Can You Eat Expired Popcorn? What You Must Know

Most foods have expiry dates on them but sometimes the dates may be more of a suggestion. Since popcorn kernels come in sealed airtight bags and hardly look bad, you may wonder if you can actually eat expired popcorn.

Truly, popcorn kernels last long if stored right but it expires within a year or more. It may be safe to eat expired popcorn after one or two months from its expiry date. However, the kernels are usually dry and may not pop quickly.

Nevertheless, you need to know at what point not to eat expired popcorn, how to identify expired popcorn, and if expired microwave popcorn can make you sick. Follow me as I touch on these important points and more in this article.

How long does it take for the popcorn to expire?

Unpopped popcorn typically has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months. Most popcorn packages come with an expiration date set at 8 months from the production date. But you can consume them after two months from the expiry date.

The downside is that the popcorn wouldn’t pop easily and will burn while cooking. This is because popcorn kernels hold moisture inside their shell but lose moisture and dry out over time. The more moisture it loses, the less appealing it is to consume.

Popcorn is a snack that should be eaten immediately after cooking, so, popped popcorn may not last beyond two weeks.

SEE: Does Popcorn Go Bad Eventually

What will happen if you eat expired popcorn?

Popcorn is safe to eat within one or two months after the expiry date. Only that the kernels become really dry after expiration as such wouldn’t pop quickly and burns quickly while cooking.

However, if you notice mold on the package or kernel, toss it in the trash immediately and refrain from eating it. Consuming it at this point can cause diarrhea, stomach upset, vomiting, and more.

Keep in mind that microwave popcorn is pre-mixed with seasoning and cooking oil, so, they get stale faster than plain popcorn.

SEE: Does Quinoa Go Bad

How to identify expired popcorn

Generally, expired popcorn loses moisture and drys out but it may be difficult to tell by sight. There are signs you should look out for, which include:

1. Color and mold

Expired popcorn becomes darker than usual. Moldy kernels have black or grey spots on their hull. If you notice that the kernels have become moldy, avoid them completely to save yourself from health risks.

2. Less popping

Popcorns pop because of the moisture present in them. Once it loses moisture and drys out, it hardly pops while cooking. If you notice that half of your popcorn didn’t pop in the microwave or stovetop, it is most likely expired.

3. Smell

While plain popcorns may not smell offensive when expired, the oil from microwave popcorn smells unpleasantly after cooking when expired.

Avoid eating any microwave popcorn with such a smell as they pose a serious health risk.

4. Taste

Popcorn tastes yummy and buttery after cooking. Expired popcorn on the other hand tastes bland and weird. If this is the case when you pop it in your mouth, toss it in the trash immediately.

SEE: Do Popcorn Expire

How to store popcorn kernels

Opened or unsealed popcorn boxes lose moisture easily and do not last long. Popcorn kernels last longer in sealed airtight boxes. If you have opened your box at any point in time, chances are that it wouldn’t last for long even if properly stored.

Additionally, exposing your popcorn to heat reduces its ability to last long. You may also assume that storing it in the fridge will make it last longer. Ironically, putting it in the fridge makes it lose its ability to expand and pop due to excess exposure to moisture.

Since popcorn comes in different sizes, it’s best to get a size that you’re ready to consume all at once. Fresh kernels cook and taste better.

Therefore, keeping sealed popcorn boxes in cool, dark temperatures like your cupboard is the best method for storing them.

SEE: How Many Minutes Do You Put Popcorn In The Microwave

What to do with old popcorn kernels?

You may wonder what you can do with stale popcorn kernels instead of trashing them. Thankfully, stale popcorn kernels do not have to go to waste. First, you can process them into powder form just line cornmeal and use it as toppings for grits.

Also, you can put them in your freezer and use them as a cold pack to substitute regular ice pack. Instead of buying a bean bag at a store, you can simply make yours with stale popcorn kernels and have fun playing cornhole games.

SEE: What Round Popcorn Is And How To Make It


Can expired popcorn make you sick?

Yes. Moldy expired popcorn and expired microwave popcorn can cause stomach aches, diarrhea, vomiting, and the like.

Can you eat 2 years of expired popcorn?

No. You shouldn’t eat popcorn that has expired beyond 2 months as it can affect your health negatively.

Can you keep popped popcorn for long?

No. Popped popcorn cannot last more than two weeks.

Final Thoughts

To be on the safe side, it is best to consume your popcorn before the expiry date. In fact, popcorns are tastier and more enjoyable when it pops properly in the microwave or stovetop.

This is only possible if the kernels have enough moisture in them. Expired popcorn on the other hand may not come out really well and you may have more unpopped kernels.

While plain popcorns are consumable after expiration, microwave popcorn is not safe for consumption after expiration because they are pre-mixed with oil and seasoning which causes them to spoil easily.

Make sure to store your popcorn kernel in a cool, dry place for better preservation and it is best that your popcorn is sealed and not opened.

Finally, you should read the article on how you can put butter on popcorn without making it soggy.

I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.