Does Parmesan Cheese Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

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

Is it possible for parmesan cheese to go bad? How should parmesan cheese be stored, and how can you tell if it’s gone bad? Here’s a quick reference guide.

Parmesan cheese, made from unpasteurized cow’s milk and with an extra-hard texture, is the ideal topping for pizza and pasta meals. It also tastes great in a healthy Caesar salad.

sliced bread on brown wooden chopping board

This pale yellow Italian cheese is aged between 12 to 36 months. So if you have any lying in your fridge for a while, you may wonder if it goes bad and, if so, how long it lasts.

The quick answer is that it does. On the other hand, the length of time it takes to spoil is determined by whether you have a block of cheese or have purchased pre-grated or shredded cheese.

What is Parmesan-Reggiano Cheese?

You might be surprised to learn that there are various types of cheese. Soft cheeses, such as cream cheese, have a high moisture content. Mozzarella is a type of soft cheese. Fresh mozzarella and other soft cheeses have a shorter shelf life than hard cheeses.

Parmesan is a type of hard cheese. Hard cheeses, like a block of Parmesan cheese, have a hard rind or wax covering the cheese and are aged in a temperature-controlled environment for two to 36 months.

Parmesan cheese has a low moisture content due to the manufacturing process. As a result, a well-aged Italian Parmesan cheese has a rich taste and a gritty texture. The hard cheese derives its name from the region where it was created.

Parmesan cheese is made from cow’s milk from cattle grazing on the grassy slopes of northern Italy. It’s a popular cheese among cheese lovers, so you should know how to determine if your Parmesan is fresh or spoiled when it’s in the fridge.

How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last?

A block of unopened Parmesan can keep for 7 to 9 months. However, it is always a good idea to check the best-by date before purchasing, as this will give you an idea of how long you can preserve it. Want to know what the best part is? It should still be good for a few weeks after the expiration date!

If your block of Parmesan is opened, it will preserve its freshness for around 6 months. However, eat it within one to two months for the best flavor.

A grated or shredded cheese package will not last as long as a block of cheese. Remember to check the best-by date again, although an unopened package should last for at least a week after that date. If opened, eat within 3-5 days for the best flavor. You could even make it last up to seven days, though the taste would not be nearly as good at that point.

Parmesan cheese typePantryFridge
Unopened/7 to 9 months
Opened/1 to 2 months
Unopened, refrigerated shredded/grated/7 days
Opened, refrigerated, shredded/grated./3 to 7 days
Unopened, unrefrigerated gratedOne month/
Opened, unrefrigerated grated/4 to 6 months

How Long Can You Keep Fresh Parmesan Cheese in the Fridge?

Let’s make things even more complex. No, not really!

But we’d want to discuss more than one variety of fresh cheese. There is a new cheese block that is fresh, or you may buy chilled, shredded fresh cheese that is still distinct from the dry, crumbly Parmesan we will discuss later.

Does that make sense? Essentially, we’re emphasizing that this section isn’t about the dry sprinkle parmesan you can buy in a tub.

How long does a Fresh Parmesan, pre-grated cheese last?

Let’s start with pre-grated, fresh Parmesan, which you may get in the refrigerated dairy area of any grocery store. This grated Parmesan is created using fresh cheese, but we don’t know how fresh it is.

The bag of grated, fresh Parmesan from the grocer usually has a best-by date. Of course, you don’t have to throw it away after the best-by date, but that is what the business suggests for the optimum quality. You may also freeze such packs to extend their life. But we’re digressing.

Because you are buying shredded parmesan cheese, it will not last as long as a fresh block of cheese. The best-by date on the bag will most likely give you a date a few weeks in the future.

Please keep in mind that this time limit only applies to unopened bags.

When you open that package of grated parmesan cheese, things may rapidly spiral out of control. Therefore, it is critical to keep it well packed for storage. After opening, the cheese is normally best if consumed within 7 days before the quality deteriorates.

Remember that you may also freeze it for longer storage if necessary.

How long does a fresh Block of Parmesan cheese last?

NOW, let’s chat about a fresh block of parmesan cheese. If you buy fresh blocks of cheese from your local deli or the deli at your favorite grocery store, you can usually keep them for a bit longer.

