Freezing American Cheese (Tips & Expiration)

Crispy, cheesy, gooey goodness or a juicy and meaty mouthwatering meal.

Grilled cheese and cheeseburgers are both American classics that feature one staple ingredient that takes these dishes over the top — the melty magic of American cheese. For those who like to buy this delectable ingredient in bulk, can you freeze sliced American cheese?

Companies like Kraft Heinz do not recommend the freezing of American cheese products. This is due to changes in consistency that can occur in cold storage. However, if you choose to forgo this advice, there are ways to lessen these undesirable alterations. 

First, flash freeze your sliced American cheese before packaging. This will limit the instance of large ice crystals forming within the mixture. Then, all cheese types, both sliced and block varieties, should have at least two forms of protection.

This can include the original packaging, freezer-safe plastic wrap or wax paper, freezer-safe ziplock bags, vacuum seal bags or aluminum foil.

Once two layers are applied, then the cheese can be safely frozen for up to six months. Finally, allow 24 hours for these products to thaw in the fridge, and make sure to consume them within 3 to 4 days following this defrost period. 

American Cheese Composition Impacts Freezing

Not A Real Cheese

American cheese is not actually considered a real cheese. Instead, it is classified as a pasteurized processed cheese product.

By definition, “process cheese is a dairy product which differs from natural cheese in the fact that process cheese is not made directly from milk. However, the main ingredient of process cheese is natural cheese.”

In fact, at least 51% of the product is made from actual cheese. Customarily, cheddar and Colby are used in this rich and creamy mixture. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, both of these types of cheese as well as processed cheeses, like American, are considered hard cheese.

This means that they can be safely frozen for up to six months. Nevertheless, less is more in regards to maintaining the quality of this product.

Emulsions Do Not Freeze Well

Nonetheless, another important distinction is that experts qualify this product as an emulsion. This is a temporarily stable mixture that contains oil and water.

However, when exposed to extreme temperatures, these components will separate causing changes in texture and consistency.

This is one of the main reasons why Kraft Heinz advises customers to never freeze their processed cheese products.

That includes both Kraft sliced American cheese and Velveeta. “DO NOT FREEZE” is directly on the packaging. 

Moreover, most cheeses with high moisture contents, like cottage cheese, ricotta and cream cheese, do not freeze well because they are more susceptible to drying out.

While American cheese is similar in this respect, processed cheese products tend to have a longer shelf life than natural alternatives. Therefore, it is best to try and use up the product before needing to resort to freezing.

American Cheese

How To Properly Freeze Sliced American Cheese?

If you choose to ignore the manufacturer’s advice to not freeze this product, it is best to wait until right before it is set to expire.

This will ensure that you get optimal use of the cheese in the way that the manufacturer intended. Here are the best practices to help prevent unwanted changes from occurring.

Freezing Prepackaged Sliced American Cheese

Prepackaged American cheese comes individually wrapped in freezer-safe plastic. This convenient fact saves you the step of having to wrap up the cheese with the initial layer of protectant. 

Step 1: Flash Freeze Your Cheese

First, clear out ample shelf space in your freezer — this allows for more effective airflow around the cheese. Next, place the individual American cheese slices along the exposed surface area of the freezer shelves.

Then, allow the cheese to set for a few hours. This is extremely important in conserving the consistency of the product. 

According to the Center For Dairy Research (CDR), “the general rule of thumb for freezing cheese is to freeze the cheese as quickly as possible and thaw the cheese as slowly as possible.”

By laying out the individual pieces, you allow the cheese to rapidly cool, expediting the freezing process.

Step 2: Use A Second Layer Of Protection

Take your newly frozen cheese slices and place them in a freezer-safe Ziplock bag. Remove as much air as possible and then seal the container.

Label the bag with the initial date of freezing and place them back in the freezer. 

Prepackaged Sliced American Cheese

Alternatively, you can also place portions of the frozen sliced American cheese into vacuum plastic and seal up the bag.

Unlike the ziplock, this guarantees a lack of air and moisture in the container. Therefore, this method is the most effective for long-term storage.

