Velveeta is a processed American cheese product made by Kraft Foods. It has a unique, smooth and creamy texture due to its manufacturing process. Many people enjoy Velveeta for its melty and gooey properties that make it a popular choice for dips, sauces, macaroni and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
A common question that arises with this type of cheese is: once you open a package of Velveeta, how long will it stay good for in the refrigerator before going bad? Here are some quick answers:
In the Fridge
An opened package of Velveeta will generally stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1-2 months past the printed expiration date. As long as it has been continuously refrigerated and the packaging resealed tightly after each use, the cheese should retain its texture and flavor for this extended period of time after opening.
In the Freezer
Velveeta can be frozen to extend its shelf life even further. Properly frozen and sealed Velveeta can last in the freezer for up to 8 months past the printed expiration date. Allow the cheese to thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Signs it’s Gone Bad
You’ll know your Velveeta has spoiled and should be discarded if you notice changes in appearance, texture, or smell:
- Mold growth
- Separation of oils
- Sour odor
- Dry, crumbly texture
As long as your Velveeta lacks any of these defects, it should be fine to use for up to 1-2 months past its expiration date when properly stored.
How to Store Opened Velveeta
To get the longest shelf life out of your opened Velveeta cheese:
- Immediately rewrap the original packaging tightly after opening.
- Press out any excess air in the package before sealing to prevent freezer burn.
- Store in the refrigerator. The colder the temperature, the longer it will last.
- If storing for more than 1 month, transfer the cheese to an airtight freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
- Always clean knives, utensils, and hands before handling to prevent contamination.
- Keep Velveeta stored away from foods with strong odors that could affect the flavor.
The Shelf Life of Different Types of Velveeta
There are a few different varieties and forms of Velveeta cheese, each with their own shelf life:
- Unopened: Lasts 2-3 weeks past printed date
- Opened: Lasts 1-2 weeks in fridge
Velveeta Shells & Cheese
- Dry mix packet: 6 months unopened
- Liquid cheese packet: Lasts 1 week after opening
Velveeta Cheesy Skillets
- Unopened: 1 year in pantry
- After opening cheese sauce pouch: 4-5 days
- After cooking: 3-4 days in fridge
Velveeta Cheese Dip
- Unopened: 2 months from purchase date
- After opening cheese pouch: 7-10 days
- After mixing with other ingredients: 3-4 days
Be sure to always follow the proper storage guidelines, and discard any cheese that shows signs of spoilage.
How to Tell When Unopened Velveeta Expires
The expiration date printed on the packaging indicates how long unopened Velveeta lasts at optimal quality. Here’s how to decipher the date codes:
- “Best By” date: Refers to expected quality, up to 2-3 weeks past this date still safe.
- “Use By” date: Indicates the final date recommended for use, don’t eat past this date.
- “Sell By” date: For retailer use, still safe to eat for 1-2 weeks after.
The printed expiration dates for unopened Velveeta generally range from 6 months to 1 year from the manufacturing date. Pay attention to any changes in texture, consistency or appearance after the printed date, as the cheese may start drying out or molding soon after.
Does Refrigerating Unopened Velveeta Extend Its Shelf Life?
Contrary to what some people think, refrigerating unopened packages of shelf-stable items like Velveeta cheese does not extend the expiration date. Pantry-stored, unopened Velveeta stays fresh for up to 1 year past the production date. Refrigerating it before opening does not lengthen how long it lasts.
However, refrigerating unused portions immediately after opening WILL extend the shelf life vs. leaving them sitting out at room temperature. So remember to promptly refrigerate any Velveeta leftovers after use.
Does Freezing Unopened Velveeta Extend Its Shelf Life?
Freezing unopened packages of Velveeta cheese CAN extend the shelf life significantly past the printed “Best By” date. Here’s how long it lasts:
- Fridge: Unopened lasts 6 months – 1 year
- Freezer: Unopened lasts 8-10 months
To freeze, wrap the intact Velveeta package securely with plastic wrap or place inside a resealable plastic freezer bag. Squeeze out excess air before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Defrost thawed cheese in the fridge before using.
Can You Freeze Leftover Velveeta?
Yes, leftover Velveeta that has been previously opened can be frozen to extend the shelf life. To freeze:
- Cut Velveeta into smaller portions or slices to make it easier to defrost only what you need.
- Tightly rewrap each portion in plastic wrap, squeezing out air.
- Place wrapped portions in dated freezer bags.
- Freeze for up to 2-3 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Properly frozen, leftover Velveeta will maintain its texture and flavor for excellent use in cooking long after its refrigerated shelf life has expired.
