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Chest freezers are handy appliances for storing extra frozen goods without taking up extra space in your refrigerator freezer. Chest freezers tend to be less expensive than upright freezers and more energy efficient. Due to their simple box design, it's also easier to store more oddly shaped items (like a turkey) in them.
There are many models available and picking one can seem like a chore. There are a lot of aspects to consider in your decision. Not all chest freezers can handle extreme external temperatures, like those found in an uninsulated garage in the middle of the summer. There are also different built-in organizational systems so all your smaller frozen goods have a chance to resurface before the dreaded freezer burn sets in.
Most importantly, you’ll want to choose a chest freezer that's the right size for your cold storage needs. Devan Cameron chef and recipe developer of Braised & Deglazed says that, when choosing a chest freezer, "capacity is the most important," with energy efficiency also serving as a major deciding factor.
With plenty of space for storing bulk food, plus baskets for organizing items, the Frigidaire FFFC15M4TW 14.8 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer comes in at the top of our list.
From an all-around great pick to a portable freezer that can double as a fridge, here are the best chest freezers worth buying.
Best Overall: Frigidaire FFFC15M4TW 14.8 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer in White
Dimensions (LxWxH): 55.75 x 29.6 x 32.5 inches | Capacity: 14.8 cubic feet | Control Type: Manual | Defrost Type: Manual
Frigidaire 14.8-cubic-foot model features all the main components you should expect from a top-notch chest freezer. It has a temperature range of minus 10 to 10 degrees and offers a roomy capacity perfect for storing plenty of bulk food for a large household. The chest freezer also features optional casters that allow you to conveniently move your freezer to wherever you need it.
Chest freezer gets a bad rep for lack of organization options. However, this one features SpaceWise sliding plastic baskets that make it easy to organize items and see that you have in stock before your next shopping trip. Other key features include a power-on indicator light, a safety lock, bright LED lighting, and external temperature controls. Like most chest freezers, they will need to be manually defrosted if there is ice buildup. Thanks to the freezer's defrost water drain feature, removing water during defrosting is convenient and easy.
It's backed by a 1-year warranty should anything go wrong. This Frigidaire is perfect for garages, basements, or any larger space where you can store plenty of bulk frozen foods.
Best Budget: Danby DCFM110B1WDB 11.0 cu. ft. Chest Freezer in White
Dimensions (LxWxH): 44.1 x 27.6 x 33.25 inches | Capacity: 11 cubic feet | Control Type: Digital | Defrost Type: Manual
This affordable chest freezer offers plenty of space to stock up on all your frozen food essentials. It cools down quickly with a temperature range of minus 9.4 degrees to 8.8 degrees. It is also virtually silent when it runs, making it a great option to place in storage rooms near living spaces or garages.
The chest freezer features an easily accessible mechanical thermostat, and the drain is also mounted on the front for fast and simple manual defrosting maintenance. It has a rust-resistant interior liner constructed with aluminum that makes it easy to keep clean and function properly. As for sustainability, it uses an environmentally friendly refrigerant and has a foam-insulated lid and cabinet for better energy efficiency.
It only has one adjustable wire basket, which may make organizing difficult. However, Danby's 11 cubic feet capacity freezer is perfect for a large family that needs a no-frills option that gets the job done.
Best Compact: Northair 3.5-Cubic-Foot Chest Freezer
Dimensions (LxWxH): 21.8 x 21.2 x 30.9 inches | Capacity: 3.5 cubic feet | Control Type: Manual | Defrost Type: Manual
This Northair chest freezer combines a modern, compact design with a whisper-quiet compressor that produces minimal noise pollution and is almost undetectable at 38 decibels. The freezer is compact enough to fit small spaces while still holding a good amount of food in its 3.5 cubic feet of interior space.
The compact freezer features an adjustable thermostat for its temperature range of minus 4 degrees to 6.8 degrees. When it's time to defrost, the drain is located on the front of the freezer for easy access. This mini chest freezer doesn't skimp out on storage solutions either. It comes equipped with two wire baskets store small items at the top of the freezer for easy access. The top lid holds itself open between 45 and 90 degrees to allow for effortless access to food. The Northair Chest Freezer is perfect for apartments or other small homes where space is limited.
Related: The Best Refrigerators
Best for Garages: GE FCM11PHWW Garage Ready 10.6 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer
Dimensions (LxWxH): 50.75 x 27.5 x 33.25 inches | Capacity: 10.6 cubic feet | Control Type: Manual | Defrost Type: Manual
Garages are the perfect spot to store a large chest freezer. They typically have plenty of space, and you don't have to worry about taking up valuable real estate in your kitchen. GE's large-capacity chest freezer can be safely used in temperatures from 0 to 110 degrees, so they are perfect for uninsulated garages. "I’ve owned many General Electric appliances before and trust the quality of the brand," says Cameron, who views this model as the best chest freezer available. "I also think the size of this freezer is sufficient for most people, and it’s also relatively energy efficient."
This Energy-Star-qualified freezer features three lift-out, sliding bulk storage baskets that make it easier to organize and store favorite foods for quick, easy access. Other notable features include easy-to-reach up-front temperature controls, recessed handles for a seamless appearance, and a lock and key to protect valuable food items. It does have a larger temperature range than some other freezers, going from minus 10 degrees to 15 degrees. This GE is perfect for large families that like to buy in bulk or hunters who need extra storage to store their game.
Related: The Best Mini Fridges
Best Energy-Efficient: GE FCM7SKWW Garage Ready 7.0 Cubic Feet Chest Freezer
Dimensions (LxWxH): 37.25 x 21.75 x 33.5 inches | Capacity: 7 cubic feet | Control Type: Manual | Defrost Type: Manual
GE Garage Ready series is one of the most energy-efficient chest freezers on the market and offers plenty of storage room to suit medium to large families.
