How to Freeze Soup

Avoid the heartache of freezer burn and mushy leftovers by learning how to freeze soup.

Soup is the ultimate make-ahead meal. Because most homemade soups can be stored in the freezer for at least three months, it’s a great dish to make on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy for weeks to come. However, learning how to freeze soup isn’t as simple as tossing your chicken noodle in the icebox.

Here are a few tricks to freezing soup that ensure it’ll taste delicious after it’s thawed.

How to Freeze Soup

Step 1: Pick a small portion size

Freezing soup in one- or two-person portions helps the soup freeze faster. It’s the perfect size for a make-ahead lunch or dinner, too.

Step 2: Choose the right container

  • If you don’t like to wait for soup to thaw: Try the round, reusable kind like freezer-safe Twist ‘n Loc containers from ZiplocWhen you’re ready to eat, run cold water over the outside of the container to loosen. The soup will pop right out into a stockpot or Instant Pot for easy reheating. You can also try Souper Cubes, which are like ice cube trays but for soup servings.
  • If you want to maximize freezer space: Ladle cooled soup into freezer-safe quart- or gallon-sized plastic bags. Freeze flat and stack once the soup is fully frozen. (This is one of our favorite freezer organization tips!)

Step 3: Cool the soup

You’ve been simmering that amazing slow cooker soup for hours; don’t let your hard work go to waste! Let your soup cool to room temperature before transferring to a freezer container. Then, stick it in the fridge to bring the temp down (to somewhere below 40°F) before freezing. This is a universal tip to remember when freezing food.

It may seem fussy, but if you toss hot soup into the freezer, it will develop large ice crystals and freeze unevenly. (Which means mushy soup when it thaws!) Cooling soup also protects the contents of your freezer. You don’t want hot soup to thaw out all the other food.

Step 4: Avoid freezer burn

While freezer-burned food is safe to eat, it might not taste that great. Luckily, preventing freezer burn is easy. The ice crystals responsible for the burn are caused by exposure to air, so the best prevention is to keep the air out.

This becomes tricky when freezing soup, as liquid expands when frozen. It’s important not to overfill or underfill the container: When storing soup, leave about 1/2 inch of headroom.

If you’re particularly concerned about freezer burn, cover the surface of the liquid with plastic wrap, smooth the plastic so that it makes contact over the surface of the food, then put the lid on the container. Using freezer-safe airtight containers helps too.

Step 5: Label the soup

Before placing soup in the freezer, label the outside of the container with the name of the recipe, date and reheating instructions. For example: white chili; January 9; Reheat on stovetop and top with shredded cheese. This will help you remember what the food is, how long it’s good for and if there are any extra steps to finish up the recipe.

Pro tip: Our Test Kitchen use Post-it Extreme Notes to label food containers. They stay sticky over long periods of time and are water-resistant.

Best Soups to Freeze

Just like some foods freeze better than others, some soup recipes are better suited for preserving. Broth-based soups tend to freeze better than creamy soups. Most brothy soups filled with chopped vegetables and diced or shredded meat freeze well. Our Test Kitchen finds this slow-cooked chicken enchilada soup to be a freezer-favorite as well as this brothy steak soup.

Freezer-Friendly Soups
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Soups to Avoid Freezing

Soups with starches

Certain starches tend to soak up all the liquid when frozen and become soggy when reheated. That’s why we avoid freezing soups that contain pasta, rice and cubed potatoes.

That being said, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Pureed potatoes, like the kind found in this sweet potato soup recipe, end up just fine. And interestingly enough, barley keeps its texture and shape when frozen, so consider making one of these comforting barley soup recipes if you’re looking for a filling soup. Otherwise, hold the pasta, rice or potatoes and add them back in once the soup has thawed.

Dairy-based soups

Avoid freezing most dairy-based soups, as the soup tastes grainy once reheated. But if you’d really like to freeze dairy-heavy leftovers like chowder, there are a few tricks to help the soup taste as creamy as day one:

  • Avoid boiling the soup before freezing and as you reheat.
  • Try whisking a little heavy cream or sour cream into the soup as you reheat.
  • Gradually add a cornstarch slurry to the reheated soup. Two parts cold liquid with one part cornstarch will do.

The best way to avoid the odd texture? Like our advice for starches, hold the dairy. If the recipe calls for toppings like cheese or cream, exclude that ingredient. Simply add it back in when you’re reheating the thawed soup.

How long can soup last in the freezer?

For best quality, soups last about three months in the freezer, though certain vegetable-based broth soups can be safely frozen for six months or more. Read up on our complete guide to how long leftovers last.

If you don’t want to push your luck, follow the classic advice: when in doubt, throw it out. If leftovers smell or look funky, toss them.

How to Reheat Frozen Soup

For the quickest cook time, thaw your soup overnight in the fridge. That way, when you get home from work, it’s as easy as bringing the soup to a slow simmer on the stovetop. Stir regularly so that nothing sticks to the bottom as it reheats.

You can also pop your frozen soup cube right into a stockpot and let it melt over low heat. This can take quite a bit of time for larger portions of soup, but it’s a good way to defrost and reheat individual portions.

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially when she can highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.