Shelf Life of
Oatmeal

How Long Does Oatmeal Last?

How Long Does Oatmeal Last

How Long does Oatmeal Last

How long does oatmeal Last? The shelf life of oatmeal, although so long that many ask does oatmeal go bad?, varies with the variety, packaging and storage methods. 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 it’s best by date for the time periods indicated in the table below:

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 2-3 Years
Oatmeal Cookies lasts 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?

Beyond saving money, practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent food borne 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 eat your foods prior to their expiration or eat by date.

How to store oatmeal to extend its shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of the oatmeal. 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 can keep it fresh longer by storing it in your refrigerator below 40°F immediately after use.  You should store prepared oatmeal in air-tight containers that help keep out moisture and other contaminants.  In addition, you should always make sure to use clean utensils 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 the shelf life of 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. To find out how long those other ingredients are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

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 What are our shelf life resources?

Our does oatmeal go bad content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scour the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and shelf life.

 *An important note about the expiration date of oatmeal …

Although the shelf life information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, it is in no way intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified health care provider.  Please eat responsibly!