pasta shelf life

Pasta Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Pasta is a staple in every kitchen. It comes in myriad shapes and sizes. Each type of pasta also deserves a different sauce.

Your pasta collection grows enormously after stocking up a few packs of spaghetti, fettuccini, tagliatelle, macaroni, lasagna, and many more. At this point, you’re asking yourself: Does dried pasta go bad?

If you’ve been wondering about pasta shelf life, storage, and common signs of pasta going bad, keep reading. We will share the nitty-gritty of pasta in this article.

We can find dried, fresh, and even canned pasta. Or maybe you prefer to make homemade pasta from scratch. We will cover each type of pasta here, so read on!

How To Store Dried and Canned Pasta

Whether it is regular pasta or whole wheat pasta, the storage guidelines for dried pasta are similar to other dry goods, such as rice or flour. It’s super simple and straightforward.

Dried (uncooked) and canned (or tinned) pasta are shelf-stable and can be stored in a cool, dry area, away from heat and lights. Your pantry is always preferable, but your kitchen cupboard or cabinet works well too.

Keeping it dry is vital to maintain the quality and shelf life. If the package is not resealable, transfer the remaining pasta into an airtight container or pasta container.

With a lot of different pasta variants you have, you may need so many containers. In such circumstances, you can also keep them in their original package and store them together in one big container to save up some space.

Similar to other dry goods, pasta is also prone to pantry bugs. Make sure to pick up a pack with perfect packaging, no hole, or even a tiny one.

For opened canned pasta, it is okay to store the leftover in its original can in the refrigerator. But, transferring it into an airtight container is recommended to preserve the flavor.

How To Store Cooked and Fresh Pasta

Cooking in bulk ahead of time and storing it during the week is a smart life hack. If that’s including cooked pasta, you should keep it similarly like other prepared foods. Keep cooked pasta refrigerated in a sealed airtight container.

Let it cool down before placing it into the container to avoid condensation. Toss with a dash of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself and to the container. Any leftover pasta dish should also be kept refrigerated for later serving.

Fresh pasta, either store-bought or homemade, needs proper refrigeration all the time. Transfer any leftover of store-bought fresh pasta into a sealed airtight container.  

Can You Freeze Cooked Pasta?

Freezing cooked or fresh pasta is a tested method to prolong the shelf life. Keep it in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. If you’d like, divide it into a portion size to ease you up during thawing.

With pasta dishes (the one mixed with sauce), the quality and shelf life also depends on the sauce or other ingredients. You can learn more about freezing cooked spaghetti.

And what about dried pasta, can you refrigerate dried pasta? Barilla company suggests not to store dried pasta inside the fridge or freezer due to the risk of picking up excess moisture.

How To Tell If Pasta Has Gone Bad or Spoiled

General signs of pasta going bad are quite similar for dried, fresh, cooked, or canned pasta.

Let’s start off with unopened pasta. As usual, inspection begins with the package. For both dried and canned pasta, make sure that the container is in perfect condition.

A small hole in dried pasta packaging means a safe entrance for bugs and insects. With canned pasta, don’t use it if the can is leaked, severely dented and rusted, bulged, and spurted liquid when opened.

Next, check the appearance, smell, and taste. You can rely on your instinct to pass judgment.

If anything goes off with the appearance, such as discoloration, signs of molds, or bugs, then it’s time to toss the pasta out. The same goes for slimy texture with cooked or fresh pasta.

Next, you won’t miss the funny odor with spoiled food. Again, if it’s the case, it’s time to discard the pasta.

If nothing suspicious is found, cook a small amount of dried pasta or taste a small amount of cooked pasta. If you’re happy with the result and taste, feel free to use it. If not, cut your losses and get a new pack.

Also, if you have kept cooked or fresh pasta for too long in the fridge, say longer than 4 or 5 days, it’s better to throw it out. It is likely spoiled, or the taste won’t satisfy you.

How Long Does Pasta Last?

Both dry and canned pasta are shelf-stable products. They can last for at least a couple of years, with proper storage. This time frame is indicated with a “best before” or “best by” date printed on the label. Respect this date for your purchase and consumption. Rotate your supply and use the oldest first.

Pasta won’t magically turn bad after this date. You can allow a few months to a year after the recommended date, subject to perfect packaging and ideal storage conditions.

After opening, dried pasta is best to use within a year. Meanwhile, any leftover of canned pasta should be kept chilled and finished within a few days.

Fresh store-bought pasta has a shorter shelf life than dried one. It usually has a “use by” date. Since this variety is perishable, you can only expect it to be edible for a day or two after passing the expiration date. Once opened, consume it within a few days.

Homemade fresh pasta usually lasts for a few days only in the refrigerator. To extend its shelf life, consider freezing fresh or cooked pasta for up to 2 months.

Pasta typesPantryRefrigeratorFreezer
Dry pasta (unopened)Best by + 6 months to 1 year
Dry pasta (opened)1 year
Canned spaghetti/ pasta (unopened)Best by + 6 months
Canned pasta spaghetti/  (opened)3 to 4 days1 to 2 months
Cooked pasta/leftover3 to 4 days2 months
Fresh pasta (store-bought)Use by + 1 to 2 days2 months
Homemade pasta1 to 3 days2 months

This table is a general estimate. The actual shelf life depends on the preparation method and storage condition. When in doubt, it’s always worth inspecting signs of spoilage before use.


Is it okay to eat expired pasta?

In general, dried and canned pasta remains safe after its expiration date. As long as it is within a reasonable timeframe above. Fresh pasta is a perishable product and probably only good for a couple of days after its expiry date. Check for spoilage signs before cooking.

Does pasta go bad if left out?

Fresh and cooked pasta (or any leftover pasta dish or canned pasta) should be kept chilled to avoid spoilage. Cooked pasta is prone to bacterial spoilage, particularly foodborne pathogen Bacillus cereus. It quickly multiplies at room temperature. Hence, don’t let your pasta sit at room temperature longer than 2 hours.

Can I get food poisoning from pasta?

Cooked pasta is a perishable food item. It poses a risk of food poisoning if contaminated by foodborne pathogens, particularly Bacillus cereus. It can form heat-resistant spores and toxins. It multiplies faster at room temperature and slowly at chill temperature.

Hence, cooked pasta or leftovers should not be consumed if it’s been too long in the fridge. When reheating pasta, make sure it’s hot all the way through.

How long does pasta last in the fridge?

With proper storage, cooked and leftover pasta will last around 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator

See more: Best Substitutes For Pasta

Final Thoughts

Pasta is everyone’s favorite. Keeping a few packs in the pantry never goes wrong. Sadly, pasta doesn’t last forever and eventually goes bad.

Dried and canned pasta have a considerable shelf life. But, once cooked, it should be consumed within a few days, likewise, with the leftover of canned pasta. Fresh pasta, both store-bought and homemade, has a limited shelf life. They should be consumed immediately and you will need to learn how to reheat pasta if you’re eating the leftovers.

Observe the “best by” or “use by” date and use your oldest supply first. If the package is damaged or any spoilage symptoms are spotted, better to stay on the safe side.

Up Next: Does rice go bad?

pasta goes bad

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