If there’s one thing that you should always have in your pantry, it should be crackers.
There are lots of reasons why.
For one, it’s a quick snack that can keep you feeling full for a long time.
Not only that, you can pair it with just about everything—dips, fillings, soups, stews, and many more!
That’s not all. It’s also one of those food items that seem to last forever!
But wait, do crackers actually go bad?
Simple answer: Yes, it can go bad. However, it’s not in the way you think.
So how will it go bad? Read on to find out!
Do Crackers Actually Go Bad?
Yes, they do go bad but in a different way than you might think.
Since they are extremely dry and don’t have any moisture content, they don’t expire. Because of this, they usually don’t go bad in the sense that they will become unsafe for consumption.
So how do they go bad? They go bad in two ways. Here they are:
They can become stale.
Once opened, they will be exposed to air and moisture. As a result, it will lose its crunchy and crispy texture, leaving you with stale and soggy crackers that you won’t be able to enjoy eating.
The good news is you can easily refresh stale crackers, and we’ll share these tips in the next few sections!
Warning: When they absorb too much moisture, bacteria may grow and it may become unsafe to eat. (Don’t worry. We’ll share the telltale signs that they have gone bad so stay tuned)
They go rancid.
The second way crackers may go bad is they will become rancid. Most types contain high amounts of fats which can go rancid when they are exposed to heat or oxygen.
Eating rancid food is not dangerous, but it will give off an unpleasant taste, so it will no longer be an enjoyable experience.
What is the Shelf Life of Crackers?
A lot of people think that the printed date on the packaging determines the shelf life. But in the case of crackers, that date is not an expiration date which indicates safety but a best-by date which indicates quality.
What do we mean by this? It means that the best-by date indicates when you can enjoy the the food at their highest quality. Past this date, you can still safely consume them, but their crispiness and taste will start to deteriorate by then.
With that said, here’s their estimated shelf life:
- Unopened Pack: 6 to 9 months after the best-by date
- Opened Pack: 4 to 6 weeks after being opened
How to Tell if Crackers Have Gone Bad?
They may go bad earlier or later than the mentioned duration, so it’s always a great idea to double-check their quality before you consume them. Here are some of the signs you should watch out for:
As we’ve talked about, crackers can lose their crispy texture and may go stale when it’s exposed to a little bit of moisture.
The good news is you can still fix stale crackers, so you can go ahead and keep them if this is the only warning sign that you’ve noticed.
Off Smell and Weird Taste
If they have already gone rancid, the first thing you’ll notice is a change in how they taste and smell.
A bitter, metallic, or chemical-like aroma upon opening the package is one of the most common signs of rancidity. They may also give off a sharp chemical-like taste.
If you’ve noticed these signs, throw them out right away.
Dark Spots or Fuzzy Growth
When you leave the pack open for too long, they might become too moist. Unfortunately, mold and bacteria thrive the most in wet environments. The contamination is often characterized by dark spots or fuzzy growth on the surface.
If your crackers have any of these discolorations, discard them right away as eating them will put you at risk of food poisoning.
How to Properly Store Crackers for Long-Term?
The good news is you can prevent crackers from going stale, rancid, or contaminated by storing them properly. Here are some tips on how to do that:
Place unopened packs in a cool, dark, and dry place.
Unopened packs are best placed in your pantry or kitchen cabinets that are located far from heat sources like the stove and oven.
Transfer opened packs to airtight containers.
To protect them from air and moisture, airtight containers are your best option. These types of containers can also prevent mold growth and insect infestation.
Some of the best examples that we recommend are mylar bags or zip locks.
Store them with oxygen absorbers.
Oxygen and air are your biggest enemies as they will cause the crackers to go stale faster. The best way to protect your food from them is by using food-grade oxygen absorbers.
Protect them from physical damage.
We all know that crackers are fragile and prone to getting crushed. Unfortunately, your airtight bags won’t be able to give them the protection that they need.
That’s why you should place the airtight bags with crackers in a harder container like tightly sealed boxes or jars.
Pro Tip: If you want to store them for long-term, you should stick with crackers that:
- Have little to no fat
- Don’t contain high-fat ingredients like cheese or milk powder.
In this way, you don’t have to worry about them going rancid too fast. To determine what these crackers are, check out their nutritional information and ingredients list on the packaging.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it okay to eat expired crackers?
Yes, as long as there are no signs of spoilage, expired crackers are safe for consumption. But if they’ve been stored for too long, expect that there will be some changes in texture and taste.
How to refresh stale crackers?
The best way to bring back their crispiness and texture is to bake them in an oven.
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange the crackers in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Bake them for 4 to 5 minutes or until they get their crisp back.
- Remove the crackers from the oven and transfer them to a cooling rack.
- Allow them to cool down for a few minutes before consuming them.
What to do with expired crackers?
If you have lots of expired crackers, here are some of the other things that you can do with them (aside from eating):
Grind them up and use them as breading for your fried dishes. If you don’t have a food processor, you can crush the crackers using a rolling pin instead.
Since they tend to absorb moisture from the air, you can use them to protect your dry ingredients (like sugar, flour, and salt) from moisture buildup.
All you need to do is just simply place them inside the corresponding containers.
You can also use them as a binding agent for meatballs, meatloaf, and crab cakes. To do this, just grind them to a fine powder and add them to your recipes.
The Bottom Line
Do crackers actually go bad? Yes, they do.
However, they won’t expire. Instead, they can only either become stale or rancid. But once the crackers start to show signs of bacterial contamination or mold growth (i.e. become too wet or get discolored), discard them right away as they are no longer safe for consumption.