How Long Can Mozzarella Cheese Sit Out? (+5 Other FAQs)

How Long Can Mozzarella Cheese Sit Out?

Mozzarella has its origins in southern Italy and is made from buffalo milk. The cheese is made using the Pasta Filata method, giving it a smooth texture. It is usually white and turns yellow when seasoned. 

Mozzarella is low in fat and sodium and is considered healthier than other types of cheese. It is also not aged for a long duration like other types of cheese. This makes it soft, chewy, and easy to melt. 

Buffalo milk mozzarella has more nutrients than cow milk mozzarella. It has more iron and calcium protein and less cholesterol. 

Mozzarella cheese is the easiest to shred and is used in pizzas, salads, appetizers, pasta, and snacks. 

Mozzarella is used as an ingredient in many dishes. Its shelf life is, therefore, a big concern. This article is written to address these concerns. Read on to understand more about mozzarella cheese.

How Long Can Mozzarella Cheese Sit Out?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, mozzarella cheese can sit out at temperatures of 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours. Dust and bacteria will accumulate on the cheese if left out longer than 2 hours, making the cheese unsafe for consumption. It should therefore be covered when left on the counter.  

Cheese is considered a perishable food. When perishable foods are left at room temperature for 2 hours or more, they become infected with bacteria. Consuming them can cause food poisoning.

You should also be careful about how you handle the cheese. Do not use old and dirty knives to cut into it, introducing bacteria. 

What Happens if Mozzarella Cheese Sits Out Too Long?

Mozzarella cheese goes bad when left out for too long. The optimum temperature for bacterial growth ranges from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and can facilitate rapid bacterial growth. Any perishable foods left out in these conditions will go bad. 

How Long Can Mozzarella Cheese Sit Out?

You should also remember to leave the mozzarella cheese covered before leaving it out. Uncovered cheese will attract flies which can introduce food-borne pathogens. When such cheese is consumed, it will cause food poisoning. 

What Should You Do if Mozzarella Cheese Is Left Out Too Long?

You should discard mozzarella cheese left sitting for too long. 

Spoiled cheese is darker in color. Its texture changes, its surface becomes slimy, and its package bloats. You should never eat rotten cheese. 

Moldy cheese contains E. coli, salmonella, listeria, brucella, and other bacteria. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and other life-threatening illnesses.

How Long Can Mozzarella Cheese Be in the Car For?

Mozzarella cheese can be left in the car for 3 to 4 hours before the cheese spoils. The warm temperatures in the car will make the cheese go bad faster. You can try refrigerating the cheese before transporting it. 

Does Mozzarella Cheese Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

Yes. When mozzarella cheese is not refrigerated, it spoils very quickly. Because it is perishable, you must store it in low-temperature conditions to preserve its freshness. Store-bought cheese that is yet to be unsealed can be stored for seven days. 

Avoid opening the packet before storing it because this exposes the cheese to oxygen in the air which facilitates bacterial growth. It can only last three days before going bad when the cheese is opened, even when refrigerated.

Do Mozzarella Cheese Go Bad If You Lose Power?

Yes. After a power outage, most refrigerators can retain their cold temperatures for up to six hours if left closed. After six hours have passed, the temperature in the refrigerator rises to that of the room temperature. Refrigerated food will then go bad due to the warm temperatures which facilitate rapid bacterial growth. 

What Temperature Is Safe For Mozzarella Cheese?

You should store cheese at temperatures ranging from 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit (0.55 to 7.22 degrees Celsius). It should be stored in a place with high humidity, such as the bottom vegetables and fruits compartment. If you do not want the cheese to freeze, do not store it close to the freezer or meat compartment.

When buying cheese, ensure that 19 days have not passed since its manufacture. This ensures maximum freshness. The cheese should not have any foul odors or unwanted tastes.

How To Store Mozzarella

Ensure that you always buy fresh cheese. You should confirm that the cheese you buy is within 19 days of its manufacture. If the cheese is not new, it will spoil even before you can store it. 

Like all other dairy products, mozzarella cheese is a perishable dairy product. A lot of care has to be taken when storing such products as they tend to go bad rapidly. 

To retain the freshness, flavor, texture, and odor of mozzarella cheese, you need to follow some rules. You should do the following:

Keep It Wrapped 

Wrapping mozzarella cheese in plastic wraps or aluminum foil serves two purposes. First, cheese has its moisture. If left exposed and in a room with low humidity, it loses most of its water and becomes rigid. Hard cheese loses its freshness, flavor, and texture. 

