Does Parmesan Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated? Does It Go Bad?

Does Parmesan Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated? Does It Go Bad?

Parmesan cheese, considered to be one of the most culturally significant types of cheese, has a long shelf life when stored rightly. It doesn’t last forever, but there are certain things you can do to preserve its quality for as long as possible. So, does parmesan cheese need to be refrigerated?

The simple answer is yes. Parmesan cheese, like most cheese, should be refrigerated to keep it fresh. While it lasts relatively long in its block form, its lifespan is considerably shortened when sliced or grated, so refrigeration is necessary. 

What Is Parmesan Cheese?

Parmesan Cheese, known initially as Parmesan Reggiano, is a type of hard cheese made with milk, bacteria cultures, and salt and aged for about 12 months. With Italian origins, this famous cheese has been around for centuries. Today, what qualifies as Parmesan is mostly an imitation of the authentic Parmesan Reggiano. 

How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last in the Fridge?

Refrigerated parmesan cheese can last for up to 8 months unopened, and if opened, it should remain in good condition for up to 2 months. However, the longevity of Parmesan Cheese is dependent on what state it’s in. When grated or shredded, the shelf life reduces considerably to around 7 days. This is because mold is able to spread faster in broken-down pieces of cheese.

Parmesan Cheese TypeRoom TemperatureFridge
Opened (Block)/1 – 2 months
Unopened (Block)/8 – 9 months
Unopened, Shredded/Grated/7 days
Opened, Shredded/Grated/3 – 7 days

Does Parmesan Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated?

Like any other cheese, Parmesan cheese needs to be refrigerated to keep it fresh and in a safe condition for as long as possible. However, being a hard cheese, parmesan cheese has a long shelf life compared to other types of cheese. When properly packaged and stored, it can last for surprisingly long without refrigeration.

Can You Eat Parmesan Cheese That Was Left Out Overnight?

Hard cheese like Parmesan can safely sit out overnight without getting spoiled. Furthermore, it typically contains a lot of salt, and that aids the preservation as well. If you have a block of Parmesan cheese that was left out overnight, you have nothing to worry about regarding its safety for consumption.

How to Tell if the Parmesan Cheese Has Gone Bad?

Parmesan cheese that’s going bad or that has gone bad is not so hard to identify. Mold spots are a clear sign that the cheese has gone bad. However, if the mold spots are limited to certain areas, you may cut away the affected part, and the rest can be safely consumed.

Furthermore, a change in the color from white/beige to yellow could be a telling sign that something has gone wrong with the cheese.

Can You Store Parmesan Cheese at Room Temperature?

Interestingly, Parmesan Cheese can be stored for a considerably long period of time at room temperature, but it has to be correctly stored. While refrigeration is generally recommended, hard cheeses like Parmesan can be stored at room temperature without it spoiling for weeks or even months.

Also read: How to Grate Cheese Without a Cheese Grater?

Signs that Your Parmesan Cheese is Spoiled


The thing with Parmesan Cheese is that mold growth can sometimes be normal. When you notice very little mold growth, you can scrape off the mold and portions around it and use the remainder of the cheese. Nonetheless, when the mold covers a large part of the cheese, it’s most likely spoiled and should be thrown away.

Bad Smell

Cheese is naturally smelly, but spoiled  Parmesan will give off an unmistakable pungent and sour smell that’ll let you know that the cheese has gone bad.


Parmesan cheese is comparatively hard, so when you discover a wet, slimy, or spongy texture, there’s very likely something wrong with the entire cheese, and it should be thrown out.


Note that the rind around Parmesan cheese can be a bit darker than the rest of the cheese. This is quite normal. But when the overall color changes to a dark-yellow, dark-beige, or grayish color, you may want to throw it out.

What Happens if You Eat Bad Parmesan Cheese?

There are different potential outcomes to eating bad Parmesan Cheese. You may eat bad cheese and experience nothing more than a mild stomach upset in the best-case scenario. Worse than that, you may experience food poisoning in the form of stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever. Rarely, eating bad Parmesan Cheese can have serious health effects that may see you hospitalized. To be entirely safe, it would be best to throw out the cheese if you suspect that it has gone bad or if it has clearly gone bad.

Also read: Does Laughing Cow Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated? Does It Go Bad?

How to Store Parmesan Cheese in the Freezer?

It’s quite important to consider the form before freezing this type of cheese. Parmesan Cheese blocks will last for a long time when refrigerated, so it may be unnecessary to freeze them. Grated & shredded cheese won’t last as long in the fridge, so freezing is definitely the best way to go.

The first step to storing in the freezer is to put the cheese into an airtight container. Next, you want to put that container into a freezer bag to protect the cheese from the air in the freezer and prevent odors from entering and permeating the cheese. Go ahead to label the freezer bag with the content and date before putting it in the freezer.

How Do You Store Your Parmesan Cheese?

Regardless of Parmesan Cheese’s long shelf life, refrigeration is a very important part of its storage process. Store-bought parmesan cheese generally comes vacuum-sealed and should be stored directly in the fridge without opening until you need to use the cheese.

How Do You Store Your Parmesan Cheese?

Once the vacuum-sealed package is opened, it would be best to repackage the cheese properly before refrigeration. Here, you have a number of options ranging from cheese paper to aluminum paper, wax paper, or parchment paper. In the case of shredded or grated Parmesan, ensure that it remains tightly sealed and refrigerated.


Parmesan Cheese is a hard cheese, and it’s quite natural to wonder if it should be refrigerated or not. Although it has a longer shelf life compared to most cheese, it still has to be refrigerated for proper preservation. You could even freeze it if you plan to keep it safe for very long periods. With dairy-based food like Parmesan Cheese, you should be able to identify signs of spoilage to avoid potential food poisoning and other health problems. We’ve broken down the recommended storage processes and also discussed signs that could indicate that Parmesan Cheese has gone bad.

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