What is a Plate Freezer? A Quick Overview of Industrial Freezing Technology

July 9, 2023
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What Is a Plate Freezer?

A plate freezer is a unique type of freezer that is used in commercial and food service environments. It features modern freezing technology that allows you to rapidly freeze various food products. In a plate freezer, food items are placed between metal plates and then rapidly cooled to a specific temperature.

This method offers several benefits, including the ability to freeze both packaged and raw foods, as well as the capability to efficiently freeze large quantities of products quickly.

As a user of plate freezers, you can effectively freeze a wide range of foods such as pastries, fish fillets, beef patties, and irregular-shaped vegetables, like asparagus, cauliflower, spinach, and broccoli.

They are suitable for various industries, especially those requiring high-quality freezing solutions with limited space requirements.

Using a plate freezer ensures that your food products maintain quality and freshness, meeting the increasing demands of consumers.

Furthermore, these freezers are designed with stainless steel panels, making them easy to clean and maintain, and their compact design makes installation and relocation rather simple.

Design and Components

In a plate freezer, you will find several essential components that work together to ensure efficient freezing of your products. Let's explore the key design aspects and components that make up a plate freezer.

Metal Plates

Metal plates are the primary components responsible for transferring cold temperatures to your food products. These plates are designed to press firmly against the items to ensure even and fast freezing.

Food is frozen between plates in a horizontal plate freezer

The result is a high-quality frozen product with maintained texture and nutritional value. You can find plate freezers suitable for various types of products, such as packaged and raw food, fish fillets, and even irregular-shaped vegetables.


The refrigerant is a vital component in the freezing process. It flows through a vapor compression cycle to maintain cold temperatures in the metal plates of the plate freezer.

Typical refrigerants used in plate freezers include ammonia, carbon dioxide, and hydrofluorocarbons. Using a proper refrigerant ensures that your products are frozen at the right temperature and speed.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is often used as the primary material for constructing plate freezers. This material is corrosion-resistant and provides a hygienic environment for your products to be stored in, reducing the risk of contamination.

Additionally, stainless steel ensures that your plate freezer has a long service life, making it a cost-effective solution. You will frequently find stainless steel components in plate freezers designed for automation, as it is a durable and reliable material.

Working Principle of Plate Freezers

Heat Transfer

Plate freezers work by circulating refrigerant within thin channels inside the plates. You press your packaged product firmly between the plates. This allows high rates of heat transfer, ensuring efficient freezing of brick-shaped products.

Fast Freezing

Your food is placed between metal plates and cooled to a specific temperature. Plate freezers have many benefits. They freeze raw and packaged foods alike, and can freeze large amounts quickly, preserving quality.

Depending on your needs, plate freezers can be horizontal, forming shelves, or vertical, forming bins.

Keep in mind that the initial surface temperature pull-down minimizes moisture and quality loss, providing low operating costs and better results.

Benefits of Plate Freezers


One key benefit of plate freezers is their ability to preserve food. They freeze food quickly, helping to retain texture, taste, and nutritional value. By using plate freezers, you can ensure that your food maintains its quality and freshness for a longer period. Rapid plate freezing is crucial in preserving product quality.

Easy to Install and Maintain

Plate freezers are designed for simple installation and relocation, making them a convenient choice. This user-friendly feature saves you time and effort when setting up your freezing system.

Furthermore, these freezers are built with easy maintenance in mind. Plate freezers are designed for easy cleaning, which is beneficial to cut maintenance costs in the food industry.

Efficient Storage

Another major advantage of using plate freezers is their efficient storage capacity. Due to their ergonomic design and size variations, they can help improve your freezing capacity, making the most out of your available space.

This efficiency extends to energy consumption as well. Plate freezers have low energy costs, contributing to overall cost savings for your business.

Types of Plate Freezers

In this section, we'll discuss two main types of plate freezers: Contact Plate Freezers and Tray Style Plate Freezers.

Contact Plate Freezer

A contact plate freezer consists of metal plates which freeze your food quickly. The plates are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum.

The food is pressed firmly between these cooled plates, making it an ideal option for freezing flat items like fish fillets, patties or pastries, and brick-shaped vegetable packs including cauliflower, spinach or broccoli.

Tray Style Plate Freezer

In a tray style plate freezer, food products are placed in trays for the freezing process. There are two subtypes of tray style plate freezers:

  • Horizontal Plate Freezer
  • Vertical Plate Freezer

Horizontal plate freezers freeze food in blocks, making it easy to stack and store frozen portions.

