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Can Parmesan Cheese Go Bad?

Can parmesan cheese go bad? Parmesan is a type of Italian hard cheese with a long shelf life! That being said, this cheese won’t last forever – it will become rancid or dry out at some point.

Parmesan cheese is often sold in large quantities. This means leftovers are inevitable unless you use a lot of it.

The good news is, as long as the product is stored properly, there is no need to worry about spoilage at all. If you’ve got more parmesan cheese than you can handle, always check the storage instructions to extend its shelf life.

Good parmesan cheese can be quite expensive and it’ll be a shame to waste such high-quality cheese!

Parmesan in package
Parmesan in its package

Can Parmesan Cheese Go Bad?

Generally, hard cheeses like Parmesan cheese will keep much longer than soft cheese (like ricotta).

Parmesan will keep fresher for longer because of the reduced level of moisture within the product. The reduced level of moisture discourages mold growth.

But even when a small area of the cheese turns moldy, the cheese is still safe to eat. Just cut away the moldy spot and store the rest of the cheese.

The storage life of parmesan cheese is limited and dependent on the storage conditions.

Grated parmesan cheese has a shorter shelf life than blocks of parmesan cheese.

Grating parmesan cheese
Grating parmesan cheese

Signs that Parmesan Cheese Has Gone Bad

To check for signs of spoilage, look for the presence of mold. If you are seeing a moldy spot or two, cut the moldy bits away. If they are all over the cheese, it’s time to get rid of it.

Besides mold, check for a general change in color or discolorations. If the parmesan cheese took on a weird shade of dark yellow or gray, the cheese has gone bad and is no longer safe to eat.

Parmesan’s rind is different in color (yellow or orange-ish) and often hard. That’s normal – there’s nothing wrong with the cheese.

Grated parmesan
Grated parmesan in a bowl

When it comes to smell, things are simple. If the cheese emits moldy or pungent odors, throw the cheese in the trash. Same thing if it seems sour.

Last but not least – taste. If tastes off, sour, or kind of rancid – throw it out.

If the parm you grated started to dry out, that’s okay. It should still do quite fine if you plan on melting it.

Adding grated parmesan to pasta
Adding grated parmesan to pasta

How to Store Parmesan Cheese?

The best way to store grated cheese and Parmesan blocks is by keeping them in the refrigerator. Parmesan wedges or blocks should have their rind.

Keep the storage temperature between 39 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

For parmesan blocks, we recommend covering the product in cling wrap or aluminum foil before storing the cheese in the fridge. The extra protection will keep fridge odors away. The wrapper will also inhibit moisture loss so the cheese won’t dry out too much while in storage.

Alternatively, you can put the wedge in a freezer bag or an airtight container.

Pasta topped with parmesan
Pasta topped with parmesan

Grated Parmesan cheese doesn’t require any prep at all. Just stick the container in the fridge and you’re done.

If you’re grating Parmesan beforehand, use a resealable container to store the cheese.

How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last?

A block of parmesan cheese can last for at least a couple of months past its date if you keep it wrapped properly. Once you shred or grate it, it lasts for about a week in a container in the fridge.

When it comes to store-bought grated or shredded parm, follow the guidelines on the label.

If that’s not long enough, maybe freezing your parmesan is an option?

Grated parmesan closeup
Grated parmesan closeup

Can You Freeze Parmesan Cheese?

Freezing is usually not necessary because parmesan cheese has a long shelf life.

But if you must, you can freeze the cheese. However, the freezing temperature could decrease the quality of the cheese. The parmesan cheese could lose its original texture (crumbliness) and a bit of flavor as soon as it is thawed.

Frozen parmesan cheese is best used for cooking sauces, soups, and casseroles.

Pasta with melted parmesan
Pasta with melted parmesan

The best way to freeze parmesan is to freeze it grated. This way, it’s ready to use right away, without thawing.

The how-to is simple:

  1. Grate the leftover parm.
  2. Transfer it into an airtight container or freezer bag.
  3. Freeze.

The grated cheese shouldn’t stick much (don’t try to compress is, though) so you should be able to grab a pinch (or ten) whenever you need some. Just take the container out of the freezer, take as much parmesan as you need, and return the rest.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, I wrote a whole guide to freezing parmesan on my sister site

Parmesan before grating
Parmesan before grating


  • Parmesan lasts a long time – it should easily last past its date if you store it properly.
  • Once you open the wedge, wrap it tightly our put in an airtight container to preserve it for longer.
  • Keep grated parm in a sealed container or bag.
  • Parmesan’s rind is darker and quite firm, but it’s still edible.