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How Long Does Bread Last?

Want to know how long does bread last or how to store it to keep it fresh for longer?

Or maybe you’ve heard you can freeze bread, but you’re not sure how to go about it.

Either way, this article is for you. In it, we are going to cover:

  • the shelf life of bread, depending on where you store it
  • spoilage of bread and how to tell if yours is okay to eat or not
  • storing bread on the counter, in the fridge, and in the freezer

Interested? Let’s get started.

This guide works for all types of homemade and store-bought bread, including (but not limited to) white, sourdough, whole wheat, gluten-free, or even keto-friendly bread. No matter what’s your preference, most of the info below applies to it.

Whole bread
Whole bread

How Long Is Bread Good For?

CounterFridgeFreezer
Bread4 – 5 days6 – 9 days3+ months

Bread typically lasts 4 to 5 days on the counter, 6 to 9 days in the fridge, and at least 3 months in the freezer. Some breads, usually those with preservatives and other additives, last a day or two longer before they grow mold.

The periods above are only rough estimates that work about 90 percent of the time.

When it comes to the shelf life of bread, it all depends on the ingredients and quality. High-quality loaves you buy in a bakery often last a couple of days longer than those cheap ones sold in the supermarket.

If you’re buying the same brand of bread over and over, look for patterns. After a month or two, you should have a rough idea of how many days it stays mold-free and when it gets stale.

If the one you buy regularly lasts only a few days, consider trying other bakeries or even baking one yourself.

I used to buy bread in the supermarket, and it always grew mold after 4 to 5 days on the counter. Now I’m a regular at a certain bakery, and their bread easily keeps for a week without any signs of mold (and it’s preservative-free). Sure, it’s pretty stale after 7 days at room temperature, but it’s safe to eat and tastes a-okay after toasting.

Slicing bread
Slicing bread

What about the date on the label? It’s only a rough estimation of how long the bread will retain quality for.

I think it’s much better to assess the quality yourself than to rely on that date. Your bread might be moldy a day or two before that, but just as well, it may be fine 3 days after it.

How many days past the printed date does the bread last? It all depends on the bread, but I wouldn’t expect any bread to retain quality for more than 3 to 5 days after its date.

It still makes sense to check its quality, though. Maybe that old loaf is a decent candidate for breadcrumbs or bread pudding (here’s a recipe for easy bread pudding from the Spend With Pennies blog).

Bread, butter, and veggies
Bread, butter, and veggies

How To Store Bread To Keep It Fresh

You can store bread on the counter, in the fridge, or in the freezer. If you decide to refrigerate it, sealing it tightly is a must. For freezing, it’s best to slice the bread beforehand so that you can grab only as much as you need at a time.

That’s the gist of it; let’s get into details.

Storing Bread On The Counter

Most of us leave bread on the counter in the kitchen, and that’s not a bad choice.

To keep the bread fresh for an extra day or two, seal it tightly in a breadbox or a freezer bag.

If your bread doesn’t fit in a freezer bag, cut it in half (or into quarters if need be), and put each piece into its own bag.

Bread in a freezer bag
Bread in a freezer bag

Storing Bread In The Fridge

While many sources say you should never refrigerate bread, that’s not exactly true.

The issue here is that storing bread in the refrigerator might dry it out or allow it to absorb moisture and grow mold earlier. Both are possible if your bread isn’t sealed properly.

To fix that, you need a freezer bag or an airtight container to store the bread in. If it’s sealed properly, you can expect it to last a couple more days than it keeps on the counter.

Check if there’s any visible moisture in the bag or container, and wipe it with a paper towel or kitchen towel. Otherwise, that moisture might help the bread go moldy faster.

Truth be told, I never store bread in the fridge. Instead, I go with the current loaf sits on the counter, and any extra loaf of bread waits in the freezer combo.

Bread top closeup
Bread top closeup

Storing Bread In The Freezer

The freezer is the perfect place to store any bread that might go stale instead. Furthermore, freezing bread takes only a few minutes, so there’s no excuse for not doing it.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Slice your bread. Freezing slices makes things easy later on – you can quickly grab and defrost a couple of slices instead of struggling to cut into a frozen loaf.
  2. Put the slices into a freezer bag. Frozen slices don’t really stick together – you can pull a few no problem without defrosting the whole thing. Add a label if you like.
  3. Place the bag in the freezer.

That’s it. The bread retains quality for 3+ months in the freezer.

Slivers of butter on bread
Slivers of butter on bread

If you need to defrost frozen bread, here are your options:

  • Leave the slices on the counter. Make sure they’re not sticking together so that the area exposed to room temperature is the largest. This way, bread defrosts between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on its ingredients and thickness. The same process works for thawing tortillas.
  • Toast frozen slices. Grab as many slices as you need, and thaw and reheat them in a toaster. This whole procedure takes only a couple of minutes, and you can do it while prepping other ingredients. If you love toasted bread (like I do), that’s your go-to option.

If you don’t like toasted bread slices, let your toaster warm up, and then power it off. The warmth will defrost your bread in a couple of minutes.

Bread on a cutting board
Bread on a cutting board

How To Tell If Bread Has Gone Bad

Not sure if your bread is safe to eat or not? Do the following:

  • Look for mold. If you notice any fuzzy spots (most likely white, green, or black), that bread is done for. And by that I mean the rest of the loaf, not only the moldy area. Scraping mold off bread is not an option.
  • Give it a whiff. If it smells off (in any way), get rid of it.
  • Taste it. If everything until now seems to be okay, it’s time to give that old bread a try. If it tastes bad or the texture is off, throw it out. Otherwise, it’s your call on whether it’s good enough to eat or not.

What about stale bread? Stale bread is okay safety-wise but not the best taste-wise. It’s up to you whether you’re going to consume it or not.

I usually toast any bread that’s older than 3 days and find that old toasted bread quite palatable. If you’re into toasts, give it a go. If not, it’s always worth a try. The worst-case scenario is that you’re going to discard that bread anyway.

Panini with mozzarella
Panini with mozzarella. My first try – don’t judge.

Summary

  • You can store bread on the counter, in the fridge, and in the freezer. If you’re going to freeze your bread, slice it first.
  • Bread usually lasts 4 to 5 days on the counter, a few more days in the refrigerator, and a couple of months in the freezer.
  • Discard bread that’s moldy or smells off.
  • You can use stale bread for breadcrumbs or bread pudding. Or toast it to freshen it up a bit.