Does Coconut Flour Go Bad?

Does coconut flour go bad? Coconut flour is a type of nut flour with high amounts of oil. It has become very popular, especially among people following the paleo or gluten-free diet.

While there are many recipes dedicated for coconut flour, you can also use it in the recipes you already do. Just substitute 10% – 15% of wheat flour with coconut flour and you will get similar results while making the meal you’re preparing slightly more healthy.

Even though this coconut product is called a flour, it’s not exactly a “normal” flour. Storing it is governed by slightly different rules. Since it contains nut oils, coconut flour is prone to oxidation and rancidity. That means yes, it might go bad, or at least stale, at some point.

Coconut flour in a ceramic bowl
Coconut flour in a ceramic bowl

How to Store Coconut Flour?

Typically, you store flour in the pantry or in a cabinet in the kitchen, right? Well, while that’s the recommended method for most flours, it’s not recommended for coconut flour.

Coconut flour should be stored in a really cold, dark place, away from direct sunlight and other heat sources. Keeping it at a low temperature is even more important after opening the package.

Obviously, you don’t want any moisture to get into the flour, so the place where you store it should be dry, too.

Last but not least, make sure to close the package tightly after each use, or better yet, transfer the flour into an airtight container after opening. Keeping opened bags of coconut flour (especially at room temperature) may cause the product to go stale faster. The changes will be slight, but you will definitely taste the difference.

Coconut flour and flakes
Coconut flour and flakes

Let’s go through different ways of storing coconut flour and their pros and cons.

Storing Coconut Flour in the Pantry
While storing coconut flour in the pantry isn’t the ideal method, it should work as long as the container remains unopened. Once you have opened the bag, it’s better to store the flour in the fridge. We recommend storing an unopened bag of coconut flour in a dark cabinet. Make sure to keep it away from light, heat, and moisture for best results.

Obviously, storing coconut flour in the pantry after opening won’t make it go stale or rancid right away. Its quality will slowly deteriorate with time and transferring it into the fridge or freezer will slow down that process.

Storing Coconut Flour in the Refrigerator
The best way to store coconut flour is in the fridge regardless of the container being opened or not. The chilly temperature reduces the risk of oxidation and rancidity, so it prolongs the shelf life of the product.

That said, I recommend transferring the product into an airtight container after opening. Coconut flour may absorb fridge odors, which could affect its overall flavor. Also, improperly packed coconut flour will go bad much more quickly even when you store it in the fridge.

Storing Coconut Flour in the Freezer
If you’ve bought too many bags of coconut flour and you have no plans of using them anytime soon, best to keep them in the freezer. It’s a great method for prolonging the shelf life of this gluten-free flour.

If the coconut flour comes in cardboard containers or plastic packs, you can chuck these in the freezer right away, no additional prep needed. But for leftover coconut flour, these will need an extra layer of protection. Keep the original container sealed then place it in a resealable bag before putting it into the freezer.

Gluten-free coconut flour on a table
Gluten-free coconut flour on a table

How Long Does Coconut Flour Last

Generally, coconut flour comes with a “best by” or “better if used by” date, which means the product remains at peak quality before the best-by date. After the best-by date, coconut flour doesn’t go bad right away. It’s food, not magic, and that means its quality slowly deteriorates over time.

The speed of the deterioration process depends on many factors, and temperature being one of the most important ones. The lower the temperature, the slower the deterioration process, so if the flour is in the fridge or freezer, it can easily last for a few more months or even years (if kept in the freezer).

As long as there aren’t any signs or the flour being bad, stale, or rancid, it should be perfectly safe to eat. Please note that while the flour will likely be safe to eat for quite a long time, you might not be happy about its taste.

With all that said, properly stored coconut flour should stay fresh for at least 12 to 18 months after the production date.

 PantryFridgeFreezer
Unopened Package“Best by” + 3 – 6 months“Best by” + 6 – 12 months“Best by” + 12 – 24 months
Opened Package“Best-by”“Best by” + 3 – 6 months“Best by” + 6 – 12 months

Please note these dates are approximate and coconut flour usually lasts much longer. Always check if the flour hasn’t gone bad before using.

Cooking with coconut flour
Image used under Creative Commons from Julie Magro

How To Tell If Coconut Flour Is Bad?

Generally, coconut flour has a sweet, nutty aroma and is ivory or light cream in color. Changes in texture, taste, aroma, or color are signs that coconut flour has gone bad.

If the flour is super clumpy (not talking here about some small clumps that will form sooner or later), throw it out. Same thing if it develops an off (or funny) smell. Coconut flour develops a slightly bitter taste once it is rancid, so watch out for that too.

Sometimes, insects may infest the coconut flour if the product has been kept in the pantry for too long or if the packaging has come undone somehow. If that happens, discard the product immediately.

If say, the best-by-date has passed, and there is no obvious sign of spoilage, is the coconut flour still usable? Usually, it’s perfectly fine to use it. Many people have used coconut flour past the best-by-date and got great results.

Coconut flour
Image used under Creative Commons from Ellie

Coconut Four FAQ

Does coconut flour need to be refrigerated?

While storing coconut flour in the fridge is by no means necessary, it’s the recommended method (check out Bob’s Red Mill FAQ). Coconut flour stored in the fridge deteriorates more slowly than if stored at room temperature.

If you use the whole bag within a few months of buying, storing this gluten-free flour at room temperature shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Can I use coconut flour past its expiration date?

As already mentioned, the date on the package usually isn’t an expiration date but a “best by” date. As long as the flour doesn’t show any signs of spoilage described above, it’s usually perfectly fine to use it.

If the coconut flour seems to be fine but has been stored in questionable conditions, consider throwing it out anyway. Better safe than sorry.

How to use leftover coconut flour?

One day I figured I’m going to eat healthier and I’ve bought a bunch of coconut flour. It turns out that making great pancakes with coconut flour only isn’t that easy and I came back to using regular flour.

The coconut flour was sitting in the cabinet for quite some time, and then I learned that you can easily substitute some of the normal flour with coconut flour in many recipes. Since then, I add a tablespoon or two of coconut flour here and there (and to my pancakes too!), and I’m slowly going through my supplies.

If you’re not quite sure how to use that coconut flour that’s sitting in the cabinet for years, you can do the same.