Kraft Mac and Cheese is a convenience food that comes in a variety of flavors – four to be specific.
Easy to find and prepare, it’s no wonder that a box of mac and cheese can be found in most American households.
However, pantries can become black holes where an old box of mac and cheese might get pushed to the back only to be discovered many weeks or months later.
So, does Kraft Macaroni and Cheese expire? And if it does, can you still eat it?
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about if Kraft Mac and Cheese expires as well as how to tell if it’s gone bad.
Does Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Go Bad?
The simple answer here is Yes. Like every other food, Kraft Mac and Cheese will eventually expire or go bad. The good news, however, is that your unopened Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is still safe to consume well past the expiration date.
As a shelf-stable food, macaroni and cheese’s expiration date can be treated as a “Best Before” date. This is different from foods that are required to have “Use By” or “Sell By” dates, like meat or dairy products.
The best before date on Kraft Mac and Cheese only indicates when the product will be at its best quality, not when it will go bad.
That’s why consuming a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese well past its expiry date won’t lead to food poisoning. Even better, your mac and cheese won’t have a noticeable change in quality, so an old box of mac and cheese will taste very similar if not exactly the same as a brand new box.
How To Tell if Kraft Mac and Cheese is Bad
Dry mac and cheese will last an incredibly long time since it is shelf stable. Unless the box of mac and cheese gets damp or has obvious signs of mold, there aren’t many physical signs that the mac and cheese has gone bad.
In most cases, as long as the box of mac and cheese remains dry, the mac and cheese will cook normally.
However, if the box of mac and cheese is in a moist or damp environment, then look for signs of mold.
If the packaged cheese smells rancid or if the cheese has a moldy or off-color appearance then the box of mac and cheese may have gone bad.
Another sign to look for is if the box or cheese package has any tears or openings. Generally, any mac and cheese package that has been opened will not last as long as an unopened box.
So if you notice any openings then make sure to inspect both the pasta and the powdered cheese before cooking it. There’s a higher chance that the mac and cheese has gone bad due to moisture.
Is It Safe to Eat Expired Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?
Yes you can eat Kraft Mac and Cheese past the expiration date listed on the box. The expiration date on Mac and Cheese can be treated as a ‘best before’ date meaning the mac and cheese is still safe to eat.
As we mentioned, unopened Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is still safe to eat even after the expiration date.
So, if you have a box of unopened mac and cheese that’s past its expiration date, don’t worry. Just open it up and enjoy!
What happens if you eat expired Kraft mac and cheese?
If you accidentally eat expired Kraft Macaroni and Cheese then there’s no need to worry about getting sick. As we mentioned, this particular dish is still safe to consume past its expiration date.
Keep in mind, however, that eating expired mac and cheese with visible signs of spoilage is never a good idea. If the pasta or sauce mix is no longer as dry, lumpy, or moldy, it’s best to throw it away.
Even though food poisoning is less likely to occur from packaged mac and cheese due to all the preservatives used in many mac and cheeses, eating spoiled mac and cheese can still lead to food poisoning.
So, if you can, it’s always best to avoid eating Kraft Mac and Cheese that has any off-putting smells or signs of mold.
Can you store Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the refrigerator?
Uncooked mac and cheese is best stored in cool dark areas such as a pantry. Cooked mac and cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Storing the packages of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the refrigerator won’t significantly increase their shelf life. In truth, it can even shorten the shelf life, if the packages are not air-tight.
That’s because the higher levels of humidity in the fridge can cause the pasta to become clumpy and moldy.
Can you freeze Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?
By all means, go ahead. You can freeze both unopened and opened packages of Kraft Mac and Cheese, even cooked Kraft mac and cheese.
And if you’re worried about the quality, freezing Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will not affect its quality in any way. In fact, freezing can be a great way to prolong the shelf life of your mac and cheese.
You just want to ensure that you use an airtight container to hold the mac and cheese before freezing. That way, your mac and cheese won’t have any changes in flavor or quality due to freezer burn.
How long does unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese last?
On average, an unopened box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will last for up to two years. This is as long as it’s stored in a dry and cool place, away from heat or direct sunlight.
Essentially, Kraft Mac and Cheese has a long shelf life, thanks to the fact that it’s a dry product. Consequently, you can be sure that your unopened box will still be good to eat long after the expiration date.
However, given how often you’re going to treat yourself to a box of this deliciousness, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have an unopened box of mac and cheese lying around for more than a few months.
How long does opened Kraft Mac and Cheese last?
Once you’ve opened up a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, it’s best to consume it within two weeks. You should not leave the mac and cheese in the original packaging. Instead, it’s best to transfer it into an airtight container.
You can store the airtight container of mac and cheese in the freezer, as this will help to prolong its shelf life significantly.
However, you should cook an opened box of mac and cheese sooner than later since the flavor can degrade over time as more moisture mixes with the packaged cheese.
How long does cooked Kraft Mac and Cheese last?
Cooked Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will last in the fridge for up to four days. This is as long as it’s stored in an airtight container.
If you want your cooked mac and cheese to last even longer, you can store it in the freezer for up to two months. Just remember to thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating.
For cooked Kraft Mac and Cheese, it’s easy to tell when it’s gone bad. You’ll know it’s time to throw it out when you notice any rancid smell, change in color, or an off flavor.
Storing Kraft Mac and Cheese for maximum longevity
Ideally, you should store your boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese in a cool, dry place. Such locations are also better off if they are not exposed to direct sunlight or artificial light.
If you want to store your mac and cheese for the long term, then the best place to keep it would be in the pantry. The average pantry has all the ideal conditions for storing dry goods.
However, you can still toss your package of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese on the top of your cupboard and it will be fine, as long as the conditions are ideal.
What important points should you remember about the shelf life of Kraft Mac and Cheese?
First, unopened packages have a very long shelf life and can be stored for several years in ideal conditions.
Opened packages of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese will last for a few weeks in the fridge or up to two months in the freezer.
And finally, cooked Kraft Mac and Cheese will last for up to four days in the fridge or two months in the freezer.
With these guidelines in mind, you can enjoy your Kraft Mac and Cheese for a long time to come!