Does Popcorn Expire? The Advanced Guide to Incredible Popcorn

Best popcorn guide for your best experience

Written by Elisa Chan. Updated on Does Popcorn Expire

Does Popcorn Expire?

Popcorn in most cases does not expire 

  • popped popcorn can – go stale
  • unpopped popcorn – dries out
  • after microwaving it can – go rancid
  • unopened and prepared popcorn lasts for 3 month
  • microwaveable packets last –  2 month
  • dry kernels shelf life – 1.5 year

Popped and ready-to-eat corn kernels are often believed to be almost everlasting, but is it really so? What if we find several packets sitting in storage for a bit too long? Can we still eat their content?

And moreover, does popcorn expire?

Shortly speaking, it does even though the lifespan of the foodstuff can be impressively long, especially if all the instructions are followed precisely. Some say it can last for years past the expiry term without spoiling the way other foodstuffs do!

But still, it has nothing to do with the content remain of the peak quality though.

However, the way the spoilage appears and how soon it will show off hangs upon the sort of popped foodstuff. As we all remember, three variations of popcorn exist:

Dry popcorn

It consists of unpopped kernels that have to be heated in some oil on the stove prior to serving. This is one of the most long-lasting kinds of foodstuff but even it will dry out. 

To check whether it is still OK, warm it up. Is it popping? Then everything is fine. Is it not? Well, the kernels are bad.

Ready-to-eat popcorn

It is popped as it comes from the name. All we need is to open the packet and enjoy the yummy.

It turns stale slowly, and unless moisture gets inside the packet, mold will not develop. However, the taste will be degrading gradually leading to the popcorn getting dry and losing the taste.


This is in fact the same dry popcorn only coated with fat. To make it ready for consumption, we just need to heat it up in a microwave.

Any signs of spoilage will also appear after warming it up. If the heated kernels smell off or have a gross appearance, it is definitely out of order.

To sum up, no matter which one of the three you are going to eat, always toss the spoiled stuff away if any symptoms of spoilage or quality degradation ate noticed.

How to Store Popcorn?

It doesn’t matter what kind of popcorn is in your stock, the storage instructions will be more or less the same.

  1. Provide the foodstuff with proper temperature: room-warm or a bit cooler will be just fine! Also, it is not recommended to chill or freeze any kernels except for microwaveable ones. If the instruction says it must be cooled, refrigerate the packet.
  2. Both dry and popped kernels don’t like moisture and exposure to air that make them soggy. To keep the foodstuff crunchy, stock it in a kitchen cabinet.

Following these simple suggestions will help to enjoy this snack delicious and extend its initially long lifespan. 

how to store popcorn

How Long Does Popcorn Last?

The overall term of use can be between one and three years, sometimes up to four.

Surely, since popcorn is so durable and can be kept safe and sound (and still delicious) for months and even longer, it might be interesting to learn more about each kind of snack to figure out for what term we can expect to have it tasty.

Just like with the spoilage specifics, the lifespan of each kind of corn kernels, both popped and dry, varies. 

how long does popcorn last

The Shelf Life Of Popped Popcorn

Popped yummy has the shortest term of use: we can eat it within two to three months after the foodstuff was produced. That refers to the unopened packet only. 

It is still safe to eat it if the content of the pack stayed untouched for a couple of weeks past the best-by, but if we keep it longer, it is better not to count on a good taste.

As for the opened packet, it should be fine for a week or two provided that it is sealed all the time, of course.

shelf life of popped popcorn

The Shelf Life Of Dry Kernels

The most long-living one of the three, dry variation of the snack will last longer compared to its “cousins” so feel free to taste it even if the packet is a couple of months older than the final best-by term. 

