Does Granola Go Bad?

If granola is your backup option for breakfast, a half-open bag that sits in the cabinet for months on end isn’t anything unusual.

One day, when you’re about to make granola with yogurt, you notice that it’s past the date on the label. Does granola go bad? Can you eat granola after the date on the package?

These questions are quite reasonable when you see food that’s stored for a prolonged period. If you’d like to learn a bit more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of granola, read on.

How to Store Granola

Storing granola is similar to storing oatmeal. The best place to store it is in the pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen. Make sure the area is dry and away from sources of heat. As long as the package is unopened, the original packaging is perfectly fine for long-term storage.

Once you open the bag, make sure always to seal it tightly when not in use. That’s especially important if you expect to store granola for a few months.

If you go through a single bag in a week or two, the original packaging should be good enough for storage. Granted, you can’t seal it that well, but within two weeks the quality of the oats and rest won’t degrade much. For long-term storage, it’s better to transfer granola into a resealable bag or an airtight container. Or you can buy one of those fancy granola containers if you’re into that.

Bowl with granola and milk, on a cutting board
(credit: Marcin Skalij)

The fridge isn’t a good place to store granola. Low, (but not freezing) temperature doesn’t benefit granola much. Plus if the package isn’t sealed tightly, bad things happen. First off, the oats absorb the moisture, and the granola softens. Second, they absorb fridge odors. And believe me, you don’t want granola that smells like sausage.

Last but not least, you can freeze granola to keep it fresh for longer. Just make sure it’s sealed tightly for freezing. That means you should transfer granola to either an airtight container or a freezer bag. If the original package is unopened, you can leave the granola in it, but make sure it has no holes by squeezing it.

Granola with yogurt
Image used under Creative Commons from Stacy Spensley

How Long Does Granola Last

Granola consists of rolled oats, nuts, dried fruit, and a sweetener, so it should last a long time.

Each granola bag comes with a best-by date, which is an estimate of how long the product should stay fresh. Of course, that’s a conservative estimate, and granola will easily last months past that date.

Granola contains nuts, which are high in oil and therefore susceptible to going rancid. Also, long-term exposure to air makes granola stale. Neither makes granola bad in a way it’s unsafe to eat, but the flavor won’t exactly be as good as it used to.

Once you open the package, both mentioned processes speed up a bit. That’s why many producers recommend using the granola within 4 to 6 months of opening the bag.

 Pantry
Granola (unopened)Best-by + 6 months
Granola (opened)4 – 6 months

Please note that the periods above are estimates and for the best quality. Granola will typically remain safe to eat for a much longer time.

Granola with fruit
Image used under Creative Commons from Annie

How to Tell if Granola Has Gone Bad

Let’s start with somewhat soggy granola. Sogginess isn’t a symptom of spoiled granola. It means it absorbed some water from the environment, and as long it wasn’t enough for it to go moldy, it’s okay.

Tip

To get back the crunchiness, you can transfer it onto a cookie tray lined with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for a few minutes at high temperature.

Granola rarely goes bad in a way that it’s no longer safe to consume. But if that happens, you will know it. The signs include mold or any other organic growth, or off or moldy odor. If either one is present, get rid of it. Same thing if anything else seems wrong with the granola – better safe than sorry.

More often than not the granola will remain safe to eat for months or even years after the date on the label. But as mentioned earlier, its quality will degrade.

The oils in the nuts might go rancid and the granola stale. So if you have a half-open container of granola you didn’t use for a long time, give it a taste before mixing it with yogurt or milk. If the taste still hits the spot, feel free to use it. Otherwise, the granola is past its prime, and it’s probably best to get rid of it.