Do Chocolate Chips Go Bad or Expire? (The Sweet Truth Analysis)

You’re badly craving your favorite chocolate chip cookies, but all the bakeries are now closed.

So you decided to do the next best option—bake some!

Unfortunately, the chocolate chips that you have on hand are already days past the printed date.

So you’re sitting there wondering— can you still use it? Do chocolate chips go bad?

Short Answer: Yes, chocolate chips go bad over time.

However, they last for quite a while because they contain good amounts of stabilizers.

So how long do they last? Keep on reading this article to find out!

image of chocolate chips got bad or expire

Do Chocolate Chips Go Bad?

Yes, chocolate chips go bad in the sense that they will lose their sweetness. It may even become stale and can negatively affect the taste of your baked goods.

In essence, pure chocolate can last for decades. However, chocolate chips often contain milk which causes them to go bad faster than pure chocolates. The good news is, these are also packed with shelf stabilizers so you can still enjoy them for a few years before they go bad. (*)

Learn more: Can Chocolate Ever Go Bad? (The Sweet Truth Revealed)

Is it OK to use expired chocolate chips?

As mentioned, chocolate chips contain shelf stabilizers that can help them last for years. Since these are considered to be shelf-stable food items, chocolate chips don’t have an expiration date in their packaging. Instead, they have a use-by date.

What’s the difference between the two? To put it simply, the expiration date tells you when the item is safe for consumption while the use-by date indicates when you can enjoy it in its finest quality.

Past the use-by date, chocolate chips are still safe for consumption.

How Long Do Chocolate Chips Last? (Shelf Life Table Included)

If you can eat the chocolate chips past the printed date, then how long do they usually last? The answer varies depending on the cocoa content, storage, and the chocolate type.

With that said, here are some of the guidelines to keep in mind:

  • The more milk content, the shorter the shelf life.
  • The higher the cocoa content, the longer the lifespan.
  • The more additives (nuts and fried nuts) the chocolate chips have, the faster they will go bad.
  • Once the bag is opened, it will go bad faster. This is because the bag contains a special gas that preserves the chocolate chips. Once it’s opened, the gas will escape and the chips will be more susceptible to flavor loss.

Now that we got that covered, please check out the table for the different shelf life estimates for different types of chocolate chips.  

Type of Chocolate ChipUnopenedOpened
Dark Chocolate2 years2 to 3 months
Milk Chocolate8 months to 1 year6 weeks
White Chocolate8 months to 1 year6 weeks

Once again, these numbers are just estimates and are only applicable if the food item doesn’t show any signs of spoilage. That’s why once the chocolate chips are already past the printed date, you must inspect them carefully before using or consuming them.

How to Tell if Chocolate Chips Have Gone Bad?

So what are the signs that you should look out for? Here are some of them:

Fermented Taste

One of the best ways to check ie chocolate chips are still safe to consume is by tasting them. Take a few pieces of chocolate chips and pop them into your mouth.

If the chips give off a vinegary flavor and fermented taste, it means that it has already gone stale.

Loss of Sweetness

On the other hand, some chocolate chips will taste bland when their quality starts to decline. If this is the case, then you should discard it right away.

Musty Smell

Aside from the taste, the odor of the chocolate chips will also tell you a lot about their current quality. If you noticed a musty smell when you opened its package, it means that the chocolate chips have already gone stale, so you should avoid using it in your recipes.

Should you still eat chocolate chips that have a white spot or film on their surface? Or are those molds?

Yes, you can still eat chocolate chips with white spots or film.

The white spots in chocolates aren’t molds. Unless the chips have been exposed to moisture, it’s impossible that molds will grow on them.

The white spots or film is fat bloom which happens when the cocoa butter fats rise to the top of the chips. It might be caused by errors in the manufacturing or mixing process.

While it affects the chocolate’s appearance, it doesn’t have a negative impact on its safety or its taste, or quality.

How about the presence of gray spots at the surface?

Chocolate chips with gray spots are the surface are still safe for consumption. However, it may already have a different texture.  

The gray spots at the surface are crystallized sugar or what we call the sugar bloom. It occurs when the chocolate chips have been exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations (i.e. when it’s been refrigerated then placed at room temperature then refrigerated again) which causes the sugar to melt and re-solidify again.

This will change the chocolate chip’s appearance and give it a grainy texture, but the taste will remain the same.

How to Store Chocolate Chips

If you want to avoid the abovementioned signs of spoilage, then you must learn to store your chocolate chips properly. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Store chocolate chips at the right temperature.

The best storage temperature for chocolate chips is between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Contrary to popular belief, chocolate chips are best stored at room temperature, and not refrigerated or frozen to protect them from the negative effects of temperature fluctuations.

Place chocolate chips in a cool and dry location.

Heat and moisture will make the chips melt, so avoid these at all costs. With that said, chocolate chips are best stored in either a kitchen cabinet or pantry that’s located far from heat sources like a stove or oven.

Keep chocolate chips in an airtight container.

In addition to heat, you should also protect chocolate chips from exposure to air. The best way to do that is to transfer the contents of an opened bag of chocolate chips into an airtight container or a resealable bag.

Doing so can also protect the chocolate chips from pantry bugs or insects.

If it’s too hot out, then refrigerate them.

If the room temperature is beyond 75 degrees Fahrenheit, then you should refrigerate it. However, you should take the necessary steps to prevent temperature fluctuations (i.e. use the chips right away after taking them out from the fridge).

Frequently Asked Questions

So your chocolate chips have gone bad, what alternative can you use?

If you’re in dire need of chocolate chips but your stock has already gone bad, don’t worry! There are a few substitutes you can use. Here are some of them:

Chocolate bar

All you need to do is dice the chocolate bar into small pieces using a knife. You can proceed with using this in recipes where you only need the flavor of chocolate chips and not its appearance.

Chocolate bar (with Small Squares)

If dicing the bar is too much work for you, you can just simply use a chocolate bar divided into small squares instead. All you need to do is just break off the small squares and divide them into four more pieces.

This option will look more aesthetically appealing, so it’s recommended for recipes where the chocolate chips are visible.

Final Words

Do chocolate chips go bad? Yes, they do. But thanks to the stabilizers they contain, they can last longer than the printed date.

So should you still use your chocolate chips? Before you do so, make sure to check for any of the signs of spoilage we’ve mentioned.

If there are no signs of spoilage, go and use them. But if the chocolate chips already smell musty, or have a fermented taste, or loss of sweetness, don’t use them anymore. Instead, choose from any of the alternatives we’ve shared with you.

Do Chocolate Chips Go Bad or Expire? (The Sweet Truth Analysis)

Discover the answer to whether chocolate chips can expire or go bad, as well as how to store them for maximum shelf life.
Learn about the different types of chocolate chips and ways to enjoy them before they go bad.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Calories 2500 kcal


  • Airtight Container


  • Chocolate Chips


  • Chocolate chips do not last forever.
  • Chocolate chips can last anywhere from several months to a few years depending on how they are stored in an airtight container in cool and dry conditions.
  • The best way to tell if chocolate chips are bad is by checking for signs of spoilage such as discoloration, an off-odor, or crystallization on the surface.
    Additionally, taste testing is another way to check for freshness; if the chips have a bitter or sour taste, they have likely gone bad.
  • Chocolate chips should be stored in an airtight container in a cool and dry location away from direct sunlight.
    Additionally, keeping the lid tightly closed and storing for shorter periods of time will help to preserve their flavor and texture for longer.

Up Next: Your Common Food Ingredient’s Shelf Life – A Comprehensive Guide By Groups

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