And even if it is already old, don’t skip the chance to try it out. It will be still possible to revive it even if only part of the kernels pop: simply re-hydrate them. Add one spoonful of water per each pound of kernels and toss them into a jar. Keep that tank for three days haking its content regularly during the day. It may help to bring the popcorn back to life. 

shelf life of dry kernels

The Shelf Life Of Microwaveable Packets 

This kind of popcorn will stay edible for up to four months since the fat it contains will not let the kernels last longer. Nevertheless, if you find a packet that was sitting in the cabinet for a month or two longer than needed, it is still worth trying to prepare it.

Even though anything is wrong, you can always discard the foodstuff, but if it is still OK, why not enjoy it?

Popcorn is a top sweet both for kids and adults! We enjoy it at home, with our friends at the party, or at the cinema.

Of course, everyone would like to learn more about this foodstuff! Does popcorn expire? Is it safe to consume expired popcorn?

Today everyone will explore this product “from head to toe”!

shelf life of microwavable packets

Is It Healthy To Consume Popcorn?

Popcorn is among the most widespread ready to eat sweets (or snacks if it’s salty) and of course, people start wondering whether consuming it is safe.

What do you usually drink with popcorn?
I eat popcorn with cola
I eat pop corn with juice
I eat popcorn without anything

Today, when everyone is obsessed with the healthy lifestyle and organic foodstuff, snacks like bagged popcorn may become a true point of concern!

To calm down the popcorn fans, let’s figure out is popcorn healthy and how can it be useful to us.

  • Pure popcorn without any flavorings, additives, or sugar/salt is a healthy snack since it contains a lot of vitamins
  • Being a whole grain foodstuff, it is a source of various nutrients, too
  • Popped kernels contain natural fiber, protein, and minerals
  • They are cholesterol-free
  • Also, the snack is low in fat and sugar
  • It’s a source of vitamins A, B6, E, and K
  • Since popcorn is considered to be a dietary snack, it may contribute to the weight loss

Nevertheless, note that it refers to the unsweetened, saltless, and additive, and expired butter free snack!

Is microwave popcorn bad for you?

Is there any sequence between popcorn and cancer? Is microwave popcorn dangerous?

The answer is yes and no. Because unhealthy ingredient in the microwave popcorn is no the kernel, but the chemicals called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that are in the bags. 

PFCs also include in pizza boxes, sandwich wrappers, and Teflon pans.

The trouble with PFCs is that they break down into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical that’s suspected to cause cancer. (According to Healthline)

Popcorn Storage From A To Z

popcorn storage from a to z

Naturally, such a useful product needs to be kept edible to its longest! And here many of us become confused with the duration of its storage period.

How often do you eat popcorn?
Only in the cinema
I don't eat pop corn at all

There are so many types of this snack, how is it possible to figure this out?!

To make it easier to understand the shelf life of popcorn, check out this comparative table!

Type of snack Pantry
Commercially popped (unsealed) This sort of snack will remain edible for 2-4 weeks past its “best by” date.
Commercially popped (opened) An opened packet of popped kernels will stay consumable for nearly fourteen days after purchasing it.
Dry kernels How long does unpopped popcorn last? Well, normally they stay eatable for approximately two years (yeah, quite a long-liver!) but anyway feel free to keep them for half a year after the expiry date passed by.
Microwave-processed popcorn packets An unopened packet of these ones must remain fresh for ninety days after its expiry date if stored properly.

To achieve such results, pay attention to the proper storage of the snack! Besides, the storage rules are the same for any type of foodstuff.

  • Place the unopened packet in a dry and cool place. A pantry or a kitchen cupboard will be fine only, as for the cupboard, avoid putting the snack close to the stove or the fridge.
  • Opened packet requires a bit more fuss since the popped or dry kernels when unsealed, must be removed to the airtight packet.
  • Reheating the popped kernels is prohibited since they will get dry and lose their taste.

Like this, everyone will manage to extend the popcorn lifespan to its most and enjoy this delicious shack longer.

Related: How Long Does Spaghetti Last In The Fridge? Storage Advice

How to Keep Popcorn Fresh

how to keep popcorn fresh

Naturally, when it comes to storage, people get worried about what actions to take to keep the product fresh longer.

