Pancake mix stays good for at least a few months after the printed date, but it doesn’t make fluffy pancakes forever.
Most pancake mixes contain either baking soda or baking powder, and both of them stay potent for only so long.
The good news is, even an expired mix is often okay to use. And if the pancakes don’t rise as well as you’d like, you can fix that too.
Interested in learning more about the storage, shelf life, and going bad of pancake mix?
Does Pancake Mix Go Bad?
Pancake mix doesn’t go bad the way dairy products do, but it doesn’t keep quality forever.
Long story short, at a certain point, the pancakes you make won’t be as nice and fluffy as you’re used to. And that’s true even if you store your pancake mix properly and nothing bad ever happens to the powder.
That said, you can often fix that issue by simply adding a bit of baking powder or soda into the batter to account for the potency loss. I talk about this in detail in the shelf life section.
Now, there are at least a couple of situations in which the powder actually spoils and is no longer safe to use. Let’s talk about them.
Signs of Spoilage
Discard your pancake mix if:
- you notice any pantry bugs or eggs in the bag
- there’s mold, large wet clumps, or any other organic growth (these are in most cases caused by water)
- it smells moldy, sour, or “funny”
- it’s super old, like three years past its date or simply more than you’re comfortable with
Dry clumps are pretty normal (like in flour), and you can break them apart with a fork or a teaspoon.
How Long Does Pancake Mix Last?
Pancake mix comes with a shelf life of about a year and easily lasts for a few months past the printed date. Opening the container doesn’t change the storage period, assuming that you store the leftover mix properly.
That’s the lowdown. Let’s get into details.
The date on a container of pancake mix is a best-by date, not an expiration date. It’s about food quality, not safety.
In other words, the printed date only informs you how long the manufacturer guarantees their mix will yield great pancakes. It says nothing about when (or if) the product will go bad.
And since pancake mix is a combination of flour, sugar, a leavening agent, and a couple of other dry ingredients, most of which last years (sugar, flour), it’s not a stretch to assume that the mix will stay just fine for a few extra months.
Now, you might be wondering is it safe to use expired pancake mix. Let’s tackle that.
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.
If you’ve ever read one of those horror stories about expired pancake mix making someone seriously sick, there’s one thing those stories tend to omit: storage practices.
Most of the time, the health issues are caused by mold spores or something similar. 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 was infested with spores soon after opening, it might as well be well within its date and still make someone sick.
I’m pretty sure you get the point.
If your pancake mix sat half-open for a couple of months, it’s best to toss it for safety reasons.
Using Expired Pancake Mix
Say your pancake mix is four months past the printed date, and the powder seems to be perfectly fine.
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: you 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.
- Discard the batter and the rest of the mix if the pancake tastes bad (it’s not common, but might happen)
- Add some extra baking powder or baking soda if the pancake is flat and dense instead of nice and fluffy.
To add the leavening agent that will help the pancakes rise (as I suggested in the last point above), you need to first check what leavening agent is in the mix. In most cases, it will be either baking powder, baking soda, or a mix of both.
If you’re unsure which one you should use (sometimes the labels list the names of actual chemicals, instead of just saying “baking powder”), go with baking powder.
When it comes to how much you need to add, most recipes use about 2 teaspoons of baking powder per 1 cup of flour, so I suggest:
- 2 teaspoons per 1 cup of pancake mix if the pancakes are completely flat
- 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of pancake mix if the pancakes aren’t nearly as fluffy as you like them
- less if you think you just need a bit to get them to where you want them to be
Once you add the leavening agent, give your batter a good 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.
The same applies to cake mix, but you can’t do a test run in that case. Usually, you’re forced to add the leavening agent up front without really knowing how the cake would turn out without it.
How To Store Pancake Mix
Store unopened bags of pancake mix in a cool and dry place, away from heat sources. Once you open up the bag, make sure it’s always sealed tightly.
If your bag isn’t a resealable one, you can either 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 any mold spores from getting into the bag, and therefore keeps 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.