Let’s talk about the shelf life and expiration of pancake mix.
Say your pancake mix is already a few months past the date on the label, but it looks perfectly fine. That makes you wonder: can you use an expired pancake mix?
Or maybe you only used half of the bag, and the second half has been in storage for a couple of months. Now that you’re about to use it, you’re wondering if it’s still any good. Does pancake mix ever go bad or expire?
If so, you’re in the right place. Read on.
Table of Contents
- Does Pancake Mix Go Bad or Expire?
- Can You Use an Expired Pancake Mix?
- Is Using an Expired Pancake Mix Safe?
- How Long Does Pancake Mix Last?
- How to Tell if Pancake Mix Is Bad?
- How To Store Pancake Mix
- Can You Freeze Dry Pancake Mix?
- Pancake Mix Shelf Life and Expiration Summary
Does Pancake Mix Go Bad or Expire?
Pancake mix doesn’t go bad the way most other products do, but it doesn’t keep quality forever.
If stored long enough, the pancakes it makes will become flat and chewy instead of light and fluffy. That happens because the leavening agent included in the mix gradually loses potency.
A pancake mix is basically a bunch of flour accompanied by a bit of sugar, salt, and a leavening agent such as baking soda or baking powder (sometimes both). And as you probably know, flour, sugar, and salt all last a heck of a long time without much change in quality.
The only ingredient in a typical pancake mix that doesn’t retain quality for years is the rising agent.
Baking soda and baking powder lose potency over time and, given enough time, lose all of their leavening power. That’s why your pancakes made using an old mix are flat and chewy.
Fortunately, you can fix the issue by simply adding enough baking powder or soda to make the pancakes rise.
Let’s talk about that.
Can You Use an Expired Pancake Mix?
You can use an expired pancake mix if you add some baking powder to make up for the lost potency. Without it, if the mix is more than a couple of months past its date, the pancakes won’t rise, and you will end up with flat and dense pancakes.
Say your pancake mix is four months past the printed date, and it seems to be perfectly fine. But you didn’t use it in the last few months, so you have no idea how the pancakes will turn out.
My advice is simple: note how much pancake mix you’re about to use, prep your pancake batter as usual, and cook a single pancake as a test run.
Now, depending on how that goes, your options are:
- Cook the rest of the batter if the pancake is a-okay.
- Add extra baking powder if the pancake is flat and dense instead of nice and fluffy.
- Discard the batter and the rest of the mix if the pancake tastes terrible. It’s not common, but it might happen.
When it comes to adding the leavening agent, I suggest keeping it super simple.
Some mixes use baking powder, while others a combination of baking powder and baking soda. But instead of checking the ingredients list and trying to figure out proper ratios, simply mix in some extra baking powder.
How much baking powder should I add, you ask?
A typical pancake mix uses about two teaspoons of baking powder per cup of the mix (example 1, example 2, example 3). So we’ll take that as our baseline.
Then, stir in the following:
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of pancake mix if your test pancake is completely flat
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of pancake mix if the test pancake has some rise but isn’t nearly as fluffy as you’d like
- 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder per cup if the test pancake is okayish, but could use some extra rise
Once you add the leavening agent, give your batter a quick stir, and cook another pancake. Chances are it’s going to be much better than the previous one.
If it’s not, consider adding more of the rising agent (if you added half), or discard the whole thing whatsoever if you already added the full amount and the pancake is still flat and dense.
Similar advice applies to cake mixes and brownie mixes, but you can’t do a test run in those cases. Usually, you’re forced to add the leavening agent up front without really knowing how the cake would turn out without it.
Now, you might be wondering if it is safe to use expired pancake mix. Let’s tackle that.
Is Using an Expired Pancake Mix Safe?
Pancake mix is a powder made of a bunch of dry ingredients, and as you probably know, those don’t become unsafe that easily. As long as you keep the mix sealed tight, the worse that should happen is the leavening agent losing potency and the overall quality dropping a bit.
