Soup Type Best Container
Broths Rigid plastic containers or freezer bags
Hearty soups with meat and veggies Rigid plastic containers
Cream-based soups Rigid plastic containers
Smooth pureed soups Freezer bags

Rigid plastic is best for soups with ingredients that could puncture a freezer bag. Freezer bags work well for pureed and liquid soups.

Freezer Bag tips

Freezer bags provide lightweight, compact storage for soups. Follow these tips for success:

  • Choose durable freezer bags designed for long-term storage.
  • Remove as much air as possible before sealing.
  • Use small bags to freeze soup in portion sizes for grabbing and reheating.
  • Label bags clearly with soup name and freeze date.
  • Place bags flat in a single layer to freeze solidly.

Heavy-duty freezer bags are less prone to ripping or freezer burn. Flatten bags to maximize freezer shelf space.

Rigid Container Tips

For soups with hearty chunks or cream, rigid plastic freezer containers are ideal. Follow these guidelines:

  • Choose BPA-free containers made of HDPE or PP plastic.
  • Opt for attachable lids with airtight seals.
  • Divide soup into portion sizes so you can thaw only what’s needed.
  • Make sure lids and containers are completely dry before stacking.
  • Stack containers with rigid sides together to prevent collapse.

Sturdy, stackable containers maintain soup integrity in the freezer. Keep lids on tight to prevent freezer burn or ice crystals.

Freezing Soup in Ice Cube Trays

For super convenient portion control, try freezing soup in ice cube trays:

  • Use silicone or stainless steel trays designed for food use.
  • Fill cubes 3/4 full to leave room for expansion.
  • Cover tray tightly with plastic wrap or foil.
  • Once frozen, transfer cubes to a freezer bag.
  • Grab a few cubes at a time to thaw and reheat.

Ice cube trays create ready-to-use portions. Just pop out a few cubes for fast soup on busy nights.

Freezing Leftover Soup

Got leftover soup after dinner? Here are some freezing tips:

  • Let soup cool at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
  • Transfer to shallow containers and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  • Divide cooled soup into portion sizes in bags or containers.
  • Lay bags flat or stack containers with room for air flow.
  • Freeze for up to 3-6 months depending on the recipe.
  • Label bags or containers with name and date.

Freezing leftovers in individual portions lets you reheat one serving at a time.

Freezer Meal Prep Tips

To streamline healthy eating, do freezer meal prep with soups:

  • Pick one day to cook a few soup recipes in bulk.
  • Let cool completely before portioning out into bags or containers
  • Include ingredients lists so you know what’s inside.
  • Stack together bags or containers of the same soup.
  • Pull out bags or containers as needed on busy nights.

Freezing a variety of pre-made soups saves time later. Keep a stash ready to just reheat and eat.


Freezing soup in plastic containers is safe when done properly. Use rigid plastic containers or bags designed specifically for the freezer. Allow headspace for expansion, fully cool soups before freezing, and defrost in the refrigerator. With the right strategies, you can enjoy delicious homemade soup even on your busiest nights. Proper freezing preserves soup quality and flavor.