Can You Eat Expired Popcorn?
Popcorn is the kind of food that looks like it has a longer shelf life than others, mainly since it retains its crispy look and is often stored in a sealed popcorn bag or another airtight container.
However, that sealed bag has an expiration date, which might be a few months away or a few months ago. And it plays a significant role in answering this question.
Like most foods, you can eat popcorn if it’s only been expired for a few days. After all, the expiry date tells you when the food starts losing its flavor, aroma, or structure, not necessarily when it starts going bad.
If it’s been a few months since the expiry date, the expired popcorn kernels will have lost most of their moisture, and the popcorn itself will be a bit dry but still edible.
After a year or more of the expiry date is when you get stale popcorn kernels, and you shouldn’t eat the snack.
How Long Is Bagged Popcorn Good For?
Bagged and popped popcorn usually lasts 2─4 weeks if you don’t open it. But if you’ve already opened it, you halve its shelf life to 1─2 weeks.
Note that these times are estimates. It depends on the manufacturer, what they put in the bag, and how much preservatives they add to the popped popcorn.
Besides, even if you go past the four-week mark, the popcorn will likely still be edible. However, it might taste a bit duller and drier than new popcorn bags.
Does Microwavable Popcorn Go Bad?
Many people store their microwavable packets of unpopped popcorn kernels and they can become forgotten after a while – even being found months later. You might not think the kernels would expire – but is that really the truth?
The fact is that unpopped popcorn kernels don’t go bad but microwavable popcorn that comes in commercial packets can go bad. But it usually takes several months, or even close to a year, before you’ll reach the expiration date.
That’s because manufacturers add things like oil, flavors, and maybe even preservatives—all ingredients that can make popcorn kernels go bad. Don’t forget that fats, oils, and other organic substances in foods like those found microwaveable bags will expire eventually, so it’s really not surprising at all.
Can You Get Sick From Eating Expired Microwave Popcorn?
Yes, but generally only if you eat expired microwavable popcorn several months (or years) after its expiration date. At that point, you would’ve given mold enough time to grow inside the pack and near the oils and seasonings that manufacturers add to popcorn packets.
But if it’s only been a few weeks or months, you could still safely eat expired microwavable popcorn.
How Do You Revive Stale Popcorn?
The later you decide to eat stale popcorn, the harder it’ll be to revive the familiar crispy flavor of freshly-popped popcorn. But you could still try!
Here’s how you can sometimes have good luck reviving stale popcorn:
- Set your kitchen oven or toaster oven to warm or low heat and let it warm up normally.
- Add the popcorn to a tray then leave it in the oven for a few minutes. Be careful to not leave it for too long!
- Keep checking it regularly until you get a good texture and aroma out of your tray.
- Remove the popcorn and serve. Enjoy!