38 degrees is the optimal temperature for a refrigerator

“What is the optimal temperature for a refrigerator?” The best place I can think to get the answer is Sears. I would consider Sears to be the ultimate source on refrigerators. Where do you go to buy a fridge? Sears.

To answer this question Sears Canada says, “To keep food at its freshest, the optimum temperature for the inside of a refrigerator is 38 to 40 degrees F.”

At first I was gonna say 39 degrees is the best, because that’s the average of 38 and 40. But a couple other sources recommend it a bit lower. That’s why I’m sticking with 38 instead of 39 degrees.

“The refrigerator’s fresh food compartment should be 34 – 40 degrees F with an optimum temperature of 37 degrees F.”

Mid-America Parts

Mid-America Parts sounds really official. 37 sounds good, but 38 will save some electricity. Besides, the temperature at the bottom of the fridge will typically be lower, so might as well measure it at the high point and go on the higher end of the range. And let the stuff on the bottom sit more towards the bottom of the range. Man, I sound like an expert!

“The optimum temperature is approximately between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit”


I don’t trust a website with the name buzzle.

“Ideal Temperature: Refrigerator, 32 to 40 degrees”

Real Simple.

Uh, Real Simple. Did you give us a broad enough range there? Thanks.

“The optimal temperature is considered 35-38√جø¬ΩF.”


Another one with a low estimate. Let’s go with the 38.

“The preferred temperature is somewhere between 35 and 38 degrees F.”


“The optimum temperature for your refrigerator is 38-49 degrees Fahrenheit.”


Now i’m all for being frugal and saving electricity, but of course the FRUGAL website would say to jack your fridge up to 49. Hey guys, the fridge isn’t a sauna!

This research started as a project on my 43 things to figure out exactly how cold my fridge is, and what I should set the number dial at.

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15 years ago

I found another site that lists 35 – 38 degrees – PartSelect.com

Tom Saaristo
15 years ago

I have a Sub Zero refrigerator on my wish list and they say the optimum temperature for your refrigerator is “40 degrees or below” and freezer freezer temperature should be 0 degrees.

Tom Saaristo
15 years ago

My thoughts exactly!

Lisa Schryver
Lisa Schryver
15 years ago

I’m a little concerned about your use of a meat thermometer to measure the temperature in your fridge (or at least I’m assuming that’s your fridge in the pic.) I don’t think a meat thermometer would give you an accurate reading, but they do make pretty inexpensive fridge thermometers that you can buy at places like Bed Bath and Beyond… What do you think, Tom? You’re the foodie.

Leigh Hanlon
15 years ago

I remember watching “The Newlywed Game” many years ago. One of the questions was, “Ladies, what is the temperature in your refrigerator?” Then, they brought the husbands out to compare answers. One husband replied, “Oh, about 35 degrees.” And then his bride held up the card with her answer: THREE DEGREES The guy exploded. “Three degrees? THREE DEGREES!!! All our food would be frozen solid!” “Well,” she responded, “we set the dial to 3, don’t we?”

15 years ago

when in doubt, stick with a prime number. 37 or 39.

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