Once upon a time, you went to the grocery store, and you couldn’t help but grab all those packs of beautifully shaped pasta from the shelves. Months later, you found them sitting quietly in your pantry still untouched and unopened, wondering: Does pasta go bad?
Any improperly stored food will surely go bad. If we’re talking about dry or uncooked pasta, it can last for many years in your storage, but it is better to consume it by its best before date.
For fresh or cooked pasta, it has a shorter shelf life, and it will only stay for a few days in the fridge.
On this page, we will be answering these possible questions that you may have in mind:
Let’s dive in!
What Is Pasta?
Pasta, which originated from Italy, is a widely popular cuisine with a fascinating centuries-old history. (*)
There are hundreds of different creative shapes, sizes, and colors used for different types of pasta dishes out there in the market. Basically, the type of pasta are:
- Long- and medium-length pasta (spaghetti, capellini, linguine, etc.)
- Short-cut pasta (macaroni, penne, etc.)
- Stretched pasta or strascinati (cencioni, corzetti, etc.)
- Soup pasta (anelli, ditali, etc.)
- Pasta with filling (pansotti, tortelli, etc.)
- Gnocchi, and gnocchetti
One of the best things about cooking pasta is that it is quick and easy, and you can think of many creative ways to make your dish tasty. (*) Delicious dishes are commonly prepared with sauces, creams, and soups.
- It is simply prepared by adding it to a boiling pot of water with added salt and oil.
- It usually takes up to 15 minutes to get it ready.
How Long Does Pasta Last? (Dry, Fresh, Cooked)
The shelf life of your pasta depends on several factors: the best by date, the preparation method used, and storage condition.
- Dry Pasta
If we talk about store-bought dry pasta, know that it is a shelf-stable pantry staple. It is mainly made with water and semolina flour. Some brands would even add coloring or flavoring agents and some preservatives.
Does store-bought pasta expire? Actually, dry pasta can last in the pantry almost… forever! On the contrary, if you’re after its best taste, we urge you to consume it within two years of purchasing.
Thus, make sure to check the pasta package’s “best by” or “best if used by” date to be guided.
On the other hand, an opened pack of dry pasta can stay in your pantry for about one year. It won’t make much of a difference in its shelf life if you attempt to refrigerate or freeze it.
- Fresh Pasta
For fresh pasta, it has a shorter shelf life compared to dry pasta. Note that fresh pasta contains eggs and moisture making it a perishable food item.
Keep your fresh pasta in the refrigerator or freezer if you want to keep it for a more extended time. It can stay up to 2 days in the fridge and 2 months if you put in the freezer.
- Cooked Pasta
If you happen to have some leftover cooked, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to five days and two months if in the freezer.
If you have some pasta prepared in a dish (e.g., Chicken Alfredo), your basis of its expiration is the quickest expiring ingredient in it.
How To Tell If Your Pasta Has Gone Bad?
- Dry Pasta
It can last for years in the pantry because it hardly contains moisture. Thus, it cannot serve as the best environment for bacteria to thrive.
Although it barely holds moisture, it does not mean it can preserve its best quality for a longer time. If you have stored for a few years, make sure to inspect.
Check its appearance, texture, and smell before you throw your dry pasta in a boiling pot of salted water. If you notice discoloration or if it is giving off some rancid odor, don’t hesitate to throw it away.
- Fresh or Cooked Pasta
To know if your fresh or cooked spaghetti has passed its prime, you will notice the following spoilage characteristics:
- Mold growth
- Slimy texture
- Unpleasant smell
- Pantry bugs infestation
If your fresh or cooked spaghetti possesses any of these four characteristics, it is best to toss them away.
Bear in mind that you must practice proper hygiene and food safety techniques to prevent foodborne illness.
How to Store Pasta (Dry, Fresh, Cooked)
- Dry Pasta
To prolong the shelf life, make sure to keep your dry pasta in a cool and dark place. We suggest you keep it in your pantry, kitchen cabinet, or in a cupboard.
We advise that you should also keep it away from oxygen, water, moisture, and heat exposure. If that happens, your pasta will become a breeding ground for molds which can spoil it sooner before its expiration date.
Once you have opened a pack of pasta, we suggest you keep the rest in an airtight container or in a storage bag. Make sure your container is tightly sealed. We don’t want those wheat-eating pests feasting on our precious pasta, right?
- Fresh Pasta
Keep your fresh pasta in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for a few days.
After cooking your pasta and before packing it for freezing, make sure to cool it down. After that, transfer your pasta to a freezer-safe ziplock bag.
Just in case you don’t have that special freezer-safe ziplock bag, you can have your fresh pasta tightly wrapped in aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
- Cooked Pasta
Keep your cooked or leftover spaghetti in an airtight container before putting it in the refrigerator.
Your storage container must be tightly closed to keep out moisture and contamination.
Frequently Asked Questions
So, we have dry pasta and fresh or homemade pasta. Check the expiration date and look for signs of spoilage before consumption.
The best thing about dry pasta is that it is shelf-stable, and you can keep it for a long time in your pantry. However, it does not mean you can store it forever. It will always be best to consume it before its targeted expiration.
For fresh or cooked spaghetti, remember that its shelf life will only last for a few days in your fridge. Thus, it is best to consume it before it expires rather than it ends up trash bin after expiration. You’d hate to waste food, right!
As a friendly reminder to our dear readers, foodborne illnesses are associated with spoiled foods. We strongly recommend you to practice food safety as you enjoy your foods while it is fresh!