A regular person probably tries around 10-15 types of cheese in their life, while a cheese enthusiast, someone who actively pursues and seeks new ones, probably gets to about 50-100. There are roughly 1,800 types of cheese,and to circle back to the original question, most of them can be frozen.
I wanted to pick out some of the most popular cheeses and tell you all you need to know about their freezing suitability and freezer time. The Can You Freeze Cheese comprehensive guide features information most cheese enthusiasts may find as helpful, so without any further ado, let’s start from the top.
Does Cheese Freeze Well?
I’ve added a table below, which explains which cheeses freeze well, and what results you should expect. The “Freezing Results” section describes how well each cheese type freezes, so let me tell you a bit more about the rankings:
- Poor – In short, the worst rating for cheeses that don’t freeze well to the point that you should rethink freezing them at all. They can’t last long in the freezer, they usually lose their taste and often change their texture upon thawing, and the process of freezing them itself can be quite complex and messy.
- Moderately good – Depending on cheese type, some neither freeze poorly nor well. Cheeses that would be ranked “Poor” was it not for a single redeeming quality, such as decent freezing time, texture retention, or a simple freezing process.
- Good – In this context, “Good” is almost “Perfect.” These cheeses freeze very well and normally retain taste and texture for the most part. Cheeses with this rating usually have one major or several minor freezing-related flaws.
- Excellent – the best rating on the list. Cheeses rated “Excellent” are the same as before when you thaw them. Only true experts and professional chefs could tell the difference.
What Happens If You Freeze Cheese?
The characteristic of each cheese type determines what’s going to happen when you put it in the freezer. We can’t draw conclusions based on the cheese class (soft, semi-hard, or hard) exclusively. For example, even though most soft cheeses don’t freeze great, Feta and Cottage cheese actually do.
Upon thawing, most hard cheeses retain their texture and taste if taken out from the freezer within the recommended time. Given that all cheeses rely on moisture for texture consistency, the ones that are moister are typically the ones that change after thawing.
The Ultimate Overview of Best and Worst Cheeses to Freeze Table
|Cheese Name||Type of Cheese||Freezing Results||How Long to Freeze|
|Raclette Cheese||Hard||Good||Up to 3 months|
|Parmesan Cheese||Hard||Excellent||Shredded up to 3; unopened wedge up to 9 months|
|Cottage Cheese||Soft||Moderately good||Unopened up to 6, opened up to 3 months|
|Feta Cheese||Soft||Moderately good||Up to 3 months|
|Velveeta Cheese||Hard||Good||Between 2 and 3 months|
|Ricotta Cheese||Soft||Excellent||Up to 2 months|
|Goat Cheese||Soft||Moderately good||Up to 6 months|
|Blue Cheese||Semi-hard||Good||Between 6 and 8 months|
|American Cheese||Semi-hard||Moderately good||Up to 3 months|
|Pimento Cheese||Soft||Poor||Up to 3 months|
|Cream Cheese||Soft||Moderately good||Up to 2 months|
|String Cheese||Semi-hard||Moderately good||Up to 2 months|
|Mascarpone Cheese||Soft||Poor||Up to 2 months|
|Provolone Cheese||Hard||Moderately good||Up to 3 months|
|Boursin Cheese||Soft||Good||Between 3 and 6 months|
|Cotija Cheese||Semi-hard||Excellent||Up to 6 months|
|Gouda Cheese||Hard||Excellent||Up to 6 months|
|Farmer’s Cheese||Soft||Good||Up to 3 months|
|Camembert||Soft||Poor||Up to 6 months|
|Mozzarella Cheese||Semi-soft||Good||Up to 9 months|
|Cheddar Cheese||Hard||Excellent||Between 6 and 9 months|
|Swiss Cheese||Semi-hard||Good||Up to 6 months|
|Gruyere Cheese||Hard||Excellent||Up to 6 months|
Best Cheeses to Freeze
Parmesan, Velveeta, Ricotta, Boursin, Cotija, Gouda, Farmer’s Cheese, Cheddar, and Gruyere are the best cheeses to freeze. Most of them are hard cheeses with minimal moisture; they can be safely frozen for at least half a year, after which they’ll taste good and be as firm after defrosting.
