Cheese is one of those things that just makes everything better. It is one of the oldest foods we have. Moreover, it is an ingredient that is beloved all over the world, as it plays an integral part in many of the world’s cuisines.
Perhaps one of the most effective ways it is used is as a sauce. At one point or another, all of us have probably encountered one form of cheese sauce.
On the one hand, your cheese sauce can be something as gourmet as béchamel and Mornay, which are French dishes. On the other hand, it can be something as simple and accessible as a homemade nacho cheese sauce or queso dip.
But can you freeze cheese sauce? Generally, yes, you can freeze cheese sauce. However, depending on the type of cheese used to make the sauce and other ingredients included, some sauces will freeze better than others and some may lose their flavor or texture.
Be sure to keep reading as we break down some of the most popular cheese sauces around. Hopefully, this guide will be instrumental in helping you better store your cheese sauce.
Freezing Different Types of Cheese
So before anything else, we must have a better understanding of the different types of cheese. Presented below is an overview of the categories of cheese.
The table below is incredibly important for our purposes as it gives you an idea of which cheese would freeze well and which wouldn’t.
Different Types of Cheese
|Cheese Type||Fat Content||Examples|
|Fresh cheese||19-24%||Mozzarella, cottage cheese|
|Aged fresh cheese||19-24%||Ricotta, mozzarella|
|Soft white rind||24-26%||Chèvre log, camembert|
|Semi-soft cheese||26-28%||St. Nectaire, reblochon|
|Hard cheese||28-34%||Cheddar, parmesan, Gruyère|
|Blue cheese||28-34%||Gorgonzola, roquefort|
To be more specific, the physical characteristics of your cheese play a crucial role here, with the texture, fat content, and moisture levels being the most important.
Make sure to pay close attention to these characteristics as you look at the specific ingredients of the cheese sauce you are planning to freeze.
As a general guide, It should be stated here that the higher the fat content, the better the cheese will freeze. So, it is hardly surprising to find that hard cheeses freeze best.
Conversely, the opposite can be said for fresh, soft cheeses. These include the likes of cottage cheese or cream cheese. They don’t freeze well, as their soft texture and lower fat content ultimately work against them in the freezing temperatures.
Different Types of Cheese Sauce
Now that we have gone over the different types of cheese and the basic rules of freezing them, it is time that we delve into the matter at hand and take a closer look at the different kinds of cheese sauce.
We’ll be going each of these in detail, highlighting the cheeses typically used to make them and their defining characteristics.
- Béchamel Sauce – Béchamel is perhaps one of the most essential sauces around. It is the standard white sauce with a dairy base. Not only is it incredibly versatile, but it is also considered to be the mother sauce from which countless other French sauces are based. Though not strictly a cheese sauce, it serves as the basis for many of the cheeses to be discussed here. It is made by whisking hot milk into a rudimentary roux – a thickening agent made by mixing flour and butter. Then, it is simmered with bay leaf, onion, cloves, and a hint of nutmeg. The sauce is known for its creamy and smooth consistency.
- Mac and Cheese Sauce (Mornay Sauce) – Formally known as Mornay sauce or white cheese sauce, it is most commonly known as mac and cheese sauce. While this dish may seem commonplace nowadays, it traces its roots to French cuisine. The process of making this is very similar to béchamel sauce. It incorporates shredded or grated Gruyère cheese, though you also have the option to use other kinds of cheese, including parmesan, white cheddar, Gruyère, and Emmental.
- Cheddar Sauce – Another off-shoot of the classic béchamel sauce, cheddar sauce is considered to be one of the staple cheese sauces in English cuisine. It is even made in the same way as Mornay, with the most important difference being the choice of cheese incorporated into the sauce. As you may have surmised, the recipe simply replaces Gruyère with cheddar. This sauce is often used for casseroles and lasagnas. It also pairs well with fish and vegetable dishes.
- Four-Cheese Sauce – As its name suggests, this sauce is made by gradually stirring in grated cheese over your whipping cream and melted butter. Typically, you will want to use parmesan, mozzarella, provolone, and Romano. This combination of cheeses will give you the right balance of flavor that you are looking for. Though you are free to experiment with other cheeses like cream cheese, blue cheese, or cheddar, the previous combination offers much better freezing results. This sauce goes well with pasta dishes, steamed vegetables, and steaks, though some people also use it to lend flavor to baked potatoes.
- Fondue – Perhaps one of the most well-known cheese sauces around, fondue is a Swiss dish made from melted cheese. It rose in popularity in the middle of the 20th century and has since become one of the classic forms of cheese sauce. Heated over a candle or low flame, the cheese in the pot slowly melts and turns into a dipping sauce for everyone on the table to enjoy. Being a Swiss dish, it only makes sense that Emmental and Gruyère are the most commonly used ingredients for this dish. However, some people also opt to use blue cheese and Cheddar as well. This sauce is often enjoyed with bread, garlic croutons, and cured meats, as well as roasted potatoes, carrots, and various types of steamed vegetables. If you want to know more about the best cheeses to use for fondue, we’ve got another article waiting for you.