Freezing Fresh Deli Sliced American Cheese

If you choose to freeze fresh sliced American cheese, there is a few added steps to follow to achieve the same result. 

Step 1: Flash Freeze Your Cheese

First, take a large baking sheet and line it with wax paper. Place your individual slices of deli American cheese on the tray and slide it into the freezer for a few hours. 

Step 2: Layer And Package The Cheese

Once you freeze the American cheese, take the slices and stack them in between pieces of freezer safe wax paper.

Then, slide them into a freezer-safe plastic bag, again removing all of the air. Seal and label with the date of the original freeze. 

Once more, you have the option to vacuum seal the stack of American cheese layered in wax paper to help elongate the life span of the product in cold storage. 

How To Freeze Blocks Of American Cheese?

If you head to the deli and purchase an entire block of American cheese, it is a simple process to store.

However, you must remember that you can only freeze food products safely one time. They should never be refrozen. Thus, once thawed, you will need to use the entire block.

Soups, dips and casserole dishes will require servings this size, but if the intended use is for sandwiches, this can be harder to achieve.

If this seems like an impossible task, consider cutting the original block into smaller chunks to help eliminate food waste.

Package Your Cheese & Freeze

If the cheese still remains in the original packaging, your first layer of protection is already in place.

However, if you cut it into more manageable sections, then wrap a tight layer freezer safe plastic wrap around the cheese. 

Next, take some heavy duty aluminum foil and apply a second tight layer around the already plastic wrapped block.

Finally, slide the cheese into a freezer-safe ziplock bag. As detailed in the sliced cheese steps, remove as much air as possible, seal and label. 

American Cheese

Vacuum sealing is a fantastic alternative to the plastic bag. If you have the supplies available to accomplish this step, use this method instead.

How To Properly Defrost American Cheese — Slices & Blocks

As mentioned by the CDR, your goal should be to slowly defrost cheese products. This helps the moisture within the cheese to re-equilibrate properly, better conserving the original state of the product. 

Therefore, place your American cheese in the fridge at least 24 hours prior to your intended consumption.

The sliced cheese will take less time thaw, but continue with the advised time frame. Once defrosted, use the product within 3 to 4 days. 

In regards to American Cheese, this will cause the product to dry out and take on a gritty consistency. Thus, it is imperative that you do not freeze this product for longer than six months.

Best Uses For Frozen American Cheese

As mentioned, freezing block and sliced American cheese is not recommended due to the changes in consistency that occur in cold temperatures.

This means that placing these defrosted slices on cold sandwiches may not bring the desired result that consumers are expecting.

However, if your intent is to melt this product, then there should be no issue! Using sliced American cheese or small blocks is a fantastic choice for casseroles, dips, pasta dishes and hot sandwiches, like grilled cheese and cheesesteaks.

American Cheese

Additionally, if this product is going into a large dish that will be baked, you do not need to worry about defrosting it prior to use. Do not skip this step when using American cheese on sandwiches.

Final Thoughts

The best practices for freezing sliced American cheese include:

  1. Store the food prior to the ‘Best By’ date. Cold temperatures do not kill bacteria. 
  2. Keep freezer temperatures at a consistent zero degrees Fahrenheit until you are ready for consumption. 
  3. If you notice alterations in color or flavor or drastic changes in consistency, always err on the side of caution and throw it out.
  4. Light, moisture, and oxygen are the biggest culprits for spoilage. Most families open and shut their freezer quite regularly. Thus, if you intend to store your American cheese in this environment, it is best to apply the third layer of this light-blocking material to prevent accidental spoilage.
  5. Portion out what you intend to use and package it separately. There is a limited time for recommended use, so once thawed, everything must be consumed in a matter of days.

Lastly, no matter if you choose to freeze sliced white American cheese, sliced American cheese or a block of this delicious dairy product, the recommended freeze times and storage steps will not change.

Land O’Lakes, Kraft, Borden, and Boar’s Head are just a few of the brands that make this American classic. Always follow their advised storage instructions to achieve optimal results.

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