How long does deli sliced cheese last in fridge?

Deli sliced cheese can typically last 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator if stored properly. However, the exact shelf life depends on several factors like the type of cheese, how it was packaged, and how it was stored. Generally, harder cheeses like cheddar and Swiss last longer than soft cheeses like mozzarella. Unopened packages will also keep longer than opened packages. Follow proper storage methods to maximize the shelf life of deli sliced cheese.

Quick Summary

  • Unopened deli sliced cheese lasts around 2 weeks in the fridge.
  • Opened packages last around 1 week.
  • Proper storage helps extend shelf life.
  • Hard cheeses last longer than soft cheeses.
  • Discard cheese if moldy, dried out, or has an off smell.

How Long Does Unopened Deli Cheese Last?

An unopened package of deli cheese that has been continuously refrigerated can last around 2 weeks past the printed sell-by or use-by date on the packaging. If there is no date on the package, the general guideline is around 2 weeks after purchasing.

For example, if you buy a package of deli cheddar slices that has a use-by date of June 1st, that cheese should stay fresh until approximately June 15th if left unopened in the refrigerator. Make sure to check for signs of spoilage before eating, even if within the 2 week timeframe.

Factors That Affect Unopened Shelf Life

There are a few key factors that influence how long deli cheese will last unopened:

  • Type of cheese – Harder cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, and provolone generally last longer than softer cheeses like mozzarella and brie. Soft cheeses have higher moisture content which means they spoil more quickly.
  • Fat content – Full fat cheeses typically have a longer shelf life than low-fat or nonfat cheeses.
  • Packaging – Properly sealed packaging helps prevent early spoilage. Sliced cheese in vacuum packs last longer than non-vacuum packages.
  • Storage temperature – Storing at the proper refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below is ideal. Higher temperatures shorten shelf life.
  • Age of cheese – Fresher cheese lasts longer than aged cheese.

Signs Unopened Deli Cheese Has Spoiled

Check deli cheese for the following signs of spoilage before eating:

  • Mold growth – this could appear fuzzy or discolored
  • Unpleasant sour odor
  • Dry, crumbly texture
  • Ammonia smell
  • Discoloration
  • Slimy texture

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the cheese even if before the use-by date, as it is no longer safe to eat.

How Long Does Opened Deli Cheese Last?

Once opened, deli cheese has a shorter shelf life of approximately 1 week in the refrigerator. However, always check for signs of spoilage before eating. Properly re-wrap or seal the cheese after each use to help maximize freshness.

Factors That Affect Opened Shelf Life

Here are some key factors that determine how long opened deli cheese will last:

  • Cheese type – Softer varieties like mozzarella don’t keep as long as hard cheeses after opening.
  • Amount of cheese left – Small leftover pieces spoil faster than a larger remaining block.
  • Exposure to air – More exposure means faster drying out.
  • Frequency of openings – Repeated openings shorten shelf life.
  • Storage method – Keeping cheese properly sealed in original packaging or an airtight container extends freshness.

Signs Opened Deli Cheese Has Spoiled

Check opened deli cheese for the following before consuming:

  • Mold growth
  • Drying out
  • Bitter flavor
  • Separation of slices
  • Ammonia or sour milk smell
  • Slimy texture
  • Discoloration

Discard any deli cheese that exhibits these signs of spoilage, even if within 7 days of opening.

Maximizing Deli Cheese Shelf Life

You can typically extend the shelf life of deli cheese by following these storage tips:

For Unopened Packages:

  • Keep deli cheese sealed in its original airtight packaging until ready to use.
  • Store in the refrigerator at 40°F or below soon after purchasing.
  • Keep deli cheese away from the door where temperatures fluctuate.
  • Place on a shelf rather than in the deli drawer to prevent drying out.
  • Check the sell-by or use-by date and plan to use by the recommended timeframe.

For Opened Packages:

  • Promptly re-wrap cheese slices tightly in plastic wrap or waxed paper after use.
  • Store remaining cheese in an airtight container if no original packaging.
  • Keep fridge at 40°F or below.
  • If cheese dries out, sprinkle with a damp paper towel to re-moisturize.
  • Avoid cross-contaminating cheese with other foods.
  • Use within 3-7 days for best quality and follow “use by” dates.

