Secrets Of The Aldi Frozen Aisle You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

Aldi is known for a lot of things. The grocery chain with German roots operates more than 2,200 stores across the United States, garnering a cult following that sometimes rivals that of Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. Aldi boasts low prices, copycat products that are (oftentimes) just as good as the real deal, a large gluten-free selection, a great produce section, and more. Aldi employees are known for their efficiency, and its regulars know that you've got to bring a quarter to the store if you expect to use a shopping cart.

While you may think you know your local Aldi inside and out, there are probably still a few secrets lurking around every aisle — starting with the frozen foods aisle. Sure, this section of the store is pretty small. Despite that, however, the Aldi frozen aisle is packed with some pretty tasty food as well as some interesting tidbits of information. Here's everything you need to know about the Aldi frozen aisle, both the good and the bad.

Aldi's frozen pastas once contained horse meat

Want a good grocery store scandal? Just tell consumers that the beef in their favorite frozen pasta isn't actually beef ... it's horse meat. That's exactly what happened to Aldi in 2013, when it was discovered that one of its suppliers was using horse meat in place of beef in Aldi's Today's Special frozen beef lasagne and Today's Special frozen spaghetti bolognese being sold in stores in Europe. The supplier in question, Comigel, based in France, was replacing the beef with horse meat in varying quantities; some foods were found to contain 30% horse meat and 70% beef, and some foods were found to contain 100% horse meat, according to testing.

The problem didn't just affect Aldi, though. Comigel produced several different brands of frozen foods that contained horse meat that same year. Comigel further passed the blame to its suppliers, though, who were supposedly sourcing the horse meat from Romania. While eating horse meat on its own isn't dangerous (and, in fact, some consider it healthier than beef), the scandal did raise concerns about the horse meat containing veterinary drugs that could pose a health risk to humans.

Aldi's freezer aisle is filled with surprisingly unhealthy options

Yes, there are plenty of healthy foods that you can pick up at Aldi — but there are also some really unhealthy frozen foods at Aldi that you probably shouldn't buy if you're watching your fat, sodium, or carb intake, and, unfortunately, some of these frozen foods are masked as healthy ones. Take, for example, the Whole & Simple Turkey Sausage & Spinach Omelet Breakfast Bites. They look pretty wholesome. With 13 grams of protein per serving, they sound like a pretty safe way for you to start your day with some veggies and eggs. However, a closer look shows that these omelet breakfast bites contain 360 milligrams of sodium for just two mini pies. That's more than 10% of your recommended daily sodium intake.

Even frozen items that you know are best enjoyed in moderation might shock you with their contents. One slice of the Belmont Cheesecake, for example, contains 100% of your recommended daily amount of added sugar for the day as well as more than half your recommended saturated fat intake for the day.

You might be able to spot when your favorite freezer items are going away

If you've been an Aldi fan for a while, then you are likely well aware that the store rotates its products regularly and is constantly introducing new items while discontinuing others. While this is a great thing if you're always on the hunt for the latest and greatest grocery items, it can be devastating if you fall in love with one particular item that ends up on the chopping block.

The good news? While Aldi probably won't halt this method of keeping inventory fresh anytime soon, there is a telltale sign that you can watch out for that will give you the hint that your favorite freezer items are going away soon so you can stock up. Just look at the item's shelf tag and search for a handwritten "D." If so, that means that the Aldi item is being discontinued. That said, there's no clear indicator on how much supply the store has left, so you could possibly still have a while to stock up — but do you really want to take your chances?

Aldi's frozen seafood had North Korea ties

Could the package of Aldi frozen fish sitting in your freezer have been secretly supporting North Korea? At one point, that was a possibility. According to a widely circulated 2017 story from the Associated Press, North Korea outsourced workers to China, where those employees then worked in seafood processing plants. That seafood then made its way to stores around the globe — including Aldi locations in the United States.

As a result, the AP declared, purchasing select seafood from Aldi could have helped North Korea not only enslave its own people, but also develop nuclear weapons, as money made its way from the grocery store to the suppliers to the processing plants and finally to those North Korean workers, who were forced to give the majority of their wages to the North Korean government. The particular Aldi products affected, the AP reported, included Sea Queen products, an Aldi exclusive brand that offers frozen shrimp. 

All the publicity prompted a broader crackdown, with the U.S. government issuing an advisory in 2018 that banned American companies from having North Korean workers involved anywhere in their supply chains. These days, Aldi's website lays out its policies detailing its commitment to certain standards in its supply chains when it comes to human rights and fair labor practices as well as regular training for managers involved in that aspect of the business. 

