What temperature should a restaurant freezer be set to?

What Temperature Should a Restaurant Freezer Be Set To?

Posted by | 10-11-2021

One of the biggest mistakes restaurants make regarding food storage is assuming their fridge or freezer is good to go. Although they are designed to keep food cold or frozen, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are cooling at the right temperatures. Different foods have different needs. Different fridges are set and run differently, which can mean your fridge or freezer temperature is far from ideal. Here we look at the proper temperatures for your restaurant freezer to keep perishables safe.

Why Temperature is Important

Cold temperatures slow bacteria growth, allowing foods to last longer. Different bacteria thrive in different temperatures, and the same can be said for different types of food and drink. Your goal is to protect your customers, as well as your investment in your inventory, so that you serve fresh food while ensuring your perishables last as expected. Fridges slow bacterial growth while freezers stop it altogether.

Average Temperatures

You’ll find the average temperatures for restaurant fridges varies between 36F and 45F. Anything below 36 is at risk of freezing, while a temperature above 45 puts food at risk for bacteria and spoilage. Restaurant freezer temperatures are much lower, ranging from 5F to -20F.

General Guidelines for Cold Storage

Generally, your restaurant freezers and fridges should be set within the following temperature ranges:

  • Reach-In Refrigerators: 35F to 38F
  • Walk-In Refrigerators: 35F to 38F
  • Reach-In Freezers: 5F to -10F
  • Walk-In Freezers: 0F to -10F
  • Ice Cream Freezers: -10F to -20F

As you can see, there is a certain temperature needed for ice cream. Foods that need to be stored below 35F may have special requirements for a forced defrost cycle.

New Restaurant Freezers and Fridges

Another consideration for your restaurant freezers and fridges is that when you buy a new refrigeration unit, you need to allow the temperatures to stabilize. So don’t plug it in and begin to stock it right away. Instead, you need to adjust the temperature and allow it to sit for a day before checking if the temperature has reached the proper level.

Keep in mind that the larger the fridge or freezer, the longer it will take to reach optimum levels. For example, if you store ice cream right after plugging your new unit in, it will melt long before the freezer drops below freezing. Make sure no one opens the fridge or freezer during this time, as this will interfere with stabilizing the temperatures.

Temperature Reads

The more often your fridge or freezer is accessed, the more often the temperature has an opportunity to rise. This can make it difficult to maintain optimum temperatures but also provides incorrect reads of the thermostat. Since they tend to be located near the fridge door, they might read higher than the core inner temperature of the cabinet. Therefore make sure you don’t take a temperature reading right after someone has opened the doors. Wait about 10 minutes for the temperature to readjust, so you get a more accurate read. Another option is to use a secondary thermometer near the evaporator coil.

Reduce Access

To help maintain optimum temperatures, introduce a policy that limits staff access to the fridge or freezer. When staff are constantly and unnecessarily opening the doors in a kitchen, you will experience less than optimum temperatures. Also, make sure your door seals are working, and your doors close automatically, so there is less risk of the door being left open even slightly.


Last but not least, you might consider using a fridge or freezer alarm that warns you when the door is open or to signal a dangerous temperature rise. This is important for foods that are at risk of spoilage or where improper temperatures impact the quality of the food.

As you can see, although commercial freezers and fridges are designed to keep foods cold, they require constant attention to ensure optimum temperatures are maintained.

Consider a refurbished commercial freezer or fridge for improved efficiency, aesthetics and dependability at a fraction of the cost of a new unit.

If you want to know more about what temperature to set your freezer, call Ancaster Foods at (855) 888-9644 or contact us here.

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