The 7-cubic-foot version is about a third smaller than the full-size version, but it still offers plenty of storage. Although it's smaller, it still has the same features: lift-out, sliding bulk storage baskets, easy-to-reach up-front temperature controls, recessed handles, and a lock and key. However, what makes this freezer stand out is its Energy Star rating of about $30 per year. That's pretty impressive considering the appliance's ability to operate in a temperature range of 0 to 110 degrees.
Its smaller footprint means it's easy enough to tuck it into a corner of a garage or bring it indoors without taking up much space. It's also a very affordable option that doesn't cost much to operate.
Related: The Best Coolers
Best Portable: Whynter FM-85G Portable Freezer
Dimensions (LxWxH): 28.1 x 18.25 x 23.5 inches | Capacity: 2.83 cubic feet | Control Type: Digital | Defrost Type: Manual
For deep-freezing needs on the go, Whynter's portable chest freezer works with a standard household 110-volt outlet or a 12-volt power source, like an automotive lighter socket. This appliance has a temperature range of minus 6 degrees to 50 degrees, which means you can use it as a refrigerator or a freezer—whatever you need it to be when away from home.
Whether on a day trip or a major expedition, keep your food and beverages chilled or frozen with this portable freezer. It holds up to 85 quarts of food and features two removable wire baskets so you can keep the contents organized. The freezer features a rugged and solid outer casing with side handles and runs quietly at less than 46 decibels. The Whynter portable chest freezer is perfect for RVs, boats, camping, fishing trips, or anywhere you need to freezer on the go.
Related: The Best Ice Packs for Coolers
Best Large: Frigidaire FFFC20M4TW 19.8 Cu. Ft. Chest Freezer in White
Dimensions (LxWxH): 73.7 x 29.5 x 31.75 inches | Capacity: 19.8 cubic feet | Control Type: Manual | Defrost Type: Manual
This Frigidaire chest freezer features a whopping 19.8 cubic feet of storage capacity for those who need tons of freezer storage. This is the "large" version, and there is also a 24.8-cubic-foot "extra-large” option.
Just because it's large doesn't mean organizing your frozen goods will be a chore. The freezer features SpaceWise plastic baskets with color-coordinated clips that make it easy to manage items. Use them to organize items by categories or purchase date so items are much easier to find and won't get lost in the bottom. The chest freezer also has an external dial temperature control, and bright lighting makes it easy to see what's inside. It comes with a temperature range of minus 15 to 10 degrees.
Like other Frigidaire models, it features optional casters that allow you to conveniently move your freezer wherever you need it. This is perfect for large families, businesses or anyone who needs a lot of freezer storage space for bulk food.
Related: The Best Side-by-Side Refrigerators
Between the interior baskets to help you organize your frozen goods to the ability to handle most climates, the Frigidaire 14.8-Cubic-Foot Chest Freezer (view at Home Depot) is the best bet when looking for chest freezers. For a chest freezer that is compact enough to be integrated into your kitchen, the Northair 3.5-Cubic-Foot Chest Freezer (view at Amazon) won't disappoint.
What to Look for in a Chest Freezer
Chest Freezer vs. Upright Freezer
Chest freezers offer several advantages compared to upright freezers. For one thing, they tend to be less expensive, both in terms of their original purchase price and because they’re more energy-efficient than upright freezers. Also, if you need to freeze an item that’s too large or unusually shaped to fit easily in a conventional freezer (like a turkey or game from a hunting trip), a chest freezer will provide you with open space unobstructed by shelves or brackets.
Upright freezers, on the other hand, take up less space than chest freezers, which partially accounts for why they’re a far more common choice for indoor freezers. Also, upright freezers can be designed to coordinate with your other kitchen appliances, making them a more seamless aesthetic choice. With their shelves, compartments, and other organizational features, upright freezers are easier to pack and arrange than chest freezers, and they offer more visibility.
Like upright freezers, chest freezers need to be defrosted and cleaned periodically. However, while many upright freezers automatically defrost, you’ll need to manually defrost your chest freezer. This process should happen once or twice a year. It involves unpacking the freezer, unplugging it, waiting for the ice to melt away, using a gentle cleaning solution (mild detergent, water, baking soda, and vinegar are all popular ingredients) and a sponge to clean out any stains or spills, letting the freezer dry, then plugging it back in and replacing the food items once it returns to a freezing temperature.
Are chest freezers colder than regular freezers?
In terms of pure temperature, chest freezers don’t necessarily get colder than their upright counterparts. However, while an upright freezer might maintain different temperatures in different sections of the appliance (for instance, items stored in the door might not get as cold as items kept in the back), a chest freezer stays temperature-consistent regardless of an item’s location in the freezer. Also, because air doesn’t circulate as frequently in a chest freezer as it does in an upright freezer, items in a chest freezer are less prone to freezer burn.
How should you organize a chest freezer?
While the openness of a chest freezer can sometimes be an asset (in the case of large cuts of meat or tall and wide items like cakes), it’s also very easy to lose track of smaller items in these cavernous appliances. For that reason, small plastic bins and baskets can prove highly useful, especially if you use your chest freezer on a regular basis. Use these containers to group your smaller items into categories that make sense to you, and if you choose to stack the containers, keep the bins that hold your frequently used items toward the top.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Debbie Wolfe is a freelance writer and online shopping expert who spends hours researching and comparing home appliances, so you don't have to. She loves buying food in bulk and has owned multiple chest freezers in her lifetime.
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