Aldi's frozen fish receives rave reviews

Despite those former potential ties to North Korea, Aldi's frozen fish selection still receives rave reviews. Take, for example, the Fremont Fish Market wild-caught beer-battered cod fillets, which boast an obsessive fanbase. Just a quick look at an Instagram post by The Amazing Aldi account shows dozens of happy customers reporting that the fillets are a household staple, they taste great, and they are especially good on sandwiches. One user even said that they buy the fillets to make fish tacos at their restaurant.

And if you have your doubts about buying frozen fish instead of fresh, push those doubts aside. As one dietician told Well+Good, frozen fish can actually be more nutritious than so-called fresh fish in your grocery store, thanks to the rapid freezing process that gives you all the nutrients of a truly fresh fish, just days (or even weeks) later. Plus, frozen fish is usually more affordable than fresh fish, and you don't have to worry about using it right away, like you do with fresh fish.

The red bag chicken is a Chick-fil-A copycat

The "red bag chicken," aka Aldi's Kirkwood brand breaded chicken breast fillets, boasts its own cult following within the broader Aldi fan base. There's even a private Facebook group dedicated to just the chicken alone, with more than 25,000 members.

So what makes this Aldi frozen chicken so good? Well, according to its fans, the chicken is wildly similar to the breaded fillet that you'll find on Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwiches. That doesn't mean that this chicken is only good on sandwiches, though. Fans report, beyond pairing them with a fluffy bun, the chicken fillets are also excellent on pasta and salads, or with sauces and vegetables. Plus, on top of being versatile, the fillets can also be cooked a variety of ways, either in an air fryer, in a pan on the stovetop, in the oven, or just in the microwave. For those who need more to love, Aldi also expanded its Kirkwood frozen chicken line several years ago, introducing "purple bag chicken," or chicken tenderloins with a panko breading, for a new take paired with the much-loved versatility and convenience of the classic red bag chicken.

Aldi offers a frozen take on McDonald's french fries

Move over, Chick-fil-A. The chicken chain isn't the only fast-food brand that Aldi has taken on. The grocery store most recently introduced its Oakhurst French Fries, which, by the looks of the packaging, aren't even trying to be subtle, with the bold font choices and bright red fry boxes.

However, it doesn't seem that these McDonald's copycat fries are having quite the same success that the red bag chicken has had. One reviewer on Facebook, after trying the fries along with some Aldi chicken nuggets, said they "didn't think the fries were anything great — certainly no better than regular frozen fries." Other reviewers on the same post, though, had better luck. Of course, it's worth noting that a lot of what makes a french fry good is the cooking process. A frozen fry is going to be different, texture-wise, based on whether it's baked, fried, air fried, or cooked another way — so maybe this new product needs just a little more at-home testing before reviewers come to a verdict.

The ice cream rivals name brands

Just like the red bag chicken may mimic what you'll find between your buns at a certain fast food chain, the ice cream in the Aldi freezer aisle can likewise go head to head with some of America's favorite ice cream name brands, including Ben & Jerry's and Klondike.

According to some Reddit users, the Belmont-brand chocolate brownie-infused ice cream dubbed "Make Fudge, Not War" — which does look, admittedly, quite like a Ben & Jerry's rip-off, with its cutesy font and pint size — is every bit as good as the Ben & Jerry's equivalent, Chocolate Fudge Brownie. Another commenter noted that the Aldi's Sundae Shoppe Ice Cream Bars are "way better" than Klondike. Multiple users on the same thread also mentioned just how affordable Aldi ice cream is, compared to what you'll find elsewhere. Other fan favorites include the Aldi's Sundae Shoppe Fruit Bars, including that brand's Creamy Coconut & Chopped Almonds Dark Chocolate Covered Fruit Bars.

The Aldi freezer aisle is environmentally friendly

Shopping the Aldi freezer aisle is a decision you can feel good about because Aldi's freezer aisle is very environmentally friendly. In 2019, as the brand reported in a press release, Aldi was recognized for its leadership in making grocery refrigeration more sustainable. Many of its stores, at that time, had achieved GreenChill certification, which recognizes that a store meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for types of refrigerants used and a reduction in emissions. (According to the EPA, if every single grocery store met these criteria, carbon dioxide emissions would be decreased by the equivalent of 30 million metric tons annually.)

But environmentally smart refrigeration isn't the only way that Aldi stores help the planet. In 2018, the brand's solar production prevented the release of carbon dioxide emissions that were the equivalent of driving a car, cross-country, more than 12,000 times. Aldi is also expected to become the first major U.S. store to eliminate plastic grocery bags entirely — which will, by 2024, remove more than 4 tons of plastic from circulation each year. Decisions like these have made Aldi among the most sustainable grocery stores in the country.

The freezer aisle is located where it's at for a reason

Walk into an Aldi store, and your immediate thought might be that the layout is a bit wonky. However, it turns out that there's good reason why every aisle is where it's at, including the freezer aisle. Unlike some grocery stores that formulate their layouts based on what will make you spend the most money, Aldi puts its customers' needs first.

