American cheese, both iconic and divisive, has a captivating history beyond its role in sandwiches and burgers. Some find it comforting with its salty, smooth texture, while others associate it with processed cheese singles, far from genuine cheese.
But without proper freezing, the creamy texture can become crumbly and dry, spoiling that gooey goodness.
So Can You Freeze American Cheese, And If Yes Then How Do We Freeze It?
Yes, you can freeze American cheese to extend its shelf life for up to 6 months. To do so, wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, place it in an airtight container, label it with the date, and store it in the freezer. Thaw in the refrigerator when needed.
How To Freeze American Cheese?
Freezing American cheese is a breeze, and it’s a handy way to extend its shelf life. Whether you’ve bought it in bulk or want to preserve leftovers, here’s a simple guide to freezing American cheese:
- Divide into Portions: If you have a large block or slices of American cheese, divide it into portions that you’ll use at once. This prevents the need to thaw and refreeze, which can affect the texture.
- Wrap Well: Individually wrap each portion in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Ensure they’re tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn.
- Double Bagging: For added protection, place the wrapped portions into a resealable freezer bag. Squeeze out excess air before sealing.
- Label and Date: Use a marker to label each bag with the date of freezing. This helps you keep track of freshness.
- Freeze: Lay the bags flat in the freezer, so they freeze uniformly.
- Thaw with Care: To thaw, place the wrapped portions in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. Avoid microwaving, as it can alter the cheese’s texture.
- Use It: Once thawed, your American cheese is ready to use in sandwiches, burgers, or grilled cheese.
Can You Store American Cheese in Fridge?
Properly stored, unopened American cheese can last 2-3 weeks past the date printed on the packaging when refrigerated.
Once opened, sliced deli cheese should be used within 1 week. Blocks of cheese will last a bit longer, around 2 weeks refrigerated.
For optimal freshness:
- Keep cheese tightly wrapped in its original packaging or in an airtight container.
- Store in the refrigerator at 40°F or below, away from light and humidity. Avoid the door where the temperature fluctuates.
- If mold develops, discard the cheese. Don’t try to cut away the moldy parts.
- Monitor for drying out, odd textures, or smells. Discard if cheese seems spoiled.
With proper storage, American cheese should maintain its taste and texture when stored in the fridge for its recommended shelf life.
How to Thaw Frozen American Cheese?
Thaw frozen American cheese slowly in the refrigerator for the best quality.
- Place frozen cheese in the refrigerator. Thaw overnight, allowing 12-24 hours for full thawing.
- Keep cheese contained so it doesn’t pick up other odors. Leave in its original wrapping if thawed in a freezer bag.
- Thaw only what you plan to use immediately. Refreeze any unused portions.
- Avoid thawing cheese at room temperature or in the microwave, as this can cause texture changes.
- Use thawed cheese within 1 week for the best flavor and to avoid spoilage.
- If needed faster, place a package of cheese in a bowl of cold water. Change water every 30 minutes until the cheese is pliable.
Thawed American cheese is best if used for cooking in casseroles, grilled cheese, or cheese sauces. It may not be ideal for eating plain once thawed.
Why Consider Freezing American Cheese?
American cheese is a processed cheese product that combines cheddar, Colby, or similar cheeses with emulsifiers, preservatives, and other ingredients. It has a shelf life of 2-3 weeks refrigerated. However, you may not always use up the package within that time. Freezing can help extend the shelf life of unopened packages for longer storage.
Freezing can also allow you to buy American cheese in bulk when it’s on sale, keep slices from deli packages for later use, or preserve leftovers that would otherwise go bad. It’s an easy way to minimize food waste and save money.
How to Use Frozen American Cheese?
Frozen American cheese is convenient to have on hand for recipes. Here are some great ways to use it:
- Grilled cheese sandwiches. Thaw just what you need for sandwiches.
- Macaroni and cheese. No need to thaw first, just add to the cooked noodles.
- Quesadillas, nachos, taco shells. Sprinkle shredded cheese onto any Tex-Mex dishes.
- Casseroles like tuna noodles. Mix in cubes of thawed cheese.
- Pizza toppings. Frozen shredded cheese works on homemade or store-bought pizza.
- Stir into sauces and gravies to make it cheesy.
- Omelets, frittatas, scrambles. Mix in cubes or shreds of thawed cheese.
- Stuff into peppers, shells, or manicotti before baking.
- Top tacos, enchiladas, tostadas or fajitas.
- Mix into dips like cheese balls or queso.
Be sure to thaw first for recipes where melted cheese is needed. Otherwise, frozen cheese works great in most cooked dishes.
How to Tell if American Cheese is Spoiled?
Check American cheese regularly for signs of spoilage:
- Mold growth – discard moldy cheese.
- Drying, cracks, separation – the cheese should be smooth.
- Discoloration, and dark spots – should be uniform in color.
- Curdling, gritty texture – should slice cleanly.
- Ammonia-like or unpleasant sour odor.
- Soft, slimy consistency rather than firm and sliceable (if block).
- Dry, crumbly texture (if sliced).
- Crystals or crunchy bits from calcium lactate crystal formation.
- The expired best-by date passed.
If you notice any of these signs, the American cheese has likely gone bad and should be discarded. When in doubt, throw it out.
How to Keep American Cheese Longer?
- Purchase cheese with the furthest away sell-by or best-by date.
- Open the package only as needed to limit air exposure. Press out excess air when resealing.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil for unused portions.
- Avoid introducing moisture into the package – use clean, dry utensils.
- Store at 40°F or below. Use within 3-5 days after opening.
- Freeze for longer storage. Thaw refrigerated overnight before use.
- Store cheese in the coldest part of the refrigerator, not in the door.
- If mold develops, discard it entirely. Don’t try to salvage unmolded parts.
Following proper storage methods and freezing for a longer duration can help extend the shelf life of American cheese. Discard immediately at any signs of spoilage. With optimal storage conditions, you can enjoy American cheese up to its expiration date or within the recommended time after opening.
Q1. Why can’t you freeze American cheese?
A1. American cheese can be frozen, despite some beliefs. Freezing does change the texture slightly, making it more crumbly.
Q2. What is the best way to freeze American cheese?
A2. The best way is to freeze slices of American cheese in a single layer, separated by parchment paper. Once frozen, store in airtight bags.
Q3. What cheese Cannot be frozen?
A3. Soft, high-moisture cheeses like ricotta, cottage, and cream cheese do not freeze well and become grainy. Hard cheeses freeze fine.
Q4. Can I freeze Kraft Singles American cheese?
A4. Yes, unopened packages of Kraft Singles can be frozen for up to 6 months. The cheese may be more crumbly once thawed.
Q5. Why not eat American cheese?
A5. Some avoid American cheese for its high processing and sodium content. But eaten in moderation, it can be part of a balanced diet.
Q6. What 3 cheese types freeze well?
A6. Hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan freeze very well for up to 6 months frozen. Softer cheeses do not.