Do Bread Crumbs Go Bad? [Storage, Shelf Life, and Expiration]

Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life, storage, and expiration of breadcrumbs. Learn whether they go bad or not and how long bread crumbs last.

Got a half-open bag of “expired” bread crumbs and not sure if you can still use it or not? Do bread crumbs go bad?

Or maybe you’ve just opened a fresh bag, and you’re wondering how long bread crumbs retain quality before they go stale.

If you’re not using bread crumbs (or breadcrumbs, depending on whom you ask) all that often, it’s not uncommon to find a bag that’s a year or two past its date. And if that’s the case, it’s not always clear if you should use or toss them.

So if you have any questions about the shelf life, expiration, and storing bread crumbs, this article is for you.

Read on.

Bag of bread crumbs

Do Bread Crumbs Go Bad?

If you keep bread crumbs away from moisture, they typically retain quality for a couple of months beyond the date printed on the label.

Stored long enough, they will become pretty stale and no longer taste great when used for breading or coating food. But as long as they’re not clearly spoiled, they should work okay in dishes where they’re used to thicken (think stews) or provide structure (e.g., in meatloaf).

The idea here is quite simple.

In some cases, say when deep frying fish or topping a casserole, breadcrumbs need to be fresh and tasty. Otherwise, the dish won’t be nearly as good as it’s supposed to be.

But if you’re adding them strictly to improve the texture or structure of the dish (e.g., so that your meatloaf doesn’t crumble), their flavor isn’t that important as long as it’s not plain bad. And in such a case, stale breadcrumbs are perfectly fine to use.

To tell if yours are fresh or stale, you need to sniff and taste them. You’re looking for a fairly neutral smell and flavor with a hint of breadiness. If they’re tasteless, super dry, and crusty, they’re stale.

Next up, let’s talk about when you should actually toss your bread crumbs.

Adding bread crumbs to meatloaf
Adding bread crumbs to meatloaf

How to Tell if Bread Crumbs Are Bad?

Toss your breadcrumbs if they’re infested by pantry bugs, moldy, have wet clumps, smell off, or have taken on a sour taste. If either is the case, they’re no longer safe to eat.

If, however, your breadcrumbs are dry, hard, or their texture crusty, their quality isn’t that great, but they’re still safe to use. And it’s up to you if you toss the bag or use them in a dish where the freshness of bread crumbs isn’t a priority.

How Long Do Bread Crumbs Last?

Store-bought bread crumbsBest-by + 1 – 3 months Best-by + 1+ year
Homemade bread crumbs2 weeks1 – 2 months6+ months

Store-bought bread crumbs typically stay fresh for a couple of months beyond the printed date if you store them properly. Opening the bag doesn’t change the storage time, but you need to keep them well sealed, so they don’t go stale prematurely.

Bread crumbs typically come with a shelf life of about 6 months, though sometimes you might find a package with an even shorter storage period.

So while they tend to keep quality for a bit past the date on the label, you shouldn’t expect miracles. All you’ll get is one to maybe three months of good quality if those bread crumbs sit in a cool and dry place and are well covered.

If you need more time than that, a tried and true solution is freezing the bread crumbs, similar to how you freeze bread to extend its storage time.

Bread crumbs best-by date
Bread crumbs best-by date printed on the label

After Expiration Date

As long as they don’t show any signs of spoilage like mold, an off odor, or a sour taste, “expired” bread crumbs are safe to use. In most cases, your geriatric bread crumbs will be stale, which limits how you can successfully use them, but okay to use.

If you’re wondering how long bread crumbs stay fresh after the “expiration” date, unfortunately, there’s no way to tell upfront. Instead, you need to examine the quality of yours yourself and decide whether they’re still usable or not.

(The section on spoilage should help you with that.)


Fresh (not toasted) homemade bread crumbs last for about a week in the fridge, while dry (toasted) homemade bread crumbs keep for about a month if stored in a sealed container in the pantry or kitchen. If you need more time, you can freeze both types.

Fresh bread crumbs are made from bread that’s torn apart and then ground in a food processor. There’s no toasting in the oven involved, so there’s still a bit of moisture in it. That’s why the storage time is fairly short, and the fridge is probably the best storage spot.

Dry bread crumbs are toasted before grinding, so almost all moisture is removed. That’s why the time they retain freshness is much longer, and refrigeration is no longer necessary.

Not sure if yours are dry or fresh? If you have toasted the bread in the oven, they’re the dry variety. Otherwise, consider them fresh, even if the bread you used was pretty stale.

How to Store Bread Crumbs

Store store-bought bread crumbs in a cool and dry place, sealed tightly. If the original bag isn’t resealable, transfer the bread crumbs into an airtight container or freezer bag after opening. Or seal it using a paper clip.

If that’s too much hassle for you, at the very least, wrap the top. That’s what I usually do, and I’ve never had any issues. The only downside is that bread crumbs sealed this way won’t stay fresh for as long as ones sealed properly. That’s the price you pay for being lazy.

As you can tell, the storage practices are no different than those you follow when you store oatmeal or flour.

Fish sticks in breadcrumbs
Fish sticks in breadcrumbs (credit: Marco Verch)

Storing Homemade Bread Crumbs

Store fresh (untoasted) bread crumbs sealed tightly in the fridge, where they’ll stay fresh for about a week or so. For dry (toasted) bread crumbs, you can leave them at room temperature in the pantry or kitchen for about a month, assuming they’re in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Of course, you could store dry bread crumbs in the fridge, but that doesn’t help its storage time that much. Plus, you likely have a bunch of other things to fit in there.

Can You Freeze Bread Crumbs?

You can freeze bread crumbs, both store-bought and homemade. Just make sure they’re sealed tightly, so they don’t absorb any moisture or smells from the freezer.

Freezing bread crumbs in a freezer bag is probably the best option, and you don’t even need to pre-freeze them. Just pour everything into a bag, label it with a name and date, and chuck in the freezer.

When you’re ready to use frozen bread crumbs, scoop as much as you need, put on a plate, and leave it at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes so that it gets to room temperature before using. This way, it won’t negatively affect whatever you use it for.

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