But if you’ve ever read one of those horror stories about expired pancake mix making someone seriously sick, you might still be worried a bit.
Well, there’s one thing those stories tend to omit: storage practices.
Most of the time, the health issues of the person who got sick after using an expired pancake mix are caused by mold spores or something similar. And as you might imagine, those spores found their way into the bag after it’s been opened (assuming that the mix came “clean” from the manufacturer).
And who’s fault is that?
I guess that’s a result of poor storage practices and has nothing to do with the date on the label. If the mix has been infested with spores soon after opening, it might be well before the printed date and still make someone sick.
Besides, people who get hospitalized after inhaling mold spores usually have a very rare condition making them much more susceptible to mold. If that wasn’t the case, most of use would regularly end up in the hospital after sniffing some old food. And as you know, that’s not the case.
If your pancake mix sits half-open and uncovered for a couple of months, toss it for safety reasons.
How Long Does Pancake Mix Last?
Pancake mix comes with a shelf life of about a year and easily lasts for a couple of months past the printed date. Opening the bag doesn’t change the storage period, assuming you store the leftovers well.
And if your pancake mix is more than a couple of months beyond the printed date, you might need to add some baking powder to the batter to make the pancakes nice and fluffy.
(I covered exactly how to do that in the section on using expired pancake mix.)
That said, in some cases, discarding the mix is what you should do. Let’s talk about the spoilage signs.
How to Tell if Pancake Mix Is Bad?
Discard your pancake mix if:
- It’s infested by pantry bugs. The mix is no good if you notice any pantry pests, larvae, or eggs in the bag.
- There’s mold, large wet clumps, or any other organic growth. All of these are, in most cases, caused by water. And that means the mix wasn’t sealed tightly. If that happens to a half-open bag, it’s a sure sign you should use an airtight container next time around.
- It smells moldy, sour, or “funny.” An off odor is a sure sign something is wrong.
- It’s older than you’re comfortable with. At some point, enough is enough, and you have to choose for yourself when that happens. For me, it’s when the mix is more than 2 years past its date.
Dry clumps are pretty normal, and you can break them apart with a fork or a teaspoon. The same happens to other powdered products, such as protein powder or flour.
How To Store Pancake Mix
Store unopened bags of pancake mix in a cool and dry place, away from heat sources. Once you open the bag, make sure it’s always sealed tightly.
If your bag isn’t resealable, you can transfer the leftover mix into a storage container or simply seal the bag using a sealing clip or a twist tie.
A tight seal keeps moisture, pantry bugs, and mold spores from getting into the bag, keeping the mix safe to use for a prolonged period.
Can You Freeze Dry Pancake Mix?
Yes, it’s perfectly okay to freeze pancake mix.
The most important thing here is to make sure you seal the powder tightly. The best options are airtight containers and freezer bags. Or you can leave the mix in its original bag if it’s still unopened.
Freezing helps the mix retain quality for longer. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t have much room in the freezer, especially for products that can sit in the pantry or a kitchen cupboard.
If you decide to freeze the mix, use it directly from the freezer – there’s no need for defrosting the mix or anything like that. Just add the rest of the required ingredients, give it a good stir, and cook away.
Pancake Mix Shelf Life and Expiration Summary
Thanks for reading this short guide on pancake mix. Here are the key takeaways:
- Pancake mix doesn’t go bad in the traditional meaning of the word, but it gradually loses its potency. If it’s more than a few months past the printed date, the pancakes it makes will likely turn out flat and dense instead of fluffy.
- You can still use your expired pancake mix, but you might need to stir in some extra baking powder to get the pancake texture you want. Cook a test pancake, and based on the result, add baking powder if needed. If the pancake is totally flat, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of pancake mix; less if there’s some rise.
- Store pancake mix in a cool and dry place, sealed tightly. Refrigeration and freezing are also possible, but they don’t help that much.