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Can Jello Go Bad?

Jello is a lunchbox favorite, and a standard summer snack.

But, how long does this treat really last? Can you still eat the remainder of that tray of Jello after the block party? Can Jello go bad, and how should it be stored?

Jello + whipped cream = dessert
Jello + whipped cream = dessert

Can Jello Go Bad? How Long Does Jello Last?

Like almost all foods, jello can go bad. That wiggly, delicious childhood treat contains enough water to make spoilage inevitable.

Typically, prepared jello will last about seven to ten days in the refrigerator.

Pre-packaged jello cups that are completely sealed will last longer. At room temperature, so long as the package indicates that the Jello cup can be stored out of refrigeration, these snack cups can last for three to four months.

If the cups are refrigerated and sealed, they can stay safe to eat beyond a year. As usual, check the date on the label to make sure how long they keep quality.

Once the Jello cups are opened, their shelf life drops to about a week. So it’s the same as Jello prepared at home.

Jello set in a glass
Jello set in a glass

Dry, sealed Jello mix is another story altogether.

Unopened, dry Jello mix can last indefinitely at room temperature. Once the package has been opened, the mix will only last for three months.

That means if a recipe only calls for a little bit of Jello mix, you’ve still got some time to use the rest of the package!

Jello powder
Jello powder

How to Store Jello

You can store sealed Jello cups at room temperature, or in the refrigerator. In either case, the cups should be kept out of direct sunlight, and away from heat or water sources.

Check the label to make sure if your premade jello requires refrigeration or not.

Once Jello cups are opened, they should be covered in plastic wrap, and stored in the refrigerator.

Whipped cream on jello
Whipped cream on jello

Dry Jello mix should always be stored at room temperature, and kept away from light, heat and moisture. Be sure the package stays tightly sealed, to avoid exposure to moisture.

Refrigerating dry mix will not extend the shelf life, and the high humidity could affect the quality of the powder, even causing spoilage.

Refrigerating packages of Jello mix isn’t a good idea.

Keep prepared Jello in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or at the very least covered in plastic wrap to keep out air and moisture.

Jello ready to set
Jello ready to set, just need to chill it

Can You Freeze Jello?

Freezing Jello is not at all recommended.

Freezing will break the bonds that hold the gelatin together, causing the Jello to separate upon thawing. The results are a puddle of chunky goop – not exactly appetizing.

If you need to speed up the setting process of homemade jello, try adding water with ice cubes, after you’ve dissolved the mix in boiling water.

Alternatively, you could chill the Jello down for about a half hour in the freezer, before transferring back to the refrigerator.

If you’re going to put the Jello in the freezer, just be sure that the temperature change isn’t too extreme for the container.

Jello and whipped cream, sprinkled with grated chocolate
Jello and whipped cream, sprinkled with grated chocolate

Signs that Jello Has Spoiled

Signs that a packet of powdered Jello has spoiled will be pretty obvious. If moisture has gotten in the packet, the powder will be clumpy, and may have even solidified completely. You shouldn’t eat such Jello.

Prepared Jello will start to break down as it ages, and eventually separate. Once you see pools of liquid for on the surface of the Jello, it has spoiled and should not be consumed. Any sour or “off” taste or smell also indicates spoilage.

Finally, mold or bacterial growth means that it’s time to toss that Jello. These growths will show up as white, or dark spots or patches on the surface of the Jello, and could be harmful to consume. Be sure to check the surface of the Jello carefully, as it really presents the perfect environment for bacterial or mold growth.

Jello ready
Jello ready


  • Prepackaged jello should sit in the pantry or in the fridge (check the label) and it lasts for months. Once you open the container, finish it within a week.
  • Gelatin desserts that you prepare on your own keep for about a week in the fridge.
  • Unopened dry jello lasts for years. Once you open the package, make sure you seal the leftover powder and keep it away from moisture.
  • Get rid of jello that’s gooey or smells off.
Dry jello mixed with water
Dry jello mixed with water