A freezer guide to Christmas

  • By Caroline Hire - Food writer

Keep on top of festive feasting with our advice on what to freeze and how long different food items will keep. Plus, find freezable recipe ideas including mince pies, roasties and desserts.

Freezable mince pies and pastry in a baking tray

The sheer volume of food served up at Christmas means the margin for waste increases – plus, there's the pressure of making several big meals over the festive period. Whether you want to get ahead by making some dishes in advance or have a pile of leftovers to store, our cookery team has put together a guide on how to freeze your Christmas foods. 

For more on freezing your way through Christmas, see our freezable recipe collection, infographic guide to freezer-friendly feasts and 10 Christmas recipes you can make ahead.

What to freeze

Raw stuffing in a baking tin

Uncooked stuffing

Freeze for: Up to three months

How to wrap: Shape into walnut-sized balls, then freeze on a tray lined with baking parchment. When frozen, transfer to a plastic food bag

How to defrost: Bake from frozen, adding 10 mins to the cooking time. Ensure they are hot through to the centre before serving

Gravy and cranberry sauce in jugs and bowls
Homemade sauces (including cranberry and bread sauces)

Freeze for: Up to three months

How to wrap: Leave to cool completely, transfer to plastic food bags, seal firmly and freeze in a flat layer on a baking tray. Once frozen, remove the tray and stack the frozen sauces in the freezer

How to defrost: Place the frozen bag in a bowl of lukewarm water until defrosted, then reheat until piping hot

Hard herbs laid out and in a jug with water

Fresh herbs 

Freeze for: Up to two months

How to wrap: Finely chop soft herbs and place in ice cube trays, top up with water and freeze. Woody herbs can be frozen whole in plastic food bags. Tie rosemary, bay leaves and parsley stems together to create bouquet garnis

How to defrost: Use from frozen

Egg whites on a set of whisks

Egg whites

Freeze for: Up to six months

How to wrap: Place in plastic food bags and freeze in a flat layer (see homemade sauces, above). Label with the quantity of egg whites

How to defrost: At room temperature

Bottle and glass of milk

Milk (skimmed and semi-skimmed only)

Freeze for: Up to three months

How to wrap: Freeze in the container, but pour off roughly 2.5cm milk first as it will expand in the freezer

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge

Puff pastry in a block covered in flour

Puff and shortcrust pastry

Freeze for: Up to two months

How to wrap: Pat into a flat disc, then wrap tightly in cling film, then foil

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge

Loaf of sourdough bread with buttered slice cut out

Bread

Freeze for: Up to one month

How to wrap: Place in a large plastic food bag or wrap well

How to defrost: Defrost at room temperature. A whole loaf will take about 5 hrs. Rolls, bagels, pitta and baguettes will take about 2 hrs. You can cook baguettes and rolls from frozen if wrapped in foil. Pitta and thinly-sliced bread can also be toasted from frozen

Bowl of raw mini sausages

Raw processed meats (including sausages, bacon and mince)

Freeze for: Up to three months

How to wrap: Freeze in the packaging or transfer to plastic food bags. Freeze bacon in 3-4 rasher packs – perfect for bacon sandwiches

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge
Raw steaks in a paper

Raw whole meat portions

Freeze for: Up to six months 

How to wrap: Wrap individual portions, then transfer to a large food bag

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge

Casserole pot of stew with meat and veg

Cooked stews, vegetables and soups

Freeze for: Up to three months

How to wrap: Freeze in plastic containers or food bags; ensure any chunks of meat are well covered by liquid

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge or place container in lukewarm water until defrosted. Heat until piping hot

Raw king prawns laid out on a board


Raw fish fillets, prawns and scallops

Freeze for: Up to four months 

How to wrap: Wrap individual fish fillets, then transfer to a large food bag. Freeze prawns and scallops (in or out of their shells) in plastic food bags

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge

Pan of cooked mussels covered in parsley

Cooked mussels and crabmeat

Freeze for: Up to two months

How to wrap: Once cooked and cooled, remove meat from shells and freeze in plastic food bags

How to defrost: Overnight in the fridge

Potatoes being mashed in a pan

Mash, gratins or roast potatoes

Freeze for: Up to four months 

How to wrap: Once cooked and cooled, freeze mash in tubs or gratins in freezeproof baking dishes. Freeze roast potatoes on a tray until solid, then tip into plastic food bags

How to defrost: Cook roast potatoes from frozen, but defrost mash and gratins overnight in the fridge

To freeze or not to freeze?

Filo pastry
It can be frozen, but dries out very quickly and becomes harder to work with. YES if you’re scrunching on top of a fish pie (like our filo-topped fish pie). NO if you’re using to make parcels or samosas.

Cream
It can be frozen, but once defrosted, the texture can become grainy. YES if you’re freezing small amounts that can be splashed into a sauce. NO to whole tubs.

Cheese
Although most pack information says YES, we say NO if it’s for a cheeseboard, but YES if it’s for cooking.

What is freezer burn?

Food that has not been covered properly during freezing will dry out and turn white in patches. Freezer burn may affect the quality of the food, but it is still safe to eat.

Good to know

  • The recommendations above are for a three-star rating freezer, which should be kept at -18C. If your freezer is kept at a higher temperature, food will deteriorate faster.
  • It’s important to label frozen foods with the contents and date they were frozen. Sticky labels often come unstuck in the freezer, so pop labels inside the food bag.
  • Never refreeze frozen food (unless it’s been cooked into another dish) – this can encourage bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels.

Bowl of roast potatoes that have been cooked from frozen

Freezable Christmas recipes

Be inspired by our freezer-friendly festive treats. From mince pies to party food, we have lots of ways for you to get ahead. 

Freeze-ahead roast potatoes
From-the-freezer mince pies
Mince pie brownies
Freeze-ahead chestnut parfait
Triple pigs in blankets
Slow cooker gammon
Tuscan sausage stuffing
Freezable sausage rolls
Christmas fruit buns
Slow cooker red cabbage
Sweet potato & goat's cheese tart
All our top freezable Christmas recipes

Sweet potato and goat's cheese tart on a blue wooden background

More advice on freezing food 

How to get ahead at Christmas
Top tips for freezing food
Video guide to freezing fruit and vegetables
Freezable recipes
10 classic Christmas recipes you can make ahead

How do you utilise your freezer at Christmas? Leave a comment below...

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