Which Cheese Needs To be Refrigerated?

Who doesn’t love cheese? We think everybody has some sort of liking for cheese, except maybe those with lactose intolerance or who are vegan.

Cheese is one of our long-time favorite snacks. It’s a quick and simple appetizer that we enjoy putting out during family gatherings. 

On occasions, we’ve been so wrapped up in socializing that we completely forgot to put the cheese away.

Some of the cheese remained tasty while others began to sweat and turn colors. So what kind of cheese needs to be refrigerated?

“Laughing Cow cheese does need to be refrigerated to maintain its freshness and flavor. While it has a longer shelf life due to its packaging and processing, refrigeration is recommended, especially after opening. Keeping it chilled ensures the cheese remains spreadable and retains its creamy texture and taste.”

These are cheeses that absolutely must be refrigerated to avoid spoilage and bacteria growth.

Hard cheeses and processed cheese don’t need to be refrigerated but can be to extend their shelf life. This article will go over why these cheeses need to be refrigerated. 

CheeseRefrigeratedUnopenedRoom TempOpened/RefrigeratedFrozen
Cream CheeseYes1 week1-2 hours10 daysN/A
Goat CheeseYes2-3 weeks2 hours1 weekN/A
Cottage CheeseYes1 week1-2 hours2 weeks3 months
ShreddedYes4 weeks2 hours5-7 weeks8 months
QuesoYes2 months2 hours5 days6 months
ParmesanYes7-9 months7-9 months (canned) 2 hours (brick)10-12 months(canned) 6 weeks (brick)18 months
BrieYes8 months2 hours2-3 weeksN/A
MozzarellaYes4-6 weeks2 hours5 days8 months
BabybelYes6 months2-4 hours6 months3 months
String CheeseYes2 weeks2-4 hours5-7 days2-3 months
Laughing CowYes6 months4-8 hours6 monthsN/A
AsiagoNo8 months8 months4-6 weeks12-18 months
VelveetaNo6 months6 months8 weeksN/A

Which Cheeses Need to be Refrigerated?

We like to refrigerate all of our cheese to extend its shelf life.

However, there are certain cheeses that need to be refrigerated right after opening to avoid spoilage and unwanted bacteria growth. 

Cheeses in Fridge

Cream Cheese

Cream cheese will spoil within 2-3 hours after opening it if not placed in the refrigerator. 

If you leave your cream cheese on the counter, it can begin to grow pathogenic bacteria that have been transferred from your fingers.

The most dangerous of these is Listeria monocytes.

This is the bacteria that causes listeriosis. This can turn into a listeria infection that causes illness.

It can infect different sites in the body including the bloodstream, brain, and spinal cord membranes. 

Cream cheese is a fan favorite for bagels, crackers, and celery. You can find it in tubs and bricks and are usually in the refrigerated dairy aisle of your local supermarket.

Because it has a lot more moisture than any other cheese, it’s more susceptible to mold and bacterial growth. 

Cream cheese is good for 1 month past the “best by” date and should be used within 10 days after opening.

We don’t suggest freezing cream cheese since it will lose its texture and become crumbly.  

Goat Cheese

Goat cheese requires 24/7 refrigeration and shouldn’t be left on the counter for more than 1-2 hours. 

If your goat cheese has been left on the counter and begins to grow bacteria, you can contract Listeria, Salmonella, and E. Coli if you consume it.

These are the same germs you find in raw unpasteurized milk. 

Goat cheese will always be found in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket. It’s extremely susceptible to bacterial growth.

Even though goat cheese is full of beneficial probiotics, a healthy bacteria, it can begin to grow harmful bacteria if left unrefrigerated. 

Goat cheese lasts 2 to 3 weeks unopened 1 week after opening. In some cases, you can freeze your goat cheese, but you should check the packaging for the appropriate storage conditions. 

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese should be refrigerated at all times and only lasts 2 hours at room temperature. 