Worst Cheeses to freeze
Pimento, Camembert, and Mascarpone are the worst cheeses to freeze. Additionally, most French creamy types may not freeze too well (Comte, Roquefort, and especially Brie de Meaux).
Although not all of these cheeses are soft per se, they are moister than Cheddar, Swiss Cheese, or even Feta. They can be frozen, although I warmly recommend not doing so.
If you still wish to proceed with your plan, know that they should only be frozen for about a month or two before their quality begins degrading.
What Cheese Can You Not Freeze?
As a general rule of thumb, you may want to reconsider freezing processed cheese, regardless of type and class. Additionally, Ricotta and Brie fare poorly when stored in a freezer. Even though you’ll extend their shelf life by freezing them, freezing soft cheeses may result in
- Bland taste for soft cheeses; a super-strong and almost bitter taste for hard cheeses
- Mushy texture for soft cheeses; mealy or crumbly texture for hard cheeses
- Reduced melting quality
- Strong, repulsive odor
How to Freeze Cheese?
A uniform way of freezing cheese still doesn’t exist, at least to my knowledge. I don’t approach freezing Brie the same way I would freeze Cheddar; neither do I freeze sliced, grated, or block cheese the same. To help you freeze cheese properly and safely, I’ve prepared a simple step-by-step guide:
Before we start: It is very important that the freezer temperature is at least at 0F. All steps are useless if the temperature is not cold enough fo freeze properly.
Step 1: Set up Freezing Priorities
You don’t need to freeze all of your cheeses at the same time, especially if you don’t have too much freezer space. Certain cheeses can stay for months in your fridge, especially hard cheeses like Gouda and Cheddar; this means that you should consider freezing softer cheeses first.
Step 2: Define a Use-case Aand Prepare Accordingly
Most of the time it is better to not refreeze cheese. Therefore it is important to take only out of the freezer what you’ll consume. For instance, if you want to use your cheese for finishing up a casserole or pasta bake, you could freeze your cheese already grated in 8-18oz portions.
Then when you need it you just grab a package and you are good to go. Another advantage is that it will defrost more quickly than a huge block of cheese.
Some tips on preparation for different variations:
- In general portion in sizes that you will most certainly consume at once or in a short period after thawing.
- Small pieces will defrost faster than bigger chunks.
- To prevent the grated, shredded cheese or also cheese slices from sticking together, pre-freeze it. To do this, spread your cheese on a baking sheet and let the individual pieces freeze before placing them in a freezer bag.
Step 3: Wrap in Paper and Aluminum
To ensure your cheese is completely safe from freezer burn, you should wrap it in aluminum and paper. For soft and creamy cheeses, you can forego the paper and simply wrap it in aluminum or cling film only. It’s important to make sure that there are no holes or entry points where air can get past.
Step 4: Use Airtight Containers or Freezer Bags to Store Cheese
You can’t make a mistake with airtight freezer containers, although they’ll limit your freezer storage more than freezer bags. The latter is particularly useful for storing shredded, grated, or sliced cheese while the former is ideal for cheese blocks.
Step 5: Mark the Containers
This is an optional step if you’re only freezing one kind of cheese, but I recommend you do it anyway. Use a water-proof marker and label the date and type of things you freeze, especially cheeses that shouldn’t sit in your freezer longer than a few months.
What Is the Best Way to Freeze Cheese?
In my experience, the best way to freeze any cheese is to wrap it up with paper cover it with aluminum foil before placing it in a freezer bag/airtight container. This way, you will reduce the effects of freezer burn and minimize the loss of moisture (and consequentially, loss of quality, taste, or texture).
How Long Does Cheese Last in the Freezer?
Cheese can be stored in a freezer to prolong its fridge life, although you risk ruining your cheese if it’s not suitable for freezing. Different types of cheese have different freezer life expectancies:
- String, cream, Ricotta, Velveeta, and Mascarpone cheese can last between two and three months in a freezer
- Farmer’s Cheese, Provolone Cheese, American Cheese, Feta, Raclette, and Pimento Cheese can last up to three months
- Goat Cheese, Blue Cheese, unopened Cottage Cheese, Gouda, Cotija, and Camembert Cheese can last up to six months. Note that Camembert freezes poorly, so consider not freezing it
- Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Parmesan Cheese can be frozen for up to nine months
How To Defrost Cheese?
