whole cow

How Large of Freezer for ⅛, ¼ or ½ of a Whole Beef (Whole Cow)

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There are many reasons you might need a ⅛, ¼, ½ of a cow, or a whole cow, in your freezer at home, whether you found a great deal on beef, whether you are hosting a large event, or you want to stock up on the meat.

Whatever the reason, you would definitely need to make sure that you have enough space to store the beef properly in your freezer, allowing it to last for longer and not go to waste.

How large of a freezer do you need for ⅛, ¼, ½, or whole beef?

You will need 3 to 5 cubic feet of space for ⅛ of a cow, 5 to 7 cubic feet of space for ¼ of a cow, 8 to 10 cubic feet of space for ½ a cow, and 18 to 20 cubic feet of space for a whole cow. Clearly, this would need to be empty, free space, to accommodate all of the beef.

Read on to find out more about the space you would need for different amounts of beef, so you can be prepared to bring home and store any beef that you purchase.

The Right Freezer Space for Beef

If you are needing to purchase a freezer to store beef in at home, then we would recommend buying the largest freezer that you can afford, and which will fit into the space you have available. 

Choosing a large freezer means you can store more beef, and you aren’t limited too much by the space you have available. How large the freezer needs to be also depends on what you are purchasing beef for, whether for family consumption or to sell on as a butcher.

No matter the reason, it for sure helps to know the freezer size and space you would need to store the beef, so take a look at the below table for this and more information:

Beef SizeBeef WeightFreezer Size (cubic feet)Freezer Size (liters)
⅛ of a cow553 to 5100 to 140
¼ of a cow160 to 2005 to 7140 to 200
½ of a cow2208 to 10227 to 290
Whole cow44018 to 20510 to 570

This table clearly shows the amount of space you need for different amounts of beef, but it is a good idea to get a freezer slightly larger than what you need, in case you restock on beef before the portion you already have runs out.

What Type of Freezer Is Best for Beef?

Not only do you have to consider the amount of freezer space needed to store parts of a cow, but you should also put some thought into the type of freezer too.

There are two main freezer options to choose from, chest freezers and upright freezers. These both work well to keep food frozen and fresh, but they do have different designs which ultimately affect their use.

A chest freezer sits horizontally on the floor and often doesn’t have too many racks, if it has any at all. As the name suggests, it opens up like a chest. This means that there is a large cavity or space available to fill with meat to freeze.

chest freezer

Chest freezers have very good insulation, which means that the meat or food kept in the freezer stays frozen. It is probably the better option for bulk meat purchases, as they have a large enough space to store meat, and you are not restricted to using shelves and racks.

The issue with chest freezers is that they are fairly large, and do take up quite a bit of floor space.

The other option is an upright freezer or standing freezer. These take up less floor space, but they come with multiple racks and partitions inside, which can make it difficult to store large cuts of beef. You would likely have to cut the beef down into smaller pieces before storing it in a standing freezer.

upright freezer

For bulk purchases, chest freezers are better, as long as you have the floor space for one.

How Long Can Beef Be Kept in the Freezer?

When purchasing beef in bulk, such as purchasing ¼, ½, or a whole cow, you would want to make sure that you use it in time, so that it does not lose too much of its quality when stored in the freezer. To do this, you would need to know how long beef can be frozen for.

The recommendation is that beef can be kept in the freezer for up to 12 months. After this period of time, the beef will still be safe to eat, but it will begin to decline in quality, and not have the best taste or texture.

So, when storing beef in the freezer, make sure that you use it within a year for the best quality.

How Do You Store Beef in the Freezer?

Not only do you have to keep a check on how long beef can be stored in the freezer, but you need to ensure that you package and protect it properly for freezing.

It can be tricky trying to freeze a large cut of beef, such as ⅛ of a cow, but there are some ways to do so. The easiest option is to cut the meat into smaller sections first, which can then be easily packaged for freezing.

These are some of the best ways to prepare beef for freezing:

Vacuum Seal

If you are able to vacuum seal the beef, then it is definitely something you should do. This offers the beef the best protection and also helps to save some space in the freezer too.

Plastic Wrap

You can wrap up the beef pieces in plastic wrap, ensuring it is wrapped properly and tight, before placing it into the freezer. You might want to layer this with aluminum foil for added protection.

Aluminum Foil

As mentioned above, aluminum foil can be used to protect meat in the freezer, but it is best when doubled up with plastic wrap for the best protection possible.

Plastic Freezer Bags

Plastic freezer bags are an easy solution for freezing meat, as you can pop the meat into the right size freezer bag, remove as much air as possible, and then seal it tight.

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Tips for Freezing Beef

Purchasing ⅛, ¼, ½, or a whole cow takes some work when getting it into the freezer, let alone finding a freezer to fit all of the beef.

Here are some tips on freezing beef:

  • Cut the beef into smaller portions, so that it is easier to fit into the freezer, especially if you are limited to using an upright freezer.
  • Try to keep similar cuts of meat together, such as offal, bone-in meat, and boneless cuts. This helps you better identify the cuts in the freezer.
  • Make sure that the beef is properly packaged and protected, otherwise, there is a risk that it might develop freezer burn, which could ultimately ruin the taste and texture of the meat.
  • Label the freezer packaging with the name of the cut, as well as the date of freezing. Not only does this make identifying the cuts easier, but it ensures you get to use the beef before it reaches a year in the freezer.
  • Avoid using plastic freezer containers to store meat in the freezer, as these take up quite a bit of space, which would only limit you further.

How Large of a Freezer for ⅛, ¼, ½, or a Whole Cow?

It is so important to know how much space you need when purchasing ⅛, ¼, ½, or a whole cow, as you don’t want to be stuck at home with a full freezer, while still having more beef to pack away.


A good guide to follow is that ⅛ of a cow needs 3 to 5 cubic feet of space, ¼ of a cow needs 5 to 7 cubic feet of space, ½ a cow needs 8 to 10 cubic feet of space, and a whole cow needs 18 to 20 cubic feet of space.

A chest freezer is the best option for this, as it offers the most open space to store large amounts of meat, but these also take up quite a bit of floor space, so you would need to work out the best option for you!


Read through the above to find the right freezer size for the amount of beef you are buying, as well as some handy tips on freezing beef at home!

Related Questions

What Size Chest Freezer is Good for a Family of 4?

Depending on how much you freeze, a 10 to 16-cubic-foot freezer is good for a family of 4.

How Much Meat is ¼ of a Cow?

Roughly, ¼ of a cow would be between 100 to 130 pounds of meat, with a slight variance depending on the cuts and the size of the cow.

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