If cottage cheese is left out for too long, it will begin to show signs of spoilage. Consuming spoiled cottage cheese can make you ill and even cause food poisoning.

In most cases, you may just develop a nasty case of nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting. 

Cottage cheese is a semi-solid cheese. It’s found in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket and is available in many varieties.

Some have fruit in them, some are large curds, small curds, etc. If unopened, it lasts 1 week after the “best by” date and 2 weeks after opening. 

If you bought your cottage cheese in bulk, you can freeze it for around 3 months, but it will remain safe beyond that time. 

Shredded Cheese

Shredded cheese is only good for 1-2 hours at room temperature and should be refrigerated after that. 

It’s true that most hard cheeses don’t need to be refrigerated, but when they’re put into shredded form, they need to be refrigerated.


Shredded cheese is a generic name given to any cheese that has been grated such as mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, etc. While convenient, shredded cheese can spoil quickly if not refrigerated. 

Shredded cheese lasts 5-7 days after opening when refrigerated and up to 4 weeks unopened.

You can freeze your shredded cheese for 8 months or more as well if you purchased it in bulk. 

Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco has to be refrigerated 2 hours after opening and can last 4 days in the refrigerator. 

Queso Fresco is a delicious dip for Tostitos or as a topping on nachos. It can be purchased in jars or ordered from a restaurant.

It’s primarily cheese but can contain chunks of tomato, peppers, beans, etc. 

Store-bought Queso Fresco can last 2 months past its expiration date if unopened. Homemade queso should only be left out for 2 hours.

Whether it’s from a jar or a restaurant/homemade, it’s best to refrigerate all leftovers after it has been opened for 5 days. You can even freeze queso for up to 6 months. 


Parmesan cheese, whether grated, shredded or blocked, must be refrigerated unless it’s unopened and in a can. 

The canned parmesan cheese that you use on spaghetti and other kinds of pasta can last 7 to 9 months unrefrigerated and unopened.

Parmesan Cheese

Once it has been opened, it will remain edible for 10 to 12 months. 

If you have bricks of parmesan cheese, they will last around 2 to 4 months unopened and about 6 weeks after being opened when placed in the refrigerator.

Since it’s a hard cheese, it doesn’t expire as quickly as soft and semi-soft cheeses do. 

If you choose to freeze your parmesan cheese, it will remain good for 18 months or longer. 


After opening the cheese for the first time, it should be refrigerated for 2 hours to avoid spoilage. It will remain good after 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator after opening. 

Since Brie already has mold on it, it can be hard to tell when it goes bad. You can tell it has spoiled if the Brie has blue or red spores, darkened color, or an off smell. 

Brie is a creamy cheese with a mild flavor and you may be tempted to stock up on it.

Brie comes with a rind of white mold, which may confuse you because generally when you see cheese with mold on it, it’s bad.

This isn’t exactly the case with Brie. It takes 6 to 8 weeks to mature and may mature even longer in a controlled environment to ensure the good mold sets properly. 

If you want to ensure your Brie stays fresh for longer, let it sit in your refrigerator unopened for about a week after its expiration date for peak quality.

You can even freeze it, but it will change its texture, making the taste worse. 


Mozzarella only lasts about 2 hours at room temperature unless it’s in a tub of brine and your kitchen is cool. After that time, it will begin to grow bacteria thanks to that high water content. 

Mozzarella is a delicious cheese that can be eaten alone or put into your favorite dish or appetizer.

It’s also a cheese that should always be refrigerated, especially if it’s in shredded form.

Mozzarella has too much water and not enough salt or acid to keep it fresh for very long once opened. 

Once you open your mozzarella, it will be safe to eat for 5 days if stored in the refrigerator.

Loaf mozzarella has a 21-day refrigerator shelf life once opened, and smoked mozzarella can be kept for 28 days in the refrigerator.

If it’s unopened, it lasts about 4-6 weeks plus a week after its “best by” date.

Mozzarella freezes well as long as it’s not freshly made. You can safely freeze it for 8 months or longer. 

