Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese?

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Can you freeze mac and cheese? Yes, Macaroni and cheese freezes very easily. You can wrap it in the appropriate food storage packaging and freeze it for up to a few months. The important aspect is to decide the desired portions that you want to freeze for consuming later.

cajun mac and cheese baked pan
Cajun Mac and Cheese Recipe. Photo by CookThink.

HOW TO FREEZE MAC AND CHEESE

There are a few ways you can freeze mac and cheese. You will want to decide whether you want to freeze it before it is baked or after it is baked. There are a few benefits to each one that come down to a matter of preference in making the decision of how mac and cheese is frozen.

The best way to freeze mac and cheese if it is already baked is to cut it into the desired portions and then place it inside a zipped food storage bag and then wrap that in foil. Don’t forget to label it with the item and date before placing it in the freezer.

You can use a freezer safe airtight food storage container as an alternate storage solution for freezing macaroni and cheese that’s already been baked.

If you choose to freeze your mac and cheese before it’s baked, you’ll want to place it in a freezer safe baking pan and prepare it all the way up to being baked. You can skip portioning it out before it’s baked and go straight to packaging it and labeling it for the freezer. We recommend wrapping it tightly with a layer of food safe plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Be sure it’s nice and tight before labeling it and placing it in the freezer.

HOW TO BEST COOK MAC AND CHEESE FOR FREEZING

The best way to cook mac and cheese for freezing, in our opinion, is to follow any recipe and fully prepare it up to the point of baking it and then place it in the freezer. We like this method better because it tends to come out creamier and less grainy when it’s time to eat it because it hasn’t been heated twice.  

HOW TO FREEZE COOKED MAC AND CHEESE

To freeze cooked mac and cheese, there are two main steps. You’ll want to choose the appropriate portions and then wrap them well before placing them in the freezer. It’s really quite simple to do.

HOW TO THAW FROZEN MAC AND CHEESE

You can thaw frozen mac using a variety of methods including baking it in a conventional oven, reheating it in the microwave or using another preferred method. We’ll go into this in more detail with instructions below.

HOW TO HEAT UP FROZEN MAC AND CHEESE

The way you choose to heat up frozen mac and cheese will be determined by whether your frozen mac and cheese has been previously baked.

If your mac and cheese has been baked and includes a smaller portion, you might prefer to use the microwave or toaster oven, rather than heating up your conventional oven to reheat it.

If has already been baked and you’re using the microwave, unwrap your frozen mac and cheese and cover it with a paper towel. Heat for 1-2 minutes at a time and then check on it to see if it’s warm. You don’t want to overheat it in the microwave as it will make your mac and cheese hard.

If it has already been baked and you’re using the toaster oven, you can use the same instructions as the microwave, except do not cover it with a paper towel or any flammable products.

If your frozen mac and cheese has not been pre-baked, you’ll likely want to bake it in a conventional oven, which will of course heat it. The bake time will be determined by the size of your pan of mac and cheese, as well as its thickness. We like to bake ours uncovered until it is nice and golden on top and has a bit of a crispy layer.

If you’re baking it in the pan it was frozen in and it is in a glass pan, you’ll want to place the cold pan in a cold oven and then turn the oven on to keep from shattering the glass pan.

Ultimate Mac And Cheese dished up
Ultimate Mac and Cheese Recipe. Photo by CookThink.

BEST WAY TO HEAT UP THAWED MAC AND CHEESE

The best way to heat up thawed mac and cheese that has not been baked, is simply to bake it in the oven until it’s nice and golden on the top and is heated through.

If your mac and cheese has already been baked, keep reading to the next section to learn how to best reheat baked mac and cheese.

BEST WAY TO REHEAT BAKED MAC AND CHEESE

If your mac and cheese has already been baked once, you might opt to reheat it in the microwave, which will only take about a minute per serving.

If you don’t have a microwave, a good alternate solution is to heat it on the stovetop. You can place a little oil in the bottom of a frying pan and heat it over medium low until it’s heated through. Make sure to stir it though so it doesn’t burn to the pan.

