How Long Does Oatmeal Last?

How long does oatmeal Last? The shelf life of oatmeal is so long that many ask "does oatmeal go bad?". The actual shelf life of oatmeal varies with the variety, packaging and storage method used on the product.

Oatmeal is the most popular hot cereal, but it can also be used in many other recipes. It is both high in fiber and low in fat which makes it a great nutritional choice. Oatmeal is typically prepared on the stove top and then milk and sugar are added.

Most consumers get their oatmeal from Quaker Oats in the form of instant, quick (1 minute), or old fashioned (5 minute cook time). Since it is a dried grain, most people wonder does oatmeal go bad.

So now that you know the history, how long is oatmeal good for? When properly stored, oatmeal lasts beyond its best by date for the time periods indicated in the table below:

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Oatmeal Expiration Date

Unopened or Opened (and re-sealed) Pantry Freezer
Past Printed Date
Instant Oatmeal lasts for 1-2 Years --
Flavored/Cream Instant Oatmeal lasts for 6-9 Months --
1 minute Oatmeal lasts for 2-3 Years --
5 minute Oatmeal lasts for 2-3 Years --
Steel Cut Oatmeal (Irish Oatmeal) lasts for 1-2 Years --
Oatmeal Cookies last for 2-3 Days 4-5 Months
Prepared Refrigerator Freezer
Prepared (Cooked) Oatmeal lasts for 5-7 Days Not Recommended

Of course, all foods last for a shorter period of time if they are not stored properly. But, like many other food and drink products, it has a best before date or a use by date which is simply the last date by which a manufacturer will vouch for a product's quality, not its safety. Because of this distinction, you may safely eat your foods for limited amounts of time after the best by date or use by date has expired.

How to tell if Oatmeal is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent foodborne illness.

Although not a perfect test, your senses are usually the most reliable instruments to tell if your oatmeal has expired and gone bad. Dry oatmeal lasts for many years, just watch for a change in color or texture. Do not eat it if it develops an odor or tastes different than usual.

You can tell if prepared oatmeal is going bad when the liquid has considerably separated from the other ingredients. Once prepared, because of the moisture, it will quickly develop mold and be unsafe to consume.

There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled foods so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your foods before their shelf life has expired!

How to store Oatmeal to extend its shelf life?

For the packaged and dry mix oatmeal, it should be stored in a cool dry environment not susceptible to temperature change. When items go through temperature changes of cool to warm and vice versa, the moisture in the air tends to condensate inside the packages. This moisture allows mold to grow and your oatmeal to spoil.

For prepared oatmeal, you may keep it fresh longer by storing it in your refrigerator below 40°F immediately after use. Prepared oatmeal should be stored in air-tight containers that help keep out moisture and other contaminants. In addition, you should always make sure to use clean silverware when serving oatmeal in order to avoid cross-contamination.

Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

Interesting facts about Oatmeal:

  • Oatmeal is a heart healthy food. It actually helps lower cholesterol in the bloodstream.
  • Oatmeal is advertised as a "stick to your ribs" breakfast. It actually takes longer to digest and therefore provides a full feeling stomach for longer than most foods.
  • The flavored instant type typically has a slightly shorter shelf life because most of them contain some cream and/or fruit in the package, both of which have shorter shelf lives than grains.
  • How long is Oatmeal good for when prepared in a dish?

    How long does oatmeal last? That depends. How long does milk last? In general, foods can only last as long as the quickest expiring ingredient that they are mixed with.

    What are our shelf life resources?

    In determining how long Oatmeal lasts, our content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scoured the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of Oatmeal.

    *An important note about expiration dates...

    Although the Oatmeal shelf life information on Eat By Date is generally reliable, please remember that individual cases will vary and that our advice should only be taken as an opinion and not a replacement for your health care professional. Please eat responsibly!

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    With oven-safe glass and water-tight lids, these food storage containers are ready for action! Not a Prime Member? Try a 30-day free trial today!


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