Does Mac And Cheese Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 8th, 2022

Is it possible for mac and cheese to go bad? Is it possible to freeze mac and cheese? How should mac and cheese be stored? This guide has all the answers and more.

Mac and cheese is the classic comfort dish. Even with the different preparation methods, it remains one of the world’s favorite foods.

mac and cheese

If you had leftover mac and cheese from supper last week, you may be anxious and wonder, “Has my mac and cheese gone bad?” How long is it going to last?

Here’s the deal: cooked mac and cheese will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days and in the freezer for up to 2 months. Frozen mac and cheese may be stored for up to three months after its expiration date.

What exactly is in Kraft Mac & Cheese?

Kraft Mac & Cheese is not the same as normal Mac & Cheese. One thing is certain: Kraft Mac & Cheese has a lot of milk fat and salt. Kraft has just lately discontinued the use of artificial colors and flavors.

Aside from fat and salt, Kraft Mac & Cheese contains a variety of milk byproducts such as whey, protein, and cheese culture. This contributes to the iconic Kraft Mac & Cheese’s rich and creamy flavor and texture.

Does Mac And Cheese Go Bad?

Food that is shelf-stable, such as a package of macaroni and cheese, has a wide range of expiry dates. However, unopened, they might be consumed much past their expiration date, as can Kraft’s Mac & Cheese.

So, theoretically, an unopened box of Kraft mac & cheese may be enjoyed much after its expiry date with no discernible change in quality. You also don’t have to worry about getting food illness if you consume a product beyond its expiry, use-by, sell-by, or best-by dates.

These dates are only markers of freshness, used by makers and producers to communicate when the food is at its best. This does not imply that food becomes unfit to eat after the use-by or best-by dates have passed. For example, Kraft’s mac and cheese do not ‘go bad’ or become unpalatable.

An unopened can or Kraft Mac & Cheese box can keep its original quality for up to two years if properly preserved. On the other hand, the dry mix sachet or sauce mix that comes with the macaroni must be tested before determining if it has gone bad or is still edible.

How Long Will Mac & Cheese Last?

Let’s start with the already prepared supper. It should stay in the fridge for 3 to 5 days if refrigerated. The components and the recipe determine the shelf life. So, if you make it from scratch, experiment to see how long it will keep in an acceptable state in the fridge. Then, freeze it for extended storage.

For dried macaroni and cheese mixtures, they all have a best-by date. The recommended shelf life is usually one or two years, but if you leave the mix around for a few extra months, the ready meal should still turn out OK. If you need to keep the mixture for a longer period, you may freeze it.

Last, frozen mac and cheese are labeled with an expiration date. And, because frozen food declines slowly, you may expect the quality of the cooked dish to be OK even after a few months past the expiration date.

Cooked mac and cheese 3 – 5 days2+ months
Mac and cheese dry mixBest-by + 3 months Best-by + 6+ months
Frozen mac and cheese  Best-by + 3 months

How Long Will Mac & Cheese Keep Outside?

If you’ve already cooked macaroni and cheese, it won’t survive long if you leave it out of the fridge. It should be consumed when still warm, and any leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator.

If the macaroni and cheese are packaged, they may be stored for up to a year. Because cheese mixes are often powdered, they have a long shelf life thanks to preservatives. However, the container has an expiration date and should be used before.

Outside the fridge, homemade macaroni and cheese will likely last much less. If the macaroni and cheese are left out for too long, the fresh cheese, milk, and butter might cause it to deteriorate.

How Long Can Mac and Cheese Be Stored in the Fridge?

The type of macaroni and cheese dictates how long it may be stored in the refrigerator. The shelf life of fresh components is much less when using powdered ingredients.

When creating homemade macaroni and cheese, the shelf life is unknown. So pay close attention when your macaroni and cheese is in the fridge. It should not be eaten if it begins to smell nasty.

Making packaged macaroni and cheese may be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. However, once butter and water are added, the preservatives in the packaged cheese will only last a short time.

How Long Can Mac and Cheese Be Stored in the Freezer?