Freezer-To-Oven Mac ‘n’ Cheese

If you’re making freezer-to-oven mac ‘n’ cheese, we recommend fully preparing the mac and cheese to the point of baking it. The noodles should be boiled and soft. And the cheese and cheese sauce should be mixed in with the noodles.

Once the mac and cheese has been fully prepared, you’ll want to transfer it to a pan that is both freezer safe and oven safe so that when you get ready to serve it, you can place the pan directly into the oven to bake it. Aluminum pans or glass pans will both work fine for this. You might want to lightly grease the pan before transferring the mac and cheese to it.

Once the mac and cheese has been transferred to the pan, allow it to cool. Then, cover the pan with a layer of food safe plastic wrap. And cover again with a layer of aluminum foil. Label the dish with the date and name of the item and place it in the freezer for up to two months.

Freezable Macaroni and Cheese

Any macaroni and cheese is freezable. It’s just a matter of preference as to whether it’s frozen before it’s baked or after it’s baked. Macaroni and cheese freezes very well and tastes good even after it’s been frozen.

How To Freeze Mac and Cheese (& reheat it too!)

Following is our step-by-step guide to how to freeze mac and cheese and reheat it too. It is a simple, straightforward process that has good results.

How to Freeze Mac and Cheese:

There are three main steps to freezing mac and cheese, once the mac and cheese has been fully prepared. You can choose to freeze it before it is baked or after it’s been baked. Here are the steps.

Step 1: Cool

This is an important step whether your mac and cheese has been baked or if it has not been baked. You’ll want to let it cool. If you freeze mac and cheese while it’s still hot, it can create condensation inside the packaging which will alter the texture of your delicious mac and cheese.

Step 2: Seal

Decide the portion that you want to freeze. Maybe you want to freeze the whole pan to take out and serve to a larger group of people. Or maybe you want to freeze smaller individual portions that can be pulled out to serve one or two people at a time.

Once the portion size has been decided you’ll want to place them in freezer safe zipped bags. If you’re freezing a whole pan, you should cover it tightly with plastic wrap and then another layer of aluminum foil that is sealed tightly.

Step 3: Label

If you freeze a lot of items, you’ll want to be sure to label your mac and cheese with its name as well as the date. This will help you keep track of what is what and use it in a timely manner.

outback mac and cheese
Outback Mac and Cheese Copycat Recipe. Photo by CookThink.

FAQs:

Following are some frequently asked questions and answers that relate to freezing mac and cheese and how it is best done.

How long does mac and cheese last in the refrigerator?

Mac and cheese can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just keep it in an airtight food safe container for optimal freshness.

How long does mac and cheese last in the freezer?

Mac and cheese can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. We recommend double wrapping it for the best results and to maintain freshness.

Can you thaw mac and cheese in the microwave?

You can thaw and heat mac and cheese in the microwave, by heating it for about 1 minute per serving. Keep a close eye on it so that it doesn’t burn in the microwave. Burnt mac and cheese turns hard.

How long can you freeze Mac and cheese?

You can freeze mac and cheese for up to three months if it is stored and wrapped properly to help keep it from becoming freezer burnt.

Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese? Here’s How You Can Do This

Yes, mac and cheese freezes really well. It’s a great way to save leftovers or prepare a meal in advance for a later date.

How To Freeze Macaroni and Cheese?

To freeze mac and cheese just follow our step-by-step instructions in this post. It’s really easy and we’ll walk you through the process.

How to Defrost and Reheat Mac and Cheese?

To defrost mac and cheese you can remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Or to speed up the process, you can remove it from the freezer and place it in the microwave on the defrost mode for a few minutes.

To reheat mac and cheese, you can heat it in the microwave, stovetop or in the oven using our instructions above for each one.  

How to Keep Macaroni and Cheese Frozen Longer?

