Nothing satisfies comfort food cravings like a hearty, cheesy baked macaroni and cheese. Thankfully, leftover mac and cheese casseroles can be frozen and reheated later for an easy weeknight dinner. However, sloppy freezing turns it into a dried-out, rubbery mess.
So Can You Freeze Mac And Cheese, And If Yes Then How Do We Freeze It?
Yes, you can freeze macaroni and cheese for 3 months or more. I do have to say though, that pasta tends to keep soaking up sauce during the freezing process, making it more drier than before. However, you can easily fix it with proper thawing.
How To Freeze Mac And Cheese?
Freezing mac and cheese is a great way to prepare big batches ahead of time and have quick access to a family favorite meal. Follow these simple steps for freezing mac and cheese:
- Make the mac and cheese according to your favorite recipe. Make sure it is completely cooked through before freezing.
- Allow the mac and cheese to cool completely, about 30 minutes. You want it to be at room temperature before freezing.
- Portion the mac and cheese into airtight freezer-safe containers, leaving 1-inch headspace to allow for expansion. Freezer bags, plastic containers, or aluminum foil pans all work well.
- Remove as much air as possible and seal the containers tightly.
- Label the containers with the contents and freeze date.
- Freeze for up to 3 months. Place in the back of the freezer where the temperature remains almost constant.
Proper cooling and airtight packaging are key to successfully freezing mac and cheese. The pasta and cheese will hold up just fine in the freezer!
How To Reheat Mac And Cheese?
Reheating frozen mac and cheese is simple. Here are some of the best methods:
- Stovetop: Thaw mac and cheese in the fridge overnight. Transfer to a saucepan with 2-3 tablespoons milk or water. Heat over medium-low, stirring frequently until hot and creamy, 5-10 minutes.
- Microwave: Transfer frozen mac and cheese to a microwave-safe dish. Thaw first in the microwave at 50% power for 2-3 minutes. Then heat at full power in 1-minute intervals, stirring between each, until hot.
- Oven: Preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer frozen mac and cheese to oven-safe baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes until heated through, stirring halfway.
- Slow cooker: Add frozen mac and cheese to slow cooker. Cook on Low for 4-6 hours. Stir occasionally and add milk or broth if needed to adjust consistency.
- Air fryer: Portion frozen mac and cheese into balls or small patties. Cook at 370°F for 4-8 minutes until crispy on the outside and heated through.
No matter which reheating method you use, the key is to stir frequently and add small amounts of liquid as needed to achieve the creamy, smooth consistency you love in mac and cheese.
How To Store Mac & Cheese?
Here are some tips for proper storage of cooked mac and cheese:
- Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Pasta and cheese sauces can dry out and get rubbery in the fridge, so limit storage time.
- Freezer: Cool mac and cheese completely before transferring to freezer bags or containers. Exclude as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 2-3 months.
- Reheating: Thaw in the fridge before reheating. Add a splash of milk or broth when reheating to restore creaminess.
- Food safety: Discard any mac and cheese that smells bad or has mold growth. Don’t taste-test questionable leftovers. When in doubt, throw it out.
Proper storage is important for preserving the delicious homemade flavor and texture of mac and cheese. Keep leftovers in the fridge for no more than 4 days. For extended storage up to 3 months, freeze it with airtight packaging.
How To Tell If Mac & Cheese Has Gone Bad?
It’s important to know the signs of spoiled mac and cheese to prevent foodborne illness. Here’s what to look for:
- Mold growth – this could be visible fuzzy mold or black/blue/green dots on the surface. Any mold means throw it out.
- Sour smell – cooked mac and cheese that smells unpleasantly tangy or vinegary is past its prime.
- Separated liquid – watery pockets or ooze means components have broken down.
- Odd textures – extreme mushiness, stickiness, dryness, or crunchy bits are red flags.
- Weird colors – unnatural hues like blue, green or black indicate spoilage.
- Leftovers older than 7 days – regardless of appearance or smell, don’t take chances with older leftovers.
When evaluating older mac and cheese, it’s smart to use multiple senses. Trust your eyes, nose AND instincts. If anything seems off, play it safe and discard. With homemade food safety, it’s better to waste some leftovers rather than risk getting sick from spoiled food.
How To Use Frozen Mac & Cheese?
Frozen mac and cheese can be a quick and easy dinner option. Here are some great ways to use it:
- For a casserole, thaw frozen mac and cheese and combine with diced ham, chicken, broccoli or other favorite add-ins. Top with breadcrumbs or more cheese and bake.
- Make mac and cheese balls by rolling thawed frozen mac and cheese into 1-inch balls, coating in breadcrumbs and baking or air frying until crispy.
- Thaw frozen mac and cheese overnight in the fridge then transfer to a baking dish. Top with more cheese and bake until bubbly and melted.
- Stir thawed frozen mac and cheese into soups, chilis or stews to add creaminess and texture. It’s especially delicious in tomato soup.
- Mix thawed frozen mac and cheese with pre-cooked pasta and veggies for quick macaroni salad. Chill before serving.
- Heat thawed frozen mac and cheese and serve topped with pulled pork, shredded chicken or crumbled bacon for easy meal bowls.
With so many options, frozen mac and cheese makes a flavorful and versatile ingredient to keep stocked in the freezer.
Q1. What is the best way to freeze mac and cheese?
A1. The best way to freeze mac and cheese is to first cook and prepare it completely. Let it cool completely, then transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers in single portions. Flatten to freeze quickly.
Q2. How do you reheat frozen macaroni and cheese?
A2. To reheat frozen mac and cheese, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. For quicker reheating, microwave individual portions while still frozen, stirring every minute until hot and melted. You can also reheat frozen mac and cheese in the oven at 350°F until warmed through.
Q3. Can I freeze and reheat homemade mac and cheese?
A3. Yes, homemade mac and cheese freezes and reheats very well. Cook and cool it fully before freezing in airtight containers. Thaw in the fridge before reheating gently on the stove or in the microwave.
Q4. Can you freeze homemade mac and cheese before baking?
A4. It’s best to fully cook homemade mac and cheese before freezing. But you can assemble the pasta and cheese sauce, freeze it, and then bake straight from frozen. Add 10-15 extra minutes to the baked time.
Q5. Should you thaw frozen mac and cheese?
A5. It’s best to thaw frozen mac and cheese in the fridge overnight before reheating. But frozen mac and cheese can be reheated directly from frozen if needed. Just allow extra time for thorough heating.
Q6. How long will mac and cheese last in fridge?
A6. Cooked mac and cheese will keep 3-5 days refrigerated in an airtight container. To extend its fridge life, freeze any leftovers you won’t eat within that timeframe.