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Can You Freeze Mac And Cheese?

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Mac and cheese is iconic comfort food that just about everyone loves. There are numerous vegan mac and cheese recipes because, even if you swear off dairy, saying no to macaroni and cheese is too much to expect from any human being.

If you’re up to the [easy] challenge of making your own mac and cheese from scratch, it’s always a great idea to multiply your batch so that you can cook once and eat many, many meals.

So can you freeze mac and cheese? Yes, you can freeze leftover mac and cheese for up to 18 months, though it will retain the best quality when eaten within 6 months. Make sure the mac n cheese reaches room temperature before putting it in the freezer to reduce condensation and freezer burn.

As with any pasta + dairy casserole, you have to set it up properly in order to have success reheating it from the freezer.

If you don’t want runny, mushy, odd textured mac and cheese, you’ll want to follow a few simple steps to freezing it properly. We’ll detail those steps and answer all your macaroni and cheese freezer related questions in this article.

How to Freeze Mac and Cheese

Freezing macaroni and cheese isn’t too difficult, but pasta and dairy can both be quite temperamental when it comes to freezing temperatures, so there are a few strategies to follow to help you get the best results from your frozen mac and cheese. 

To start, we’ll outline the basic process for freezing any type or style of macaroni and cheese, and then, a bit later in the article, we’ll discuss some specific adaptations for the many different types of mac and cheese you might be freezing. 

The first question you’ll have to decide on is whether you should freeze mac and cheese before or after baking it.

In some cases, it will depend on whether you’re planning ahead or simply dealing with too much food. Either way, you can freeze your mac and cheese effectively following a few basic steps.

How to Freeze Cooked Mac and Cheese

If you have leftover, cooked mac and cheese of any variety, here are the best steps to follow to freeze it so that it reheats well.

  1. Make sure your mac and cheese is room temperature, especially if you’re going to be transferring into plastic freezer-safe Tupperware containers.
    • Never place anything hot into plastic containers, even if it says BPA free. You have to wait for it to be cool before putting it in your freezer anyway, so just let it completely cool before separating to take all necessary health precautions.
    • Reusable or disposable aluminum tins also work well for freezing single portion sizes because you can transfer them directly into your oven for baking
  2. Separate the leftovers into single meal-sized serving.
  3. Place a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of your macaroni and cheese.
  4. Seal the lid tightly so that no air can enter the container, or wrap with aluminum foil carefully sealing all edges tightly.
  5. NOTE: Your mac and cheese will expand slightly as it freezes, so make sure there is about half an inch of headspace left between the surface of your macaroni and the lid.
  6. Cool the macaroni and cheese in the fridge before putting it in your freezer so that less condensation forms inside the container due to the temperature difference
  7. Label the container with the date that you’re putting it into the freezer.
  8. Freeze for up to 18 months. Use within 6 months for the best quality.

So now you know you can freeze leftover mac and cheese, and it’s not even really that hard.

Freezing Single Portion Sizes of Cooked Mac and Cheese

If you are going to be reheating your mac and cheese for 1 person at a time, a really great way to separate and freeze your macaroni is to use muffin tins. 

Grease each muffin groove generously with butter and fill with macaroni. Don’t be shy about packing it tightly. The more squished you get your pasta the less air will be between each noodle and the better it will freeze overall.

When you’re happy with the serving sizes, cover the tin with aluminum foil, carefully creating a seal around each serving of mac and cheese.

Place the entire tray in your freezer and leave it there for at least 3-6 hours to be sure the pasta is thoroughly frozen.

You can now remove it from your freezer and transfer the frozen servings to a more suitable freezer-safe container.

You can use any of the following, depending on which is most convenient for you and will fit in your freezer:

  1. Wrap each serving individually with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and fit into your freezer wherever there is space.
  2. In a freezer-safe Ziploc bag, layer the mac and cheese servings in a single row, making sure you can press all the air out and seal it tightly before placing it flat in your freezer
  3. Place the individual servings inside a freezer-safe Tupperware container in a single layer, preferably individually wrapped to protect them from moisture and freezer burn.

How to Freeze Mac and Cheese Before You Bake It

Freezing mac and cheese before you bake it often leads to a slightly better quality serving. You’re less likely to have pasta that is too soft and the sauce will be creamier.

There’s also less risk of developing the grainy texture that sometimes comes with the frozen dairy territory. 

Even though it has a slight edge over-cooking it and then freezing, you still have to take strategic steps to make sure it freezes well. 

  1. Prepare your mac and cheese according to the recipe, stopping the process right before the step that says, “put it in the oven”
    • If you’re making mac and cheese that will be baked, transfer it to a freezer-safe, oven-safe baking dish so that it can be transferred directly from your freezer to your oven when you’re ready to cook it
    • If you’re making mac and cheese that you’ll reheat on the stovetop, transfer it to freezer-safe containers in single meal serving sizes
  2. Make sure your mac and cheese is room temperature before covering it
    • For baked mac and cheese, cover your baking dish with a layer of aluminum foil, carefully sealing all edges. Don’t hesitate to add a 2nd layer of aluminum foil for added safety – you do not your mac and cheese exposed to any air or moisture while it’s in the freezer
    • For stovetop mac and cheese, place a layer of plastic wrap on top of the macaroni before sealing it with the air-tight lid
  3. Cool the macaroni and cheese in the fridge before putting it in your freezer so that less condensation forms inside the container due to the temperature difference
  4. Label the container(s) with the date that you’re putting it into the freezer
  5. Freeze for up to 18 months. Use within 6 months for the best quality.