Even if you cut portions off or utilize chunks, the remaining unused portion of the block will keep fresh for several weeks if properly kept.

Parmesan is classified as a hard cheese. That is one of the characteristics that distinguishes it. More often than not, it will dry up rapidly before going bad. Parmesan, on the other hand, may become rancid.

Parmesan cheese is hard because it has less moisture than other cheese forms. There’s nothing wrong with that; it’s simply how this cheese is.

Did you know that if a little portion of cheese becomes moldy, you may chop it off and the remainder of the cheese is still fine to eat?

It is recommended to keep unwanted cheese in block form since once grated or chopped off the block, the shelf-life possibilities are reduced, and you may be limited in how long you use your cheese.

To preserve a block of parmesan cheese, wrap it securely in plastic and place it in an airtight container or storage bag. You want it to be airtight so that it is not harmed by the surrounding air in the fridge.

For the greatest quality, a block of parmesan cheese should last at least 8 weeks. It’s highly feasible that it’ll endure even longer than that. For the greatest results, keep the skin of the cheese intact.

We recommend storing your parmesan block in a fridge between 39 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very common.

How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Sprinkle Last in the Fridge?

Sprinkle parmesan cheese is the type of cheese that comes in a tub. It’s finely grated or even ground, and it’s frequently used in recipes or as a garnish on pasta, pizza, and other dishes.

This is a processed parmesan cheese that has a rather long shelf life. Therefore, it is advised that you store this sort of cheese in the refrigerator once opened. However, you can keep an unopened canister in the pantry for up to a year.

This parmesan cheese will also have a best-by date imprinted on it. This is necessary for most meals and is essentially the manufacturer’s assurance of the highest quality.

Rest assured that this Parmesan will likely last much longer than that date.

This cheese may go bad, and we’ll go through some warning signs later in this book.

Remember that once you’ve opened the cheese, it’s best to keep it in the fridge to keep it fresher for longer.

You should be able to store your open sprinkle parmesan in the fridge for up to a year. After that, if you’re concerned, you may put it in the freezer, and it’ll keep well that way.

Is it necessary to keep Parmesan cheese refrigerated?

Regarding refrigeration, many people ask if Parmesan should be treated in the same manner as other cheeses. It would be much easier to leave the items on the table rather than stuff them back into the fridge after every pasta meal. So I researched and came up with a clear solution for you.

Refrigerate Parmesan cheese to keep it fresh for your next dinner or dish. If you got it in a block, wrap it tightly in wax paper, aluminum foil, or a zipper-lock bag and keep it refrigerated. If you need it to last longer, you can freeze it.

How to Tell If Your Parmesan Cheese Is Bad


When it comes to hard cheeses, such as Parmesan, the presence of mold patches is frequently innocuous. When you find them, use a knife to scrape the damaged surface and approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) surrounding them. To prevent contamination of the rest of the piece, avoid contact between the knife and the mold.

The remainder is completely safe to eat. Unfortunately, after mold has covered the majority of the surface of your cheese, you must discard it. When mold completely covers grated cheese, it frequently contaminates more than what is visible. In this circumstance, the best solution is to throw away the leftover cheese.

Keep in mind that white and bluish-green mold is normal. On the other hand, red or black mold is hazardous to use and should be avoided at all costs.


The rind of Parmesan is often darker than the remainder of the block, and many people, like me, prefer to eat that rough section. You should avoid eating cheese that has become a dark yellow or grey tint.

Grated Parmesan is always white to light beige in hue. Therefore, you should consider it ruined when it becomes yellow or dark beige.


When the Parmesan has gone bad, you’ll notice a distinct odor as a solid clue that the cheese is no longer edible. The moldy, sour, or pungent odor can be identified depending on the cause of deterioration.


Checking the texture of shredded Parmesan is the easiest method to tell whether it has gone bad.

When it feels damp and spongy to the touch, it’s time to throw out the whole thing.

Remember that grated Parmesan can dry out with time, yet this has no effect on its quality. It will be better, though, if you melt it in the meal you have made.


If your cheese begins to smell stale or sour, throw it away immediately.


When you keep Parmesan in a high-humidity environment, it will clump after a while. To avoid clumping, place uncooked rice grains in the jar with shredded cheese to absorb excess moisture.

