Does Cheese Need to be Refrigerated?

By James Robert


Cheese, a beloved dairy product enjoyed by many around the world, often finds a place in our refrigerators. But have you ever wondered if cheese truly needs to be refrigerated? In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of cheese storage and explore the questions surrounding its refrigeration requirements. Let’s start the truth about cheese storage and shelf life.

Types of Cheese

How long can cheese be unrefrigerated?

Cheese is a perishable food item, and the general rule of thumb is that it should be refrigerated to maintain its quality and prevent bacterial growth. However, certain types of cheese can withstand limited periods at room temperature without immediate spoilage. For example, hard and aged cheeses like Parmesan or Cheddar can tolerate being unrefrigerated for a few hours, especially in a cool environment. But it’s important to note that extended exposure to higher temperatures can negatively impact their flavor, texture, and safety.

What cheeses do not need to be refrigerated?

While most cheeses benefit from refrigeration, some types can be stored without it. These cheeses are often specifically processed or have higher salt content, which acts as a natural preservative. Examples of such cheeses include:

  • Hard cheeses: Parmesan, Romano, and aged Cheddar can be stored at room temperature due to their low moisture content.
  • Processed cheeses: Cheese spreads, individually wrapped slices, and processed cheese products typically have additives that increase their shelf life at room temperature.
  • Wax-coated cheeses: Certain cheeses, like Gouda or Edam, are coated in wax, providing an additional layer of protection and allowing them to be stored without refrigeration until opened.
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What happens if cheese is not refrigerated?

Leaving cheese unrefrigerated for extended periods can lead to several undesirable consequences. Firstly, the growth of harmful bacteria can occur, posing a risk to food safety. Additionally, cheese exposed to warmer temperatures can develop mold or become rancid, altering its taste, texture, and aroma. Moreover, the fats in cheese can undergo oxidation, leading to a deterioration in quality and potential health risks. To ensure the longevity and safety of your cheese, refrigeration is generally recommended.

Can I put cheese without a fridge?

While it’s possible to store certain types of cheese without refrigeration, it’s crucial to consider the environment and duration. In situations where refrigeration is not available, storing cheese in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and strong odors, can help slow down spoilage. However, this method is not recommended for extended periods. It’s important to prioritize food safety and consume cheese within a reasonable time frame to avoid the risk of contamination or deterioration.


In summary, refrigeration is generally necessary to maintain the quality, safety, and shelf life of cheese. While some hard and processed cheeses can withstand limited time at room temperature, it’s essential to exercise caution and adhere to proper storage guidelines. Understanding the characteristics of different cheese types and their specific storage requirements is key to enjoying cheese at its best. So, whether you’re a cheese enthusiast or someone who enjoys an occasional indulgence, remember to keep your cheese refrigerated to preserve its deliciousness and ensure food safety.

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