A bag of frozen chips is an easy side dish for a quick weeknight meal. But if they thaw out on the counter, or you don’t end up using them all, can you refreeze chips? This question is pretty common, so here’s the best advice.
It is absolutely OK to refreeze chips so long as they haven’t reached the point where they’ve thawed completely. There are a couple of caveats and extra steps you should take to get the best results when refreezing your chips. But, the most straightforward answer is that you can usually refreeze chips.
We’ll tell you all you need to know, so you don’t have to guess about the process or if it’s safe to try.
When is it OK to Refreeze Chips?
If you take a bag of frozen chips out of the freezer and set them on the counter for up to an hour, they can go right back into the freezer without any issues. That’s because they’re still mostly frozen.
But, it’s not going to do them any favors, and it might have a negative impact on their texture, as the water inside of them expands and contracts during the freeze and thaw cycle.
As the length of time they sit out increases, it’s more likely that they will thaw, at least partially. Once completely thawed, bacteria can start to grow almost immediately, posing a risk of food-borne illness.
So, use caution if your chips sit out for a while before you refreeze them.
If the bag is still sealed, you should open it and examine the chips for discoloration or other signs of contamination before sticking them back in the freezer. You might want to consider following our guide below for the best results.
When is it Not OK to Refreeze Chips?
When chips have totally thawed, it is risky to refreeze them. If they were out for a long time, it’s possible they began to grow bacteria that could make you sick.
Even if that possibility is remote, especially if they’ve only thawed for a few minutes, it’s not the only reason to avoid refreezing chips.
Chips have a lot of water content. When they thaw, all of their trapped moisture will end up in a puddle. Refreezing the chips without draining away the excess water will make them all stick together in a big block of ice when they refreeze.
This process of freezing and thawing can also ruin the texture of your chips, even after you cook them perfectly according to the directions on the package.
How to Refreeze Chips
When we have to refreeze chips, we always look at them. If we already opened the bag to make some, and we forgot to put the extras away in the freezer, we just open the bag up and take a peek.
If they aren’t too damp and still mostly frozen, we roll the bag up tightly to remove any excess air, and we place them back into the freezer.
If our bag of chips has been left out of the freezer longer, we take additional measures. First, we always remove them from their packaging and place them on a towel to remove excess moisture.
We look for any signs that they are too far gone to refreeze, like spots of discoloration or any sort of foul odor. If they’re so soggy that they have lost all of their crispness and are mushy to the touch, we give up and throw them away.
If there is a hint of a rotten smell, they go right in the trash.
If they’re still in decent shape, we dry them thoroughly and place them inside a plastic freezer bag. If it seems like there is still a lot of ambient moisture, we add a paper towel to soak up any water that collects before everything freezes again.
Then, we force all the extra air out of the bag, seal it tightly, and label it with the date. Finally, it can go in the freezer. We will try to use the refrozen chips in the next few days.
That’s why we add the date of storage to the label on the bag. If they end up sitting for more than a week or so, we usually just toss them out.
Some questions about chips and refreezing them come up all the time.
What happens to chips when you refreeze them?
When chips are refrozen, any of the water that has melted will refreeze. When water freezes, it expands, so the freezing process can cause changes in the texture of the chips.
What else might happen if I refreeze chips?
If most of the water has melted and made a big puddle in the bag, it can turn the whole thing into a frozen block of ice when it refreezes, making it very difficult to cook properly when you go to use them.
How long can refrozen chips last?
Refrozen chips can last quite a while in the freezer. But, their quality isn’t going to be the same as a new, fresh bag.
Plus, once a bag has been opened, it’s more likely your chips will start to develop freezer burn if they’re left frozen for too long.
Is refreezing food dangerous?
If your food isn’t handled properly, it can be very dangerous. Food-borne illnesses affect 48 million people annually. A few thousand people lose their lives due to complications from bacteria, parasites, and viruses they are exposed to by the food they eat.
So, you need to be very careful and always err on the side of caution.
Can you refreeze cooked chips?
Once you cook chips, it’s not a good idea to freeze them. Instead, consider wrapping them up and saving them in the refrigerator. Then they’re ready for use as a quick snack, or you can chop them up and use them on a sandwich or in an omelet.
The key thing to remember is that you can freeze chips if you use common sense. If you left a bag of frozen chips out on the counter for a week, you should throw them out.
The risks of food-borne illness are too high. On the other hand, if they were only left out for a few minutes, you can refreeze them without any issue.