Does Velveeta Need to be Refrigerated?
|No, pantry storage up to 1 year
|Yes, refrigerate up to 1-2 months
|Yes, refrigerate 3-4 days
While unopened Velveeta can be stored in the pantry, it’s important to refrigerate it promptly after opening. Refrigeration is necessary to prevent bacterial growth and extend the shelf life of opened Velveeta up to 1-2 months past its printed date.
Can You Freeze Opened Velveeta?
Yes, you can freeze opened Velveeta cheese for drastically extended shelf life. To freeze after opening:
- Re-wrap tightly in plastic wrap, squeezing out excess air.
- Place in dated freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
- Lay flat in freezer to freeze quickly and prevent freezer burn.
- Once frozen, can be stored upright. Keeps for 2-3 months frozen.
- Thaw refrigerated overnight before using.
Opened Velveeta will keep much longer in the freezer vs. the refrigerator. Freezing prevents mold growth and drying out, extending the shelf life of opened products for several months.
What’s the Shelf Life of Homemade Velveeta Cheese Sauce?
Homemade Velveeta-style cheese sauce made by melting Velveeta with milk or other ingredients will have a shorter shelf life than the original product. Here is how long it will last refrigerated:
- Velveeta sauce by itself: 5-7 days
- Velveeta sauce with added milk: 3-5 days
- Velveeta sauce with precooked meat: 3-4 days
- Velveeta sauce mixed into casserole: 3-4 days
For maximum shelf life, transfer homemade cheese sauce to an airtight container and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator immediately after cooking. Reheat gently before using.
Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Opened Velveeta
Here are some tips to extend the shelf life of opened Velveeta as long as possible:
- Proper storage: Refrigerate immediately after opening, wrapped tightly in original packaging or plastic wrap with air removed.
- Use clean utensils: Always use clean knives and containers when taking portions to avoid contamination.
- Portion out: Divide into smaller chunks to limit air exposure when taking out only what you need.
- Re-wrap tightly: Press out air and re-seal wrapping every time you open.
- Watch for mold: Discard at first signs of mold or odor.
- Freeze extras: Freeze unused portions for long-term storage.
Following proper refrigeration guidelines and freezing leftovers or extras allows you to keep enjoying opened Velveeta for up to 2-3 months past the “Best By” date printed on the package.
How Long Can You Store Leftover Velveeta Cheese?
Storing leftover Velveeta properly is important for food safety and maintaining quality. Here is how long leftover Velveeta lasts refrigerated:
- Velveeta sauce by itself: 3-4 days
- Velveeta sauce mixed into cooked dish: 3-4 days
- Velveeta cheese slices: 3-5 days
- Grilled cheese with Velveeta: 3-4 days
- Velveeta shells & cheese: 5-7 days
For maximum shelf life, store leftovers in airtight containers. Do not let cheese sit at room temperature more than 2 hours before refrigerating. freezing leftovers can extend shelf life for several months.
Signs Velveeta Has Gone Bad
Always inspect Velveeta before eating and look for the following signs that indicate spoilage:
- Mold growth – any fuzzy spots or discoloration means it should be discarded
- Curdling – cheese has separated into clumps and liquid
- Separated oil – liquid or oil has leached out of the cheese
- Sour odor – gives off unpleasant acidic smell
- Dry texture – cheese is dried out, crumbly or hard
- Change in color – dull, darker or unnatural coloring
Velveeta that displays any of these characteristics should be thrown away. When stored properly, Velveeta stays fresh 1-2 months past the printed date.
Does Unopened Velveeta Go Bad?
Properly stored, unopened Velveeta can last a surprisingly long time without going bad thanks to its shelf-stable formula. Here’s how long it stays fresh:
- Pantry: Unopened lasts up to 1 year past sell by date
- Fridge: Unopened lasts up to 2 years past sell by date
- Freezer: Unopened lasts up to 8-10 months past sell by date
As long as the package seal remains intact, unopened Velveeta stays safe and retains peak quality for extended periods, even past expiration dates printed on the packaging.
Can You Eat Velveeta After It Expires?
It’s generally safe to eat Velveeta cheese for a short period after its expiration date, provided it was stored properly. Here are some guidelines:
- Unopened Velveeta lasts 2 weeks past sell by date
- Opened Velveeta lasts 1-2 weeks past sell by date
- Check for mold, odor, and texture changes
- Cooking can improve flavor of older cheese
While Velveeta can be eaten past its peak freshness, the texture and flavor will start to decline. It’s best to discard any cheese that shows signs of spoilage.
With proper refrigerated storage and careful monitoring for spoilage, an opened package of Velveeta cheese can remain safe to eat and retain its texture for 1-2 months past the printed expiration date. Freezing is even better for long-term storage. Keeping Velveeta well wrapped and minimizing air exposure helps prevent drying out. Discard immediately at any signs of mold or sour odor.