Can Velveeta Cheese Go Bad?

If whenever you think about mac and cheese Velveeta immediately comes to mind, you surely know all about how to store it and how long does it last.

But if you’re using Velveeta only occasionally, or maybe you’ve just bought your very first package, you might not be familiar with those basics.

Velveeta isn’t “real” cheese, but a “recipe cheese product,” or a “processed cheese product.” And besides the naming, which for some may seem only as a technical detail, there are some differences between Velveeta and “normal” cheeses worth knowing about. And this article is exactly about those differences.

If your experience with Velveeta cheese is limited, and you’d like to learn a bit about signs of spoilage, methods of storage, and its shelf life, continue reading.

And for the record, I’m going to refer to Velveeta as cheese for the rest of the article simply because everyone else does exactly the same. Plus it would be kind of awkward to call it a “recipe cheese product” each time.

Mac and cheese
(credit: Atharva Lele)

Can Velveeta Cheese Go Bad? How To Tell If Velveeta Is Bad?

While Velveeta is definitely more processed than your typical cheese, like Brie or Blue cheese, it won’t last forever and will go bad eventually.

When it comes to signs of spoilage, pay close attention to its color and texture. Fresh Velveeta is yellow and soft to the touch. Any noticeable changes in either of these qualities suggest it’s past its prime, especially if it’s already past its date.

Heavily (compared to regular cheese) processed foods such as Velveeta rarely go moldy, but if that happens, it’s obviously time for it to go.

If its smell or flavor changes for the worse, you should discard it too.

One thing to note is that the cheese might start to dry out gradually if it’s not well wrapped after opening. If that’s the case, you can discard the dried part or use it like you usually would.

If you’re going to melt it either way, it won’t make that much of a difference.

Potatoes and cheese sauce
(credit: angela pham)

How Long Does Velveeta Cheese Last?

This one is super straightforward.

When it comes to the shelf life of unopened Velveeta cheese, it’s usually around 6 months from the packaging date. As usual, it’s best to go with the “best-by” date on the label.

Of course, it’s a processed food with added preservatives, so it will most likely last past that date.

How long past the “best by” date, you ask? It’s impossible to tell, but my best guess would be about a month at least. If it’s past its date, just open the package and examine the quality of what’s inside.

If you aren’t 100% sure it’s okay, err on the side of caution and discard it.

Once you open the package, the Kraft Foods’ product keeps quality for about 8 weeks ([WG]). The info is easily accessible on the package, so check yours in case anything changed. Plus it might be slightly different for other Velveeta products, so it’s always worth consulting the label.

Of course, if you’ve opened the package near or after the date on the label, you shouldn’t expect the best quality for such a long time. Nevertheless, it’s a processed product, so it’s not like it’s going to completely degrade overnight.

In other words, use it for as long as you find the quality good enough.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the last piece of the puzzle, and that is storing Velveeta.

How To Store Velveeta? Do You Have To Refrigerate It?

Unlike most dairy products (except powdered milk, evaporated milk, or condensed milk), you don’t need to refrigerate an unopened package of Velveeta.

It’s shelf-stable, and that’s why you can find it in the supermarket on the shelves and not in the fridges. Just make sure it doesn’t sit near any heat sources, and you’re golden.

After opening the package, make sure you refrigerate the cheese and wrap it properly each time. This way it won’t dry out and will stay in top-notch quality for a long time.

If you can’t cover it using its original packaging, use a freezer bag instead.

Does open Velveeta go bad if not refrigerated, you ask? I didn’t test that and don’t intend to, but I would say no. It’d most likely degrade in quality much faster, though.

So if you’re going to use the whole package within a few days, you can probably get away with skipping the fridge whatsoever.

Again, I didn’t test that, and you do it at your own risk. As in almost all cases, I recommend the same storage method the producer does.

Last but not least, Kraft Foods doesn’t recommend freezing Velveeta ([FB]). However, if you really won’t be able to use it before it degrades, freezing might be a way out.

I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be the first person to freeze Velveeta, either. Just seal it well in a freezer bag and thaw overnight in the fridge. It shouldn’t make that much of a difference in your mac and cheese when it’s all melted together.

Summary

  • Store Velveeta at room temperature away from heat, refrigerate after opening.
  • Velveeta lasts about 6 months (observe the date on the label) unopened and about 8 weeks after opening.
  • This cheese product rarely gets moldy, so in most cases, you will have to throw it out because its quality is poor, not because it’s spoiled in the usual way.

References