Conventional 3D convolutional neural networks (CNNs) are computationally expensive, memory intensive, prone to overfitting, and most importantly, there is a need to improve their feature learning capabilities. To address these issues, we propose spatio-temporal short-term Fourier transform (STFT) blocks, a new class of convolutional blocks that can serve as an alternative to the 3D convolutional layer and its variants in 3D CNNs. An STFT block consists of non-trainable convolution layers that capture spatially and/or temporally local Fourier information using an STFT kernel at multiple low frequency points, followed by a set of trainable linear weights for learning channel correlations. The STFT blocks significantly reduce the space-time complexity in 3D CNNs. In general, they use 3.5 to 4.5 times less parameters and 1.5 to 1.8 times less computational costs when compared to the state-of-the-art methods. Furthermore, their feature learning capabilities are significantly better than the conventional 3D convolutional layer and its variants. Our extensive evaluation on seven action recognition datasets, including Something-Something v1 and v2, Jester, Diving-48, Kinetics-400, UCF 101, and HMDB 51, demonstrate that STFT blocks based 3D CNNs achieve on par or even better performance compared to the state-of-the-art methods.