Can Popcorn Go Bad?

Popcorn is one of the most popular snacks in the world for a reason. It’s tasty, easy to prepare, and surprisingly healthy! Popcorn is a quintessential part of movie night. It can be used as toppings for sweet treats too! Because popcorn is sold in small packets, you can store several packs of this beloved snack for future snacking! But what about its storage life? Can popcorn go bad?

Popcorn will keep for a long time because there is minimal moisture within the hulls. Still, popcorn isn’t impervious to spoilage at all. This is the reason why proper storage is a must if you have several packs of popcorn in your hands.

Image used under Creative Commons from Global Panorama

Can Popcorn Go Bad?

Yes, at some point, popcorn could go bad. Usually, the cause of spoilage is exposure to moisture, mold growth, and staleness. Exposing the product in direct heat could either cause the popcorn to pop prematurely or degrade the hulls. Popcorn is usually sold in popped and un-popped form and their respective shelf life differs.

Un-popped popcorn has a longer shelf life because the hulls provide an ideal environment to preserve the product. Popped popcorn is usually flavored and exposed to the air often. It’s the kind of product that’s best consumed as soon as possible.

Signs that Popcorn Has Gone Bad

It’s quite hard to tell if un-popped popcorn is no longer safe to eat unless there is the presence of mold. You see, stale popcorn looks no different than fresh popcorn. But if the un-popped popcorn is giving off a waxy, moldy odor, it is no longer safe to eat. As for popped popcorn, there will be slight taste and texture changes when the product is no longer safe to eat. Check for presence of mold. If there are flecks of greenish blue all over the popped popcorn, discard the product.

How to Store Popcorn?

The best way to store popped and un-popped popcorn is in the pantry. For unopened packs of popcorn, no added prep is needed. The original packaging provides enough protection against the elements. But for opened packs of popcorn, keep the packaging sealed after every use. Minimize air and moisture exposure as much as possible.

Keep the product in a cool, dry place away from sources of heat. Never store the popcorn in humid environments. This will accelerate staleness and encourage mold growth. When kept in the pantry, sealed, un-popped popcorn will keep for 6 to 8 months. Popped popcorn will keep in the pantry for a month or so.

Image used under Creative Commons from calamity_sal

Can You Freeze Popcorn?

Exposure to moisture could keep the hulls from popping once exposed to extreme heat. This means freezing is not an ideal storage method for popcorn because there’s a good chance of moisture exposure once the product has been thawed. Popcorn doesn’t require refrigeration and freezing because it has a long shelf life.


Popcorn makes movie night even more fun so it’s good to know that this snack will keep in the pantry for a long time! Can popcorn go bad? Yes, it can go bad when it is stored improperly but keep these storage tips in mind and we’re sure you’ll get the most out of your supply!

« More from Grains