Do Brownies Go Bad?

Chewy, dense, and fudgy, brownies make the best treats especially for kids (and kids at heart!) who love sweet desserts! While brownies are widely available at cafes, bakeshops, even supermarkets, nothing beats the taste of homemade brownies fresh off the oven. So what if you made a huge batch of brownies, how do you store the leftovers? Do brownies go bad?

Or maybe you ordered a batch online, and only after you received the package, you noticed you ordered twice as much as you intended to. And now you’re debating how to preserve them best and for how long you keep the brownies before they dry out or spoil.

If either sounds familiar, this article is what you’re looking for. In it, we go through storage, shelf life, and going bad of brownies. If you’d like to learn a thing or two about this popular treat, you’re in the right place.

Brownies sprinkled with powdered sugar
Image used under Creative Commons from jamieanne

How to Store Brownies

While there are quite a few types of brownies out there, the storage instructions remain quite similar. First and foremost, you want to prevent the brownies from drying out. That’s why brownies ordered online are often individually packed. And why bakeries often sell brownies in plastic containers. If you bake your own brownies or buy in a bakery without a container, you can store them in an airtight container, freezer bag, or wrap with plastic wrap.

When it comes to homemade brownies, one more piece of advice. Instead of cutting the slab into squares right after the brownie has cooled a bit, you can store it whole. Or maybe cut into a few large pieces and put each one in an airtight container. This way there’s less surface area and the brownie dries out more slowly. Then you cut the pieces into squares right after serving.

Now that we have covered how, it’s time to talk about where to store brownies. Generally, you can choose between the fridge and the pantry. And each one has its own pros and cons and works better for some types of brownies than others.

Let’s start with the pantry or the kitchen. Room temperature works best for those lighter and airier brownies, with fairly low moisture content. That means those without a super-moist filling or heavy frosting.

Dense brownies with high moisture content are best stored in the fridge. Those fudge-like brownies typically contain more eggs, and the filling is often thick and creamy. The refrigerator is also a must for any brownies that contain dairy-based filling or frosting, or have any temperature-sensitive ingredients. When storing brownies in the fridge, always remember to keep them sealed tightly. Otherwise, they can pick up smells from other food, and that’s definitely not what you want.

If you’re ordering brownies online, the storage instructions often come with your order, so you don’t have to guess. Or take a minute and check the website for instructions. It’s important because some companies specifically ask not to refrigerate their brownies. If you’re following a recipe online, make sure to check the storage instructions too.

Samoas Brownies
Image used under Creative Commons from jeffreyw

Can You Freeze Brownies?

If you don’t expect to eat the brownies within a reasonable time, freezing is your best bet. Once again, different types of brownies freeze differently. So classic and cake-like brownies usually don’t freeze that well because of low moisture content and density. They often turn crumbly or grainy upon thawing. But dense, fudge-like brownies freeze quite well, just like cheesecake does.

When it comes to how to freeze brownies, the most important thing to do is to protect them from the cold air as much as you can. To do that, you can use freezer bags. Alternatively, wrap the slab or squares using cling wrap and cover with aluminum foil. Add a label with name and date if needed. When it comes to defrosting, the fridge is the way to go.

How Long Do Brownies Last

So when it comes to the shelf life of brownies, there aren’t any hard and fast rules. Generally, your homemade brownies should last at least 3 days to 4 days in the pantry, and up to a week in the fridge. Please remember that in some cases described earlier the brownies should be refrigerated right away. Pretty much the same basic rules apply to bakery-bought brownies. Of course, these rules are super generic, and some types of brownies will last much longer, while others will taste so-so after 3 days of storage. Generally, the more sensitive the ingredients, the shorter the shelf life.

When it comes to brownies ordered online, the storage periods are all over the place. Sometimes the suggested storage time is around 5 day, other times it’s 7 days in the pantry and 30 days in the fridge. That’s why it pays to read storage instructions if you’re ordering online.

If you need to store brownies for a prolonged period, you can always freeze them. As I mentioned earlier, different types of brownies yield various results. Thus if you’re consistently baking the brownies following the same recipe or buy in the same place, it makes sense to test freezing them, in case you ever need to buy or bake in bulk.

Pantry Fridge
Homemade brownies 3 – 4 days 7 days
Bakery-bought brownies 3 – 4 days 7 days
Brownies ordered online 5 – 14 days 7 to 30 days

Please note that the periods above are estimates only, and since there are tons of recipes for brownies, in some cases those periods will be widely off.

How To Tell If Brownies Have Gone Bad

Brownies will degrade over time so if you keep a batch of this dessert in the fridge or pantry for a prolonged period, look out for slight changes in color or appearance. If the color or aroma of the brownies seems off, err to the side of caution and discard them. Moist brownies have the tendency to get moldy so if you are seeing the presence of mold, throw the brownies in the trash.

Last but not least, if you already store brownies for much longer than you usually do, it’s probably better to throw them out. Better safe than sorry.