The 6 Best Chest Freezers to Store Extra Frozen Food
If your freezer doesn't seem too small, you may be using it wrong. Frozen foods are weeknight meal workhorses, ideal for preserving seasonal produce and pulling meals together quickly. Unlike upright freezers, like the kind you likely have attached to your fridge, a chest freezer opens from the top. In general, a chest freezer offers more usable space and saves more energy than an upright freezer. This type also maintains its temperature better even when open, as cold air sinks to the bottom of the unit.
Vincent Finazzo, owner of Riverwards Produce, a specialty grocer with two locations in Philadelphia, advocates for chest freezers as a tool for eating seasonally without giving up variety. In fact, he relies on freezing for much of his cooking throughout the year. Whether you're batch cooking lasagna, soup, or grains, or processing produce at its freshest, a chest freezer can make mealtime easier for you, too. Factors to consider in shopping for this appliance include size, storage, and upkeep, says Finazzo, whose expertise guided our research. We named the Midea Chest Freezer our top choice, but you will also find the best chest freezers for garages, transporting, energy efficiency, and more here.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Midea Chest Freezer
Best for Garages: GE Energy Star Garage Ready Chest Freezer
Best Small for Garages: Danby Chest Freezer
Best Portable: Whynter 85-Quart Portable Fridge and Freezer
Best Small Capacity: Avanti Chest Freezer
Best Large Capacity: Frigidaire Chest Freezer
A chest freezer gives you flexibility in food storage, whether you want to put away seasonal produce for use later in the year, reduce trips to the grocery store, or batch cook foods for a family. If you have the space, even a small chest freezer can give you significantly increased food storage, and there are options at every price point.
Factors to Consider
Because they are designed to be opened from the top, chest freezers have a large footprint than a typical refrigerator. When selecting what size you need, think about what you'll be using your freezer for and where you plan to put it. Keep in mind that inside capacity will likely be larger than your regular freezer, so you may need less space than you think.
If you're a hunter and plan to freeze what you kill, you might need a slightly larger freezer. If you're more interested in freezing components of meals or whole ingredients, less space may be just fine for your purposes.
"You don't really want to jam a chest freezer into a corner or up against a wall," explains Finazzo. "You want some breathing room, especially where the intake is where the compressor lives."
Chest freezers are often relegated to a corner of the basement or garage, but it's important to consider what the temperature range of the freezer's location will be. Garages, for example, can get extremely hot, and not every freezer is equipped to keep up with that temperature. If you plan to put your freezer in an area that gets warm, make sure to buy a unit that is garage-ready, which means it can handle warmer temperatures.
It's easy for a chest freezer to become a bit of a dumping ground, full of unlabeled bags and containers. Finazzo recommends labeling everything you put in the freezer and using the included baskets to keep things manageable.
"Try to avoid putting anything warm in your chest freezer," Finazzo says. "If, say, you're making soup and you want to freeze it, you're better off putting it into your refrigerator for a couple of hours, then transferring it to the freezer." Placing warm things into a freezer creates condensation and changed the temperature of the surrounding foods, which can impact quality.
For room temperature items like blueberries, Finazzo recommends placing them on a tray and creating as much airflow around them as possible. Once they're frozen solid, pack them into a bag or container and store them. This is better for the freezer and avoids creating a solid block of blueberries or other items that are all stuck together.
Pretty much all chest freezers need to be regularly defrosted (think like once a year) to prevent the build-up of ice inside the unit. All chest freezers require that you do this manually by unplugging the unit, opening the door, and letting the ice melt. Some units offer spouts at their base to drain off the water, while others are on wheels, making them easier to move around. Finazzo also recommends checking the compressor every year or so to make sure it's clear of dust, pet hair, and other debris that can block the flow of air.
Maddy Sweitzer-Lammé is a professional home cook, restaurant reporter, and food writer based in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Eater, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and more.