Got an expired cake mix and wondering if it’s still good enough to use? Does cake mix ever go bad?
The good news is, your mix is most likely perfectly fine to use.
Even if it has expired a year or two years ago.
In this article, you will learn everything you need about storage, shelf life, and expiration of cake mixes.
Let’s dive right in.
How Long Does Cake Mix Last
Cake mixes come with a shelf life of about 6 months to a year, but you can safely use them for months (or even years) past the best-by date on the label. Opening the package, assuming you’re going to store the leftovers properly, doesn’t shorten that period.
The best-by date on the label isn’t an expiration date. It’s an estimate of how long the cake base will retain peak quality.
Here’s how Duncan Hines puts it in their FAQ (DH):
Once this time period has lapsed, we can no longer ensure that the overall experience of the product will be what is needed.
In other words: the mix won’t go off, but the taste and texture of the cake you bake might not be the best.
Now that you know you can use an expired cake mix, the obvious question pops up.
How long is cake mix good after the “expiration” date?
4 to 6 months after the best-by or best-before date on the label is a pretty safe bet, but your cakes should turn out great for much longer. All you need is to add some baking powder or baking soda to make up for the raising agent that lost its potency.
Let’s talk about that.
|Cake mix (unopened or opened)||Best-by date + 4 – 6 months|
Using Expired Cake Mix
The dry mix usually contains a leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. These are responsible for increasing the volume of the dough.
You guessed it – adding more baking powder or soda back in.
- Check if your mix uses baking powder or baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). In most cases, it’s the former.
- Figure out the base amount you need. Find a cake recipe that’s similar in size and texture to what you are want to bake with your mix, and uses the same raising agent. Then check how much of the raising agent the recipe calls for. Popular DIY cake mixes like this one and that one use about 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of baking powder per 4 cups of the mix. You can go with that proportion as well.
- Add the baking soda or powder to your dry mix. If your mix is 6+ months after its date, use one-fourth of the amount. If it’s more than a year, use half. Two years or more? Use three-fourths or even the whole amount (if it’s “expired” for like three years). The older the mix, the more of the raising agent we add.
I cannot guarantee this trick will work exactly as you would like it to because every cake mix is slightly different. But going with it should help a fair bit.
If your cake mix is more than 4 – 5 months past its date, don’t use it for a baking project that must turn out perfectly, e.g., a birthday cake or a rhubarb cake you make only once or twice a year. Instead, use it in a recipe you wanted to test out during the weekend, so if things go south, it’s not a big deal.
How To Tell If Cake Mix Is Bad?
Cake mix doesn’t spoil the way dairy does. It often can sit in the cabinet for months or even years on end without changing much.
Nevertheless, here’s what to look for to tell if your cake mix has gone bad:
- Mold or other changes in appearance. If moisture got inside the package, there would be mold. If that’s the case, discard the whole thing. Same thing if there are other visible changes.
- Pantry pests. If you find any holes in the package or dead insects in the mix, throw it out. Then inspect nearby foods and get rid of these pests before they infest the whole cupboard.
- Off or sour smell. Either is a good indicator that you should discard the mix.
- The cake smells or tastes “funny.” If the thing you baked smells bad or tastes off, get rid of it.
If the dry mix looks and smells perfectly fine, chances are it’s safe to use.
Now, if the mix is old, the worse that can realistically happen is a bunch of cupcakes (here’s how long are cupcakes good for) or muffins that are flat (if you didn’t add the raising agent) or taste not as good as they used to. That’s why I already said that it’s best to use old cake mix only when the stakes are low and discarding the baked cake won’t be a huge issue.
How To Store Cake Mix
Cake mix (or cake base, as some bakeries call it) doesn’t require much in terms of storage. All it needs is a cool and dry place (DH).
And by cool I mean that room temperature is good enough, as long as it doesn’t sit near any sources of heat. It’s the same as with storing sprinkles (do sprinkles expire?).
The same guidelines apply to other made-for-you mixes, like muffin mix, pancake mix, or brownie mix.
Related: Does Pancake Mix Go Bad?
In short, a cabinet in the pantry or kitchen is perfectly fine.
Once you open the package, store the leftovers well sealed. Protecting the dry mix from moisture will prevent mold growth, and result in it staying okay to use as long as possible.
If you plan on storing the leftover cake mix for a prolonged period, pour it into an airtight container to make sure it stays dry.