Macaroni and cheese may be stored in the freezer indefinitely. If you are unsure if you will be able to consume all of the mac and cheese within 3-5 days, freezing it will extend its shelf life.

Freezing reduces the deterioration and allows it to be used for up to three months. Before heating, inspect the food for mold to ensure it is still edible.

The dry mac and cheese mix may be stored for up to a year. If you wish to extend the shelf life, even more, freeze the mixture and use it as needed.

Signs That Your Mac & Cheese Has Been Spoiled

There are three types of mac and cheese: dry mix, frozen mac and cheese, and handmade cooked mac and cheese.

Start with a dry mix of mac and cheese; if you detect any mold or large clumps in the container, throw it out.

When it comes to cooked mac & cheese, rely on your senses to determine if it has been ruined. To begin, any trace of mold indicates that food has gone bad and should be discarded. Next, give it a smell if it appears in good condition. If it has rotted, it will have an unpleasant odor. If that’s the case, toss it.

What happens if you consume expired Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

Expired Kraft mac and cheese dry mix is usually acceptable to eat if uncooked, unless moldy. Instead of an expiry date, Kraft mac and cheese has a ‘Best-by’ or ‘Use-by’ date.

This means that the producer only gives information on the timeframe during which the product will retain its peak quality if properly preserved. After this date, the product will no longer taste the same. As a result, the cheese frequently goes stale and loses its taste.

Before ingesting old Kraft mac & cheese, inspect the packaging for any organic growth, pests, or strange flavors and colors. If the cheese powder has formed into a brick, discard it. Because of the porous packaging, the cheese powder collects moisture.

How to store Macaroni and Cheese

It’s time to put your cooked mac & cheese away, but how should you do it? After it has cooled slightly, transfer the mac and cheese to an airtight container. Keep it in the fridge, in the far corner of the fridge.

Freeze your mac & cheese for an even longer shelf life.

Dry mac and cheese should be stored in a cold, dry area. The pantry is the ideal location.

Is it safe to refrigerate Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

You’d be better off storing your Kraft Mac & Cheese box in your pantry or cabinets than in your refrigerator.

Putting your unopened Kraft Mac & Cheese box in the refrigerator will not significantly increase its shelf life. However, the refrigerator has high humidity, so a box of macaroni placed within it without first being firmly wrapped and sealed will be considerably more sensitive to any moisture that may leak in and cause the mac and cheese to become clumpy or moldy.

You can freeze cooked mac and cheese, but only for a short time before it thickens. Furthermore, thawing cooked pasta reduces the taste, and the cheese will never be the same.

Macaroni and Cheese Freezing Instructions

If you don’t plan on eating the leftovers soon or prefer some flexibility, freeze them. The procedure is the same, except for using a freezer-safe container.

If you were wondering if you could freeze cooked macaroni noodles and sauce separately, don’t. This is because when frozen pasta thaws, it turns mushy. However, if you made more sauce than you needed, it should freeze nicely.

The fridge, as always, is the best option for thawing. You may also defrost and reheat the mac and cheese on the stove, but monitor it, so it doesn’t burn.

How Do You Thaw Macaroni and Cheese?

There are two methods for thawing frozen macaroni and cheese. Each method has advantages and can help your meal keep its flavor.

Refrigerator: Thawing frozen mac and cheese in the refrigerator overnight is the best method. 

Put your mac and cheese in a basin to catch any excess wetness.

You may also defrost frozen mac & cheese in the microwave—Cook the macaroni and cheese on a microwave-safe dish at a lower temperature. The heat will cause it to melt slowly.


The origins of mac and cheese are unknown. The first recorded recipe for mac and cheese dates back to 1769 in Northern Europe. But, owing to Kraft food boxed mac and cheese, it found its way to America in 1937 and quickly became a mainstay in American cuisine.

If you want to increase the shelf life of your mac & cheese, you should freeze it because this meal will only keep in the fridge for a few days. On the other hand, a dry mix of mac and cheese or a frozen packet of mac and cheese should stay fresh for months after its best-by date.


Editorial Staff

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