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Can Pasta Go Bad?

Are you a pasta lover? Nothing warms the heart quite like a nourishing bowl of pasta drenched in white or red sauce then topped with grated cheese!

Pasta has been a kitchen staple in Italian homes. It can be made from scratch or store bought. Whatever type of pasta you have at home, it’s always a treat to enjoy a plateful of it for lunch or dinner.

But can pasta go bad? That depends on the state of the product prior to storage.

Dry, sealed packs of pasta have an extremely long shelf life. Since dried pasta has zero moisture content, the risk of bacterial or mold growth is minimal. Hence, it will keep fresh for a while.

On the other hand, cooked pasta has a shorter shelf life.

Dry pasta
Dry pasta

Can Pasta Go Bad?

As mentioned above, cooked and uncooked pasta have radically different storage lives and it all boils down to moisture content.

Since cooked pasta is boiled and drenched in hot water, there is a good chance that it will go bad within days. This goes especially if the product has been stored improperly. Exposure to warm temperatures could cause the pasta to spoil quickly.

Dry pasta has a long shelf life but it’s not resistant to spoilage either. It will go bad at some point although this will take a while.

It’s important to store cooked and uncooked pasta properly to extend the products’ shelf life. You can start by reading the label for storage instructions.

Dry pasta in a pot
Dry pasta in a pot

Signs that Pasta Has Gone Bad

How do you know if the dry pasta you’ve kept in storage for so long has gone bad? Look for the following:

  • Insects in the package
  • Mold
  • Off odor

If you find any worms in the pasta, make sure you check the whole cabinet and get rid of all of them.

Even if there are no obvious signs of spoilage, dry pasta that’s been stored for too long will lose its original flavor. The texture, once cooked, will be a bit different too.

That’s why we recommend using up your pasta supply as soon as possible for optimal flavor.

Pasta and chicken with pesto - plated
Pasta and chicken with pesto – plated

What about cooked pasta?

Check for the presence of mold. Cooked pasta that’s been stored for a while will develop mold. If you see any white clouds on top of the pasta, discard it.

At the same time, check for obvious signs of discoloration or an off-odor too. If it smells off, you know it’s gone.

Last but not least, give it a taste to make sure everything is okay with the pasta.

Cooked pasta in a colander
Cooked pasta in a colander

How to Store Pasta?

For uncooked sealed and opened packs of pasta, store the product in the pantry. Since uncooked pasta is sold dry, it won’t go bad when stored at room temperature.

However, we highly recommend storing opened packs of uncooked pasta in an airtight container for optimal flavor. Always keep the container sealed to reduce air exposure.

Dry pasta that’s been kept sealed should keep for 2 years or so in the pantry.

Pasta dish - work in progress
Pasta dish – work in progress

Homemade pasta and cooked pasta should be kept in the fridge. The chilly temps will inhibit mold growth and reduce the risk of spoilage.

Keep that pasta in an airtight container so it won’t dry out. And always seal the container until you used up the pasta to extend its shelf life.

Fresh pasta will only keep for 5 days in the fridge. Cooked pasta will keep for a week or so in the fridge.

Pasta with pesto and spinach
Pasta with pesto and spinach

Can You Freeze Pasta?

Surprisingly, pasta keeps so well in the freezer. If you have no plans of consuming your pasta supply anytime soon, freezing makes a great storage option.

For cooked pasta or homemade pasta, store it in a freezer-safe, airtight container then stick in the freezer.

For dry pasta, place the product in a freezer-safe container, original packaging and all. The extra layer of protection will keep frost at bay.

Dry pasta has quite a long shelf life, so you probably don’t need to freeze it.


  • Keep dry pasta in the pantry, and make sure it’s sealed and bug-free.
  • Dry pasta lasts for years. If it’s a couple of years past its best-by date, however, its quality after cooking might not be the best.
  • Leftover cooked pasta goes into the fridge in an airtight container. It should keep quality there for about 5 days.
  • If your leftovers sit in the refrigerator for more than a day or two, always check them for spoilage before eating.