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Can Granola Go Bad? How Long Does Granola Last?

There’s an “expired” bag of granola in the back of a cabinet, and you’re not sure if you can still eat it or not. Does granola go bad?

Or perhaps yours is open for a couple of months already, and you want to know how much longer it will be any good. That begs the question: how long does granola last?

If either sounds familiar, or you have any questions about storage, shelf life, or going bad of granola or granola bars, you’re in the right place.

Interested? Let’s jump right in.

Granola bag
Granola bag

Does Granola Go Bad?

Granola doesn’t go bad easily. Unless water or pantry pests get into the bag, store-bought granola should stay safe to eat for months past its date. Of course, its quality gradually decreases, and at some point, you’ll want to open a new bag instead.

Discard granola that:

  • Smells rancid or off. Most granolas contain a bit of oil, which might go rancid after prolonged storage. Therefore, if yours smells like old paint or rancid oil, it’s best to let it go.
  • Is moldy. If water gets into the package, granola might grow mold. If that happens, you know what to do.
  • Has pantry bugs in the container.

If granola tastes a bit stale, it up to you if you use it or throw it out.

Does granola expire? Not really. The date on the label is there to inform you how long, approximately, the granola will retain the best quality. If yours is past its date, check for signs of spoilage (listed above), and if everything seems to be okay, it’s yours to eat.

Do granola bars expire? Same as granola, if your past-its-date granola bar looks and smells okay, it’s probably safe to eat. If it’s a bit stale, it’s your call on whether you should consume it or not.

Granola closeup
Granola closeup

How Long Does Granola Last?

Granola typically stays fresh for 6 to 12 months of being baked, and that date is stamped as the best-by date on the label. Once you open the bag, granola retains quality for 1 to 4 months, depending on the ingredients and if you store it properly.

The storage period for granola depends heavily on the brand and ingredients used.

Most brands have their own recommendations, and they vary widely. For some, it’s 4 ([MG]) or 6 months ([MIG]), while for others (such as the granola that I buy), it’s a whole year.

Some granolas contain ingredients that might not keep quality for long, such as nuts or dried fruit. Others might include preservatives or other additives that lengthen the shelf life. That’s why those periods are all over the place.

Of course, it’s not like granola will spoil a day or week after its date. Instead, it loses its quality over time, and at some point, it won’t be acceptable anymore.

Granola best by date
Granola best by date

How long past the date the granola be good for? It’s difficult to tell. If it’s one of the long-lasting ones, it’ll probably be quite alright for another 2 to 3 months, maybe a bit more. If, on the other hand, it’s one with a short shelf life, it’ll likely lose flavor quicker and go stale within a month or so.

The same applies to open granola – the longer its overall shelf life, the longer it should keep quality after opening.

Like cereal, even if your granola is a couple of months past its date, it still makes sense to check if it’s okay to eat instead of throwing it out right away.

Granola and cereal for breakfast
Granola and cereal for breakfast

How Long Do Granola Bars Last?

Granola bars usually keep best quality for 6 to 12 months of making, depending on the brand and ingredients used. And most of them taste quite good for at least an extra 3 to 4 months after the best-by date.

It’s best to open your “expired” bar and check if it’s still safe to eat using the instructions I outlined earlier.

If it seems perfectly fine, eat a tiny bit to ensure it tastes okay too. If it does, you have the green light to wolf it down.

How Long Does Homemade Granola Last?

Homemade granola usually keeps quality for a couple of weeks at room temperature or a few months in the freezer. The best place to look for a good estimate is the recipe you’re using.

If such info isn’t present, assume your homemade granola keeps for about two weeks in a cabinet and three months in the freezer.

That estimate is a pretty safe one, and it’s the same that Kate (from the Cookie+Kate website) suggests for her healthy granola recipe. Again, the storage period depends heavily on the ingredients that you use.

Granola before adding milk
Granola before adding milk

How To Store Granola

Granola should sit in a cool, dry, and dark place. A cabinet in the kitchen or pantry is perfect. Once you open the bag, keep it sealed tightly or pour the leftovers into an airtight container.

If you need to keep open granola fresh for another couple of months, you can also freeze it. More on that later.

Some granolas and granola bars benefit from being chilled in the fridge ([PTY]). If the label says you can refrigerate the product for better quality, remember it has to be either unopened or sealed airtight in a container or bag. This way, it doesn’t pick up any moisture from the fridge.

Granola sealed with a sealing clip
Granola sealed with a sealing clip

If you know you’re going to finish that granola bag within a week or two, there’s no point in transferring the leftovers into a separate container. Instead, seal the bag with a sealing clip and call it a day. That’s what I do.

Finally, if you’re struggling with pantry pests (or have recently), going with containers is the best possible solution. This way, you don’t have to worry about any insects infesting your granola.

Finally, let’s talk about freezing.

Granola closeup on dried fruit and chocolate
Granola closeup on dried fruit and chocolate

Can You Freeze Granola?

You can freeze granola, and that’s an easy way to extend the freshness of the product for another couple of months. Pour your granola into an airtight container, add a label if you like, seal it tight, and put it into the freezer. That’s it.

How long can you freeze granola? Some brands recommend two months for best quality ([MG]), while others suggest a more extended period of 6 months ([MIG]).

Generally, you can assume that yours should keep flavor for at least 3 to 4 months in the freezer and possibly closer to 6 to 9 months.

If your granola contains any ingredient that doesn’t freeze well (e.g., anything that changes texture after thawing), it’s not a good candidate for freezing. Fortunately, most granolas freeze perfectly fine.

Granola and cereal with milk
Granola and cereal with milk

Summary

  • Store granola and granola bars in a cool, dark, and dry place.
  • Both granola and bars retain quality for some time after the date on the label. Some brands have longer shelf lives than others.
  • Once open, granola keeps for between a month and a couple of months. Again, it depends on the brand and the ingredients.
  • If a couple of months of storage time isn’t enough for you, you can freeze granola.

References