How To Store Different Types of Deli Cheese

Proper storage methods can also vary based on the specific type of cheese:

Hard Cheeses

This includes cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, and gouda. Their lower moisture content allows hard cheeses to be stored in the original deli packaging or wrapped in waxed paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate in the coldest section of the fridge for up to 4 weeks unopened or 2 weeks opened.

Semi-Soft Cheeses

This includes havarti, Monterey jack, brick, Munster. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or waxed paper, or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 weeks unopened or 1 week opened.

Soft Cheeses

This includes mozzarella, brie, feta, and cottage cheese. Their high moisture content means they spoil more quickly. Keep soft cheese tightly wrapped and consume within 5-10 days of purchase. Once opened, use within 3-5 days.

Shredded Cheeses

Natural cheese shreds have a shorter shelf life than blocks due to more surface area being exposed to air. Store shreds in a resealable bag or airtight container. Use within 2 weeks unopened or 1 week opened.

Sliced Cheeses

Individually wrapped cheese slices retain freshness well unopened. Once opened, rewrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Use within 2 weeks unopened or under 1 week opened for best quality.

How To Tell If Deli Cheese Has Gone Bad

Deli cheese that has spoiled will have obvious signs that it has gone bad. Here’s what to look for:


  • Ammonia odor
  • Sour odor
  • Moldy odor


  • Mold growth – may appear fuzzy or discolored
  • Slimy texture
  • Dry, crumbly, or cracked appearance
  • Liquid pooling around the cheese
  • Discoloration


  • Cheese is overly soft, sticky, or mushy


  • Bitter flavor
  • Sour taste

If deli cheese exhibits any of these signs, it should be discarded. Consuming spoiled deli cheese that contains harmful bacteria could cause foodborne illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does deli cheese last longer than regular cheese?

No, deli cheese does not inherently last longer than regular block cheese. They are both fresh cheeses with similar shelf lives. Deli cheese is simply sliced at the deli for convenience. Proper storage methods are required to extend the shelf life of both deli and block cheeses.

Can you freeze deli cheese?

Most deli cheeses can be frozen, but this may negatively impact the texture when thawed. Hard cheeses freeze best, while soft cheeses like mozzarella get mushy when frozen and thawed. Properly wrap cheese slices or blocks in plastic wrap and aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator before use.

Can moldy deli cheese make you sick?

Yes, eating moldy deli cheese could potentially make you sick. Mold growth on cheese indicates spoilage and the potential presence of dangerous microbes like E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Always discard deli cheese that has any visible mold, even if it’s just on a small area.

How long is 2 weeks deli meat good for after opened?

An opened package of deli meat should be eaten within 3 to 5 days for best quality. After 2 weeks in the fridge, opened deli meats are likely to have deteriorated in quality and safety. Discard deli meat that is slimy, smells off, or shows any mold.

Can you freeze sliced deli cheese?

It’s possible to freeze sliced deli cheese, but this can negatively affect the texture. The slices may stick together and become mushy once thawed. For best results, wrap individual slices tightly in plastic wrap or waxed paper before freezing. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Key Takeaways

  • Unopened deli cheese lasts around 2 weeks past the sell-by date if properly stored.
  • Opened deli cheese lasts around 1 week in the fridge.
  • Re-wrap opened cheese tightly in plastic wrap or waxed paper.
  • Store all deli cheese in the refrigerator at 40°F or below.
  • Hard cheeses last longer than soft cheeses.
  • Discard cheese that smells bad, is moldy, or has changed texture.


Deli sliced cheese can stay fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks unopened, and about one week after opening with proper storage. Keep cheese tightly wrapped, avoid temperature fluctuations, and check for signs of spoilage before eating. With optimal refrigeration methods, you can enjoy delicious deli cheese within the recommended shelf life. Discard any cheese that shows signs of mold, smells bad, or tastes sour even before hitting the use-by date on the package.

Leave a Comment