Does Popcorn Go Bad? Does Popcorn Expire?

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Fresh, warm popcorn is a terrific treat and a great addition to television watching or movie night at home. With careful storage and proper handling, you can keep your popcorn fresh and ready to prepare.

Popcorn Storage: Loose Vs. Microwave

does popcorn expire

Loose kernel popcorn is easy to store and will keep for up to two years in an airtight container.

Do popcorn kernels expire? The biggest threat to loose unpopped popcorn is moisture. Once the kernels get moist, they lose their ability to explode and deliver fresh, light popcorn to your bowl.

Do popcorn kernels go stale? Moisture can make them un-poppable. Store loose popcorn in an airtight container, or bag it multiple times and force the air out of each storage bag before sealing. Keep it in a sealed jar or canister, and keep it cool and dry.

If you bag it, consider splitting out a large stash of loose popcorn into smaller container storage bags, and keep all of these in a larger container.

Do popcorn kernels go bad? After a couple of years, they can lose their ability to explode.

Your oil needs to be around 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 204 degrees Celsius to properly pop. Stay close to the pot and listen for the popcorn to taper off. Once you’ve transferred from hot pan to the serving bowl, you’ll be able to discern your popping percentage.

Can you eat expired microwave popcorn? Microwave popcorn is bagged with oils and flavorings already inside the packet.

While this may be convenient in the short term, it can produce unpleasant flavors in the long term. These oils and flavorings will change over time and may become rancid before you can use up the popcorn.

Related | Best Microwave Combo​

Does Microwave Popcorn Go Bad?

does microwave popcorn go bad

As with any product that contains oil, light and air will impact the flavor quality.

For best quality, it’s a good idea to keep your packets of microwave popcorn protected from heat, moisture, light, and air.

When possible, keep the original packaging intact. Once the seal on the larger container has been broken, consider re-wrapping the remaining packets in plastic to reduce moisture contamination.

Air exposure can alter the taste of flavorings and leave your popcorn blah. Always monitor the “use by” date on microwave popcorn to make sure you’re not ingesting rancid oils and butter derivatives.​

Can You Eat Expired Popcorn?

Loose kernel corn will either pop or it won’t, and you’ll know if your popcorn was harmed by time and humidity by the number of unpopped kernels at the bottom of the pan.

Microwave popcorn and the oils and flavorings inside the popcorn can get unpleasant over time, so it’s best not to push past the use by date for best flavor.

Keeping Popped Corn Fresh

Once it’s popped, popcorn can lose freshness rather quickly. Keep it airtight and away from refrigeration, as that can lead to condensation inside the container. Moist popcorn is unpleasant to eat and may provide a breeding ground for bacteria.

Does popcorn expire? Over time, popped corn will lose crispness and the yummy factor that comes with warmth. If you salted your popcorn, be aware that the salt may drop to the bottom of the container.

If you added butter, you may find your popcorn unpleasantly greasy once cooled.​

Keeping Popcorn Healthy

Does popcorn go bad? It may go stale if exposed to air. However, popcorn can go “bad for you” quickly, depending on the additions you make.

Per Joy Bauer with, air popped popcorn has only 30 calories per cup. If you start adding oil, butter and salt, you lower the healthy quality of this yummy snack rather quickly.

Can Popcorn Make You Sick?

The packaging and chemicals included in microwave popcorn can cause serious health concerns for those who inhale a great deal of these contaminants. The workers inside plants that package microwave popcorn have been known to suffer serious lung complaints.

For fans of loose kernel popcorn, it’s important to note that popcorn is loaded with fiber. If you suffer from any intestinal sensitivity, including IBS, Celiac disease, or Crohn’s, be certain to monitor your gut after ingesting popcorn to make sure you’re not irritating your condition.​

Final Thoughts

Popcorn, when air popped, can be a great low calorie, high fiber snack. By increasing the fat and sodium content, you reduce the nutritive value. Microwave popcorn, if properly stored and carefully prepared, can provide you with a convenient treat.​

Written By Tara Williams

Tara is a food writer that has been editing and authoring articles for KitchenSanity since its founding. Her writing offers personal experience from experimentation with food and recipe creation. If you’re looking for simple tips, she will make your journey in the kitchen straightforward with a dash of fun.