Canning Controversy: Canning Cheese Sauce

Canned cheese sauce
Home canning cheese sauce is not recommended by the USDA or NCHFP. The high temperature used in approved canning methods makes cheese curdle or become grainy. A better option to preserve cheese is to freeze it, which extends its shelf life to six months.

Is it Safe to Can Cheese Sauce? 

No, it is not safe to can cheese sauce. While there are some rebel recipes for canning cheddar cheese and nacho cheese sauce, home-canning cheese sauce is dangerous due to the risk of botulism. Cheese is a dairy product, and there is no method for safely canning dairy products, including milk, butter, or soft cheeses such as cream cheese, at home safely.

Soup spoon filled with cheese sauce
Cheese sauce

How Can You Preserve Cheese?

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, freezing is the best and safest option for preserving cheese that you don’t plan on using right away.

  1. Start by preparing your cheese for freezing. If it’s in a block, chop it into smaller pieces or slices. If it’s already sliced, separate the slices with parchment paper.
  2. Use foil or plastic wrap to wrap the cheese tightly. If you are freezing shredded cheese, place it in a freezer-safe bag or container.
  3. Label the cheese package with the date, the type of cheese, and the expiration date.
  4. Place the cheese in the freezer for up to six months.
  5. When you are ready to use the cheese, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave on low power.
Frozen, shredded cheese in a plastic bag inside freezer drawer
Frozen shredded cheese

Can You Can Velveeta Cheese? 

Some rebel canners have reported that Velveeta cheese can be canned with the pressure canning method. However, this method has never been tested or deemed safe by canning authorities.

This is the process used by home canners to can Velveeta cheese in a pressure canner:

  1. Prep the Velveeta cheese by breaking down the block in a food processor.
  2. Add pre-boiled fresh or dehydrated milk prepared with hot water to the shredded cheese in the food processor and turn it on to blend the milk with the cheese.
  3. Pack the cheese and milk paste into sterilized canning jars using a canning funnel, leaving 1 inch of headspace at the top.
  4. Use a plastic spatula to remove air bubbles from the canning jars.
  5. Wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel or a kitchen napkin dipped in vinegar.
  6. Place the canning lids and rings on the jars. Screw until the bands are fingertip tight.
  7. Process the jars in a prepared pressure canner per your altitude and canning recipe.
  8. Once the process is over, allow the jars to rest in the pressure canner for 10 minutes before removing them from the canner with canning tongs.
  9. Place the jars on a cushioned surface to cool for 12-24 hours.
  10. Once the jars are cool, remove the screw bands and check the seals. If the lids are not sealed, refrigerate the jars and use the Velveeta cheese within a few days.
  11. Label canned jars of Velveeta cheese with the date of processing and store them in a cool, dry place. Use canned Velveeta cheese within six months.

Why Canning Velveeta is Unnecessary

It is important to note that Velveeta is a shelf-stable cheese product and can last for up to six months after the production date at room temperature. It contains several additives, including sodium citrate, emulsifiers, and preservatives, that help to keep it smooth and creamy and more resistant to spoilage. Additionally, Velveeta makes shelf-stable sauce packets, making canning Velveeta unnecessary.

Top of a pressure canner showing a weight and a dial
Pressure canner

Is it Okay to Can Cheese in a Water Bath Canner?

No, you cannot use a water-bath canner to can cheese. Only high-acid foods like fruits, pickles, and jam are suitable for water bath canning. Low-acid foods require a canning temperature between 240 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit and a water bath canner only reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Is it Possible to Can Macaroni and Cheese?

Canning macaroni and cheese is not recommended due to the potential for foodborne illness. Pasta does not hold up well in the canning process, which is a problem when trying to can macaroni and cheese. The canning process makes the pasta’s quality and texture deteriorate and become mushy.

To preserve macaroni and cheese safely while preserving quality, pack prepared macaroni and cheese into freezer-safe bags or airtight containers and freeze for up to three months.

Bowl of macaroni and cheese
Macaroni and cheese

What is the Shelf Life of Canned Cheese Sauce?

There is no safe shelf life for canned cheese sauce. However, frozen cheese or nacho cheese sauce can stay in the freezer for up to six months.


Patrick has a farming background and is a full-time food writer and recipe creator. His goal is to help you discover how fantastic canning is by sharing his knowledge. Outside of the kitchen, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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