As an Aldi spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia, its stores place canned items right up front, so that they go in your cart first. Meanwhile, softer items are farther back in the store. This means you're not throwing canned goods on top of your bread or produce, leaving you with a squashed loaf or bruised fruit. The freezer and fridge aisles are last, for multiple reasons; one, it keeps all your cold stuff together in the cart and, two, it means your frozen and refrigerated items spend less time at room temperature while you shop.

The Aldi freezer aisle boasts a large array of gluten-free eats

As anyone who follows a gluten-free diet will tell you, finding gluten-free items in most major grocery chains can be a pain. Typically, there's not a lot of variety. However, that's not the case at Aldi and, in fact, the Aldi freezer aisle boasts a huge array of gluten-free items, including gluten-free chicken nuggets and gluten-free General Tso's chicken, under Aldi brand liveGfree. Additionally, just like the rest of the store, the freezer aisle is constantly getting new products, including gluten-free products, so you always have something to look forward to, like gluten-free frozen ravioli and empanadas. According to one gluten-free shopper reporting for Insider, some of the best frozen gluten-free eats to pick up at Aldi include the Mama Cozzi's Pizza Kitchen cauliflower crust pizzas and the liveGfree bagels, which they also reported thaw easily for a quick breakfast.

Aldi's gluten-free products boast their own following, with social media accounts keeping followers abreast of the best gluten-free eats, new gluten-free products to come, and more, similar info.

Aldi once offered frozen mashed potatoes, to rave reviews

There are some Aldi freezer items that have received such rave reviews — like the red bag chicken — that everyone knows about them. Some products, though, boast quieter cult followings, like the Aldi's frozen mashed potatoes. At just a few dollars, the mashed potatoes supposedly are so beloved because they don't taste frozen or instant at all. Instead, they're just like homemade mashed potatoes, but without all the peeling, dicing, boiling, and mashing that's required for the real deal. Unfortunately, if you wanted to try these frozen mashed potatoes for yourself, you're out of luck. In 2021, Aldi discontinued the item, to much public outcry.

The good news? Mashed potatoes are one of those foods that you can cook, then freeze, then reheat later, without any significant loss in flavor or texture. The Pioneer Woman recommends keeping your mashed potatoes frozen for only up to a month, before reheating them in the slow cooker, on the stovetop, in the oven, or in the microwave, adding a little extra liquid as needed.

Aldi once sold frozen sushi

Some of Aldi's past frozen delights haven't received the same fanfare and love as others, but they're still plenty unique. Such is the case with Aldi's frozen sushi. Introduced in 2021, Aldi's frozen sushi came in multiple varieties, like a spicy crab roll and a Philadelphia roll. All you had to do was thaw the sushi (for at least two hours) and then serve. The Adventures in Aldi Instagram account posted about the offerings at the time and, as expected, reviews were mixed. Some said they absolutely loved the frozen sushi, while others complained that the frozen rice's texture just wasn't up to par.

This frozen sushi is an example of just because you can do something, that doesn't mean you should. While you can safely freeze and store sushi for up to three months, freezing sushi rolls often negatively affects the texture. Ingredients like rice and nori paper just don't hold up well under freezer conditions.

Aldi channels its German roots with some of its freezer items

You may have never realized that Aldi was a German company and understandably so. The chain doesn't particularly feel like it belongs to any one country. Plus you can find Aldi locations all over the globe. However, if you take a closer look at the freezer aisle, you may be able to detect those German roots. Aldi offers a whole line of German and German-inspired foods, under its store brand, Deutsche Kuche. Products feature a crest and a photo of a German castle, so they're pretty easy to identify in the store. In the freezer aisle particularly, you can find items like pork schnitzel (or breaded pork tenderloins) and Bavarian soft pretzels.

Need more German eats? Some Aldi locations host "German weeks" seasonally, during which they offer deals on a wide variety of German foods, including those frozen soft pretzels and schnitzel, but also strudels, soups, bratwurst, and more.

Aldi's frozen meals are good enough to win over a professional chef

If you're still not convinced that all the hype over Aldi's frozen foods is worth it, maybe you'll take a professional chef's word for it. For an Insider article, a private chef sampled 15 of Aldi's frozen meals and decided that she would buy and eat the majority of them again. The chef's favorites included the Priano stuffed shells, which she noted were a steal and a great quality (especially considering that frozen noodles are often lackluster at best). In fact, thanks to the serving sizes, smooth filling, and flavor, the chef claimed that this Aldi offering was the best frozen meal she'd ever eaten, period. 

Other surprising favorites? Aldi's frozen mussels, which the chef noted made enjoying mussels at home easy; the Specially Selected shrimp and scallops, which come uniquely in ready-to-bake terracotta pots, for a fancy touch; and the frozen orange chicken, which she said was a suitable substitute for takeout.