Popcorn isn’t an exception. 

Does popcorn expire? That’s probably the most frequent question of all that has ever been asked! 

Of course, like any foodstuff, this snack is not eternally-lasting. Popcorn expiration hangs upon several issues such as

  • heat
  • steam/moisture
  • air exposure

When the kernels or popped snack is exposed to any of these factors, they make it lose the taste and what we get in the end is stale popcorn.

To avoid such aftermath, try to do the following:

  • To ensure that the unpopped kernels will be fine, place them in a tightly closed jar and remove the tank to the cool place.
  • How to keep popped popcorn fresh? The best option is to toss them into an airtight tank, plastic or glass – no matter, and put away from any source of heat or moisture.

Some say refrigerating might help but there’s a high risk of moisturizing the kernels so you’d better don’t risk.

Related: Can You Freeze Baked Beans?

Can You Freeze Popcorn?

can you freeze popcorn

No surprise that popcorn lovers wonder how to preserve popcorn to enjoy it longer.

We will probably surprise you but freeze it!

And for dispelling the doubts, just check this out!

  • Can you freeze popped popcorn?

Definitely! Since it won’t freeze, the snack will remain edible much longer, only remember to toss it into the airtight frost-resistant packet.

  • Can you freeze popcorn kernels?

If one decides to freeze popcorn kernels, it’s absolutely fine! The exposure of frost will keep their natural moisture inside which will allow the kernels to remain easily popped anytime.

This is especially handy for preserving the snack for the upcoming party!

Can Popcorn Go Bad?

can popcorn go bad

Any foodstuff has an issue of spoilage and popcorn has it, too.

Does popcorn go bad when it’s popped?

Unfortunately, it does. When stored improperly, the popped kernels lose their moisture and become dry and far less crispy. The taste also alters: some even say that old popcorn tastes like paper.

Do popcorn kernels go bad?

Yes, unpopped snack also tends to spoil. Unlike its counterpart, it becomes impossible (or very hard) to pop which can be noticed immediately after the popcorn packet is placed to microwave.

How To Define That Popcorn Is Spoiled

how to define that popcorn is spoiled

Another question is whether the snack may turn really badly spoiled.

Expired popcorn kernels do taste bad with time, however, they will hardly cause any harm.

But if you notice moldy popcorn in a packet, discard it instantly!

So if there’s any expired popcorn left on the shelf, feel free to consume it but check for any visual signs of mold.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Can you eat expired popcorn?

Eating expired popcorn is safe unless there are no signs of mold on the kernels, popped or dry.

⭐Can popcorn make you sick when consumed stale?

No, it’s not true. However, one will hardly decide to consume such a product since the stale snack doesn’t taste good.

⭐Is eating unpopped popcorn safe?

Eating unpopped popcorn kernels is absolutely harmless to our health. Only don’t let small kids swallow these since the kernels are a great choking hazard. 

⭐Why does air-popped popcorn taste stale?

The only obvious reason is that the air popper doesn’t get hot enough to pop the kernels to the full.

⭐How long can popcorn sit out?

Hanging upon the type of snack, uncooked popcorn is OK to leave for more than a year if unsealed, and ready-to-eat popped popcorn will stay fresh for ninety days or so.

⭐What happens if you eat expired butter?

Nothing bad can happen to you just an unpleasant taste that you can get. Microbes don't like fat so it is really a very-very low chance to be poisoned by butter.

stale popcorn
Photo by Georgia Vagim on Unsplash

To make you even more knowledgeable about popcorn, we’ve prepared several questions that are frequently asked by consumers. Hopefully, they’ll be helpful!

Now you’re knowledgeable about how to keep popcorn fresh in any case and we hope these tips will be handy for you in the future.

Written by
Elisa is a passionate cook who will advise you on healthy and delicious food topics! With her help, you will discover how to properly store and freeze food, as well as learn important nuances about preserving vitamins in your meals to make them stay nutritious.
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