To keep macaroni and cheese frozen longer, be sure to wrap it tightly and seal it well in a zipped storage freezer bag and then place it in another layer of wrap such as aluminum foil or a vacuum sealed package. The key to keeping it frozen longer is to keep it wrapped tightly so that it doesn’t become freezer burnt, which will alter its flavor.

How to Thaw Macaroni and Cheese?

Macaroni and cheese can be thawed by moving it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. You can also defrost it using that mode in the microwave for a few minutes. Or if you’re ready to bake it, simply place it in the oven to be cooked, which at the same time will thaw it.

Can You Freeze Mac & Cheese Before You Bake it?

Yes, in fact we think that’s the best way.

Tips on Making Frozen Mac n Cheese Taste Better?

Our best tip for the best results is to save the baking for after you take it out of the freezer.

Is it Possible to Refreeze Frozen Mac & Cheese?

Yes, but only if you took it directly from the freezer and placed it in the oven to bake the first time, or if you defrosted it in the refrigerator the first time.

Can you freeze uncooked macaroni and cheese?

We don’t recommend freezing uncooked macaroni noodles.

Does mac and cheese freeze well?

Yes, if done properly, it freezes very well. Just follow our instructions and tips.

Related Questions About Frozen Mac And Cheese

Following are related questions about frozen mac and cheese that you might find helpful.

How to make frozen mac and cheese better?

Our favorite way to make frozen mac and cheese better is to save the step of baking it for after it comes out of the freezer. It tastes so much fresher, creamier and delicious.

How long can you keep mac and cheese in the freezer?

Mac and cheese can be kept in the freezer for up to two months.

Can you refreeze frozen mac and cheese?

Yes, you can refreeze frozen mac and cheese, but only if it was originally thawed in your refrigerator or was put straight into the oven from the freezer.

Can you freeze Kraft Mac and Cheese?

Yes, you can freeze Kraft mac and cheese after it’s been cooked. It will warm up best if you thaw it completely first and then slowly reheat it on the stovetop.

Can you freeze cheese sauce for mac and cheese?

Yes, you can freeze cheese sauce for mac and cheese for up to three months. There are a variety of cheese sauces and some will freeze better than others.

Can you freeze vegan mac and cheese?

Yes, you can freeze vegan mac and cheese. Just use the same instructions as we’ve provided here for the best results.

Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese, or Should You Refrigerate it?

Either one is fine. You can freeze it for up to two months or you can refrigerate it for up to three days.

Conclusion: Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese?

Yes, you can freeze mac and cheese. Just follow our instructions for the best results.

Maranda's Mac and Cheese with Corn
Miranda Lambert’s Mac and Cheese Recipe. Photo by CookThink.

How to reheat Mac and cheese:

There are a variety of ways to reheat mac and cheese including using a microwave, stovetop method, or conventional oven.

If using the microwave, cover the microwave save container with a napkin to keep the product from splattering. Then heat it for about a minute per cup of mac and cheese.

If using the stovetop, place a little bit of water or olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan and slowly heat the mac and cheese over low to medium low heat.

If using the conventional oven, add a little milk, cheese and or butter to refreshen the mixture if it is drying out. Cover the oven safe pan with foil and place it in a 350F degree oven and warm until heated through.

How to Freeze Cooked Mac and Cheese

If your mac and cheese has already been cooked and cooled, it is ready to be portioned out and wrapped for the freezer. You can freeze it for up to two months.

Freezing Single Portion Sizes of Cooked Mac and Cheese

One of the most important factors of freezing mac and cheese is determining the portion sizes that you’ll want to use when you take the mac and cheese out of the freezer. Single portion sizes work great for an individual or a small household. They make it so that you can just pull one or two servings out at a time, while the others can remain in the freezer for later use.

How to Freeze Mac and Cheese Before You Bake It

Freezing mac and cheese before it’s baked is our favorite way to freeze it. That allows it to be baked when it’s pulled out of the freezer and it can be served hot and fresh, rather than being reheated for a second time when it comes out of the freezer.

