cooked fish and souce in skillet

Is Storing Food In Pots And Pans In Refrigerator A Good Idea?

Many people often wonder what to do regarding storing food in pots and pans in the refrigerator. Some feel that it is harmless while others are cautious about it.

Most of us are usually full and tired after cooking and eating. Therefore, we don’t want to do additional work of transferring leftover food to containers for storage. Putting the pots and pans the food was cooked in in the refrigerator seems like the easiest way.

Others reason that covering the food with the pot’s lid will keep it safe, similar to using food containers. However, it is not as simple as that.

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Should you store food in cookware in the refrigerator?

Yes, you can store food in pans and pots in the refrigerator because it is generally considered safe. The cookware (if not scratched or damaged) normally will not react with the food and will not leach any material into the food.

But should you do it? It is certainly better to store food in storage containers because of the potential undesirable effects associated with storing food in cookware.



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Possible Negative Effects of Storing Food in Cookware in Fridge

Here are some of the negative effects of putting your pots and pans in the refrigerator.

Related reading: Can You Store Soup In Pot In Fridge?

It can cause health issues

You might argue that you’ve covered the pot or pan with a lid before putting it in the fridge. However, that does not completely seal the pot. Therefore, bacteria and odors from the surroundings can get into the food and contaminate it.

Cookware manufacturer Calphalon supports this. That is why they advise their clients against using metal cookware (including non-stick ones) to keep food. According to them, even the best cookware sets are designed for cooking, NOT storage.

If you use aluminum or copper pots and pans, they can leach chemicals into your food in some situations. This is particularly true if you store acidic food while it is still hot. It is only cookware coated with enamel that does not leach.

The foods that take absorb the highest amounts of aluminum are leafy vegetables and foods rich in acids. An excellent example is tomatoes.

Related Reading: Best Hard Anodized Cookware Review & Buying Guide

You can ruin your pots and pans

The Clemson University Food Safety released a report which cautioned against storing food in cookware in the refrigerator. The manufacturers of cookware say that you should not leave salty or acidic food in your stainless steel cookware for an extended amount of time.

The undissolved salt exposes the cookware to pitting if you do this.

Manufacturers of kitchenware recommend the use of glass and ceramic containers for storing food.

It can make food go bad quicker

Research shows that food stored in metal pans in the refrigerator goes bad faster than those kept in other containers. The food can only stay fresh for a couple of days. Therefore, you might end up throwing your food away if you store it in cookware in the fridge.

The warm cookware can also increase the internal temperature of your fridge and also make food stored inside go bad. Consumer fridges are not built to chill warm food quickly.

Related Reading: Rachael Ray Cookware Reviews

It can change the taste of food

One of the complaints that people have about using aluminum pots and pans to store food in the refrigerator is that the food develops a different taste. This is especially for foods such as cabbage, rhubarb, and tomatoes.

After storing it in aluminum cookware, you might not enjoy your food so much.

Your soup or stew can spoil if left in large pot

If you put a large pot of warm stew or soup in the fridge, the middle of the pot will keep warm for hours. That can lead to food rotting and spoiling.

That is why for larger pots containing delicate ingredients such as shrimp bisque, it may be best to portion out the soup before refrigerating to ensure that it cools evenly and does not spoil in the middle. For small pots of soup, placing them directly in the fridge for quick chilling is safe.

You can break the fridge’s glass shelf

The glass shelf of your refrigerator may not be designed to withstand the weight of cookware with food, especially if the cookware is hot. Put a hot pad or large cutting board under your pan to distribute the weight evenly.

Can you put a hot pan or pot in the fridge?

No, you should not put a hot pan or pot in the fridge. Doing so can cause the hot cookware to warm up the fridge and other items stored inside, resulting in bacteria growth and food spoilage. Your refrigerator will have to work hard to cool it down, resulting in higher energy consumption.

Additionally, the sudden temperature change can cause warping or cracking of the pan or pot. The hot pan or pot can also damage the fridge shelf and other food containers.

Related Reading: Wolfgang Puck Cookware Review

What to do instead of putting a hot pot in the refrigerator?

Always cool down the cookware to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

If you need to cool the food quickly, you should place the pan or pot inside an ice bath or a larger container filled with cold water or ice cubes. If you have a large pot with hot soup or stew, you can put in the pot a clean bottle with cold water to cool the contents of the pot.

If the pan is still above toom temperature, put a towel or trivet between it and the fridge shelf.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get botulism from storing food in a metal pan in the fridge?

No, you can not get it. Using cookware for food storage does not cause botulism. A bacteria Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum) does.

Can you put a crockpot in the fridge?

Yes, you can put a crock-pot with a cooked meal in the fridge. Allow the slow cooker to cool down to room temperature beforehand. It is still advisable to transfer the food to airtight containers as soon as possible to make sure it preserves the taste.

Do pots damage the fridge?

Yes, pots and pans can damage the fridge if you do not let them cool down to room temperature before putting them in the refridgerator.

Can you store food in the aluminum pan in the fridge?

Yes, you can store your food in aluminum cookware in the refrigerator, which is generally considered safe. But you should keep in mind that aluminum can react with foods that are acidic or high in salt. Aluminum can also affect the taste of your food. I suggest using glass, plastic, or stainless steel containers for these types of foods.

Related Reading: How To Dispose of Old Pots and Pans


Many people do not give much thought to the issue of food storage, yet it is essential. Some people argue that the food is safe, provided it is in the refrigerator.

However, the storage item you use to keep the food in the fridge also matters, as we’ve established.

You should not put food in your cookware and store it in the refrigerator. This can be harmful to you and your family in the long run. The metals can get into the food and cause health complications, the food can be contaminated by bacteria, and it will also go bad quickly.

The best way to preserve your food is to put it in airtight containers, preferably made from glass or ceramic. Then, store the containers in the fridge.


  1. The Pioneer women cookware is made aluminum ceramic cookware
    Is it safe to put it in fridge to store it tonight and heat back up in it tomorrow?

    1. The ceramic coating still contains chemicals that can leak into the food. I would be more comfortable using a glass or ceramic container. On the other hand, storing the food in the cookware once will not do a lot of harm. But then it can easily turn into a habit.

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