There are various options to thaw or defrost your cheese. Those are typical:
- in a fridge, and
- by leaving it at room temperature.
I don’t recommend thawing it at room temperature because of the high risk of bacteria growth. Thus, the best two options in my opinion are:
Defrosting in a Microwave
If you do not have much time I recommend microwave thawing. The defrost function offers more control over the process while being much quicker than the alternatives. Place frozen cheese on a glass or ceramic plate, set your microwave power to 25% (depending on your microwave and settings), and defrost for 10-15 minutes. Repeat until thawed.
Note: Don’t take too much heat, otherwise the cheese will melt.
Defrosting in the refrigerator takes a little longer, but in my experience is gentler on the quality. To do this, place the frozen cheese on any plate and put it on the lowest shelf. As soon as the cheese thaws, water collects. So it’s best to place a towel or tissues underneath.
Can You Refreeze Cheese?
You can refreeze any cheese, but it’s generally not a good idea unless you’re planning to refreeze a hard-type cheese. Soft and semi-hard cheeses lose a bit of their original taste when frozen, and their texture is likely to become somewhat altered.
The second wave of these side effects occurs upon thawing. By refreezing cheese, it will, again, lose a portion of its moisture. Hard cheeses can be tasty and chewy with minimal moisture. Soft cheeses usually don’t taste (or feel) as good when dry.
Favorite Cheese Recipes
As simple as it sounds, Mac & Cheese is hard to beat. It’s tasty, easy to make, and you can use virtually any kind of cheese for it.
I love using softer cheeses as fillings for my barbecue, especially hot dogs and burgers. Semi-hard cheeses that melt well are also an excellent option.
Whenever I’m serving deli meat as appetizers, I always have some Feta and Brie sprinkled with virgin olive oil for added flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know a bit about different kinds of cheese, you may be wondering which can endure the most freezer time, or if you can eat that frozen Gouda you’ve forgotten about a few years back:
What Cheese Lasts the Longest?
As one of the hardest cheese types, Parmesan lasts the longest, both fridge and freezer-wise. After Parmesan, Cheddar and Gouda are the second and third most long-lasting cheese types.
Can You Eat 2-year-old Frozen Cheese?
No. After two years, it’s almost certain that any cheese you’ve put in your freezer will have any moisture left to sustain its healthy taste and texture. I’ve heard people say that certain hard cheeses can last indefinitely when frozen, but I wouldn’t risk it. The least you can expect is a bloated (or mushy) mess that is either flavorless or too bitter to enjoy.
Can You Freeze Block Cheese?
Freezing a block of cheese somewhat limits your packaging options. Unlike sliced, shredded, or grated cheese, you may have a hard time freezing a block in anything other than a plastic container. Wrap the block in cling wrap, and put it in a fitting plastic container before freezing for best effects.
Can You Freeze Sliced Cheese?
Sliced cheese freezes the best when frozen in its original packaging, in which case you can simply put it in the freezer with zero prep work. If you’ve sliced a few bits or pulled them out of the packaging, wrap them in some freezer paper to avoid freezer burn; you can put sliced cheese in freezer bags or airtight containers.
Can You Freeze Shredded Cheese?
The main issue with freezing shredded cheese is to keep the parts away from each other so that they don’t crumble upon defrosting. To do so, pre-freeze shredded cheese before placing them in freezer bags. Airtight containers are also a good option, especially if you plan to freeze shredded cheese for longer periods.
Can You Freeze Soft Cheese?
Soft cheeses can be frozen, but they don’t freeze as well as their semi-hard or hard counterparts. Cheeses such as gorgonzola, cottage cheese, brie, or feta tend to lose a bit of their texture after being frozen for more than a few months.
Cheese can be frozen fairly simply, although hard cheeses freeze far better (and longer) than softer types. I’m enamored with blue cheese and shredded Cheddar; what’s your favorite cheese?
Do you prefer softer or harder cheese? Let me know in the comment section below, and feel free to explore my other “How to Freeze” guides!