- Nacho Cheese Sauce – Nacho cheese sauce has become incredibly popular because it is paired with one of the most widely-consumed snacks around. The cheese sauce helps accentuate the natural flavors of nacho chips and lends it sharpness and the right level of saltiness that would be hard to find anywhere else. Just like the classic béchamel sauce, this sauce is dairy-based, as it makes use of cold pasteurized milk to give the sauce its body. Then, a blend of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and muenster cheese is added into the mix to give it that distinctive flavor. This is then rounded out by the addition of different spices including paprika, chipotle, cayenne, and ancho chili.
The physical characteristics of these cheeses will inevitably affect how the sauces will react to the freezing process. The good news is that these are generally hard cheeses, which tend to freeze well on their own.
Can You Freeze Homemade Cheese Sauce?
Now, if you’re like us, then you probably give premium value to making your own cheese sauce. After all, this is a sign that you are a serious home chef in every sense of the word.
With that, you may be asking yourself: is it safe to freeze my homemade cheese sauce? The answer to that is a definite yes.
In reality, this is a practical solution that you may have to add to your cheese sauce routine anyway. This is because, unlike store-bought cheese sauce, the ones you made yourself probably do not contain any additional preservatives.
So, the solution to this is sticking it in the freezer. That said, make sure that you let the sauce completely cool first. Remember, sticking anything hot in the freezer is a recipe for disaster, as you may end up doing more harm than good.
So, once the cheese sauce has cooled, you can then proceed to transfer it to an airtight container – preferably a sealable freezer-safe bag. Then, write down the storage date before putting it in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Béchamel Cheese Sauce?
As previously mentioned, the white sauce known as béchamel serves as the inspiration for many of the cheese sauces we use today.
Put simply, béchamel sauce freezes extremely well. This is primarily because of its roux and the decent amount of fat it contains. It is completely safe to freeze.
You’ll also be glad to know that the sauce has been known to last for as long as three months in the freezer and still taste great when reheated.
Alternatively, you can also store your béchamel sauce in the fridge and it will keep for 5 days, at most.
The process of freezing is simple enough. We highly recommend dividing your sauce into portions so that you will only need to thaw the amount you need for a specific recipe. Most home chefs use ice cube trays as a way of portioning the sauce.
Upon thawing, you may notice that the ingredients will start to separate. This is common for many dairy-based mixtures and the béchamel sauce is certainly no exception.
However, this can be easily solved by giving the mixture a good whisk to restore its consistency and texture.
Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese Sauce?
While we commonly refer to this sauce as mac and cheese sauce, it may come as a surprise to most that it is a traditional French sauce known as Mornay.
It is a white cheese sauce that is heavily inspired by the béchamel sauce. As previously mentioned, it even follows the same recipe, with the addition of Gruyère being the main difference.
To answer the question directly: yes, it is perfectly safe to freeze your mac and cheese sauce.
This is because of its perfect level of fat content as well as its use of a high-fat hard cheese that lends the mixture the body and consistency it needs to withstand the freezing process.
Can You Freeze Cheddar Cheese Sauce?
Again, our understanding of why béchamel sauce freezes well plays an important role in effectively answering this particular question.
Similar to Mornay or mac and cheese sauce, the cheddar sauce follows the same basic recipe as the béchamel. So, it only stands to reason that your Cheddar sauce is completely safe to freeze.
After all, it has the same level of moisture and fat content provided by the roux and milk. The cheese itself is a hard cheese with significant levels of fat. Both these factors make the entire prospect of freezing that much easier.
Can You Freeze Nacho Cheese Sauce?
As one of the most popular cheese sauces around, it only stands to reason that a lot of people are wondering whether or not it is safe to freeze their nacho cheese sauce. The answer to this is as straightforward as it can get: yes, you can.
However, there are a couple of things that you can do to further increase your chances of success.
For instance, while the types of cheese typically used to make this pretty much guarantee great freezing results, there is another matter you need to consider: the milk used for the sauce’s base.
So, If you are making the nacho cheese sauce yourself, we can’t overstate the importance of using pasteurized milk instead of the powdered kind.
This is because pasteurized milk has a much longer shelf-life than other milk products. At the same time, using pasteurized milk reduces the risk of cross-contamination.
This effectively reduces any problems you may encounter, especially once you take your sauce out of the freezer.
Tips for Freezing Cheese Sauce
Now that we have effectively answered whether or not you can freeze specific kinds of cheese sauces, it is time that we go over a couple of things that you need to remember.
These tips apply across the board, so it is best that you keep them in mind at all times, regardless of the type of cheese sauce you are working with.
- Freezing Affects Consistency – As you may have noticed in the discussions above, the freezing will cause your sauce to separate. This is because most cheese sauces are dairy-based. Have no fear though, as this is only temporary and can be quickly resolved by giving your mixture a good whisking.
- Always Use Fresh Sauce – For optimal results, it is best to use freshly-made cheese sauce. This ensures that everything is up as fresh as it can be – effectively ensuring a longer shelf life.
- Portion your Sauce – One of the best ways to ensure the sauce’s longevity is to avoid reheating and refreezing. To do this, we highly recommend that you divide your cheese sauce into serving portions. This way, you will only need to reheat the specific amount that you need.
Whatever your preferences may be, it is always a good idea to have your cheese sauce within arm’s reach. As this guide illustrates, freezing is one of the most effective ways to do just that.