Does the cake mix go bad?
Got an expired cake mix and wondering if it’s still good to use? Does cake mix ever go bad?
The good news is that your mixture will most likely be perfectly usable.
Even if it has expired a year or two ago.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about cake mix storage, shelf life, and expiration.
Let’s get right in.
How long does the cake mix last?
Cake mixes have a shelf life of 6 months to a year, but you can safely use them for months (or even years) after the best before date listed on the label. Opening the container, assuming you’re storing leftovers properly, doesn’t shorten that period.
The best before date on the label is not an expiration date. It is an estimate of the time that the base of the cake will retain its maximum quality.
This is how Duncan Hines puts it in his FAQ
After this period of time has elapsed, we can no longer ensure that the overall product experience will be as necessary.
In other words: the batter won’t go bad, but the flavor and texture of the cake you make might not be the best.
Now that you know you can use expired cake mix, the obvious question arises.
How long does cake mix last after the “use by” date?
4-6 months after the expiration or best before label date is a pretty safe bet, but your cakes should be good for much longer. All you need is to add a little baking powder or baking soda to make up for the raising agent that has lost its potency.
Let’s talk about it.
|Cake mix (unopened or opened)||Expiration date + 4 – 6 months|
Please note that the above period is for the best quality.
Using expired cake mix
The dry mix usually contains a leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda. These are responsible for increasing the volume of the dough.
Unfortunately, both baking powder and baking soda lose potency over time. So while a five-year-old mix may be perfectly safe, chances are the cake will turn out flat.
You guessed it: add back more yeast or baking soda.
- Check if your mix uses baking powder or baking soda. In most cases, it is the first.
- Calculate the base amount you need. Find a cake recipe that is similar in size and texture to the one you want to make with your mix, and that uses the same raising agent. Then check how much raising agent the recipe calls for. The most popular cake mixes, like this one and this one, use about 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of baking powder for every 4 cups of mix. You can also follow that ratio.
- Add the baking soda or powder to your dry mix. If your mix is older than 6 months, use a quarter of the amount. If it is more than a year old, use half. Two years or more? Use three quarters or even the entire amount (if it has been “out of date” for about three years). The older the mixture, the more amount of raising agent we will add.
I can’t guarantee this hack will work exactly how you’d like it to, because every cake mix is slightly different. But following it should help quite a bit.
|If your cake mix is older than 4-5 months, don’t use it for a baking project that needs to be perfect, like a birthday cake or a rhubarb pie that you only make once or twice a year. Instead, use it in a recipe you want to try over the weekend, so if things go awry, it’s not too much of a problem.|
How do you know if the cake mix is bad?
Cake mix does not spoil like dairy products. It can often stay in the closet for months or even years without changing much.
However, here’s what to look for to tell if your cake mix has gone bad:
- Mold or other appearance changes. If moisture has entered the container, there will be mold. If that’s the case, rule it all out. The same if there are other visible changes.
- Pantry pests. If you find any holes in the container or dead insects in the mix, throw it away. Then inspect nearby food and get rid of these pests before they infest your entire pantry.
- Unpleasant or sour odor. Either is a good indicator that you should discard the mixture.
- The cake smells or tastes “funny”. If what you’ve baked smells bad or tastes funny, get rid of it.
If the dry mix looks and smells perfect, it is most likely safe to use.
Now, if the mix is old, the worst that can realistically happen is either a bunch of muffins (here’s how long the muffins last) or muffins that are flat (if you haven’t added the raising agent) or not taste as good as before. That is why I have already said that it is best to use the old cake mix only when the stakes are low and discarding the baked cake is not a big problem.
How to Store Cake Mix
Cake mix (or cake base, as some bakeries call it) doesn’t require much in terms of storage. All you need is a cool, dry place.
And by cool I mean room temperature is sufficient, as long as you are not near any heat source. It is the same as with the storage of pills (do pills expire?).
The same guidelines apply to other mixes, such as muffin mixes, pancake mixes, or brownie mixes.
In short, a cupboard in the pantry or kitchen is perfectly fine.
Once the package is opened, keep the leftovers tightly closed. Protecting the dried mix from moisture will prevent the growth of mold and will keep it usable for as long as possible.
|If you plan to store leftover cake mix for an extended period, pour it into an airtight container to ensure it stays dry.|