How long does unopened mozzarella cheese last in fridge?

Quick Answer

Unopened mozzarella cheese will generally last 1-2 weeks past the printed expiration date if kept refrigerated at 40°F or below and properly stored in an airtight container. High moisture mozzarella will last 7 to 10 days, while low moisture mozzarella can last 2 to 3 weeks past the expiration date.

Signs that mozzarella cheese has gone bad include mold growth, bitter or sour smell and taste, excessive dryness, and changes in color or texture. Discard mozzarella cheese if you notice any of these signs of spoilage.

How Long Does Unopened Mozzarella Last?

The shelf life of mozzarella cheese depends on several factors:

Type of Mozzarella

There are two main types of mozzarella cheese:

– High moisture mozzarella: This soft, white cheese made from cow’s milk contains a high moisture content of 52% to 60%. It has a short shelf life of only 7 to 10 days past the expiration date when stored properly in the fridge.

– Low moisture mozzarella: Also called part-skim or reduced fat mozzarella, this firmer variation contains less moisture with a content between 45% to 52%. It keeps longer than fresh mozzarella, lasting around 2 to 3 weeks past the printed date on the package.

Packaging Method

– Vacuum-sealed packaging helps block oxygen and prevents mold growth, extending the shelf life. Unopened vacuum-packed mozzarella lasts 1 to 2 weeks beyond the printed date.

– Cheese packed in whey tends to have a shorter shelf life of 1 week since the whey promotes bacterial growth.

– Cheese packed in brine has added salt that helps inhibit bacterial growth. Brine-packed mozzarella keeps for up to 2 weeks unopened.

Storage Temperature

– Storing mozzarella at the proper temperature is key for maximizing its shelf life. Keep cheeses tightly wrapped in the coldest part of the refrigerator at 40°F or below.

– Higher temperatures promote fast bacterial and mold growth. Avoid storing mozzarella on the fridge door where the temperature fluctuates.

Expiration Date

– The expiration date printed on the packaging indicates the last date recommended for use when the cheese is kept refrigerated.

– Expect unopened mozzarella cheese to last for 1 to 2 weeks after the sell by or use by date if stored at 40°F or below.

Package Integrity

– Once opened, oxygen can interact with the cheese and cause it to spoil faster. An unopened package prevents oxygen exposure.

– Make sure the packaging is properly sealed with no tears or openings. Discard if the packaging has been compromised.

Food Safety

– Discard immediately if you see any mold growth on mozzarella cheese, even if sealed. Mold can penetrate deep into the product.

– Do not taste, serve, or eat expired cheese past the recommended shelf life. Bacteria like Listeria can multiply, increasing the risk of foodborne illness.

How to Tell if Mozzarella Cheese Has Gone Bad

Here are some signs that indicate your mozzarella cheese has spoiled and needs to be discarded:


– Mold growth – Look for fuzzy white, green or black spots. Mold penetrates deep into the cheese.

– Cracks or drying on surface – Mozzarella cheese should be glossy white, not dry or cracked.

– Separation of fat – The fat may separate and float to the top of the container.

– Liquid – Watery or unusual liquid present indicates bacterial overgrowth.

– Sliminess – A gummy or slimy consistency is a sign of spoilage.

– Color changes – If the white color changes to yellow, orange or brown.


– Hardening – Fresh mozzarella should be soft and mushy. Hardening or rubbery texture is a red flag.

– Crystals or gritty spots – Sandy or grainy areas indicate the cheese is well past its prime.


– Sour odor – A tangy, sour or acidic smell means the cheese is overripe.

– Ammonia-like – A pungent ammonia smell typically means the cheese has gone bad.

– Moldy smell – An earthy, dirt-like smell indicates mold growth.


– Sharp, bitter flavor – Mozzarella should taste mildly salty and milky. A bitter taste signifies spoilage.

– Off flavors – Rancid, sour or “off” flavors are a sign to discard the cheese.

How to Store Mozzarella Cheese

Proper storage maximizes the shelf life of mozzarella cheese after opening. Follow these tips:

– Keep mozzarella tightly wrapped at 40°F or below in the refrigerator. Use it within 7 to 10 days for best quality.

