Does Macaroni And Cheese Go Bad?

Many people consider macaroni and cheese to be the ideal comfort dish. Some individuals make it from scratch, while many others use a dry mix or a frozen packet from their local grocery store. If you use store-bought mac and cheese, you will eventually wonder: Does mac and cheese go bad?

Even when prepared from the scratch, the chance that there will be leftovers is very high. Or maybe you thought of making enough macaroni and cheese for two dinners so that you can just come back home and reheat it for supper later in the week.

This post is all about mac and cheese. Both the handmade and store-bought varieties are acceptable. We discuss storage, shelf life, spoilage, and even freezing. Follow and complete this blog post if you have any concerns or questions about these issues.

Does Macaroni And Cheese Go Bad?

Yes, either the dry mix or the frozen kind of mac and cheese goes bad. A best-by or best-before date on a dry mix typically indicates the packet’s projected shelf life. However, unlike other dried foods, the combination will not deteriorate after a day or two. You can store your mac & cheese for a few months longer and it will still be Fine. The quality might not be as great as that of a fresh package but the meal will not be harmful to eat.

The same is true for mac and cheese purchased from the frozen food area of the supermarket. It will also have a shelf life date marked on the packaging, although prepared foods will taste fine after that date.

How Long Do Mac And Cheese Last?

The shelf life of the driest macaroni and cheese mixtures is two years. A sealed pack can be stored correctly for three to six months after the printed date. You may store the mix in the cupboard, but once opened, place any leftovers in the refrigerator. If you purchased the mix in large quantities, keep it in the refrigerator or freezer. It can be stored here for up to six months and as long as twelve months after the best-by date.

Use the date on the packaging to determine how long you may store frozen mac & cheese. While shelf life varies by brand, most packets will survive an extra two to four months after the indicated best-by date. Keep the product firmly wrapped in the freezer at all times to help it maintain its quality for as long as possible. 

What about cooked macaroni and cheese, you might be wondering. If you have leftover macaroni and cheese, the best solution is to store it in the refrigerator and consume it within two to six days. If you want the dish to last longer, store it in the freezer where it can keep for up to three months.

Cooked mac and cheese should not be stored at room temperature. Cooked food should never be kept on the table for longer than two hours, according to Mississippi State University. Of course, the meal will not spoil after two hours, but because bacteria proliferate quickly at room temperature, the longer it remains out, the more probable it will degrade.

The expected shelf life of mac and cheese is shown in the table below.

Mac And Cheese TypeLifespan In PantryLifespan In A RefrigeratorLifespan In A Freezer
Dry mac and cheese mixBest-by date + 3 monthsUp to 6 monthsUp to 1-year
Frozen mac and cheeseNot recommendedNot recommendedBest-by date + 2 to 4 months
Cooked mac and cheeseNot recommended2 to 6 daysUp to 3 months

Please keep in mind that the dates listed above are simply estimations.

How To Identify Mac And Cheese That Has Gone Bad

Mac and cheese that has gone bad are simple to spot. Some things to keep an eye out for are listed below.

1. Horrible Smell

The scent of good macaroni and cheese will be creamy and cheesy. If yours emits a foul stench, it’s a clue that something is wrong. Maybe you left it open and it became sour. Or it picked up odors from nearby meals and now smells like fish.

Whatever the situation, that mac and cheese will not be tasty. However, depending on the amount of damage, you must determine what you wish to do with it.

2. Taste Change

Cooked macaroni and cheese ought to taste cheesy and creamy, just like it smells. Unless you’ve added additional ingredients that change the flavor, any other suspect taste, such as an extremely harsh sourness, might indicate that the food has rancidified. While it is unlikely to make you sick, if the taste is intolerable, it is preferable to discard the meal.

3. Mold

Mold may grow on both cooked and uncooked mac and cheese. While the uncooked box is less vulnerable, if it is left open and water gets in, it can become a breeding place for mold. Remove any gray or green patches from the top of your mac and cheese.

How To Properly Store Mac And Cheese

As long as your mac and cheese are properly stored, it will last until its expiration date and beyond. Here are some ideas to help you get the most out of your packet of mac & cheese.

1. Select A Cool, Dry Location

This is mostly true for dry mac and cheese mix. Choose a location that is distant from the stove, direct sunshine, and other heat sources. The area should also be devoid of moisture so that the product remains dry. Most pantries will meet these specifications, but any storage facility that favors dry mixtures would suffice.

2. Consider Using A Vacuum Sealer

If you plan on storing numerous boxes of mac and cheese for a long time, you may want to take a step further in preparing them for storage. Move the product, for example, into airtight containers and vacuum seal them. This additional step keeps your mac & cheese fresher for longer by keeping moisture and pests out.

3. Refrigerate Cooked Mac And Cheese

Cooked macaroni and cheese may not survive long, but you may extend its life by keeping it in the refrigerator. If you want to consume them within a week, just place the cooked meal in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. If you want the dish to last longer, place it in the freezer.

What Happens When You Consume Expired Mac And Cheese?

There is a good possibility that nothing will occur if you consume outdated macaroni and cheese. Why? To begin with, the smell and taste of moldy or rotten mac and cheese are revolting, and you will almost certainly discard the product or prepared meal as soon as you notice it is bad.

But what if you accidentally consume rotten mac and cheese? Nothing will happen again. While moldy or rotten food can induce food poisoning, it will only do so if taken in significant quantities.

Just a few bites are unlikely to hurt you, but if you consume a full bowl, you may become susceptible to food poisoning disorders such as gastroenteritis, which is accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever, and stomach aches. If you have any doubts about the integrity of a package of mac and cheese that has been in storage for a time, it is best to discard it.

Can Mac And Cheese Be Freeze?

Yes, you may freeze leftover mac and cheese if you don’t plan on cooking it anytime soon. All that is required is an airtight container to keep the goods dry. Simply place the goods in the container and securely seal the lid to keep moisture and odors away.

If you purchased the product in large quantities, try portioning it into different containers instead of putting it all in one huge container. This way, you won’t have to keep opening the bigger container every time you want to use the product, allowing it to maintain its quality and taste longer.

How To Freeze Mac And Cheese

If you don’t plan on eating the leftovers anytime soon, or if you want some flexibility in that regard, you should freeze them. The procedure is quite simple however,  you must use a freezer-safe container. If you were wondering if you could freeze cooked macaroni noodles and sauce independently, don’t. This is because thawed spaghetti gets mushy. However, if you made extra sauce than you needed, it should freeze nicely on its own.

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


Macaroni and cheese may be stored properly for an extended period of time. The date indicated on the label does not always indicate that the product will become harmful to consume.

It is merely an estimation of how long it will last. You can consume your mac and cheese for a few months after this date, but if you detect a change in flavor or smell, trash it.

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