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Does Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire?

I always try to have healthy foods and snacks in the pantry for the kids, but sometimes life gets too busy. You need an easy-to-make meal and one you know the kids will eat.  Cue the Kraft Mac & Cheese music as this is a go-to for our house.

However, there are times when a few of the Kraft Mac & Cheese boxes get pushed to the back of the shelves and forgotten about until I finally get around to an all to infrequent cleaning. 

Most moms are similar and have a stash of Mac and Cheese in their pantries. When I come across an old box way in the back, the first question I ask is, “Is this still good?”  So, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Does Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire?

The short answer is, yes.  Just like every other food, Kraft Mac and Cheese will eventually expire or go bad.  Unlike other foods that are required to have “Sell By” or “Use By” dates (think dairy or meat products), Mac and Cheese is a shelf-stable food item and can be considered a “Best Before” date.  This means the product will be its most suitable before the date indicated on the package.

So, the “Best Before” date is more the manufacturers way of telling you to use before for the best qualify.  However, it’s usually good well past this date, especially if the box is unopened and stored properly.

Can Kraft Mac and Cheese Go Bad?

Yes, technically everything can go bad.  However, as a shelf-stable food, Kraft Mac and Cheese’s expiration date can be treated as a “Best Before” date.  That’s why consuming a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese well past its expiration date won’t lead to food poisoning.  Even better, your mac and cheese won’t have a noticeable change in quality, so an older box will taste similar to a brand new box.  I’m still not sure if this is a good thing. 😊

How To Tell If Kraft Mac and Cheese is Bad

It’s not super easy like fresh foods that turn a different color or have an indicator like mold. The good news is dry pasta in a box is manufactured to last a long time.  Be careful if the box of Mac and Cheese gets damp and/or has noticeable signs of mold.  Other than this, there aren’t many physical signs that the Kraft Mac and Cheese has gone bad.

A dry box of Mac and Cheese will last for years and will cook normally.

However, if the box of Mac and Cheese has not been kept in a cool, dry environment, and has been exposed to moisture, then look for signs of mold.

If the packaging has signs of damage, tears, or openings, then be wary as Mac and Cheese isn’t made to last as long once opened.  Prolonged exposure to moisture will make it go bad.

What Happens if You Eat Expired Mac and Cheese?

Besides potentially having to hit the medicine cabinet for some Tums, there isn’t much to worry about.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese is still safe to eat even after the “Best Buy” date printed on the package. 

But always ensure the packaging is in good condition, hasn’t been opened or exposed to moisture, and no signs of mold.  If you notice anything off, it’s best to throw it out and not take the risk.

How To Store It Properly for Maximum Longevity

Kraft Mac and Cheese is a shelf-stable food that is safely stored at room temperature.  It’s meant to have a long shelf life and has a lifespan of about two years. 

Does this mean you can throw a few boxes on the top shelf and come back in a couple of years?  Well, yes.  As long as you’ve stored it in a cool, dry place, there shouldn’t be any issues.

To maximize shelf life, keep the unopened boxes in a cool, dry place, avoid exposure to moisture or direct sunlight.

Can You Store Kraft Mac and Cheese in the refrigerator?

It’s best to store uncooked and/or unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese in a cool, dry area (like your pantry).  Cooked Mac and Cheese should be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days.

Storing unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese in the refrigerator will actually decrease shelf life since the packages are not typically airtight, and the higher levels of humidity in the refrigerator can cause mold.

How Long Does Unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese last?

Shelf life for an unopened box of Kraft Mac and Cheese is about two years.  As I mentioned earlier, this assumes it’s stored in a cool, dry place, and away from direct sunlight.

If you find a need to use an old box and need a quick dinner for the family, try this Mac and Cheese recipe to level up your Mac and Cheese game.

Can You Freeze Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

Of course!  You can freeze both open and unopened packages of Kraft Mac and Cheese.  I even freeze cooked Kraft Mac and Cheese in small containers, so the kiddos have a ready-made snack after school.  Check out our School Snacks article for more ideas..

Just be sure to use an airtight container to store the Kraft Mac and Cheese before freezing.  This ensures your Mac and Cheese won’t experience changes to its quality or flavor due to freezer burn.


Does Kraft Mac and Cheese powder expire?

If kept in a cool, dark place, away from moisture, packet mac and cheese can potentially stay good to use well beyond the expiry date.  This is because the dried pasta and powered cheese sauce mix are designed to be non-perishable and will last for a long time in the right conditions.

Is macaroni safe to eat after the expiration date?

Pasta won’t spoil easily because it’s a dry product.  You can use it well past the expiration date, so long as it doesn’t smell funny (egg pasta can produce a rancid odor).  Generally, dry pasta has a shelf life of two years, but you can typically push it to three.

How do you know when mac and cheese goes bad?

When it comes to dry mix of mac and cheese, as long as moisture didn’t get into the package, ti should be fine.  If everything looks and smells perfectly fine, it’s okay.  If there are any signs of mold, big clumps, or anything else that shouldn’t be there, discard the package.

Final Thoughts

Need the TL;DR version?  I’m with you.

Unopened packages of Kraft Mac and Cheese have a long shelf life and can be stored for several years in the right conditions.

Opened packages of Kraft Mac and Cheese can last for several weeks in the refrigerator or up to two months in the freezer, as long as you use an airtight container.

Finally, cooked Kraft Mac and Cheese will last three to five days in the refrigerator, or up to two months in the freezer.

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