Shelf Life of

How Long Does Cocoa Last?

How long does cocoa last?
People often ask does cocoa powder go bad? or does hot chocolate expire? more often than how long does cocoa last? because it seems to look the same no matter how long it sits in your cupboard. The shelf life of cocoa is influenced mainly by the best before date and how it is stored. Does cocoa go bad? If cocoa is stored properly it does not really go bad, but the flavor and quality do decrease over time. Instant hot chocolate mixes, on the other hand, usually contain powdered milk (or some type of dairy product) so they they do actually expire. So, how long does cocoa last?

When properly stored, cocoa powder lasts for:

Unopened Pantry
Past Printed Date
Cocoa lasts for 2 Years
Cocoa Powder lasts for 2 Years
Nestle Hot Chocolate Mix lasts for 6-12 Months
Swiss Miss Packages lasts for 6-12 Months
Dry K-Cup Hot Chocolate lasts for 8-12 Months
Opened Pantry
Cocoa Powder lasts for 1 Year

Of course, all foods last for a shorter period of time if they are not stored properly. But, like a lot of other sweets, it usually has a best by date which is simply the last day a manufacturer will vouch for its optimal quality and flavor, not its safety. Because of this distinction you may use your cocoa even after its best by date has lapsed. Unopened containers of cocoa will remain fresh for slightly longer than opened ones, but since the definition of bad is very relative with this delicate powder the table is presented as such.

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

If the cocoa has remained dry and looks fine, then your sense of taste is the best way to tell if it is still good. When cocoa is no longer good, the chocolate taste in the powder disappears. If your cocoa has gone bad, check our chocolate substitute page for ideas on what to use in your recipe instead.
There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled cocoa, so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your foods prior to their expiration.

How to store cocoa to extend its shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of any food.
Cocoa should be kept in a cool dry place like the pantry. The original container is fine, as long as it is properly re-sealed after each use. Like most other foods, it is susceptible to oxidation so the less it is exposed to air the better. Also remember to use a clean spoon or pour your powder into your cup to avoid cross contamination. In humid environments, it may form clumps within the dry powder and expire sooner.

Some interesting facts:

  • Cocoa is actually the low-fat part of the cocoa bean. It contains several essential minerals, caffeine and flavonoids (similar to anti-oxidents).
  • Cocoa is sold either naturally (a lighter color powder) or Dutch processed where it is alkalized to raise the PH level. Dutch processed is a darker colored powder and is not as bitter as natural. Both natural and Dutch processed are unsweetened.
  • Homemade hot chocolate can be made from melted chocolate with the addition of milk and sugar. Whereas, homemade hot cocoa is made from the powder with the addition of milk and sugar. Whether making hot chocolate or hot cocoa, the best taste comes from high quality Premium Chocolate .
  •  How long is cocoa good for when prepared in a dish?

    How long does cocoa last? That depends. How long does how long does milk last? In general, all food lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient in the dish. 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 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 the shelf life of cocoa.

    *An important note about the expiration date of cocoa …

    Although the shelf life information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, it is only an opinion and should be used as a guideline. It is in no way intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified health care provider.  Please drink responsibly!