This post may contain affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Eating is a matter of personal preference. Some people like their mac and cheese hot, while others like it cold. There is no right way to eat the stuff. However, leaving the stuff out in the open for too long can encourage bacterial growth, so you should avoid eating it cold.
Yes, it is okay to eat cold mac and cheese. However, it should not be left out in the open for more than 4 hours. If it exceeds the time limit, heat the mac and cheese before eating it; otherwise, you might get sick.
However, there is a lot more to discuss when it comes to eating cold mac and cheese. For example, can they sit at room temperature for more than two hours, or can they be kept in a freezer? You’ll find all the answers right here. Let’s begin.
Can mac and cheese be left outside for two hours?
Macaroni and cheese contain a lot of sugar, cheese, and a bunch of other ingredients that attract bacteria. To prevent them from settling into your food, always eat or freeze your mac and cheese within 2-4 hours of preparing it.
As a matter of fact, anything you cook with cheese is temperature and time-sensitive. So you either need to keep it over 140°F or below 40°F. If you keep it anywhere between those temperatures for more than 4 hours, it’s best to throw it out and prepare a fresh pot.
Every year, out of the 48 million foodborne illness cases, 3,000 people die and 128,000 are hospitalized. So if you value good health, take good care of your food.
How long can mac and cheese be stored inside a fridge?
Macaroni and cheese can be stored safely for 3-5 days in a refrigerator and for one to two months in a freezer. After that, the food quality will start to deteriorate.
When you are storing mac and cheese inside a fridge, make sure to use an airtight container. I prefer the Bayco Glass Storage Containers for the job. Fill it to the brim, and the less air between the lid and the food, the better. But no matter what you do, storing it beyond 5 days will tamper with the flavor.
I once prepared the dish for a group of friends but ended up making too much. Naturally, I stored it in the freezer for later, as there was way too much for a single person. The following week, we got together again and bought out the food, reheated it, and served it. The flavor wasn’t the same as it was last week. There was no smell, and it wasn’t half bad, but compared to the original dish, the 7-day-old version of it wasn’t appealing.
How to identify bad mac and cheese?
Macaroni and cheese that has gone bad will have an unpleasant odor and taste, and can be discolored and possibly moldy. Odor and taste are the prime identifiers of bad food since discoloration and mold don’t appear right away.
If you like eating cold mac and cheese, then you’ll need to learn how to identify the good from the bad. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an upset stomach. Here are a few things that’ll help you identify if the food is still edible.
1. Unpleasant Smell – A bad smell is usually the first indication that food has gone bad, especially where there is cheese involved. If the dish smells weird, get rid of it as soon as possible, and do not try to salvage any of it.
2. Bad flavor – Mac and cheese is typically cheesy and creamy, and if prepared correctly, it tastes delicious. So, unless you’re a very bad cook, if it tastes weird after sitting out for more than 4 hours, it’s gone rotten and needs to be incinerated.
3. Discoloration & Mold – Fuzzy spots on your mac and cheese signify mold, and a gray/green discoloration means it has spoiled. Any of these indicators isn’t a good idea, and the food needs to be purged right away.
I ate 3-day old mac and cheese. It smelled a bit funny, but I was too tired to cook something for myself. So I reheated the dish, added some cream and cheese, and ate it up. Later that day, I woke up with a stomach ache and spent most of the night in the bathroom. It wasn’t anything serious, but the incident taught me a lesson.
Later, I found out that the mac and cheese weren’t refrigerated properly. Somehow the lid came undone and caused the food to go bad. So now I make sure to double-check everything before putting it in the fridge. I also make it a point never to eat cold food.
How to properly reheat mac and cheese without drying it?
There are three ways to reheat mac and cheese. You can use a stovetop, microwave, or oven to reheat old mac and cheese. Each has its benefits, and there is no right way to do the job.
If not reheated properly, macaroni and cheese can become dry and hard no matter where you do it. As a result, I have prepared the following ways you can safely reheat the dish.
1. Reheat using a stove– Pour one tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese into a container. It’s best to use a saucepan. Heat the mixture over a medium flame and stir using a wooden spoon. Add some cheese and butter when you’re done stirring.
2. Reheat in a microwave – Add milk as explained before. Reheat the dish at half power, stir it, and reheat it again. Repeat until you’ve reached the desired temperature. I prefer to use the TOSHIBA ML2 microwave, as it does a pretty nice job of heating the food from the inside out.
3. Reheat in an oven – After adding the milk, pour the mixture into a casserole. Add some breadcrumb toppings and cheese on top, cover it with aluminum foil, and bake it at 350°F for 30-45 minutes.
There is nothing wrong with eating cold mac and cheese. It is unheard of, but some people prefer it that way. So unless it’s gone bad, feel free to treat yourself. And if you needed help with anything else, hopefully, this article was enough to help you out. Stay tuned for more food-related topics in the future.