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How Long Does Queso Last? (How to Keep it Fresh)

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the world is to dip fresh nachos into that tasty white queso that can be ordered as a side at a Mexican restaurant. Occasionally, we order a bit too much and have some left over at the end of the meal. I wondered how long it would last and stay fresh after being taken home, so I looked into the matter and thought I’d share what I found with you.

A side of queso from a Mexican restaurant or homemade queso will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Store-bought cheese dip, like Tostitos, is freshest if consumed within 2 weeks after opening but should last in the fridge for up to 2 months and in the freezer for 3-6 months.

Make sure you store queso in a quality airtight container, similar to or like this type found on Amazon. If air can get inside, it won’t last nearly as long.

How long queso lasts:

TypeRoom TemperatureIn the FridgeIn the Freezer
Homemade or Restaurant QuesoUp to 2 hoursUp to 4 daysUp to 6 months
Opened Store-Bought Queso Jars like TostitosUp to 2 hoursUp to 2 weeksUp to 6 months
Unopened Store-Bought Queso Jars like TostitosCheck Best-By Date

The rest of the article will discuss the shelf life of queso in greater detail, as well as proper storage guidelines.

How Long Does Store-Bought Queso Last Unopened Out of the Fridge?

Mexican Queso Dip on a Plate with Nachos

If unopened with the airtight package still intact, store-bought queso usually lasts as much as 2 months past the best-by date since it is made from processed cheeses with preservatives added. However, if it contains sour cream, then it must be refrigerated at all times. Basically, if it was chilled at the store, then you should keep it cold at home as well.

Homemade queso, or the side you bought at the Mexican restaurant, should only be left out for up to 2 hours. After that, it’s better to play it safe and throw it out. I recommended using a good airtight container, like this one found on Amazon. Never store queso in the restaurant container!

Should I Refrigerate Queso?

All types of queso, whether a side from a restaurant, homemade dip, or an opened jar of Tostitos-style dip, should be refrigerated. To maximize its shelf life, queso should be refrigerated at 39 degrees Fahrenheit.

If unopened, store-bought cheese dips will usually be good, or at least freshest, at room temperature until the best-by date. This is because they are loaded with preservatives specifically designed to keep the product fresh, even at room temperature. However, once air gets inside the jar, the clock starts rapidly ticking on its shelf life.

Related Does Dip Need to Be Refrigerated? | All Types Covered.

How Long Does Store-Bought Queso Last in the Fridge Once Opened?

As long as it stays refrigerated and covered, store-bought cheese will remain fresh for up to 2 months. However, freshness may rapidly deteriorate after about 2 weeks. If it is homemade, it will only last for 4 days.

Remember to store it in an airtight container. I prefer to drop my leftover side container from the restaurant directly into a larger storage container like this type, found on Amazon, rather than scooping it over with a spoon.

Alternatively, you can use a covered tightly with wax paper. Plastic wrap will often create a mess when used over queso.

How Long Does Queso Last in the Freezer?

You can also store the queso in the freezer, which can lengthen the shelf life of the food for up to 6 months. I don’t recommend it, though, since the quality may be greatly diminished. If you go this route, once unthawed, it must be eaten in 2 weeks.

Make sure to portion, wrap, and pack it in a freezer-safe airtight container (Click to see on Amazon) beforehand. Frozen cheese should be thawed in the refrigerator and should be used within two weeks. Once you have unthawed the cheese, remember to allow it to “breathe” for roughly an hour or two before serving.

In general, any cheese can be frozen, but you always want to inspect it before freezing. That way, you can make sure it is still safe to eat before and after. If it’s bad before being frozen, it’s going to be even nastier once thawed.

Can You Eat Store-Bought Queso After Expiration Date?

A jar of on the border salsa con queso salsa

As long as queso is correctly stored in an appropriate container, you can eat it after the “Best When Used By” date. However, this date isn’t meant to be a safety date. It is only an estimate of how long the food will remain the freshest with the most flavor. However, if it has already been opened, it is a good idea to consume it in two weeks.

Related 6 Easy Ways To Thicken Homemade Queso Cheese Dip.

How to Tell If Queso Has Gone Bad

The bad thing about cheese dip is that sometimes the appearance can be fine, and it will still be rancid. So be vigilant when you sample queso that you are not sure of.

  • Mold- The most obvious signs that your salsa has gone bad is mold or any other growth on the surface and inside of the container.
  • Bad Taste- The biggest tell-tale sign is a sour taste.
  • Color- Another way you can tell is if the queso has changed color
  • Texture- The consistency changing is a good indicator that the dip has gone bad. This can include sliminess, any oil, or a bloated-looking package.

If any of these occur, discard the container immediately. Or, if you are unsure in any way, just err on the safe side.

Can Queso Make You Sick?

Bad queso has been known to cause food poisoning and even ailments due to listeria, salmonella, and many other types of harmful germs. This is because queso is often made from raw milk that has not gone through pasteurization.

Does Nacho Cheese Need to be Refrigerated?

Unless it is canned or spray cheese, it would be wise to refrigerate nacho cheese. If you have no way of chilling it, make sure it is in an airtight container and in the coolest area possible. Keeping it in these kinds of containers can keep out unwanted moisture and contaminants.

Final Thoughts

I know some of you reading this may be wondering how far in advance they should be making cheese dips before parties or sporting events at home. The answer is simple: do not make them in advance. Queso, and all Mexican cuisine for that matter, is always best fresh.

I hope this article has been informative. Let me know about any “cheesy” experience you have had in the comments below.

For more, don’t miss 8 Most Suitable Substitutes for White American Cheese.