– Do not freeze mozzarella unless planning to cook it after thawing. Freezing alters the texture.

– If brine-packed, keep the cheese immersed in brine to maintain moisture.

– Store in moisture-barrier packaging or wrap tightly in plastic wrap to prevent drying out.

– Add a damp paper towel on top of the cheese to absorb excess moisture.

– Avoid storing mozzarella on the top refrigerator shelf near the door where temperature fluctuates. Place in a colder back section.

– Once opened, write the date opened on the package and use within 5-7 days. Discard if mold develops.

– Do not eat mozzarella if it smells bad, even if refrigerated and not expired. The “sniff” test helps indicate safety.

How Long Does Mozzarella Last In Fridge After Opening?

Here is how long mozzarella cheese lasts in the fridge after opening:

Type of Mozzarella Refrigerator Shelf Life After Opening
Fresh mozzarella 5 to 7 days
Low moisture, part-skim mozzarella 10 to 14 days

For best quality and food safety, use opened mozzarella within 7 days. Properly seal in an airtight container to extend its shelf life. Discard if any mold, sliminess, or unpleasant smells develop. The shorter shelf life after opening is due to exposure to oxygen.

How Long Does Mozzarella Last in The Freezer?

Mozzarella cheese can be frozen for 2-3 months for optimum quality. Follow these guidelines for freezing mozzarella:

– Use fresh, non-expired cheese. Do not freeze already spoiled cheese.

– Use low moisture mozzarella for best results. High moisture cheese can become rubbery and weep liquid when thawed.

– Cut into 1⁄2 pound portions and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil or freezer bags. This prevents freezer burn.

– Freeze at 0°F or below. Constant temperature is important to avoid texture changes.

– Write the freeze date on packages. Use within 2-3 months for best flavor.

– Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. Do not thaw at room temperature.

– Use thawed mozzarella for cooking purposes like pizza or casseroles. Freezing can alter the texture too much for eating fresh.

– Do not refreeze mozzarella once thawed. Only freeze cheese once for food safety.


Can you eat expired mozzarella cheese?

It is not recommended to eat mozzarella cheese past the expiration date printed on the package, even if it is unopened. Bacteria like Listeria can grow over time and cause foodborne illness. Discard expired mozzarella. At most, unopened cheese lasts 1-2 weeks past its date if kept at proper refrigerator temperatures.

Can mozzarella cheese be stored at room temperature?

No, mozzarella should always be refrigerated at 40°F or below and not left out at room temperature. The high moisture content allows bacteria to multiply rapidly at room temp. Store mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator in moisture-barrier packaging for food safety.

Can you freeze mozzarella cheese blocks?

Fresh mozzarella cheese blocks do not freeze well since the high moisture content can lead to a rubbery texture once thawed. For best results, choose low moisture mozzarella and cut into portions before freezing. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using frozen mozzarella in cooked dishes, not for eating fresh.

How long can you keep the water mozzarella comes in?

It is recommended to discard the water that fresh mozzarella cheese is packed in after 5-7 days. The water can harbor bacteria over time and contaminate the cheese. For longer storage, remove the cheese from the water and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can moldy cheese be saved if you cut the mold off?

No, you should discard the entire mozzarella cheese if any mold is spotted, even if it is just on the surface. The mold roots can penetrate deep into the cheese so cutting it off does not eliminate the contamination. Moldy cheese has the potential for harboring dangerous bacteria and toxins.


An unopened package of mozzarella cheese will last for 1 to 2 weeks past the printed expiration date if stored properly in the refrigerator. Sealed, vacuum-packed mozzarella lasts longer than cheese packed in whey or brine. Signs of spoiled mozzarella include mold, sour smell, changes in color and texture. For food safety, discard expired cheese. After opening, use mozzarella within 5 to 7 days and do not freeze fresh mozzarella blocks. With proper refrigerated storage, tightly sealed packages, and attention to signs of spoilage, you can enjoy mozzarella cheese within its shelf life.

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