Avoid placing the rice straight into the jar since it may produce an issue when you remove the cheese. Instead, the best method is to pour the rice into a gauze bag and place it in the jar with the cheese.

What Can Happen if You Ate Moldy Cheese

As previously stated, Parmesan is a hard cheese that mold cannot penetrate. Therefore, remove the rotten part and utilize the rest of your cheese that is moldy.

Make careful to cut approximately an inch below and around the mold, and keep the knife away from any contaminated areas. Place the remaining cheese in a separate container or wrap. You cannot take the chance of consuming microorganisms. If you’re not sure, simply throw out the whole thing.

You may develop respiratory issues and allergic responses if you ingest or inhale the mold by mistake. In the worst-case situation, you may ingest a mold that generates mycotoxin. This toxic compound can induce diarrhea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, disorientation, internal bleeding, and other symptoms.

Bacteria that cause food poisoning can occasionally be found in mold.

However, not all molds are hazardous, so don’t take any chances, especially if your immune system is weakened. Inspect your grated or shredded parmesan cheese thoroughly, and discard it if mold is found.

How Do You Store Your Parmesan Cheese?

When compared to other forms of cheese or when grated, Parmesan cheese has a longer shelf life. However, it must be refrigerated, just like any other cheese, or it will go bad and turn rancid. However, its shelf life can be prolonged if properly handled because it is frequently packed in large quantities.

Parmesan cheese has a low moisture content, which inhibits mold formation. Even if a portion of the cheese turns moldy, it is still safe to eat. All you need to do is remove the moldy part and preserve the remaining cheese properly. Remember that the cheese’s storage conditions will impact how long it will stay fresh.

Refrigerating Parmesan cheese blocks in sealed containers is the best method to store them. 

The blocks should be stored with the rind on, while the grated cheese should be kept in the fridge in a container.

Here are some suggestions for storing Parmesan cheese and keeping it fresh for as long as possible:

Wax paper should be used to wrap your cheese.

Wax paper will assist in keeping your cheese moist and prevent it from drying. Plastic paper is also advised, but the negative is that it will sweat excessively.

Make use of aluminum foil.

After wrapping your Parmesan cheese in wax paper, you may use heavy-duty aluminum foil to thoroughly cover it. This not only protects the cheese but also allows it to breathe. Next, cover the whole surface of the cheese with aluminum foil.

Place your cheese in the last compartment.

To avoid absorbing aromas from other items in the fridge, store the cheese in the bottom compartment of the refrigerator. You can even store cheese there if you’re lucky enough to have a root cellar.

The ideal temperature for the cheese is between 35F and 45F. (2C to 7C). Parmesan cheese will keep for a year or more if kept at a constant temperature. After using the cheese, always wrap it firmly. Before refrigerating the cheese, place it in a freezer bag and seal it tightly.

There are refrigerated and unrefrigerated varieties of grated and shredded Parmesan available. They can be stored in the same manner as in the supermarket. However, once you’ve opened any flavor, it should be refrigerated. To minimize microbiological contamination, use clean tools when scooping your cheese.

Is it possible to freeze parmesan cheese?

Parmesan cheese may be frozen in the block, shredded, or grated form. Both perform quite well and are effective methods for increasing the shelf life of leftover Parmesan.

However, frozen parmesan cheese has a slightly different texture and lacks some of its trademark crumbliness. Although I didn’t see much of a change, many individuals did, so it’s worth noting.

In other words, grating and melting frozen and defrosted Parmesan works best. And you may do so by either freezing it grated or in wedges and then grating afterward.

Before we go any farther, one final thing.

Parmesan has a very long shelf life, generally a couple of months, so if your wedge or bag is still unopened, check the date on the label before freezing it. You might still have a lot of time.

That’s all there is to it when it comes to freezing Parmesan. Let’s get into the specifics now.

Because of its low water content, Parmesan cheese freezes extremely well. The same is true for low moisture cheeses like grana padano.

How to freeze Parmesan Blocks

Here’s the simplest method for freezing parmesan blocks:

  • Wrap the Parmesan securely. A freezer bag should be plenty for short-term storage, such as a month or two. If you know your parm will be in the freezer for an extended period, wrap it in aluminum foil or freezer before putting it in the bag. Remove any remaining air before closing the bag.
  • Place the Parmesan in a freezer bag and place it in the freezer. If you choose, you may give it a name and a date.

