American cheese – a favorite for cold-cut sandwiches and grilled cheese sandwiches alike. It’s not just limited to sandwiches, though. It’s also a great addition to another American favorite as well – barbequed burgers.
Since it’s such a useful and tasty addition to a variety of foods, it’s great to always have some on hand. Whilst it’s generally already pretty reasonably priced compared to other types of cheese, if it’s on sale then it’s even a bigger reason to stock up on it.
However, what if you get just a little bit too excited and nearly became an American cheese hoarder? Maybe you’ve bought so much that now you have too much cheese to use before it goes bad.
Or, it could just be that you’re unable to eat all the cheese that you bought for a party or barbeque.
Either way, you may be wondering what to do with all those leftovers. Can you freeze American cheese? The good news is that yes, you can!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about properly storing and preserving American cheese.
Does American Cheese Freeze Well?
Freezing American cheese is actually the best way to preserve it! So, yes, American cheese does freeze well. However, this is to preserve it. The best way to store it, if possible, is in the fridge (more on that later though).
American cheese is towards the firm end of the soft-hard cheese spectrum. This makes it a better candidate to freeze than a much softer cheese like cottage or feta cheese.
So, if you prepare it and freeze it properly then it can freeze well. However, you should be aware that American cheese will slightly change after it’s been frozen and thawed.
What’s The Best Way to Store American Cheese?
As I alluded to earlier, whilst freezing is the best way to preserve it, it’s not the best for everyday storage. The best and proper way to store American cheese is in the fridge.
By storing it in the fridge, it will keep its original taste and texture completely, assuming it’s stored properly. To store it properly it needs to be kept sealed. We’ve all been there – when you haven’t used an entire package of American cheese and just “closed” the cheese container hoping that it keeps well. However, since it’s exposed to air, it will dry out, spoil, or absorb flavors and smells from the fridge. All of these are not what you want your cheese to do.
So, assuming it’s been stored properly, another benefit of storing American cheese in the fridge is the ease of use. You can use it in a number of ways, immediately. If you want to put it directly on a sandwich you can. While if it’s frozen, you’d have to wait until it’s defrosted.
When American cheese is stored in the fridge, whether opened or not, it can last for about two to three weeks past its expiration. But this depends on whether if it’s pre-packaged or from the deli, however. Pre-packaged American cheese is generally more processed and has a longer lifespan – closer to three months. But when it comes to the more fresh variety from the deli then it will have a lifespan closer to two to three weeks.
How to Freeze American Cheese
If the expiration date is approaching and you won’t be able to eat, it’s then best to freeze it. It’s super easy!
Freezing Individual Slices
- For the best result, wrap each slice individually. I recommend wrapping every slice in a tight layer of plastic wrap or wax paper. But since each slice is already separated, it shouldn’t be very difficult.
- Next, place all of the wrapped sliced into a freezer-safe bag or airtight storage container.
- Remove as much air as possible.
- Label the bag or container and put it in the freezer.
Freezing Unopened Cheese
Alternatively, if the package is unopened you can put the entire package into the freezer and it should last up to three months. However, while this is perhaps the most convenient, if you defrost the entire package you should aim to use it as soon as possible. This is because if you refreeze it, the taste and texture can degrade even further.
Pre-Packaged vs Deli Cheese
It’s important to note that like when it’s stored in the fridge the lifespan (for best quality) can differ depending on if it’s pre-packaged or from the deli. Since there are generally more preservatives in the pre-packaged varieties, they last longer in the freezer than those from the deli. While they both can stay safe to eat indefinitely, the fresher variety from the deli will lose its quality faster.
How Long Can American Cheese be Frozen?
American cheese, if frozen correctly, will be safe to eat indefinitely. However, it’s recommended to eat it within six months. This is because the taste and texture will likely be reduced if they are frozen longer than that.
As I mentioned before, the lifespan is even shorter for the deli variety as it has fewer preservatives.
One thing to consider is also be the brand of American cheese you’re freezing as they’re not identical. Most American cheese is a combination of cheeses, usually Colby and cheddar. But, the exact ratio or addition of mix of cheeses can differ. This can affect how long and how well your American cheese can be successfully frozen.
How to Defrost American Cheese
If you’ve wrapped each slice individually then it should be a very simple process and depending on how you’ll use it, you may not even have to defrost it at all. But if you choose to defrost them, you simply can either put them in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If you plan on using them immediately then you can leave the desired number of slices out at room temperature for one to two hours and then you should be able to use them as normal. However, it’s not safe to leave the cheese out any longer than that if you won’t use it. So, don’t forget the cheese!
And lastly, if you plan on using the American cheese in your cooking or baking then you won’t even have to worry about defrosting it. You can simply add it to whatever your cooking, like casseroles, macaroni & cheese, etc.
One thing to consider when handling the frozen slices is that they are fragile. So if you’ll be using them on a sandwich or desire to keep them in their complete sliced form, handle them with care as they can easily break while they’re still completely frozen.
How to Use Frozen American Cheese
I have already mentioned how versatile American cheese is, and it’s the truth!
Whilst I previously mentioned only burgers and sandwiches, it’s also a great addition to cheese sauces, cheesesteaks, casseroles, or soups.
The drawback of American cheese is that it pretty much always only comes in sliced form, so you have to deal with that.
But, it’s very easy to shred so you can sprinkle it over anything if you’d like.Since it has such a low melting point and has a mild flavor and creamy texture, it’s perfect for spicing up any cooked meal.