Pro Tips: Making Macaroni and Cheese That Freezes Better

If you’re making your mac and cheese with the purpose or full knowledge that you will be freezing it, here are a few tips to consider during the cooking process:

  1. Swap your regular dairy milk for milk powder. Even though it reconstitutes with the water you use in your recipe, it freezes and bakes better than standard dairy will.
  2. Alternatively, add some cream cheese or heavy cream to your sauce to increase the fat content and avoid using skim milk – the higher the fat content, the less likely it is to split when it freezes.
  3. Cook your macaroni until it’s al dente before adding the sauce. As it bakes it will finish cooking without going too soft.
  4. If you’re baking your mac and cheese, add a layer of shredded cheese to the surface of your macaroni before you cook it. This will protect the macaroni from getting hard and crunchy as it bakes, which will only become worse if it’s then frozen and reheated.
  5. Again if you’re baking instead of making your mac and cheese stovetop, cook at a low temperature, like 375F, for slightly longer, 35 – 40 minutes. This will keep the dairy as smooth as possible, which will set it up for better success in the freezer.

Freezing Macaroni and Cheese – Types & Variations

The above methods are all you need for standard homemade mac and cheese, whether you’re baking it or cooking it on your stovetop, and whether you’re baking it before or after you’ve frozen it.

But there are other variations of mac and cheese that we need to consider for their ability to freeze well.

Can you freeze Kraft Mac and Cheese?

Yes, you can freeze Kraft Mac and Cheese after it’s cooked.

The powder cheese includes milk, so if you know you’re going to be freezing it, you can make your sauce with only butter and water instead of adding more milk. This will prevent the dairy from breaking down in your freezer. 

If you truly prefer the sauce made with milk, it will still freeze fine but you will have to give it a good stir when you’re ready to eat it. It will warm up best if you thaw it completely and then slowly heat it on the stovetop.

Leftover Kraft Mac and Cheese, whether previously frozen or not, tends to get crunchy in the microwave if you’re not careful.

Can you freeze cheese sauce for mac and cheese?

Yes, in fact, freezing cheese sauce for mac and cheese is a great way to make sure you’re pasta cooks up perfectly when you’re ready to make your meal.

The cheese sauce is really what takes the most time, so making it ahead even without mixing it into your macaroni is a great idea. 

The secret is to use high-fat content dairy and freeze it in single-meal serving sizes. Even if the dairy separates a bit, you can whisk it back together while you’re macaroni cooks.

To freeze cheese sauce, simply make it as per your recipe and then wait until it is completely cooled. Pour as much as you’ll need for a single meal into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.

Seal the bag 95% of the way and very carefully lay it flat on your counter. Let the sauce settle into an even layer with no air left inside the bag. Finish sealing before any of the sauce leaks out.

Label it with the date and lay it flat in your freezer to store for up to 6 months.

Can you freeze vegan mac and cheese?

As a general rule, yes, you can freeze vegan mac and cheese by following the same instructions as listed above. There are a few caveats to keep in mind, however. 

First, vegan mac and cheese can be made in many different ways. Some of the most popular recipes call for some combinations of the following ingredients:

The biggest concern is going to be the non-dairy milk, as they are almost all known for splitting when frozen. A good way to compensate for this is to make and freeze your sauce separately from your macaroni so that you can recombine it before serving it.

If you make it with cashews or other nuts and seeds, it will freeze better because the fat content will be higher.

Related Questions About Frozen Mac And Cheese

How to make frozen mac and cheese better?

If you’re trying to make homemade mac and cheese better for the freezing process, our best tip is to use dry milk instead of regular dairy.

You can also add flavor enhancers such as Dijon, paprika, or nutmeg which will bring out the flavor of your cheese even after it’s been frozen.

If you’re reheating it on the stovetop, you can add a bit of fresh milk, butter, and even more shredded cheese to refresh the sauce, as well as mix in some chopped up veggies, capers or shredded chicken for more variety.

If you’re trying to liven up a frozen dinner from the freezer section of your supermarket, first you want to make sure you bake it instead of choosing the quick and easy microwave option.

The oven baking adds a lot to the flavor. Add some shredded cheese to the top of the macaroni before baking it. Once it’s cooked, you can mix in some broccoli, bacon bits, or tomatoes for added flavor, texture, and color. 

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

If you’re stored it properly, according to all the directions above, your mac and cheese will stay fresh in your freezer for 6 to 18 months.

The sooner you eat it, the better the flavor will be, but if you’ve been careful in the packaging, it should stay in good quality for at least a year.

Can you refreeze frozen mac and cheese?

You can, but only carefully and with the full understanding that refrozen frozen macaroni and cheese will be softer, less smooth, and probably with less cheesy flavor that the original.

The first rule is to only refreeze it if it was originally thawed in your refrigerator or put directly into your oven. If it spent any time on your counter thawing, don’t refreeze it. There’s too much risk of having bacteria develop that will spoil your food even if it doesn’t make you sick. 

Second, if you’ve added milk to freshen up the sauce, it will not freeze as well. The dairy might separate. The pasta will be mushier. And the sauce will be less flavorful.

If you’re ok with those caveats, you can refreeze your frozen mac and cheese. Our suggestion is, next time, freeze it in smaller serving sizes so that you don’t have to refreeze it.

Conclusion: Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese?

Can you freeze mac and cheese? Yes, you definitely can.

We sincerely recommend that if you’re going through the trouble of making a batch of creamy homemade mac and cheese, you definitely should double or triple the batch and freeze as much as possible.

It lasts more than a year in your freezer and makes a simple, quick, and utterly delicious meal on demand in about half an hour when you’re ready to eat it. 

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