How Long Does Queso Last in the Fridge? FAQ Answered

Nicole Austin

We'll help you keep your queso — or queso fresco — fresher longer in the fridge.

I love cheese in all of its forms, including queso. If cheese was a person, I’d actively pursue its hand in marriage.

Okay, that’s a bit far, but it gets my point across. Cheese enhances just about any dish. It keeps food from tasting bland or feeling dry. I enjoy a lot of textures and flavors in my food and I love the way cheese adds a new element, whether melted or crumbled. I am notorious for using extra cheese on anything I make, which I feel is the only way to live.

How Long Does Queso Last in the Fridge Photo

When I heard that scientists discovered that cheese is as addictive as many drugs, I wondered what had taken them so long to notice. I guess there’s something to be said for the scientific method, but they could have just asked around.

With all that said, part of the beauty of enjoying cheese is the wide scope and variety of cheeses that are available to meet just about any need.

Cheese is used in desserts, main dishes, as an appetizer, and can be paired in countless ways to inspire new flavors and varieties of dishes. Unique in many ways, all types of cheeses do not pair well with everything, but there is a cheese for anything.

I love Mexican food whenever I can have it, and one of the first things I noticed was how infrequently the cheese associated with my Tex-Mex indulgences shows up. In fact, most traditional Mexican dishes require little to no cheese, and when they do, it often comes in the form of queso fresco.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the types of queso, the differences between them, how long queso lasts in the fridge, and the best practices for extending the shelf life of queso and avoiding any signs of spoilage.

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What is Queso Fresco?

Queso fresco, translated from Spanish as “fresh cheese,” is a crumbly white cheese, or “queso blanco,” usually made from cow’s milk, though sometimes it is also combined with goat’s milk.

It is acidified using rennet, lemon juice, or vinegar. This creates curds that make it crumbly and perfectly tangy. True to its name, queso fresco is sold immediately after it’s made for maximum freshness.

It is similar to cotija cheese, an aged Mexican cheese used to crumble on top of dishes for flavor. Queso fresco is light and airy, and makes an excellent topping on tacos, such as our carne asada taco recipe.

The light and salty taste, along with a tangy flavor, is reminiscent of feta cheese. If you cannot find queso fresco, you can use feta as a substitute, or use paneer, ricotta salata, or goat cheese.

Queso fresco does not melt like most cheeses, but it does soften over hot foods. You may see it sprinkled on top of rice, enchiladas, refried beans, and quesadillas at your favorite Mexican restaurant. Queso fresco can also be baked to use as a dip or in a taco filling.

If you’re looking for a Mexican cheese that melts, search for queso asadero. This is a soft, white, creamy cheese with a mild taste that is often used for quesadillas.

Queso fresco is versatile — some people even sprinkle this cheese over fruit salad or slices of watermelon!

Queso fresco can be found in the cheese section of the grocery store. If your store doesn’t carry it, check international stores or a smaller Mexican tienda, though this will be easier to do in some communities than others.

Queso Fresco Dip Pic

Can You Freeze Queso Fresco?

Freezing cheese often ruins the original flavor and texture, though some cheeses are far more resilient than others. Hard cheeses or shredded cheeses are able to be stored for 2-3 months. There are some general rules when it comes to freezing any type of cheese.

How to Freeze Cheese:

  1. Break up large pieces of cheese into pieces that are lighter than half a pound.
  2. Use vacuum-sealed containers whenever possible.
  3. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator.
Easy Vegan Queso Photo

How to Freeze Queso Fresco

Unopened: Freezing fresh and unopened queso fresco will extend its shelf life and keep it handy for whenever you need it. This is a great solution for maximizing savings by buying larger amounts of cheese whenever possible. Check to make sure that the original container or wrapper is still airtight. If your queso fresco is in a brine or liquid, transfer it to a freezer-safe container and leave some room for expansion. Be sure to write the date on the packaging to monitor freshness.

Opened: To prevent freezer burn and help preserve the flavor, use airtight containers or freezer safe bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Consider wrapping the cheese in parchment paper before placing it into the container or bag.


  • Cut the cheese into smaller portions.
  • Wrap these portions with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  • Make sure the cheese is in a freezer safe bag or container.
Queso Fresco Enchiladas Pic

How to Thaw Queso Fresco

The best way to thaw queso fresco is to transfer it to the refrigerator.

Thawing this cheese slowly and gently allows it to gradually regain the original consistency as much as possible. This keeps the flavor intact.

Do not try to speed up the thawing by using a microwave or hot water, as this can make the cheese become rubbery. Patience is key when it comes to thawing this delicate cheese.

Bear in mind that queso fresco will still be delicious but may have a different texture once thawed.

Baked Queso Fresco Image

How to Store Queso Fresco

Queso fresco should be stored in a sealed, airtight container in the refrigerator.

You cannot store queso fresco at room temperature for more than two hours, and less time is optimal. Bacteria can start to grow, and the cheese could easily spoil.

Queso fresco has a limited shelf life, though many varieties sold in the grocery store have preservatives and will last longer.

Since it is such a fresh cheese, you should use it within 3-5 days of purchase if it does not have preservatives. (While fresh queso may technically be good for 6 days, stay on the safe side. And as always, check the best-by date both before purchasing and before eating.)

It can last up to 2 weeks if it does contain preservatives.

Queso Fresco Enchiladas Image

Always remember the 3 Cs of cheese storage!

