How Long Can Shredded Cheese Be Left Out?

We all want our cheese to say fresh and good forever. But, most times, it doesn’t. You might have left your pack of shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese, unwrapped or wrapped, on the dining overnight. 

Now it’s the following day, and you are thinking if it’s still good to eat. Well, the answer is quite broad. Questions like how long can shredded cheese be left out can be tricky because it all depends on the cheese you have there.

Let’s go further.

How Long Can Shredded Cheese Be Left Out?

Shredded cheese should not be left out at room temperature for an extended period of time. it’s recommended to limit the time shredded cheese is left out at room temperature to no more than 2 hours.

If the ambient temperature is quite warm, above 90°F (32°C), this time should be reduced to just 1 hour.

Food Safety and Inspection Service at the USDA instructs saving perishable stocks at room temperature for no more than 1-2 hours so that bacteria don’t thrive to unsafe points.

Bacteria can grow rapidly in the “danger zone” temperatures between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C).

At a similar time, you know that cheese was developed some three thousand years ago—that’s before refrigeration ever came to be—and that farmers created cheese to conserve milk and stocked it in their root cellars for months, other times years.

Dry, hard, less acidic shredded cheeses, like cheddar, dried mozzarella, and parmesan, can last longer than their unripened and clammy counterparts like brie, cottage, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, queso blanco, and others.

So brings us to the feared “it depends” response you dislike. “Overnight” is a broad term.

It’s one scenario to leave a package of shredded cheese out after preparing a drunken burrito for yourself at 3:00 am, then failing to put it back in the fridge, and then rectifying that blunder the following morning.

It’s another to bypass the cheese out on the counter on a Saturday afternoon, only to discover that it was still there around noon on another Sunday on a hot summer’s day.

If the latter is your case, don’t risk it.

With all this understanding and the other things you should know, which I will tell you in a minute, you will have to decide whether to toss the shredded cheese away.

What Happens When Shredded Cheese Sits Out

It should be acknowledged that reserving cheese at room temperature comes at the cost of its excellence and safety for eating.

Initially, the cheese starts to sweat as the butterfat detaches from the solids. 

After some hours, the cheese dries out and, in some situations, becomes coarse and crumbly. 

Finally, pathogenic bacteria reproduce so much in and on it that they make it not good to eat.

Sweaty cheese is typically salvageable.

Sure, it won’t be as enticing and flavorsome as when you took it from the grocery store, but it is still cheese. Just soak up that sweat with the aid of a kitchen towel.

Before you go on and do anything other than that, decide if the cheese is still good to eat. You are in foggy waters and have to count on your common sense. 

You’d not like to consume anything moldy that has a funny smell, or that doesn’t taste good after a short test.

If it doesn’t feel good, your body is warning you not to traverse the line. Fail on that side of warning and toss that thing in the bin.

If you consider the cheese still nutritious, you could always use it to make a melty-cheese snack like grilled cheese sandwiches or mix it in with whole milk in a pot to prepare a nacho cheese sauce.

How long can cheese sit out?

Really, it just relies on the kind of cheese we’re talking about.

The U.S. Department of Health doesn’t approve of keeping any perishable food sitting out of the fridge for more than 2 hours, and that’s undoubtedly the situation for soft cheeses, like cottage or cream cheese, brie, or fresh mozzarella. 

If it’s squishy and has been out for 2 or more hours, throw it into the trash.

Hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Parmesan, or Gouda, are a more robust breed. If they’ve been out for 2 hours, you can wrap them back and put them back in the fridge. 

Don’t nudge your luck too much, though! So, if you left them out for a whole day, nuh-uh. But in entirety, they’ll survive to be eaten another day!

After all, letting flawlessly sweet cheese go moldy is an offense, and you’re putting yourself out to severe implications from the Cheese Police.

On the light side, though!

But then, there can be inevitable health repercussions from your dairy-based negligence. 

So, let’s look at how long cheese can last when it’s been sitting out.

How Long Can Different Types of Cheeses Sit Out?

No one desires to squander food or the money we spent purchasing it. And when you see information about food scrap, you can be enticed to go ahead and devour, even if your cheese does seem a little bad.

An unopened packet of shredded cheese retains for at least a week or two even after its date. 

After opening, it maintains its disposition for 3 to 5 days. It might hold for a couple more days, but it’s better to refrigerate it if you need to retain it for more than 5 days.

Retail shredded cheese commonly lasts for weeks as long as it remains unopened. And it usually holds for an additional week or two past the date issued on the label.

But then, there’s no way to tell how long, and all makers suggest utilizing theirs before the printed date for optimal freshness.

Once unwrapped, the most accepted suggestion is to consume the cheese within 5 days.

Unrefrigerated Shredded Cheese Canisters

You can, at times, locate these little unrefrigerated canisters of shredded cheese. Even though they don’t have to be refrigerated, they can frequently be found in the refrigerated area.

These hold a long time and typically don’t even have to be socked in the fridge once opened. 

Sadly, while all that is super okay, they have one deadly flaw: they’re packed with preservatives that protect the product from spoiling.

Therefore, I recommend ignoring those products whatsoever because of the lengthy ingredients list that’s crowded with synthetic stuff that’s most possibly not good for you.

But if you’ve already bought one of them, study the inscription. It’ll often contain all the required storage and shelf life details.

And in many situations, the inscription will state that the product can hold up to the printed date, no matter when you open it.

Homemade shredded cheese holds about 3 to 5 days of shredding, no matter the cheese kind. If that’s not sufficient for your desires, you can either slice as much as you need at a time or freeze the leftovers.

Even though cheese blocks hold a pretty long time, like parmesan cheese, that can last for a couple of weeks after opening, it isn’t the same for shredded cheese. 

Like store-bought shredded cheese, the homemade variation lasts only a few days.

Owing to that, if you’re speculating about slicing an entire block, freezing the leftovers is possibly the way to go. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you tell if shredded cheese has gone wrong?

The best way is to sniff and check the cheese: if it has an odor, flavor, or appearance, or if mold emerges, it isn’t good.

How long after shredded cheese expires can you eat it?

Exactly one week after.

Will expired cheese make you sick?

Eating “expired” cheese is okay so long as you take off the mold and it still has a good smell.

Does cheese expire if unopened?

Yes, cheese does expire even if you don’t open it.

Can you eat 2-year frozen cheese?

Actually, yes, you can. Cheese can be stored indefinitely.


In answering the question ‘how long can shredded cheese sit out,’ I had to explore far and wide. Because there are many different kinds of cheeses, they all have other characteristics.

How long a particular cheese will last totally depends on the kind of cheese that it is.

Thank you for reading!