Pro Tips: Making Macaroni and Cheese That Freezes Better

The best two tips that we can give you for making mac and cheese that freezes better is to save the baking step for after it’s frozen.

Freezing Macaroni and Cheese – Types & Variations

There are three main types and variations of macaroni and cheese. They are as follows:

Fully prepared and frozen mac and cheese. This is the kind that you buy in the freezer section of your grocery store. It can simply be placed directly in the freezer when you get home.

Instant mac and cheese kits. These boxed or bagged kits come with everything you need to make the mac and cheese and are found on your grocery store shelf in the dry goods section. They include things such as the noodles and a form of cheese for the noodles, along with instructions to make the dish.

Homemade mac and cheese. Homemade mac and cheese is our favorite by far. It can be made from a recipe and uses noodles and various ingredients to prepare a delicious dish. There are several homemade mac and cheese recipes available here on our site.

Ways to Prepare and Store Mac and Cheese

The best ways to store mac and cheese that has already been prepared include the refrigerator or freezer. The refrigerator is best for short term storage, up to three days. And the freezer is best for longer term storage, up to two months.

What to Know before Freezing Mac and Cheese

Before freezing your mac and cheese, you’ll want to know approximately how many people you intend to serve with it when it comes out of the freezer and how you intend to reheat it. This will determine the portion sizes to divide the mac and cheese into as well as the type of wrapping or pan to put it in.

For smaller portions, use zipped freezer bags or vacuum sealed packaging. If you intend to freeze and reheat a larger pan at once, simply freeze it right in a freezer safe and oven safe baking pan.

The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe for Freezing

The best mac and cheese recipe for freezing is a homemade mac and cheese recipe. Prepare it all the way up to the point of baking it. Then allow it to cool and wrap it appropriately to be frozen. Here are our top choices for the best mac and cheese recipes for freezing:

Ultimate Mac and Cheese The Best Recipe
Cajun Mac and Cheese Recipe
Copycat Fannie Farmer Mac and Cheese the Best Ever

Fannie Farmer mac and cheese close up top view
Fannie Farmer Copycat Mac and Cheese Recipe. Photo by CookThink.

Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese

Make ahead macaroni and cheese is any macaroni and cheese that is made in advance of when it is served. You might like to make mac and cheese ahead to save time during a busy day so that you’ll still have dinner ready for those who gather around your table.

Can You Freeze Macaroni and Cheese To Keep It Fresh?

Yes, just follow our step-by-step instructions for the best results.

Types of Mac and Cheese

There are two main kinds of mac and cheese that are prepared in your home kitchen. The two types are oven baked mac and cheese and stovetop mac and cheese.

Oven-baked Mac and Cheese

Oven baked mac and cheese typically requires the noodles to be boiled on the stovetop, mixed with cheese or cheese sauce and then baked in the oven to finish it off. Oven baked mac and cheese tends to be a favorite for us.

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Stovetop mac and cheese is mac and cheese that is fully prepared on the stovetop and then served from there. It includes boiling noodles and preparing cheese or cheese sauce to mix with the noodles. It does not get baked in the oven to finish it off.

How To Freeze Cooked Macaroni and Cheese

Here are our step-by-step instructions for how to freeze cooked macaroni and cheese.

Step 1: Cool Completely

After the mac and cheese has been cooked, you’ll want to let it cool completely before doing anything else. This will help eliminate condensation from forming inside the packaging while the mac and cheese is cooling.

Step 2: Portion

Determine the serving sizes that you intend to have available when the mac and cheese is taken out of the freezer, and you prepare to serve it. That could be individual servings or potentially larger servings. You’ll want to divide the mac and cheese into the portion sizes.

Step 3: Wrap and Seal

You’ll want to wrap and seal your mac and cheese well before placing it in the freezer. We recommend double wrapping it first with plastic and then with foil. You can use either a zipped freezer bag, vacuum sealed bag or another form of plastic wrap for the first layer.

Step 4: Foil Wrap

The next step is the wrap each portion tightly in foil. This additional layer will help to minimize freezer burn.

