Do Breadcrumbs Go Bad?

Breadcrumbs are a staple in many kitchens because of their versatility. You can buy them at the local supermarket or make them at home using stale bread.

But no matter which variety you go with, sooner or later you wonder: do breadcrumbs go bad?

People use breadcrumbs as a breading or coating for fried dishes, thickening stews, topping casseroles, and more. But if you don’t use breadcrumbs all that often, after storing them for a few months, you will probably start to think about their shelf life. Or if they ever go bad or not, and if so, how can you extend their shelf life.

If either of these questions sounds familiar, this article is for you. In it, we talk about storage, shelf life, and going bad of breadcrumbs, both homemade and store-bought. If that’s something you’d like to learn a bit more about, read on.

Batch of breadcrumbs
Image used under Creative Commons from El Gran Dee

How to Store Breadcrumbs

Storage of store-bought breadcrumbs (or bread crumbs, if you prefer) is similar to the storage of other dry products like oatmeal or flour.

First and foremost, breadcrumbs need to be sealed tightly. So if you make them at home, put them in an airtight container or jar. When it comes to the store-bought variety, once you open the package, you should do the same. Except if the package or container is resealable, then it’s perfectly fine to leave the breadcrumbs there.

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

Now let’s talk about where that container with breadcrumbs should sit, as the pantry isn’t the only option out there.

When it comes to store-bought breadcrumbs, the pantry or a dark cabinet in the kitchen is probably the best place. But if you expect to store the crispies for a prolonged period, the freezer is the way to go.

For homemade breadcrumbs, there are three options. For short-term storage, room temperature in the pantry or kitchen is okay. If you want to keep them around for a month or more, the fridge is the better choice. In fact, some recipes instruct that the prepared product should be always stored in the refrigerator. And the same as with the store-bought variety, the freezer is the best choice for long term storage.

Tip

If you make breadcrumbs from soft bread (known as “fresh breadcrumbs”), it’s probably better to either store them in the pantry or freeze, as the fridge might not be the best place for them. Of course, feel free to experiment with refrigerating a small portion to see how it turns out for you.

How Long Do Breadcrumbs Last

Breadcrumbs, except “fresh breadcrumbs,” are made from toasted and crushed bread, so this is essentially a dry product. They don’t spoil easily, but at the same time, they don’t keep their quality forever either. Nevertheless, as long as the product is stored well, a bag of breadcrumbs will keep for months.

When it comes to store-bought breadcrumbs, they come with a best-by date. Obviously, since it’s a dry product, you can expect the crispies to retain freshness for a few months pst the date on the label.

Opening the package doesn’t change much in terms of shelf life if you store the leftovers properly. If you need to keep the bread crumbs around for longer, or you notice that they start to lose quality when stored at room temperature, freeze them.

For homemade breadcrumbs, the general rule is that they keep fresh for up to 2 weeks in the pantry, a month to two months in the fridge, and about 6 months in the freezer. Of course, these are general guidelines, as each bread is different in terms of ingredients, plus it also depends on how you go about making the breadcrumbs.

 PantryFridgeFreezer
Store-bought breadcrumbsBest-by + 1 – 3 months Best-by + 1+ year
Homemade breadcrumbs2 weeks1 – 2 months6+ months

Please note that the periods above are estimates only.

Slice of bread and breadcrumbs
Image used under Creative Commons from Horia Varlan

How to Tell If Breadcrumbs Have Gone Bad

Like usual, if moisture gets into the package and you see any signs of mold, discard the whole thing. Scooping out the moldy part is a terrible idea, just get rid of it all.

The sniff test is second in line. Breadcrumbs usually have a pleasant yet mild aroma, and if the smell changes for some reason, the product may have gone bad. Since breadcrumbs are super cheap, it’s not worth risking it, so toss them out if the smell seems off.

Last but not least, it’s time to taste the breadcrumbs for the final verdict. If the breadcrumbs have taken on a sour taste, discard them. If the breadcrumbs have turned dry, hard, or their texture crusty, their quality has degraded, but they’re still safe to use. It’s up to you whether you find them okay to use in cooking or not.