Oatmeal Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Oatmeal is known as a nutritious and healthy food. It is high in fiber and low in saturated fat. When incorporated into a healthy and balanced diet, regular consumption of oatmeal is believed to be able to lower blood cholesterol and subsequently reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Oatmeal is enjoyed in many different ways, as simple as cooking it into porridge topped with honey and fruits, making it into overnight oats in jars, or baking it into oatmeal cookies. Everyone has their own preference to make oatmeal becomes much more enjoyable to eat.

Whether you consume oatmeal on a daily basis or occasionally, you may have a pack of oatmeal in your kitchen. You may think that dried grain oatmeal should last for a very long time. But, is that true? How long does oatmeal last? Can oatmeal go bad? How to tell if oatmeal is bad?

Does the situation above sound similar to you? Read through this article to find out more interesting knowledge and answers to the most common questions about oatmeal shelf life, storage, and how to tell if oatmeal has gone bad, for both raw and cooked oatmeal.

How to Store Oatmeal

Storing an unopened pack of oatmeal is pretty easy and straightforward. Keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place away from sources of heat and sunlight. Just like for other cereals or grain, your kitchen pantry or cupboard will do the job.

After opening, it is suggested to transfer the remaining product into an airtight container. Leave it tightly closed in the pantry until next use. When it comes to storing grains, moisture is something to keep in mind. If the product is exposed to moisture, it may quickly develop molds and make it unsafe for consumption.

If you have a tight morning schedule during the week, you can consider making cooked oatmeal in advance. Divide cooked oatmeal into portions and transfer it into an airtight container.

Make sure cooked oatmeal is cooled down before putting it into the fridge. Storing piping hot food in the fridge may cause sudden temperature change and affect the other food.

How Long Does Oatmeal Last?

An unopened pack of oatmeal is relatively shelf-stable. Check the “best before date” printed on the label as guidance. This date is an estimate that products will remain in their prime quality. Thus, it is best to consume oatmeal before this date.

So, how long does oatmeal last after its expiration date? The good news is that oatmeal won’t suddenly go bad the next day after the expiry date. Provided with proper storage, oatmeal may stay good up to 12 months after passing the date. Although it may remain safe, you may expect a slight change in flavor, color, or nutritional values.

It is also possible that oatmeal goes bad before the date if not stored properly or if the container is damaged.

After opening, raw oatmeal can stay good for the next 6 – 12 months with optimum storage. If you happen to stock cooked oatmeal in the fridge, it is advised to consume it within 5 days maximum. For safety reasons, it is not recommended to consume if it’s already in the kitchen for a week or more.

How to Tell if Oatmeal is Bad

It is not very difficult to tell if oatmeal has gone bad or spoiled. You can always do the simple way: use your senses to check the look, smell, and taste.

If oatmeal develops unpleasant smell, change in color, or even mold growth, those are a general indication of food spoilage. If any of these signs are found, it is better to discard the oatmeal.

If raw oatmeal still looks completely fine, try to cook a small amount. If the taste is okay, you can always eat the remaining ones. If you are still not sure about your oatmeal, don’t ever risk your health, and better stay on the safe side.


How long does oatmeal last when prepared in a dish?

The easiest way to tell how long cooked food will last is to check the ingredients that have the shortest shelf life mixed into the dish. Any leftover food should be finished within 3 – 4 days. After that, it is best to discard it for safety reasons.

Can you eat expired oatmeal?

Yes, it is possible that after the date, oatmeal will stay good provided that it is stored properly.

If you are not sure, try to do a quick safety test to tell if the oatmeal has gone bad or not. If you think no spoilage signs are observed, try to cook a small amount and check the taste. If there is no noticeable change in taste, smell, and color, you may consider consuming it.

Can you reheat cooked oatmeal?

Yes. If you have pre-cooked oatmeal for your breakfast during the week, you can simply reheat it in a microwave or in a pan.

How long can cooked oatmeal be left unrefrigerated?

If we talk about cooked oatmeal or leftovers, following the rule of thumb for food storage, it is best to put it into the fridge in 2 hours. This simple step can prevent food spoilage and the risk of getting food poisoning.


Oatmeal is a healthy food ingredient that has become a staple in many kitchens. Oatmeal and other dried grains are known to have a stable shelf life, but it may still go bad if not stored properly.

Practicing hygiene and proper storage can extend food shelf life, reduce food waste and of course save some money for groceries.

With proper storage, an unopened pack of oatmeal can still last for 12 months, while the opened pack will stay good for another 6 – 12 months. Cooked oatmeal has a much shorter shelf life of up to 5 days.

If you’re doubtful if your oatmeal is still good and safe to consume, especially when it was not properly stored or has passed the date, better to discard it.

See more: Can you reheat oatmeal?

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