Q. This may seem like an odd question, but I need to know! I work long hours and often resort to freezer meals when I don’t have time to cook for the family. Everyone loves macaroni and cheese, but it takes a while to make and I don’t always feel like it after a long day. I don’t want to eat the stuff from a box, either. I would like to make a few batches and freeze them for later. Can you freeze macaroni and cheese?
A. You’re in luck, because you absolutely can freeze macaroni and cheese! Whenever casseroles made with pasta are involved, it’s important to take a bit of precaution when freezing to avoid mushy or dried-out dishes after reheating. Here are a few suggestions for making freezer-safe macaroni and cheese that maintains its flavour and texture after freezing.
When preparing the macaroni, you can avoid mushiness by cooking the macaroni just a few minutes less than called for on the package. Keeping the pasta “al dente” and a little bit tough will allow it to soften up a bit once being reheated after freezing without turning to mush. Another thing to consider is the amount of sauce to use. Pasta will continue to soak up sauce after being cooked, and macaroni and cheese that’s been frozen runs the risk of going dry and losing flavour. To avoid that from happening, consider adding up to 50% more sauce to the recipe while cooking. This allows the pasta to soak up excess sauce without leaving the dish too dry to enjoy after freezing.
How to freeze macaroni and cheese?
To freeze macaroni and cheese, it’s important to wrap it well to avoid freezer burn. Freeze it in portions that will be used in one sitting, whether that’s individual portions or enough for the whole family. If freezing the whole dish, wrap the casserole dish tightly in plastic wrap, and then again in aluminum foil. Label and date the dish and place it in the freezer. Frozen macaroni and cheese should be consumed within 6 months of freezing.
To thaw frozen macaroni and cheese, remove from the freezer and unwrap, taking the plastic wrap off before placing it in the oven. Macaroni and cheese can be reheated from frozen in a 375F oven for at least an hour, but it will reheat more quickly if it is thawed first. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight. Then, reheat in a 375F oven until heated through, around 30 minutes. Individual slices can be reheated in a microwave, although the flavour and texture is better if heated in an oven.