How Long Can Cheese Sit Out? Does It Go Bad?

What is your favorite type of cheese? There are so many to choose from. American, Cheddar, Brie, Blue, Fet, Gouda, Provolone. These are just a few types of cheese. No matter what type you get, they are all stored the same. But can you leave your cheese out? How long before it goes bad? Can you still eat it after it spoils?

No matter what type of cheese you prefer, it can only sit out for around four to eight hours at room temperature. Any time longer and the cheese will start to spoil. It is not safe to eat spoiled cheese. It can make you sick.

You can continue reading to learn more about leaving cheese out at room temperature. You can also learn how to tell if your cheese has gone bad. And why you shouldn’t eat spoiled cheese.

How Long Can Cheese Be Left Out?

Cheese is made using dairy. Dairy can’t sit out at room temperature for a long period of time. So neither can cheese.

Cheese can only sit out at room temperature for around four to eight hours. You don’t want to leave your cheese out overnight. Bacteria grow faster at room temperature rather than in cold temperatures. That is why you should put your cheese in the refrigerator.

You can also freeze cheeses, such as feta. Feta cheese can be frozen to make it last longer. Cheese can last for up to three months in the freezer. Most choose not to put cheese in the freezer because it can be too cold.

Most of us don’t want our cheese to be frozen when we put a slice on a sandwich. So we avoid putting cheese in the freezer. The refrigerator is the best place to keep the cheese.

Soft cheeses don’t last as long at room temperature compared to hard cheeses. If you like Brie or Camembert cheese, don’t leave the cheese out for more than four hours. If you like Cheddar or Parmesan, the cheese can stay out for up to eight hours. It is best to be careful if you leave your cheese out this long.

Does Cheese Spoil If Left Out for Too Long?

Like all other dairy products, cheese will spoil if left out for too long. While it will still be safe to eat for a short period after it starts to spoil, it is best to avoid the cheese once it’s spoiled.

There are some cheeses that are less likely to spoil if left out for a longer period of time. These are cheeses like Cheddar and Parmesan or Gouda and Swiss. These cheeses are made using pasteurized milk in the United States.

This pasteurized milk allows for the cheese to have less moisture and lower levels of acidity. These are the cheeses you will primarily find at sandwich shops that are left out in the open for you to pick from.

Cheese that has more moisture tends to spoil more quickly. These are cheeses that have also not been aged. Aged cheeses can last for a longer period of time.

These cheeses are known as soft cheeses, like cream cheese and Brie and cottage cheese. You don’t want to leave these out for an extended period of time. They will spoil fast. Then, you can’t enjoy your cheese.

What are the Signs That Your Cheese Has Gone Bad?

Don’t eat your cheese once it has gone bad. You don’t want to risk getting sick. It is important to know the different signs that can suggest your cheese has expired. There are ways that reveal your cheese has expired. Each of these will rely on your senses. It is best to use your best judgment when you notice your cheese has spoiled.

It is best for you to throw the cheese away once it has spoiled. Or you can get sick by eating it.


The texture of your cheese can change when it spoils. It can become slimy or too hard to eat. If you notice either of these, it is best to throw the cheese out.

Cheese isn’t supposed to be slimy. Nor is it supposed to be too hard to bite into. You don’t want to eat the cheese if it has changed in texture.


Smell is one of the best ways to tell if something has spoiled. Food that is still good will not make your nose run for the hills. Spoiled food will. It is the same for cheese.

Spoiled cheese has a scent similar to spoiled milk. It will be foul. While there are some cheeses that already have a foul scent to them, this scent will be odd for the cheese. It is best to throw this cheese away.


If the cheese smells fine and looks fine but tastes horrible, it has spoiled. The cheese will have a sour taste. This is different from how the cheese is supposed to taste.

It can also have an unpleasant after taste. If you experience either of these when eating your cheese, it is spoiled.


Mold is an obvious sign that food has spoiled. You never want to eat something that has mold growing on it. If someone suggests just cutting off the part that has the mold, it is still not safe to eat the rest.

Mold is a sign that bacteria is growing either in or on the food. While you can scrape off the mold, the bacteria is still present in the food and isn’t safe to eat.


Cheese can become discolored when spoiled. For example, you will find yellow splotches on blue cheese. It can also mean that the orangish tone of the cheese turns brighter or darker.

If your cheese doesn’t look right, it is best to assume it has spoiled. And throw the cheese away.

Can You Eat Spoiled Cheese?

It is best to avoid eating spoiled cheese. While you can just cut off parts that have mold, you don’t want to risk getting sick from a foodborne illness by eating spoiled cheese.

Soft cheeses shouldn’t ever be eaten if they have mold on them. For hard cheeses, it is possible to just cut the area around the mold off, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you have shredded or sliced cheese, you don’t want to eat it if it has mold on it. The bacteria is in the cheese and can make you sick if you eat it.

It is best to just throw the cheese away once you notice signs of spoilage. You don’t want to risk eating the cheese and getting sick from it.

Potential Side Effects

When cheese spoils, bacteria has grown in the cheese. This is what causes the changes in it as well as the growth of mold. Some molds are used to make cheese, but this mold is harmful to us.

The biggest side effect that can come from eating spoiled cheese is food poisoning. This can happen due to harmful bacteria that can be in the cheese. Some signs of food poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting

It is best to seek out the help of a doctor when you think you have food poisoning. If the case is severe enough, you can die.

How Do You Properly Store Cheese?

It is important that you store your cheese properly in order to make sure it doesn’t spoil. You don’t want to leave your cheese out at room temperature for an extended period of time.

Cheese will spoil much faster at room temperature. It is best to keep the cheese in an area that is cold like the refrigerator or the freezer. You don’t want to just place your cheese in the refrigerator though.

It is important to put cheese in an airtight container when placing it in the refrigerator. If you have shredded or sliced cheese, you want to keep it in the packaging that comes with it.

You can also use plastic wrap to wrap the cheese. You want to keep out as much moisture as possible because moisture can cause bacteria to grow quicker.

Much like when the cheese sits out at room temperature, hard cheese will last longer than soft cheese when both are kept in the refrigerator. You want to keep this in mind. So you know what to expect when your Brie expires before your cheddar cheese.

Summing It Up

Everyone has a favorite cheese. Whether it is Brie or Gouda or Cheddar or Parmesan, you want to keep your cheese stored in the refrigerator. It will last longer there.

You do not want to let your cheese sit out at room temperature for too long. Soft cheeses like Brie will start going bad after four hours. Hard cheeses like Cheddar will start going bad after eight hours.

Don’t eat spoiled cheese. You can get sick. Food poisoning is often a side effect of eating spoiled cheese. It is best to throw the cheese away when it spoils.