Food blog

Why Serving Cheese Straight Out of the Fridge Is a Big Mistake

The reason you should never serve cheese straight out of the fridge

Cheese – in its myriad, diverse variations – is an absolute wonder. Smoky, smooth, creamy, stinky, crystallized, hard, soft… the world of cheese is a breathtaking tapestry of flavors, textures, consistencies, and aromas – and that’s not even counting the amazing things that happen to cheese once it’s cooked. Cheese has a place on so many tables and in so many cultures, and while certain cheeses may be a bit much for some, it’s safe to say that the world of cheese has something for everyone (except vegans and those with lactose intolerance, of course).

The importance of serving cheese at room temperature

Serving a cheese buffet to welcome your guests? Arrange some specialty cheeses on a wooden block to enhance the culinary appeal of your latest charcuterie board? Not in the mood to cook and plan to voraciously consume a block of cheese in front of the television? No matter the circumstance, there are a few non-negotiables that will make your cheese experience an A+ every time.
As noted in Food & Wine, cheese should be served at room temperature-and, as numerous experts point out, virtually all cheeses should be removed from the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. One expert interviewed astutely notes that “cheese is shy when cold,” and compares the idea of bringing cheese to room temperature to that of decanting wine. Refrigerated cheese often lacks the complexities, flavors, and nuances that come through more clearly once the cheese has mellowed at room temperature.

The Flavor Enhancements of Room Temperature Cheese

But why does room-temperature cheese taste better? Serious Eats clarifies that “as cheese softens, its fat-soluble flavor compounds get better access to our taste buds,” which is another reason why the taste and appeal of room-temperature cheese is preferred over cold cheese. And according to Fine Cooking, “Cheese that’s just been taken out of the refrigerator has only a fraction of the flavor of cheese that’s been tempered. It’s also important to allow cheese to “breathe. One way to do this is to drape cheesecloth over your cheese.
Food Network notes that the timing of the cheese is also important to consider. If it’s an appetizer to whet the palate, then the purpose of the cheese is much different than if you’re serving it after the main course. While almost all cheeses should be brought to room temperature regardless, certain types of cheese are better suited as appetizers, while others may be more appropriate served either before or after dessert. All Recipes notes that while most cheeses should be removed from the refrigerator about an hour before serving, some are better if removed about 20 minutes before. Keep an eye out for any cheeses that “start to sweat or look greasy,” which means they should be refrigerated again.

Proper Handling and Serving for Cheese Appreciation

Remember, certain cheeses are anything but cheap, so it’s important to handle and serve them properly to ensure you get the most out of your money and to highlight the intrinsic quality and integrity of the cheese itself. By allowing cheese to come to room temperature before serving, you unlock a world of enhanced flavors and aromas that would otherwise be muted by the refrigerator’s chilling effect. So whether you’re hosting a wine and cheese party, preparing a cheese platter for a special occasion, or simply enjoying a cheese snack at home, plan ahead and give your cheese a chance to shine by serving it at room temperature.
Finally, serving cheese straight from the fridge is a culinary faux pas that can detract from the full enjoyment of this delicious food. Take the time to let your cheese mellow and reach its optimal flavor by letting it warm up at room temperature. Your taste buds will thank you, and you’ll truly appreciate the rich and complex flavors that cheese has to offer. So remember to bring your cheese in from the cold and let it shine at your next gathering or personal cheese-filled moment of indulgence.


Why is it important to serve cheese at room temperature?

Serving cheese at room temperature allows its flavors, aromas and nuances to fully develop, resulting in a more enjoyable and complex tasting experience.

How long should I let cheese sit before serving it?

It is recommended that cheese be removed from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving to allow it to reach room temperature. However, some cheeses may benefit from being removed from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

Can I serve certain cheeses straight from the refrigerator?

While most cheeses should be brought to room temperature before serving, some varieties may be better served slightly chilled as an appetizer. However, it’s important to watch for any cheeses that start to sweat or look greasy, as they may need to be refrigerated again.

Does serving cheese at room temperature enhance its flavor?

Yes, serving cheese at room temperature allows the fat-soluble flavor compounds in the cheese to better interact with our taste buds, resulting in a more pronounced and enjoyable flavor profile.

Can I use cheesecloth to help cheese “breathe” while it reaches room temperature?

Yes, draping cheesecloth over cheese can help it breathe and prevent excessive moisture buildup, allowing the cheese to maintain its texture and quality.

How should I handle and serve expensive cheeses to maximize their quality?

The proper way to handle and serve expensive cheeses is to allow them to come to room temperature before serving. This ensures that you can fully experience their intricate flavors and textures, making the most of your investment in fine cheeses.

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