On the other hand, a vertical plate freezer works similarly but with a vertical orientation. Both designs serve the same function with minor differences in terms of space and operation.

Keep in mind that plate freezers work best for products that can fit into freezing frames and trays, and they are designed to meet limited space requirements.

Application in Food Industry

Plate freezers play a vital role in various applications within the food industry. This section offers insights into the use of plate freezers in freezing fish fillets, beef patties, vegetables, and pastries.

Ice Cream

A Cold Plate Freezer is a horizontal freezer that can be used with ice cream. You can spread the ice cream out on the plate and mix in various toppings with spatulas to an even constistency and serve. The plate works similarly to the granite “cold stone” block that is used at Cold Stone Creamery where staff fulfills ice cream orders.


You can also find plate freezers on a commercial fishing vessel below decks to assist with food processing of fish (and shellfish). The freezing plate allows for the freezing of food to preserve freshness, prevent the formation of ice crystals (which can lead to freezer burn), and to kill parasites. In the United States, sushi must be frozen prior to consumption. It is then kept in cold storage for extended freezing time - up to 7 days.

You can utilize plate freezers to freeze fish fillets efficiently. By pressing the fillets between metal plates and cooling them swiftly, you preserve their quality and freshness for an extended period. This method also ensures quick freezing and optimal use of storage space.

Sushi Must be Frozen Prior to Consumption

Beef Patties

Plate freezers are also ideal for freezing beef patties. The process involves pressing the patties between cooled metal plates, which allows them to maintain their shape and quality. This rapid freezing technique helps prevent the loss of nutrients and flavor.


When freezing irregularly shaped vegetables like cauliflower, spinach, and broccoli, plate freezers come in handy. The vegetables are placed between cooled metal plates, which firmly press them into a uniform shape, making them easy to store and transport. This method ensures optimum preservation of nutrients and taste.


Plate freezers can also be used to effectively freeze pastries. By sandwiching pastries between cooled metal plates, you can ensure their quality, taste, and freshness are retained for longer periods.

Additionally, this freezing method minimizes the risk of damage to delicate pastries during storage and transportation.

Installation and Cleaning

Before installing your plate freezer, ensure you have allocated enough space and a suitable location to accommodate it. Plate freezers are compact and designed for easy installation and mobility, simplifying the setup process.

You can follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper installation. Generally, it involves positioning the freezer on a leveled surface and connecting it to a power source. Remember to keep it far from any heat source.

Cleaning your plate freezer is crucial to maintain proper hygiene and extend its lifespan. Plate freezers have stainless steel panels and are built with easy-to-clean materials.

It is essential to clean them regularly to ensure proper functioning and avoid contamination of your stored products.

You can follow these cleaning steps:

  • Unplug the freezer and remove any stored items.
  • Use a gentle solution of water and mild detergent to wipe down the surface.
  • Pay attention to the panels, joints, and corners, as these areas can accumulate dirt.
  • When finished, dry all surfaces thoroughly to avoid rust or damage to the freezer.
  • Always maintain cleanliness to ensure the safe and efficient operation of your plate freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we will address some common questions about plate freezers. We hope this information helps you to better understand this technology.

What is the difference between a plate freezer and a blast freezer?

A plate freezer uses metal plates to firmly press and freeze your products. This method helps to maintain the uniform temperature, allowing for quick and efficient freezing of packed or raw food items.

On the other hand, a blast freezer uses cold air circulation to rapidly decrease the temperature. They are suitable for freezing large quantities of food, but plate freezers offer more uniform cooling.

In his Cold Room Q&A Livestream, Dan Foss explains the difference between plate freezers and blast freezers

What are the disadvantages of plate freezers?

Despite their benefits, plate freezers come with some potential drawbacks. For instance, they may struggle to accommodate irregularly shaped products, making them less flexible than other freezing methods.

Additionally, given that their effectiveness relies on direct plate-to-product contact, improperly wrapped or sealed items may result in reduced freezing efficiency.

What are the different types of plate freezers?

There are various types of plate freezers to suit your needs, including:

  • Horizontal plate freezers: Used for freezing large quantities of flat products. They can handle multiple layers at once, making them ideal for mass production.
  • Vertical plate freezers: These freezers work well for irregularly shaped items that come in brick-shaped containers, like vegetables.
  • Double-acting plate freezers: These advanced models provide exceptionally even temperature distribution, increasing their freezing efficiency and product quality.

Take your time to evaluate the various choices and select the best plate freezer that caters to your requirements.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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