That’s all. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

If you’re lazy or really busy, this approach is ideal because it takes around 30 seconds.

There’s no need to unwrap and rewrap your parmesan block if it’s still wrapped in plastic. Instead, simply put it in the freezer as is.

How to freeze Grated (or Shredded) Parmesan in the Freezer

To freeze grated (or shredded) Parmesan, follow these steps:

  • Grate the Parmesan. Grab a grater and select the side that best suits your needs. If your Parmesan is already shredded, you may skip this step.
  • Spread the grated cheese equally on a cookie sheet. Line the sheet with a silicone mat (my favorite) or anything else that will help the cheese not adhere to the surface.
  • Freeze the cheese in advance. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and keep it there until the cheese strands are completely frozen. It typically takes 2 to 4 hours. You may also place it in the freezer for an overnight period.
  • It should be stirred. Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer. You’ll notice that the cheese is really sticky. To correct this, take a spatula (or a fork, or whatever you have on hand) and give everything a thorough stir. Your aim is to eliminate any clumps so you may scoop as much as you need (photos below). That should take no more than 30 seconds to a minute.
  • Place the cheese in a freezer bag or other airtight container. The cheese is now ready to be frozen indefinitely. If you don’t have much freezer space, use a bag. If you choose, you may give it a name and a date.

As you can see, the procedure isn’t time-consuming, but you can’t do it all at once. That is most likely its sole disadvantage.

When it comes to eliminating the clumps, I recommend starting from here (where everything is sticky):

To this (where the cheese may be scooped):

You may omit this step, but it will make it more difficult to scoop the appropriate quantity of cheese when needed. I prefer to have the shredded cheese ready to go.

Anticaking agents can also be used to keep the cheese from sticking together. In my essay on freezing shredded cheese, I discuss whether or not you should do this.

How Long Can Parmesan Cheese Be Freeze?

To acquire the greatest quality, utilize frozen parmesan cheese within 3 months. Of course, this 3-month timeframe isn’t anything extraordinary — it’s just a rough estimate.

The longer the parm lies in the freezer, the worse it’s quality. But it’s not like it’ll taste fine after being frozen for two months and then become bad after another two months. In most circumstances, the differences will be insignificant.

In other words, even if your Parmesan has been frozen for more than six months, the flavor should be OK.

Every food that lies in the freezer degrades with time, and Parmesan is no different. Some of them (such as beef) can endure frigid temperatures. Others, such as string cheese and mozzarella, are not as tasty.

There’s one more item to mention.

I usually advise people to eat frozen meals as soon as feasible. Aside from the quality issue, the problem is that humans are forgetful.

Unless the Parmesan is staring you down every time you open your freezer, you’ll probably forget about it after two weeks, if not a month. That is how you wind up with food sitting in the freezer for three years.

Defrosting and Using Parmesan Cheese

Blocks of Parmesan

There are at least two methods of using frozen parmesan blocks or wedges. Here they are, along with their benefits and drawbacks.

It should be grated frozen.

A frozen parmesan wedge may still be grated or shredded. When the cheese is frozen, it becomes firmer, but the change isn’t significant. Just a little extra elbow grease is required.

If you aren’t going to utilize the entire frozen block at once, this is an excellent choice. Simply remove the wedge from the freezer, grate as much as you need, and return the remainder.

And now you have grated frozen parm on hand, which I discuss in the following part.

Defrost the wedge.

Defrosting a parmesan wedge in the fridge takes 2 to 8 hours. Unless it’s a massive one, which may take 16 hours or more.

It is easier to thaw by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight.

Depending on your needs, you may grate, shred, or crumble it once it’s thawed. And, in most circumstances, no one will be able to determine whether or not the parm was frozen.

Remember that the quality of crushed defrosted Parmesan may be somewhat inferior to that of a fresh wedge. In other words, stick to fresh parm if you’re serving a cheese platter to cheese lovers for dinner.


Because the maturing process takes a long period (12-36 months), so does the shelf life of a block of Parmesan cheese, making it extremely simple to preserve for a long time if stored in the fridge—otherwise, it will perish faster than the best-by date! Remember the differences between grated and shredded cheese, and use it as a topping in your favorite Italian-inspired dishes!


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