Step 5: Label and Freeze

The final step is to label and freeze the mac and cheese. Be sure to label your package with the contents as well as the date. This will help you keep track of what is what.

kraft mac and cheese
Kraft Mac and Cheese. Photo by CookThink.

How To Freeze Uncooked Baked Mac and Cheese

Here’s how to best freeze uncooked baked mac and cheese.

Step 1: Prepare the Recipe

To freeze uncooked baked mac and cheese, you’ll want to follow the recipe and prepare the dish all the way up to the point of it being baked. But don’t actually bake it. Save that for when you’re ready to serve it.

Step 2: Cling Wrap

Wrap your mac and cheese portions in cling plastic wrap. The wrap should be nice and tight. Or you can use zipped freezer bags in place of the cling plastic wrap.

Step 3: Foil Wrap

The next step is to foil wrap the contents and provide a second layer of protection to the food to keep it from drying out or becoming freezer burnt.

Step 4: Label and Freeze

Finally, label and freeze the package before placing it in the freezer. Be sure to add the contents of your package as well as the date so that you know what is what in the future.

How To Defrost Cooked Mac and Cheese

You might desire to defrost cooked mac and cheese when it comes out of the freezer. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Thaw

Thaw your mac and cheese by placing it in the refrigerator overnight and letting it begin to warm up.

Step 2: Remove Wrapping

Before warming your mac and cheese, you’ll want to remove the layer of foil as well as the layer of plastic wrapping.

Step 3: Heat

You can then heat your mac and cheese until it is warmed through using your preferred method.

How To Thaw and Cook Unbaked Frozen Mac and Cheese

Following are step by step instructions for how to thaw and cook unbaked frozen mac and cheese.

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Consult your recipe for the desired oven temperature and then preheat the oven. Keep in mind that when baking frozen mac and cheese the cook time will need to be increased for the mac and cheese to reach doneness.

Step 2: Defrost (Optional)

If you desire to defrost your mac and cheese before baking it, you’ll want to start the oven at a lower temperature and watch it until it is thawed. Then you can increase the temperature and begin the baking time according to the recipe instructions.

Step 3: Cover With Foil

To start baking your mac and cheese, you might choose to cover the baking pan with foil. This will help to maintain the moisture as well as keep the top of the mac and cheese from becoming too browned too quickly.

Step 4: Let it Bake

Bake according to recipe instructions.

Step 5: Remove Foil and Bake

During the final 15 minutes or so of baking your mac and cheese, you’ll want to remove the foil and then continue baking it.  This will allow the cheese to become golden brown and slightly crispy.

Step 6: Remove and Cool

Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and serve immediately or let stand to cool.

Freezer Mac and Cheese Kids Will Love

Kids love mac and cheese and you are sure to love freezing it for them so that it can be pulled out at a convenient time and enjoyed quickly and easily.

WHAT ARE THE BEST CHEESES FOR MAC AND CHEESE?

There are so many good cheeses for mac and cheese. Our favorite is typically to use a mixture of ooey-gooey kinds of cheese such as:

Cheddar
Sharp Cheddar
Monterey Jack
Colby Jack
Mozzarella
Parmesan
Munster
Italian Cheese

Holiday Meal Planning Tips

If you’re heading into a holiday and you’re expecting to be busy or have folks into your home, a make ahead mac and cheese dish can be a life saver. Just make and place it in the freezer to pull out when you’re ready to bake it. It can help make life easier.

Disposable Foil Pans

If you’re preparing a make ahead meal or taking a meal to someone in need and you anticipate that the mac and cheese dish will be frozen, you might opt to use one of those disposable foil pans. They’re perfect because you can put all your mac and cheese in them, wrap as instructed and then freeze it. When you pull it out of the freezer, you can place it directly in the oven in that same pan.

FREEZER-FRIENDLY MAC AND CHEESE RECIPES

We might be a bit crazy about mac and cheese over here. We love the stuff and so do our kids. Here are some of our favorite tried and true freezer-friendly mac and cheese recipes.

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