Does Pancake Mix Go Bad?

You dig up your expired pancake mix you put in the cupboard a long time ago and wonder: does pancake mix go bad?

Or you’re finishing your pancake mix box, but you recently noticed that the pancakes turn out flat and dense. Does that mean that the blend is spoiled?

The good news is, your pancake mix is likely okay to use.

Even if it’s “expired” for a couple of months already.

And those flat pancakes? You can probably fix that too.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about storage, shelf life, food safety, and going bad of pancake mixes.

Pancake mix container

How Long Does Pancake Mix Last

Pancake mix comes with a shelf life of 6 to 12 months but usually helps you make great-tasting pancakes for at least 2 to 3 extra months.

Once you open the package, the shelf life of a pancake mix doesn’t really change. Assuming that you store it correctly, of course.

Pancake mixes come with a best-by date. That date informs you how long the product should retain the best quality, and isn’t an “expiration” date by any means.

While most dry ingredients from a regular pancake mix can easily last for years past that date, baking powder can’t because it loses potency. The same thing happens to baking soda if that’s used as a leavening agent.

Plus even though the mix is dry, after storing it for a long time, the pancakes you make using it might not taste that good.

Pancake mix: best by date on the container
Pancake mix: best by date on the container

Of course, it’s not like the mix will go bad or pancakes bland after a few days past the “expiration” date, but storing it for an extra year might not work out the way you would like it to. Nevertheless, the blend should still be safe to use and yield okay pancakes (more on that later).

How long is pancake mix good for after the expiration date, you ask? There’s no way to tell. A three to six months period is a pretty safe assumption, but chances are it should be fine for at least twice as long.

 Pantry
Pancake mix dry (unopened or opened)Best by + 3 – 6 months
Please note that the period above is for best quality only.
Thawed cottage cheese pancakes
Thawed cottage cheese pancakes

Is It Safe to Use Expired Pancake Mix?

Have you ever read one of those horror stories about someone who used expired pancake mix and then ended up in the hospital?

I know I did.

It’s only when you read into it, you learn the real reason. And it’s not about the pancake mix being “expired.”

In virtually every one of these stories, the person who ends up sick has a severe allergic reaction to mold, dust mites, or something similar. That’s not unlikely.

The thing none of these stories talk about is how the mold spores or dust mites got into the mix in the first place.

I’m fairly sure the pancake mix was “clean” when it got out of the factory. And it’s not like the spores or dust mites magically formed there after the best-by date.

That means someone let them in, probably by accident. And that seems an awful lot like poor storage habits to me.

The bottom line: an expired pancake mix should be safe to use if you store it properly. If you don’t, you might end up sick after using an open mix, no matter if it’s out-of-date or not.

Pancake mix bag sealed airtight
Pancake mix bag sealed airtight

Using Expired Pancake Mix

Having the safety aspect out of the way, let’s talk about using a mix that’s passed its date.

As you already know, the longer you store the mix, the less potency the raising agent has. And that means dense and flat pancakes.

The fix?

Adding some extra baking powder or soda to make up for the potency loss.

Here’s my approach.

Making pancake batter from mix
Making pancake batter from a mix

The basic ratio for pancakes is about 2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda per 1 cup of pancake mix. Skip the baking soda if you don’t have it on hand, or the amount is minuscule.

Now, add the following amount to your mix:

  • 1/4 of that amount if your mix is 3 – 9 months after its date
  • 1/2 of that amount if it’s 9 – 18 months “expired”
  • the whole amount if it’s even older

For example, let’s say your mix is half a year past its date, and you have two cups of it. After doing some basic math using my suggestions, you add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/16 teaspoon of baking soda (or simply skip the soda).

I recommend a similar method when working with old cake mix and brownie mix.

Warning

Every pancake mix is different, and I cannot guarantee your pancakes will rise properly after adding that amount to the mix. Nor that they will taste good. It’s best to use the mix when the stakes are low and you have some time to whip up another dish if things don’t go as planned.

Pancakes topped with apple slices
Pancakes topped with apple slices

How To Tell Pancake Mix Is Bad?

Throw out your pancake mix if:

  • There’s mold or wet clumps in the package. That’s a sure sign moisture got it.
  • It smells moldy or off in any other way.
  • The package has holes or there are some dead or alive pantry pests in the mix. Or anything else that shouldn’t be there, for that matter.
  • You stored an open mix unsealed for months. If that’s the case, chances of something like mold spores getting inside are relatively high, and it’s better to err on the side of caution.

If the mix looks perfectly fine, it’s almost certainly safe to eat. That means you can make some pancakes with it.

Two pancakes closeup
Two pancakes closeup
Tip

If your pancake mix is already past the date on the label, and you have a bit more time on hand, start with making enough batter for one or two pancakes and preparing them. This way, you can test if they turn out okay. And don’t forget to add extra baking powder and soda if the mix is really old.

Before serving the pancakes, grab one and eat a small bite. If it smells off or tastes “funny,” it’s probably better to discard those pancakes. But if they simply are a bit worse than usual, congratulations, your pancakes are okay to eat.

Now the only thing to do is to assess the flavor. If it’s not good enough for your taste buds, it’s probably better to chuck the pancakes – there’s no point in eating unpalatable pancakes.

Pouring maple syrup over pancakes
Pouring maple syrup over pancakes

How To Store Pancake Mix

You should store pancake mix the same way you store other dry ingredients used for cooking and baking, like flour, baking soda, or cake mix. That means the mix should sit in a cool and dry area.

The pantry is the perfect choice for an unopened package of the mix. Once you open the container, it’s probably handier if you keep it in a cupboard in the kitchen.

Remember that the mix should always be sealed tightly when not in use. If the package it comes in cannot be easily sealed, you can put it in a freezer bag or pour the mix into an airtight container.

Pancake mix leftovers sealed with a paper clip
Pancake mix leftovers sealed with a paper clip

Either way, a tight seal makes sure water cannot get inside the package. And as you probably know, moisture getting into the mix is a sure-fire way for it to spoil.

You can also store the mix in the freezer, where it will (probably) retain freshness for a bit longer. Anyway, that’s just an option, and most people go with storing the mix at room temperature.

Tip

If you want to make pancakes in no time, instead of relying on the mix, you can make the pancake batter and freeze it.

Pancakes cooked from mix
Pancakes cooked from mix