  • CLEAN: Keep cheese, which absorbs other smells and flavors quite easily, away from other foods by storing it in a tightly sealed container.
  • COLD: Cheese needs to be kept between 34 and 38 degrees.
  • COVERED: Cheese loses flavor and moisture after exposure to air. It is generally not recommended to wrap cheese with plastic wrap when storing the cheese in the fridge.

Cheese is made of living organisms and thrives when it has room to breathe. Cheese from a store may be in plastic, but the reasoning for this is simple: the original storage method is meant to be temporary.

Loosely wrapped parchment is one way to store cheese, though softer cheeses like queso fresco last longer in an airtight container. Place your queso fresco in the fridge in a cheese drawer or on the top shelf to help preserve the quality, flavor, and freshness longer.

Queso Dip Recipe Photo

Be sure you know how long all your favorite foods last in the fridge so you don't have to throw anything away!

Queso vs Cheese Dip

For many people, the term “queso” is synonymous with spicy cheese dips. Salsa con queso, chile con queso, or queso bravo is sometimes shortened to just “queso.” It’s a cheese dip that contains chile or other options like jalapeno peppers and comes in colors ranging from white to yellow.

While the literal translation of queso is simply “cheese,” many people, particularly non-Hispanic Americans, associate it with this flavorful chip dip that tastes great warmed up.This is largely because some companies, restaurants, and individuals have shortened the name over time for simplicity.

Some people mix together a can of Ro-Tel and a block of Velveeta for a very popular version of this faux Tex-Mex cheese dip. In fact, Ro-Tel dip is one of the most popular dishes in the South and is a fan favorite for tailgating. You will also frequently see it at potlucks, holiday gatherings, and parties.

Cheese dip is smooth at room temperature, and melts into a softer texture when heated.

Slow Cooker Chili Cheese Dip Picture

Cheese dip without salsa or chiles added is often used as an ingredient for many different recipes, covering anything from macaroni and cheese to simply drizzling it on broccoli to encourage pickier eaters. Or maybe you're pairing your cheesy dip with taco night or topping it with ground beef or green onions! The options seem endless with this type of cheese dip.

Salsa con queso comes in a variety of heats, from mild to hot (usually medium when purchased at a store) and has a more complex flavor. It pairs well with any Tex-Mex dish, and is perfect alone with corn chips.

Sometimes my kids and I indulge in a “snacky dinner,” which is just a spread of our favorite foods — we get fresh fruits, veggies, and whatever else we fancy. Salsa con queso is ALWAYS on our list. (My oldest daughter loves it with Tostitos Hint of Lime chips and honestly so does Food Fanatic’s editor.)

The takeaway: queso is simply the Spanish word for cheese. It has become a shortened term that is synonymous for the delicious dip, or multiple other varieties of cheese, depending on your location and background.

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How to Tell If Store-Bought Queso Dip Has Gone Bad

Mass manufactured queso dip is stored at room temperature on shelving and can usually be found in the chip section or Mexican/International section of your grocery store.

There are many irresistible store-bought cheese dip choices, with Tostitos queso being one of the most widely available. If you're looking for convenience, it's a great option.

It contains real cheese (Monterey jack cheese) as well as nonfat milk, chili peppers, tomato juice, and monosodium glutamate (or MSG), which is part of the reason it's so delicious! There are also artificial colors and a bunch of ingredients I can't pronounce, though.

Perfect when used as a dip for tortilla chips, an extra topping on loaded nachos, or mixed into your favorite Tex-Mex dish for more moisture and flavor, this creamy concoction may seem like it can last forever.

But, like most items with preservatives that are stored in airtight containers, queso dip starts to go bad the moment you open it. Once opened, queso dip should never be left out on the countertop for longer than 2 hours, whether it was heated or not.

Smoked Chili Queso Pic

When properly stored — which includes putting it away in the above timeframe — queso dip in an airtight container (this includes the jar it came in) and refrigerated will last about 7 days in the fridge before going bad. (Bold assumption that it will take 7 days to finish it, though…)

To determine if your queso dip is still safe to eat, use your senses:

  • Sight: Look for mold, or excess moisture or dryness.
  • Smell: If the queso dip smells sour or acidic, toss it.
  • Taste: If your queso dip passes the sight and smell test, taste a small amount to see if it seems to be fresh.

I always recommend using your senses to test foods that go bad easily — like meats or dairy products — before serving them, especially to children.

I have seen more than my fair share of items that were well before their expiration date be very bad, and little mouths may not know the difference.

Pink Cadillac Margarita Photo

What Drinks Pair Well with Queso Fresco?

If you’re looking to entertain your guests with queso fresco as a highlight of your dish, or even if you want to know what you should try next time you’re at a Mexican restaurant, here are our best suggestions for alcoholic pairings:

  • Beer: Avoid strong beers, like stouts, which will overtake the cheese’s light flavor. Instead, opt for a pale ale, pilsner, or lager.
  • Wine: White wine, like riesling or sauvignon blanc, will keep the mood light and airy. A nice rosé is a sweet touch that balances the salty zest of queso fresco. Avoid red wines, which will be too bitter.
  • Margarita: Tex-Mex to the max, the margarita is famously good with any Mexican dish. Try our copycat Applebee’s Margarita recipe, or our copycat Chili’s Frozen Margarita recipe for a familiar flair. Or, meet in the middle between margarita and wine with our refreshing Margarita Sangria recipe.
Mango Margarita Photo

Hopefully we’ve helped with our array of queso questions and facts! Whether you call it queso or cheese, this international delight is sure to please the taste buds and palate of almost anyone. And if that isn’t true for you, we’re genuinely sorry for your loss.

Be sure you know how long all your favorite foods last in the fridge so you don't have to throw anything away!

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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