Second, uncovered mozzarella cheese will attract flies. The flies introduce food-borne pathogens and all sorts of bacteria. They may even lay their eggs in the cheese. Such cheese is dangerous to consume. 

Keep It Wet

As mentioned above, cheese has its moisture. When the cheese loses this moisture, it becomes hard and loses its flavor and freshness. 

Cheese should be kept wet to preserve freshness. Most store-bought cheese comes with a pack of salty water. You should leave the cheese in the brine to maintain its moisture. You can also prepare saltwater at home if it’s spilled or lost. 

Because cheese usually doesn’t come with packages that can be resealed once opened, you should remember to store the cheese in airtight containers before refrigerating it. This will ensure that it remains unaffected by the elements in the fridge. 

Can You Freeze Mozzarella?

Yes. It is okay to freeze blocks of mozzarella. However, after freezing them, they get a crumbly texture. You should not freeze fresh mozzarella because its moisture will form ice crystals. 

You can also try melting the cheese into its liquid form before freezing it. Frozen cheese can stay fresh for as long as eight months. To freeze the cheese, follow the following simple steps:

  • Drain the brine. 
  • Remove excess water.
  • Wrap the cheese tightly with cling film.
  • Place the wrapped cheese in thick freezer bags.
  • Freeze the cheese in the bag flat.

How Long Does Mozzarella Last

Mozzarella cheese can only last for two hours when left at 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. When appropriately refrigerated, it can last for the next four days after opening the package. 

Mozzarella cheese is perishable and therefore has a concise shelf life. This is why the cheese is sold in small portions that the consumer can consume quickly. 

The mozzarella cheese rapidly deteriorates in freshness, texture, and flavor when refrigerated any longer than three days.

Sealed mozzarella cheese will lose its freshness by the end of the week after refrigeration. Stick cheese can, however, last for 28 days.

You should also remember that how long your cheese stays fresh depends on other external factors. Ensure that the cheese you purchase is still fresh and within three weeks from its manufacture. Cheese handled hygienically in the right environment will last longer than cheese managed unhygienically and in warmer climates. Power outages can also shut down your refrigerator and cause the cheese to go bad sooner than anticipated. 

Remember never to consume bad cheese that has passed its best date. 

How To Tell If Mozzarella Is Bad

You can tell lousy cheese by its appearance, texture, smell, and taste. You can also simply check the expiry date on its packaging. 

Mozzarella is usually very delicious. However, lousy mozzarella is sour and tastes like vinegar. The bag/ packaging becomes bloated when the cheese goes bad. Mold begins to grow on the cheese, and its color changes from white to grayish or white with dark spots. Its smell becomes sour.

How Long Can Mozzarella Cheese Sit Out?

If the cheese does not contain any signs of expiry, but you are sure it has been stored for a long time, throw it away. It is safest not to assume that it is still fresh and risks your health.

Related Questions

Can Mozzarella Be Kept At Room Temperature?

No. Mozzarella cheese stored at room temperature spoils within two hours. If the mozzarella cheese is recently bought and is still fresh, it is best to refrigerate it immediately. Refrigerated cheese will last much longer than cheese left at room temperature. 

Does Fresh Sealed Mozzarella Go Bad?

Yes. Vacuum sealed or not, you cannot store mozzarella cheese indefinitely. If still unopened, the mozzarella cheese can be refrigerated for six weeks, counting from its manufacture date. Remember to check its expiry date and to ensure that it is salted. It will only last four days after the seal is broken.

Can Mozzarella Make You Sick?

Yes. Eating bad cheese will cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning can take 60 to 90 minutes to show and include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upset, stomach cramps, and nausea. 

You can also get casein allergies from eating cheese and other dairy products. If you do, seek medical assistance.

How Long Does Mozzarella Last After Opening?

Opened mozzarella can only last five days maximum, even when properly refrigerated. Fresh mozzarella will go back five days after unsealing it despite the expiry date. However, loaf mozzarella has a much longer shelf life and can stay fresh when refrigerated, 21 days after opening its package. Smoked mozzarella can last for a month.

Is It Ok To Cut Mold Off Mozzarella Cheese?

Yes, this is not advised. You should cut up to one inch around the spot of mold. Make sure the knife does not come into contact with the mold. 


Denzel and Beryl are a food scientist powerhouse couple. They met while attending culinary school, and have been cooking and baking together ever since. They love to watch football, movies, and reality shows in their free time. They have even participated in several cooking and baking competitions globally!

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