Can (And Should) You Freeze Velveeta Cheese?

For many Americans, Velveeta is synonymous with supremely gooey macaroni and cheese, warm queso, and cheesy casseroles. However, even for the biggest fans, using up a big block can be quite a feat. Velveeta lasts in the refrigerator for up to eight weeks, but what if you don't finish it quite as fast as you'd like, and now it's on the cusp of expiration or taking up too much space in your cramped fridge? Your go-to solution might be to freeze it — but unfortunately, due to its unique composition, freezing Velveeta poses a few challenges. 

As a processed cheese product, Velveeta contains more emulsifiers and has a higher moisture content than most conventional cheeses. Ingredients like milk, water, whey, milk protein concentrate, and milkfat all contribute to the soft, melty characteristics that folks expect from the product, but they also lead to excess ice crystal formation once Velveeta is frozen. Crystallization then causes changes in texture and flavor once the block is thawed. 

Although Kraft Heinz, the producer of Velveeta, doesn't recommend freezing it, there are precautions you can take to give it a good chance at returning to its creamy glory after thawing. It might not be exactly the same as it was, but you'll certain gain more time to use it all up.

How to freeze Velveeta and how its texture changes

Velveeta may be different from most other soft cheeses, but all high-moisture cheese is predisposed to texture changes when frozen: namely, a more dry, grainy, and crumbly consistency instead of a smooth one. For Velveeta, though, many consumers don't mind because it's meant to be melted. Unlike Camembert, Brie, or burrata, it's unlikely that you'll be thawing Velveeta to serve on your next cheese board, so flavor loss and textural changes are relatively easy to hide. 

When freezing Velveeta, the main goal is to limit air exposure. This will minimize freezer burn and oxidation, which can create a rancid taste in your food. Vacuum-sealing is your best bet, but storing it in a freezer bag will do the trick, too. While proper airtight storage definitely helps in preservation, freezing will always damage the structural integrity of Velveeta. As the water in the block freezes, it expands, which causes damage to the product's cell walls and creates a grainy consistency. Freezing also causes the cheese's casein (milk proteins) to dry out, leading to denaturation.

This is likely why Kraft Heinz doesn't recommend freezing the product, but these changes aren't so obvious once Velveeta is melted into a sauce. For best results, thaw it slowly by allowing it to defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Check for any signs of mold or spoilage, then proceed with your recipe. Be sure to use the Velveeta within two days, and do not attempt to re-freeze it. 

Recipes to use up Velveeta fast

Finding creative ways to use up Velveeta means you can avoid the stress of freezing and thawing altogether, and there is no shortage of options at your disposal. Beyond the tried-and-true mac and cheese, this gooey product can be incorporated into all sorts of sides, snacks, and entrees.

A can of Rotel tomatoes is all you need to add to melted Velveeta for a homemade queso that will knock your socks off. Unlike other cheeses that need lemon juice or baking soda to achieve that perfect creamy texture, Velveeta contains a melting salt called sodium citrate, which prevents it from separating. Our ideas for kicking up store-bought queso can also make this semi-homemade version more delicious. In a similar vein, you can melt it down with a bit of butter, milk, and your choice of seasonings to make a simple yet delicious cheese sauce that's perfect for a build-your-own-nacho party — no need to worry about melting cheese for nachos without burning them

If you're craving a more substantial meal, Velveeta makes a great base for comforting soups like broccoli cheese or cheesy potato bacon. You can also add it to a casserole, like a breakfast bake with hash browns, meat, veggies, and eggs. Or try a classic Midwestern cheeseburger hotdish with ground beef, egg noodles, Velveeta, and whichever seasonings your heart desires.