Expired Nuts: Is it Safe to Eat Them or Should You Throw Them Away?

The last time I was going through the pantry, I found some cashews that were past their best by date. I wasn’t sure if they were still good, so I decided to do some digging and see what I could find.

You can eat nuts that have expired as long as the oils in them haven’t become rancid. Typically, you can eat nuts 6 months after the printed date in the pantry, 1 year after the date if they’re in the refrigerator and 2 years after the date if they’re in the freezer.

Make sure that there isn’t anything else wrong with the nuts before you eat them. They can sometimes grow mold or get infested with insects depending on where they’ve been stored.

Do Nuts go Bad?

Nuts go bad once the oils they contain turn rancid. The time varies a little depending on the type of nut, but all of them can be eaten after the best by date that’s printed on the package.

The times listed in the table below are based on sealed packages. If the nuts have already been open then these times don’t apply. You’ll have to determine if the nuts are still good by the way they look, smell and taste.

Please remember that all of these times are approximations and not completely cut and dry. If you ever have any doubts about your food, you shouldn’t eat it!

How Long do Nuts Last After the Expiration Date?

Nuts usually have a best by date on the package and not a hard expiration date on them. This is because nuts don’t just go bad at a certain time, the oils in them gradually become rancid over time.

Use this table below to figure out how long you can eat nuts after their expiration date.

Nut Type Room Temp Refridgerator Freezer
Almonds 9-12 Months 1 Year 2 Years
Brazil Nuts 9 Months 1 Year 1 Year
Cashews 6-9 Months 1 Year 2 Years
Hazelnuts 4-6 Months 1 Year 1 Year
Macadamia Nuts 6-9 Months 1 Year 2 Years
Peanuts 6-9 Months 1 Year 2 Years
Pecans 6 Months 1 Year 2 Years
Pine Nuts 1-2 Months 3-4 Months 5-6 Months
Pistachios 3 Months X X
Walnuts 6 Months 1 Year 1-2 Years

How do You Tell if Nuts Have Gone Bad

The oils in the nuts will turn rancid when they go bad. This usually leaves food with a bad taste or smell.

Sometimes nuts will get moldy if they’re left in conditions that promote mold growth. In that case, you can just look at them and tell that they’re no longer good.

The same is true if you happen to find any insects or larva in them. Just throw them away.

What Happens if you Eat Bad Nuts

If you eat just a couple of nuts that have gone bad, they probably won’t do anything to you. There’s always the chance that they could cause nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, but you’ll most likely just have to get rid of the bad taste in your mouth.

Rancid nuts can irritate your stomach and intestines so it’s best to get rid of them if they taste a little off. In a survival situation, vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration which really increases your chances of not making it.

Do Unopened Nuts go Bad?

Unopened nuts can still go bad, but they last for much longer than nuts that have been opened. If you’re dealing with nuts that haven’t been opened, then you can use the table above as a guide to tell if they’re probably okay to eat.

If you happen to have nuts that are already opened, then the table above doesn’t apply. You’re going to have to inspect them yourself and make a judgment call.

How Long do Nuts Last at Room Temperature?

Exactly how long nuts are good at room temperature will depend on the type of nut. Usually, you can still eat them for about 6 months after their best by date printed on the package.

If you happen to have nuts at room temperatures that are a little higher than normal, then that time can be decreased. The oils in the nuts will turn rancid much faster if they’re stored at higher temperatures.

If you store the nuts on the cooler side of room temperature, then they could last for a longer period of time then what’s in the table above. Just make sure that you inspect them and determine if they’re still good.

How Long do Nuts in the Refrigerator Last?

Most nuts will last for about a year after their best by date in the refrigerator. The lack of sunlight and cooler temperatures keep the nuts fresh for a much longer time than when they’re left at room temperature.

Shelled nuts need a little extra care when they’re stored in the fridge. They absorb moisture from inside the fridge and absorb the taste and scent of the other foods around them.

If the package is open, it’s best to keep nuts in an airtight container to keep them for as long as possible and keep them from absorbing the flavor and smell of other foods.

How Long Can You Freeze Nuts?

Freezing nuts is one of the best ways to keep them for as long as possible. In the freezer, you can keep nuts for up to two years after their best by date.

You should still make sure that they’re sealed in the original package or in another airtight container so that they don’t absorb moisture from the freezer or the smell and taste of other foods around them.

When you do decide to eat the nuts, you should inspect them to male sure that they’re not rancid and are still good to eat.

Related Questions

Does trail mix expire? The nuts in trail mix can go rancid and make the trail mix go bad. Rancid nuts will have a bad taste or odor and can potentially upset your stomach. This will happen around 6 months after the best by date on the package.

What causes rancidity? Rancidity happens when fats in food are oxidized through exposure to oxygen, water, metallic atoms or microbes. The result of rancidity is a bad taste or odor. It can also lead to the reduced nutritional value of the food.