How Long Does Mac And Cheese Last?

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Who doesn’t love delicious mac and cheese? The festive season calls for a huge batch of creamy mac and cheese. But are you wondering how long leftovers of mac and cheese will last and how you can preserve it? 


Well, I heard you, and this blog post is here to answer all your questions. So whenever you next prepare it, you don’t have to worry about its storage and shelf life. The life of mac and cheese totally depends upon how you preserve it!

When mac and cheese is kept out, it lasts only 1 to 2 hours. But it is good for consumption for up to 2 to 3 days when refrigerated. However, freezing is the best way to keep it away from bacterial attacks. It lasts 2-3 months while placed in the freezer and stored in an airtight container. 

In this article, I have mentioned how long mac and cheese will last, how you can tell if it is spoiled and distinct ways of storing it. So keep reading and discover the best tips to keep your mac and cheese fresh for a longer period.

How Long Does Mac And Cheese Last?

Let’s first start with the mac and cheese that is freshly prepared. Well, you can keep it outside but only for 1 to 2 hours; otherwise, there are high chances of it getting spoiled. You can extend its life for 3 to 4 days by refrigerating it. 

If you want to store it for much longer, place it in the freezer. It will help you to extend the life of the mac and cheese. 

Not only this, it will surely protect it from getting spoiled. You can place it in the freezer for about 2 to 3 months. 

This is all about the one which you prepared from scratch. But when we talk about the dry mixes of mac and cheese, you can use these up to the best date. They come with an expiry date that usually lasts 1 to 2 years. 

Let’s get a sneak peek from the table about the shelf life of mac and cheese. 

Kind Of Mac And CheesePantry Refrigerator Freezer
Cooked Mac And Cheese1-2 hours 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Dry Mix of Mac And Cheese3 months 6 months 1 year 
Frozen Mac And Cheese6 months 

How To Tell If Mac And Cheese Has Gone Bad?

mac and cheese

Your homemade mac and cheese doesn’t come with a best buy date. So you must be wondering how to check whether it is spoiled. 

Don’t worry, I have listed a few signs of spoilage. So notice these signs before you munch on leftover mac and cheese. 

1. Bad Smell

Don’t we all love the fresh creamy aroma of mac and cheese? But with the passing of time, if it hasn’t been stored properly, it will definitely lose its aroma. 

Moreover, if it produces a bad order or foul smell, you must discard it. The bad smell is the most obvious sign of bad mac and cheese. 

2. Appearance 

The next up on the list is to notice the appearance of mac and cheese. If the color is unusual or you find any kind of mold, you must toss it away. 

The presence of mold indicates a bacterial attack and is thus unfit for eating. 

3. Taste

If you cannot figure out whether the mac and cheese has gone bad with the above steps, grab a spoon and have a small bite of mac and cheese. 

If its taste seems off, then you must discard it. It will taste strangely tangy and lumpy as opposed to the unspoiled creamy and smooth mac and cheese. 

How Long Can Mac And Cheese Sit Out?

If you have leftover mac and cheese and are worried about how long it will last outside? Well, let me tell you that it relies on a few factors, such as how long it has been out as well as the ingredients used to prepare it. 

Many of us prepare mac and cheese with milk, and eventually, we all know milk spoils, especially when kept at high temperatures. So if milk is added, you must not keep it outside for more than two hours. 

Nevertheless, if you bake the mac and cheese, it can last up to 4 hours at room temperature. You must discard it when kept out for a longer period. 

The dairy used in the preparation of the mac and cheese starts to spoil at a quick rate. It is an open invitation to bacterial attack. 

This can even result in food poisoning. So whenever you want to enjoy mac and cheese, you best have it when it is hot. 

How Long are Mac And Cheese Last In Fridge?

You can’t keep your favorite mac and cheese in the refrigerator for more than 2 to 3 days. Even when you place it in the fridge, keep an eye on it. 

There are some chances of it getting spoiled after some time. If you observe any kind of foul smell, toss it away. 

How Long are Mac And Cheese Last In Freezer?

You can consider freezing the best way to save your favorite mac and cheese from spoilage. You can save it from getting spoiled for up to 2 to 3 months by keeping it in the freezer. 

But don’t forget to place it in an air-tight container. Freezing slows down the degradation process and prevents bacterial attack. Moreover, when we talk about a dry mix of mac and cheese, it can last even up to one year. 

How Long Does Frozen Baked Mac And Cheese Last In The Freezer?

As I already mentioned, freezing mac and cheese is the most simple yet effective way. But before putting it in the freezer, let it cool down to room temperature. 

Then, make sure you cover it with plastic wrap or put it in a zip-lock bag or air-tight container. Frozen baked mac and cheese can be placed in the freezer for up to 2 to 4 months. 

So, whenever you want to grab a bite of mac and cheese, remove it from the freezer and put it into a preheated oven. 

How To Store Mac And Cheese?

Let’s check out the various ways to store mac and cheese. 

1. Freeze 

Freezing is the best and most effective method to store your mac and cheese. To prevent mold attacks, we must be sure that it is away from moisture. 

So to keep it preserved, just double up the plastic freezer bag. By doing this, you can easily extend the life of mac and cheese up to 4 months. 

2. Refrigerating

Once mac and cheese cool down at room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and place it in the fridge. You can also wrap the whole dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. 

Another great storage method is to use a zip lock bag to push all the air out before sealing it properly. But don’t forget that this way of storage is best for only 3 to 4 days. 

3. Keep At The Same Temperature 

Another way of preserving your delicious mac and cheese is to keep it at the same temperature. It is one of the simple ways of storing it. 

Again, make sure it is away from moisture, as it will definitely spoil it. Try to keep a consistent temperature. 

4. Use Glass Containers

Well, we all know that glass is much better than plastic. So, try to use glass containers instead of plastic ones. 

This kind of storage is one of the best ways to store cooked mac and cheese. Storing in glass containers surely keeps it fresh as compared to plastic containers. 

5. Avoid Cross Contamination

You must keep in mind that you must use a clean utensils for storing mac and cheese. Also, when you are scooping it on the plate, make sure you use a clean spoon. This will surely reduce the chances of bacterial growth. 

Tips To Extend Life Shelf Of Mac And Cheese

If you are looking for some tips to preserve your mac and cheese, then you are at the right place. Let’s quickly know the few easy yet effective tips that work well to keep your favorite dish from rotten.  

  • Remember this, keep it away from moisture. The presence of moisture is an open invitation to molds and bacteria. 
  • Don’t forget to use an air-tight container for storing it in the fridge or freezer. 
  • Wrap it well with plastic wraps, or you can also use a zip-loc bag to store it in the freezer. 
  • Use clean utensils for storage. 
  • Don’t keep it outside when the temperature is high. 


I hope all your doubts about the mac and cheese shelf life are cleared now. If you prepare it fresh, I suggest not keeping it out for more than 2 hours. 

You can either place it in the fridge or freezer. But make sure you are storing it properly. So now grab your leftover mac and cheese and munch on it. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does mac and cheese go bad? 

Yes, mac and cheese does go bad after a certain time. It totally depends on the kind of ingredients used to prepare it and the method of storage. 

What are the different ways to store mac and cheese? 

You can use an airtight container, zip-loc bag, and even plastic wrap to store mac and cheese. 

How can you tell if mac and cheese has gone bad? 

If your mac and cheese smells bad or has molds, it is best to throw it away. Don’t consume it if it doesn’t look or taste like the regular one. 

How long do mac and cheese sit out?

You must not keep mac and cheese out for more than two hours. If it is kept out for more than 2 hours, there is a high chance of it getting spoiled. 

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