Mac and cheese is one of the most comforting dishes you can make. It’s perfect for those wintery days when nothing seems to go right, but everything is better once you’ve had your dinner, especially if it’s mac and cheese.
What if you want to make it ahead of time? Or you’ve overestimated your appetite, and made too much? Can you freeze it?
The good news is that you can. It doesn’t matter if you’ve made it from scratch yourself, if you’ve bought it from a store, or if you’ve got leftovers, you can freeze it and save it for later.
It turns out that most pasta dishes that are great comfort food also freeze really well. Of course, this is provided that you prepare it properly for freezing, but that’s not a problem.
If you try to skip the prep and just throw the whole thing in the freezer, chances are the pasta will be reduced to a soggy mess when you thaw it, and in some cases, the cheese can separate entirely, making for a very big disappointment.
What makes throwing it straight into the freezer a disaster is the high dairy content within the dish.
You might have managed to freeze dairy before with no problems at all, but it depends on the dairy you choose, and how high its water content is.
You need to make sure the dish is as fresh as possible without being warm before you freeze it. This will solve the majority of freezing problems when it comes to mac and cheese.
You also need to ensure that the temperature stays the same for however long you need to freeze it for.
The Shelf Life Of Mac And Cheese
If you make mac and cheese, let it cool down, and then put it into the fridge as soon as possible, it will last a maximum of 4 days before it goes off.
When you freeze mac and cheese, this extends the shelf life to about 6 months in total, making it worth freezing if you think you won’t eat it anytime soon.
It is worth noting that you should eat it as soon as possible, preferably within a month or two. This goes for most food, as even within the freezer the quality and flavors will start to degrade somewhat.
How Do You Freeze Mac And Cheese?
How To Prep Homemade Mac And Cheese For The Freezer
Let your lovely homemade mac and cheese cool completely on the counter before you try to freeze it.
Just don’t be tempted to stick it in the fridge while it’s still warm to speed up the process. This will result in exactly what you want to avoid: pasta which has gone soggy or grainy, and let’s not even think about the cheese.
Grab a muffin tin while you wait. No, really. Grease each section with butter. Once the mac and cheese is completely cool, divide it between the muffin tin using a spoon.
This helps make sure that each portion is a single serving, and each is equal. It also means that you can take out more at a time if your stomach is craving for more, and it’ll help to defrost only what you need.
Make sure to cover the tin with either cling film or foil, and then freeze it. Let it freeze for about 4 hours, until solid.
Take the muffin tray out of the freezer, and decant the frozen mac and cheese into a large container, or several freezer bags. Because you’ve already frozen it, you don’t need to worry about it sticking together.
Seal, label, and freeze. If a muffin tin isn’t available or if you don’t have one, you can use freezer bags instead.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Mac and Cheese?
The easiest way to defrost mac and cheese is to put it straight into the fridge, and leave it overnight.
To reheat it, you can use the oven, the microwave, or the hob. If it seems a little dry, add some milk before turning on the heat.
Mac and cheese is a great dish, and it helps that you can make it ahead of time and store it in the freezer for exactly when you need it.