Blog | Food preservation

Does Popcorn Expire?

Popcorn has always been essential in movie nights and game nights. Everyone loves popcorn, right? I’ll be the first to admit that I always have dry kernels in my pantry.

I always want to have them in hand, just in case I have a few friends over for a movie or game night.

I am not one of those people that have scheduled game nights so if my friends and I decide to have one at my place, I always want to be prepared.

Since these game nights and movie nights don’t happen too often (we are all really busy people), my popcorn almost always lasts for a very long time.


This is probably the reason why I never buy ready to eat popcorn coz I always feel like they would ‘expire’.

I only eat popcorn when the cravings strike, and luckily or unluckily, it is not so often.

Does popcorn go bad?

Yes, it does. Like all other foodstuffs, popcorn goes bad when it stays for a very long time. Different types of popcorns usually have different shelf lives. They all last for different periods of time as long as you store them properly.


Well, there are three different types of popcorns you can purchase. Your preference will determine what you chose. There are the dry kernels, the microwavable packets, and the ready to eat popcorn. Personally, I prefer the dry kernels.

The dry kernels are basically popcorn that is yet to be popped. You can pop them with a little bit of oil, on your saucepan. Most people pop dry kernels on the stovetop because they pop very well at a faster rate.

Microwavable packets are usually dry kernels that are coated with fats. Each packet has everything you need to get your popcorn ready. All you need to do is place it inside your microwave, turn it on, and your popcorn will be ready in no time.

Ready to eat popcorn is just that, ready to eat. Someone already did all the hard work for you. The dry kernels are already popped and salted. If you buy them, you can just sit back, relax, open your package, and enjoy your delicious popcorn.

Ready to eat popcorn is great if you really have no time to pop the dry kernels yourself.

If you buy the ones of good quality, your friends probably won’t even notice that you bought the ready to eat ones.

Related Posts. Click below to read.

The Shelf Life of Popcorn


Like I mentioned earlier, the different types of popcorn have different shelf lives. Dry kernels and microwavable packets last for pretty much the same time, but the shelf life of ready to eat popcorn is completely different.

Dry kernels

Dry kernels arguably have an indefinite shelf life when stored properly. However, this does not mean that they last forever or maintain their good quality for that long.

All packages of dry kernels usually have a best by date. The dry kernels are usually of great quality only up to the best by date.

After that, the quality gradually reduces. If you use the dry kernels a few months past the best by date, they will work just fine.

Dry kernels can last for years when stored properly. However, they may start drying out and even fail to pop. The fresher the kernels, the tastier the popcorns. Experts recommend that you use up the dry kernels within 12 months past the best by date.

Microwavable packets


Since microwavable packets contain all the other ingredients needed to pop the popcorn, they do not last for as long as dry kernels.

The fat used to coat the kernels usually starts going rancid. This alters the flavor and smell of the popcorn. When stored properly, microwavable packets will last for three to four months.

After the best by date, the popcorn will probably still be good for a month or two, but you should look out for signs of spoilage before eating the popcorn.

Ready to eat popcorn


All ready to eat popcorn packages usually have a best by date. Most of the time, manufacturers estimate that the popcorn will maintain its good quality only 3 months after the date they produce it.

After the best by date, the popcorn will still be safe to eat, but its flavor will gradually reduce. The popcorn will not have the amazing flavor and won’t taste fresh either.

Popcorns that are of high quality usually retain freshness for much longer, so if you are like me and you do not eat your popcorn too often, consider buying the good quality because it will definitely stay fresh for much longer.

Once you open the package, you are ready to eat popcorn will only last for a week or two if you store it properly. After that, it may no longer be desirable because it will be stale. I always say you should only open the package if you are sure you can finish the package in one sitting.

Resealing the package and proper storage does not guarantee you the same amazing taste. Alternatively, just buy smaller packages that you are sure you can finish in one sitting.

Also, click here to check out: 21 Easy Lunch Ideas For Kids.

Signs that you should probably throw out your popcorn

  1. Off flavor

When popcorn stays for a very long time, it starts going stale. The quality of the popcorn reduces and eventually, the popcorn becomes tasteless.

If you taste your popcorn but can’t seem to get any flavor from it, you should probably discard it.

  1. Gross smell

This is an obvious sign of spoilage, especially with microwavable packets. The gross smell is usually an indication that the fat used to coat the kernels has gone rancid.

  1. Mold

Molds are usually a sign that somehow, moisture found its way into the package or container. If you notice any molds, just throw out the popcorn.

  1. Dry popcorn

When popcorn stays for a long time, the kernels will dry out. Consequently, they will fail to pop. If this happens, you can throw the popcorn out for quality reasons, or you can restore it.

How to restore popcorn that has dried out


If your dry kernels refuse to pop because they have dried out, you should consider restoring them before you decide to throw them out.

The process is pretty simple. Just place one pound of the dry kernels into a glass jar and add one tablespoon of water. Shake the jar a few times a day. Do this for approximately three days and then try popping them again.

Since the kernels are no longer dry and moisture has soaked into them, they will pop.

Proper Storage of Popcorn


Like every other foodstuff, you need to store popcorn properly for it to last for a long time. The same rules of storage apply across all three different types of popcorn.

The best place to store popcorn is in the pantry. The kitchen cabinet can work too, as long as it is not directly above your stove. Generally, popcorn should be stored in a cool and dry place away from heat and moisture.

Popcorn should be stored in a dark place. Both sunlight and artificial light will make the quality of the popcorn to reduce at a faster rate.

Once you open the package of your popcorn, you should transfer it to an airtight container. This way, you will protect the popcorn from excess moisture and air.


After every use, you need to make sure you have sealed the airtight container tightly. If you don’t, the popcorn will become soggy.

You should never store popcorn inside your fridge or freezer. However, there is an exception if the package of your microwavable packets indicates that you should refrigerate them.


How long does microwave popcorn last after the expiration date?

After the expiration date, microwave popcorn can only last for one or two months. Since you cannot really tell if the popcorn is spoilt before popping it in the microwave.

Just pop it, then open the package and lookout for signs of spoilage. Molds, gross smell, and an off-flavor are a sign that your popcorn has gone bad


Does popcorn oil go bad?

Yes, it does. With time, the oil starts going rancid. This will alter the flavor and taste of your popcorn. A terrible smell or weird taste is usually an indication that the popcorn oil went bad.

Does popcorn salt go bad?

The popcorn salt does not go bad. Salt is arguably one of the ingredients that can last forever. However, if one of the other ingredients in the popcorn goes bad, the salt is of no good. It only lasts for as long as the earliest ingredient expire.

Is it safe to eat microwave popcorn 1 year after its expiration date?

No, it is not. Generally, microwave popcorn is only good and safe to eat for up to two months past the expiration date.

This is because microwave popcorn usually contains other ingredients like oil or fat which do not last for a long time. When the oil goes rancid, the popcorn is no longer safe to eat.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *