As cookbook authors with hungry kiddos, cheese is a staple ingredient in many of our most popular recipes. We always seem to have several varieties on hand! Yet, we often have a wedge of this or package of that hiding in the fridge and starting to spoil before we can use it. The solution? Freeze the cheese!
Can You Freeze Cheese?
The short answer is yes, you can freeze cheese, according to our tests and experts from the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen. But there is one little caveat: the texture may be affected.
Once frozen and defrosted, most hard and semi-hard cheese blocks will crumble when you try to slice or grate them. However, when baked into a recipe or melted, any change often goes unnoticed.
Soft cheeses like goat cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and high-moisture cheeses like fresh mozzarella often weep liquid once frozen and defrosted. This leads to a grainy texture. This is also true of Velveeta “cheese”, which Kraft recommends to avoid freezing.
Prepackaged shredded cheese from the store is a different story. Because of the anti-caking additives in the packages, this form of cheese tends to freeze and thaw well in our tests.
We recommend sticking to hard or semi-hard cheeses when it comes to freezing, and using them in recipes that call for grated, crumbled, or shredded cheese that will be melted.
Good cheese candidates for freezing include:
- Monterey Jack
- Part-skim/low-moisture mozzarella
How to Freeze Different Types of Cheeses
- Shredded cheese – store-bought pre-shredded cheese can be frozen directly in the original packaging. Or, you can shred a block of cheese (use our simple instructions!) and store it in an airtight freezer-safe bag.
- Cheese slices – the layers of wax paper between sliced cheese makes it very easy to freeze directly in the packaging or in an airtight freezer-safe bag.
- Cheese blocks – slice into portions that you would use in a recipe. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer-safe bag.
How Long Can You Freeze Cheese?
According to the USDA, as long as frozen food is kept at 0°F in the freezer, it is safe to consume for an indefinite amount of time.
While this is something we noted in writing our cookbooks, From Freezer to Table and From Freezer to Cooker, our testing has proven that most frozen foods, including cheese, should be consumed within 3-6 months for optimal flavor and freshness.
How to Thaw Frozen Cheese
We have found that pre-shredding cheese before freezing helps it defrost better. The frozen shredded cheese can be used straight from the freezer! This post outlines our best tips for shredding cheese and why you should do it yourself.
For blocks or wedges of frozen cheese, we recommend defrosting them overnight in the refrigerator. According to the U.S. Dairy Council, a slow defrost in the fridge allows moisture to go back into the cheese and keep it from drying out. You should plan on using thawed cheese as soon as possible.
Recipes to Use Up Your Frozen Cheese
Bottom Line: Can You Freeze Cheese?
You can freeze cheese, but the texture may be altered. The best types of cheese to freeze are shredded and sliced hard or semi-hard cheeses. Most frozen cheeses can still be used for melting and baking without a noticeable difference in texture.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU FREEZE?
Wondering what else you can stock up on and freeze? Read on…