Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?

Here’s all you need to know about the shelf life and spoilage of chia seeds. Learn whether chia seeds go bad, how long they last, and how to store them.

Going through a package of chia seeds takes ages. And at some point, you start to wonder: do chia seeds go bad?

Or maybe your bag is already “expired,” and you want to make sure that chia seeds can even expire.

If you have any questions about storing chia seeds or chia pudding, this article is for you.

Let’s dive right in.

Chia seeds in hand

Table of Contents

Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?

Thanks to a high amount of antioxidants, chia seeds last for a couple of years, but they don’t last forever. If stored long enough or in poor conditions, they will eventually go rancid, and that’s when you should toss them.

You know your chia seeds are rancid when they have developed a bitter taste or started to smell like nail polish remover or some other chemicals. Fresh chia seeds have a mild flavor and smell a bit nutty, so any changes to that should be easy to notice.

(Rancidity is also the primary way other seeds, such as flaxseed or sunflower seeds, go bad.)

Obviously, going rancid isn’t the only way chia seeds can spoil. Let’s cover others.

Chia seeds up close
Chia seeds up close

How to Tell if Chia Seeds Are Bad?

Toss your chia seeds if:

  • The seeds are rancid. Chia seeds are quite resistant to rancidification thanks to their antioxidants. That said, they can go rancid if stored for too long or exposed for a prolonged period to warm temperatures, lots of fresh air, or direct sunlight.
  • The bag is infested. You’re likely storing chia seeds in the pantry, and that’s where pantry bugs like to hang out too. If you find pests, eggs, or anything of the like in the bag, consider the seeds gone. And go through other foods in the pantry and get rid of those pests altogether.
  • You notice mold or wet clumps. Mold can grow in chia seeds if moisture gets inside the bag. And if that happens, the seeds are no longer safe to eat. But if you store your chia seeds properly, the chances of that occurring are almost none.

If you notice anything else about the seeds that bothers you, trust that instinct and toss the seeds.

(In case you’re wondering, the same spoilage signs are typical for other seeds, e.g., sesame seeds.)

Can You Eat Expired Chia Seeds?

You can eat chia seeds past their printed date if they don’t show any signs of spoilage, such as rancidity, pantry bugs, or mold. But if the seeds are rancid, you should discard them.

Eating rancid chia seeds, in all probability, won’t make you sick immediately, especially if you eat a small amount. The worst that could happen is some minor digestive discomfort a few hours after eating.

But there’s speculation that consuming rancid fat may have adverse long-term health consequences, so it’s best to throw out rancid chia seeds.

Three glasses of chia pudding
Three glasses of chia pudding

How Long Do Chia Seeds Last?

PantryFridge
Chia seedsBest-by + 1+ years
Chia flourBest by + 6+ months
Chia pudding5 – 7 days

Thanks to a high amount of antioxidants, chia seeds last for 4 to 5 years without refrigeration. All you need to do is to store them in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and heat sources.

Opening the bag doesn’t really change anything – the seeds will still last months or even years at room temperature as long as you provide decent storage conditions.

Chia seeds usually come with a best-by date on the label that’s typically a couple of years after the packaging date. It’s somewhat helpful in estimating how long your chia seeds will retain quality, but it’s not like the seeds will go bad a week or even a month after that date.

Chia seeds best by date
Chia seeds best by date, only a bit helpful

Knowing that, I suggest that once your chia seeds start approaching their “expiration” date, you give them a thorough check for spoilage signs every couple of weeks or so.

(They won’t go rancid in a week, it’s a process that takes time.)

Obviously, if your chia seeds are like five years after the printed date and you’re not comfortable using them, you should toss them. Better safe than sorry.

Giant chia seeds bag
Giant chia seeds bag

How to Store Chia Seeds?

Store chia seeds in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat sources. After opening the package, make sure the seeds are always sealed tight. If the original bag isn’t resealable, transfer the seeds to a freezer bag or airtight container.

Thanks to a high amount of antioxidants, chia seeds last a long time and don’t require refrigeration. That means you can store them in a cupboard in the kitchen or pantry.

Obviously, you could place the seeds in the refrigerator to extend their shelf life even further, but those couple of years at room temperature seem long enough for most people.

Nevertheless, if you ever decide to place chia seeds in the fridge, ensure they’re well sealed. This way, they don’t pick up any moisture and smell from other foods.

That tight seal is also useful when storing chia seeds at room temperature because it keeps moisture and pantry bugs at bay. Plus, it doesn’t allow the seeds access to fresh air, slowing down rancidification.

Chia seeds in an airtight container
Chia seeds in an airtight container

Can You Freeze Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds have a shelf life of more than a couple of years, so while freezing chia seeds is an option, it’s hardly ever necessary. Instead, you can simply keep them sealed tight in a kitchen cupboard.

If you want to freeze chia seeds, place them in the freezer sealed well in a freezer bag or airtight container. When you need to use them, scoop the amount you need from the bag or container and replace the rest in the freezer – no defrosting necessary.

Long story short, you can freeze chia seeds and they freeze well, but in most cases, storing them in the kitchen is good enough.

Chia seeds closeup
Chia seeds closeup

How Long Does Chia Pudding Last?

Store chia pudding in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days. Make sure the container is always sealed tight, and if you made a big batch, always use clean spoons for scooping.

If that period is not long enough, freezing might be your way out.

You can freeze chia pudding in portion-sized containers. Prep the pudding as usual, then divide it into individual containers if you have everything in a single one. Finally, place the containers in the freezer.

Chia pudding with fresh fruit closeup
Chia pudding with fresh fruit closeup

This way, whenever you crave some chia pudding, you transfer a single container from the freezer to the fridge and have the pudding nice and thawed the following day.

The only downside of freezing chia pudding is that any fresh fruit you add as topping will turn soft and watery after thawing. If that bothers you, consider freezing only the pudding and adding fresh fruit before eating.