Babybel Cheese

Babybel cheese will only last 2-4 hours unrefrigerated. Babybel cheese is those little round wax cheese flat cheese balls you see in supermarkets.

They’re essentially a chink of Edam cheese. The cheese is kept in a wax container that’s inedible.

They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. This doesn’t mean the cheese can be left out, though.

If you’ve decided you want to freeze them, they’ll be good for 3 months. 

Laughing Cow Cheese

Laughing Cow cheese can only be left at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours before needing to be refrigerated. 

Laughing Cow is a brand of processed cheese made by Fromageries Bel. It’s a popular product that comes in a tin of spreadable wedges.

It’s perfect for snacking whether at home or on the go. It has a long shelf life of 6 months if kept in its packaging.

It’s not recommended that you freeze it as it will affect the quality. 

Cheese That Does Not Require Refrigeration

There are only a few kinds of cheese that don’t require refrigeration.

Processed cheeses that come in cans, jars, and loaves don’t need to be refrigerated until they have been opened and the last months past the printed expiration date.

Processed cheese is considered to be semi-hard, but has been pasteurized so it doesn’t age. Here are some of the cheeses that don’t require refrigeration. 

Asiago D’Allevo

Asiago D’Allevo is made with whole milk and matures for a month with the result being a fresh, soft, mild cheese.

The longer it’s aged, the more firm it becomes. None of the variations of Asiago D’Allevo need to be refrigerated, but Stravecchio will keep the longest. 

Unopened Asiago is safe to consume for about 8 months, even after it has reached the expiration date. Once it has been opened, it is safe to consume for 4 to 6 weeks if properly stored. 

Even if it has mold on it, you can safely eat it if you cut away at least 1-inch around and below the moldy area. 

You can freeze Asiago cheese for 12 to 18 months, but it will remain safe sometime after that. 

Does Velveeta Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated?

Velveeta cheese does not need to be refrigerated because isn’t considered to be “real” cheese.

Therefore, unopened packages of it don’t require refrigeration. This type of cheese is generally sold in blocks or slices and is shelf-stable.

You won’t find it in the refrigerated section of your supermarket. 

Velveeta keeps its quality for about 6 months unopened. Once it’s opened, it’s good for about 8 weeks. 

You can tell it’s gone bad if you’ve noticed a change in color, odd odor, flavor, and/or appearance. 

It’s recommended to not freeze this product. If you have leftover Velveeta, you can put it in a Ziplock bag and seal it tightly so it doesn’t harden. Stick it in the fridge and use it again later. 

Does String Cheese Need to be Refrigerated?

Yes, string cheese does need to be refrigerated after about 2-4 hours. As with most cheeses, it should be kept in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be consumed.

If you do happen to leave it out on the counter overnight, it should probably be discarded. 

String cheese should be refrigerated because the higher temperatures will cause it to deteriorate and spoil quicker than in the refrigerator.

String cheese has a “best by” date and can remain fresh for up to 2 weeks after that date.

After you’ve opened the initial package, it’s best to consume the string cheese within 5-7 days. If you choose to do so, you can freeze the string cheese for 2-3 months. 

How To Tell String Cheese Is Spoiled

String cheese won’t stay edible forever, which means spotting spoiled string cheese won’t be too hard.

If you happen to notice green specks or mold on the surface of the cheese, you can’t eat it.

If you notice a bad odor or slimy texture, it’s best to throw your tasty, stringy treat away. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, not all cheeses need to be refrigerated, but a majority of them do. It’s important to remember that if your cheese has been sitting around for a while, you should inspect it for mold or spoilage.

Shredded cheese tends to spoil the quickest when left on the counter since it oxidizes quicker due to its packaging and high water content.

Brick cheese lasts longer and we suggest shredding your own cheese to extend its life.

We like to refrigerate all cheese whether it’s required or not. If anything, it will make the cheese last longer.

If we buy it in bulk, we will freeze it as long as it freezes well and won’t affect the quality of the cheese. 

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