Does Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated – How Long Can Cream Cheese Be Unrefrigerated?

How Do You Know When Cream Cheese Is Bad?

If you have leftover blocks of cheese or are planning to buy some to use on a later day, you will have to store it at some point. So does cheese need to be refrigerated?  

Some cheeses need to be refrigerated, while others do not. Hard cheeses, such as Pecorino Romano, cheddar, Parmesan, etc., do not require refrigeration, while cream cheeses, mozzarella, and other soft cheeses require refrigeration. Cream cheeses will last unrefrigerated for two to three hours. 

Different cheeses have different storage requirements, so read on to learn more about the type you have in your kitchen and how best to store it. 

Does Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated? Which Do & Which Don’t?

Not all cheeses need to be refrigerated because they will be in good condition if left unrefrigerated. However, the ones that cannot survive beyond a few hours need to be refrigerated. The type of cheese you have will determine whether you should refrigerate it. 

Cheese is mainly made of milk; they are classified into soft and hard cheese. Due to the milk component of cheese, it is more likely to spoil if not stored. The fat and sugars in milk make it highly prone to bacteria growth. Before the advent of refrigerators, humans had devised a means of storing cheese. They stored cheeses in a cool, dry place and at room temperature.

It is important to know your kind of cheese; otherwise, you risk exposing it to spoilage and texture change. While refrigerating your cheese prolongs its lifespan, you should know that refrigerating cheese will change its texture, color, and taste. 

Which Cheeses Can Be Refrigerated?

Soft cheeses are usually refrigerated. Unlike their hard counterparts, they contain high water and fat. If left unrefrigerated, they will spoil and will not be useful again. You should also know that refrigerated cheese will lose taste and texture. Examples of soft cheeses include refrigerated cream cheese, mozzarella, goat cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta, etc.

Below are cheeses that can be refrigerated.

1. Cream Cheese

It is not ideal to keep cream cheeses unrefrigerated because they will go bad within two to three hours. The rule of cream cheese is that it should be consumed fresh, but in situations where it was not exhausted, it should be refrigerated. 

You should only open cream cheeses when you are ready to consume them. The implication of doing this is that you will preserve and save the cheese from spoiling. Cream cheeses contain so much water; hence putting them in the refrigerator is ideal. 

2. Cottage Cheese

Another cheese that requires refrigeration is cottage cheese. Cottage cheeses are common, and they are varieties. Although cottage cheese is semi-sold, it can go bad if you leave them on the counter for too long. The instructions on the cottage cheese pack will guide you on the storage and how long it can stay unrefrigerated. 

3. Goat Cheese

Goat cheese is another soft cheese that should be stored in the refrigerator. It is a common cheese that is sold in supermarkets. Usually, it is stored at 400F to preserve it and extend its lifespan. After 2-3 hours of opening your goat cheese, you should put it in the refrigerator; otherwise, it will go bad. 

4. Shredded Cheese

Shredded cheese can be any cheese. Once your block of cheese has been shredded, it is highly prone to mold and bacteria growth. You can use shredded cheese for your pizza toppings and sandwiches. Hard cheeses can also be shredded, but you should keep them refrigerated if there are leftovers. 

Cheese shreds will easily go bad compared to a block of cheese. An ideal temperature to store cheese shreds is 400F. But you can check the cheese pack for more storage information. 

Which Cheese Cannot Be Refrigerated?

Hard cheeses do not require refrigeration because their moisture and fat content are low, unlike soft cheeses. They can be stored at room temperature for a long time. However, hard cheeses can still go bad if not refrigerated, not immediately. Some manufacturers may instruct how to reuse a block of molded cheese. 

Let’s consider some hard cheeses that should not be refrigerated.

1. Parmesan

Parmesan is a popular hard cheese. You can store the Parmesan cheese at room temperature, lasting up to two to three days. Parmigiano Reggiano is ideal for organic cheese lovers; it contains no preservatives. 

Cold climates are best for Parmesan cheeses because they can stay longer than in hot climates. Read the manufacturer’s instructions on the pack of cheese. You will find suitable storage conditions for the cheese when you go through the instructions. 

2. Pecorino Romano

If your cheese is Pecorino Romano, you don’t need to refrigerate it as it can last for two to three days unrefrigerated. You can store the cheese in a cool, dry place and at room temperature. However, it will last longer than three days if you refrigerate it. 

3. Aged Cheese

Aged cheese with low moisture can last up to 3 days without getting bad. For instance, aged Gouda and cheddar cheese may last longer than others. 

4. Processed Cheese

Processed cheeses contain preservatives and additives. Pasteurization allows the cheese last longer. Processed cheeses are often mass-produced and sealed to stay on the counter without refrigerating. American cheese is processed cheese that does not require a refrigerator.

Processed cheeses are often sealed, so once you open them, you must consume them immediately or refrigerate the leftover. Ensure to check the manufacturer’s instructions on storage conditions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If Cheese Is Not Refrigerated After Opening?

Depending on the type of cheese and manufacturer’s instructions, an opened cheese that is unrefrigerated will grow mold and bacteria, causing it to spoil. Hard cheeses may last longer, up to 3 days, while soft cheeses will last up to 3 hours. Endeavor to check the manufacturer’s instructions on storage duration.

How Long Will Cheese Last Unrefrigerated?

Once you have opened your cheese pack, your next step should be to store it because if your cheese is soft, it will not last beyond 3 hours, while hard cheeses will last up to 3 days. Store your hard cheeses in a cool, dry place at room temperature. Check your cheese pack for storage information.

How Long Will Sealed Cheese Last Unrefrigerated?

The lasting duration of sealed cheese depends on the manufacturer. However, sealed cheeses contain additives that may prevent them from going bad. So when you buy a sealed cheese, check the production and expiry date on the pack of the cheese. This will inform you of the cheese’s lasting duration. 

The producer may also give information on how long the cheese will last when it is not refrigerated. Ensure to go through the information. 


There are different kinds of cheeses with varying textures and moisture content. Hence, some last longer than others when refrigerated. However, the taste and texture of refrigerated cheeses will not remain the same.  

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