How Long a Refrigerator Takes to Get Cold Enough For Food

How Much Do Refrigerators Weigh?

Is your brand new fridge giving you a bit of a warm reception?

Then you’re probably wondering how long it will take your fridge to cool down, and how you can speed up the process. Check out this article to find the answers to these questions and more!

On average, a refrigerator will take 12 hours to fully cool down to the right operating temperature of around 40F. This can vary between 2-24 hours depending on the model and size. However, after 3-5 hours the refrigerator should be cool enough to place food in it.

While it can be a little frustrating waiting for a refrigerator to cool down to temperature, there are a few things we can do to speed up the process.

To make your fridge cool down faster:

  1. Keep it a few inches from the wall
  2. Put ice in the freezer
  3. Don’t open the doors
  4. Keep the kitchen cool
  5. Cool food down before putting it in the fridge

Has your brand new fridge just been delivered to your door? Then you’re no doubt wondering how you can cool it down as quickly as possible so that it’s ready for your groceries. The next section of this article will discuss the best tips for cooling your fridge in more detail. Make sure you take a look!

How Long a Refrigerator Takes to Cool (& How to Make It Faster)

Do you need to cool your brand new fridge asap? Do you have meat or fish waiting to go in the fridge or freezer? If so, then you’re no doubt keen to fast-track your fridge’s cooling. But how long should it take to cool and what will make it cool faster? Take a look below to find out.

Type of RefrigeratorTypical Cooling Time
Minifridge4 hours
Standard Refrigerator3 to 24 hours
Freezer12 to 24 hours

I get it, 24 hours can be a long time to wait for a fridge to cool down. That’s especially the case if you’ve got a tray’s worth of freezer food (not to mention all-important ice cream) that you must chill pronto. So, what can you do to stop your perishable items from going to waste?

You can speed up the chilling process in your new refrigerator. This should stop you from having to eat that tub of melting ice cream in one sitting. Or maybe we’ll do that anyway.

Take a look at the tips for speeding up the chilling process below.

1.   Keep the Fridge a Few Inches From the Wall

Where is your new fridge located?

If one of its sides is pressing against a wall, it will be more difficult for it to keep cool. Keeping your fridge a few inches from a wall will help to disperse some of the heat that your fridge creates. This will also help the air to circulate better behind it.

moving fridge
Make sure your fridge has enough breathing room.

2.   Put Ice in the Freezer

Your fridge will cool faster if it is full of cold food. So, if your freezer is looking a little bare, fill it with some ice trays. Putting ice in the freezer will help the freezer to cool faster. Plus, you’ll have plenty of ice to use the next time a heatwave comes. It’s win-win!

Filling freezer with ice
Fill the freezer with ice to help it cool faster

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3.   Don’t Open the Doors

Are you tempted to open your fridge door every so often just to feel how cool it’s getting? It’s intriguing to see what’s going on behind the closed doors of your new fridge. But you have to resist the urge if you want your fridge to cool down quickly.

Now, you wouldn’t whack your air conditioning on high and then start driving with the windows rolled down. Your car would never cool. The same concept applies to your fridge. If you want it to get cooler faster, keep the door closed as you would do with the windows of your car.

4.   Keep the Kitchen Cool

Is it a humid summer’s day? Hot weather in your home will force your fridge to work harder to maintain its cool temperatures. So, if you’re facing a warm front on the day of your fridge delivery, keep the kitchen cool. Keep the air conditioning on in the kitchen until the fridge has finished cooling down.

5.   Cool Food Down Before Putting It in the Fridge

To make sure that your fridge chills quickly, you should cool everything that goes in it. Are you planning to chill the hot leftovers from dinner? Then make sure they cool off on the countertop before you put them in the fridge.

Tips for Keeping Food Cold Without a Working Fridge

Has a power outage got you worried about the food in your fridge? Or maybe your fridge is on its last legs and isn’t chilling properly anymore. Whatever the case, you’ll need some suggestions that will help to keep your food at a safe temperature. (That’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit according to the FDA).

So what can you do to keep your food cold without a working fridge? Take a look at the tips mentioned below.

1.   Put the Cold Food Together

One way to keep your food cold for as long as possible is to keep it all tightly packed together. This will help to reduce the flow of warm air to it. Try to use some frozen food bags to help keep perishable frozen items chilled. Find items of food such as:

  • Bags of frozen vegetables
  • Bags of frozen french fries
  • Bags of frozen fruit

You can use these items to insulate more delicate food items such as:

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish

Wrap bags of food frozen peas and the like around meat, poultry, and fish. This will help to keep them cooler and safer for longer. After all, a defrosted bag of peas isn’t a big deal. But a half defrosted chicken is dangerous.

2.   Don’t Open the Door

Is your fridge struggling to maintain a cool internal temperature? What can you do to keep your food fresh while you wait for a replacement fridge?

Every time you open the fridge door warm air surges in. It’s like the opposite of what happens when you open the oven door while you’re cooking. If your fridge is faulty, it could take ages for it to cool down again.

So what can you do if your fridge is faulty?

  • Only open the door when you urgently have to.
  • Get everything you need from the fridge as quickly as possible.
Closing fridge door
Minimize the time that your fridge door is open to prevent a slower cooling time

3.   Use Ice

Has your fridge stopped working altogether? Then you may need to take more drastic measures to keep your food cold while you wait for a new fridge to arrive.

One way to do so is to use ice. Here’s how:

  1. You should bundle food together that must be chilled.
  2. Place bags of store-bought ice on top of perishable food.
  3. Keep the fridge door closed. 
  4. Replace the ice when it begins to melt.

What can you do if you have a fridge full of food when it suddenly stops working? Use the steps mentioned above to focus on keeping perishable food safe. Some food that we usually keep in the fridge doesn’t necessarily have to stay cold to stay fresh. This includes:

  • Fruit such as apples, melon, bananas, citrus fruit, and avocados
  • Vegetables such as squash, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and hot peppers
  • Hot sauce
  • Butter
  • Frosting-free cake
  • Bread
  • Pickles

4. Use the Freezer

If your fridge isn’t working properly, you should try to make use of the freezer. If your freezer is smaller than your fridge you’ll have to give priority to your perishable items. Make sure that they get the first spot in the freezer.

If your fridge doesn’t chill as it should, the chances are that the freezer still remains frosty. So, opt for using the freezer until your replacement fridge arrives.


Waiting for a new fridge to cool can seem almost as painstaking as waiting for wet paint to dry. Depending on the model of your fridge, it could take up to 24 hours for it to reach its ideal temperature.

This article has mentioned some ways in which you can help your fridge to cool faster. If this article has helped you, why not check out some of our other free guides and articles? You could even sign up to our email list!

Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more