Storing Pudding Long Term: Does it Go Bad?

Does Pudding Go Bad

Does Pudding Go Bad?

Pudding is a staple of almost every pantry. It’s not only delicious, but thanks to the vast array of flavors, it’s a great ingredient, too. But, one of the major upsides to pudding is that it has a very, very long shelf life.

Pudding does go bad, but it has a fairly long shelf life. Dried pudding, or pudding mix, doesn’t go bad as quickly as the individual pudding cups.

 However, whether or not you want to eat pudding that’s already gone beyond the date of expiration needs to be part of the discussion. As well as how to tell if the pudding has gone bad. If you’re curious about either of those two questions, then stay right here. Everything you need to know surrounding whether or not pudding goes bad is coming right up.

What the Dates on Pudding Actually Mean

Pudding, just like most foods, has a date stamped on the packaging somewhere. Depending on the brand, and type of pudding, it can be one of these types of dates:

  • Expiration date
  • Sell-by date
  • Use-by date

These terms are often used interchangeably, although they actually mean very different things. Investigating the meaning of each can help better understand what you’re working with when it comes to whether or not pudding goes bad.

Expiration Date

This is usually stamped with ‘EXP’ or ‘ED’. The company that makes the product, in this case, pudding, is responsible for determining the expiration date. This is done by a careful process in which they’ll figure out the ideal storing conditions, as well as the shelf life of the ingredients combined.

In the case of pudding, especially dry pudding (as opposed to prepared snack cups) the expiration date is usually a pretty lengthy period of time. However, each brand is different, with all of the varying ingredients.

Brands that don’t use preservatives will naturally have a shorter expiration time frame. There are also certain ingredients and flavorings that will make a product expire faster, so just because one type doesn’t expire for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean that another kind within the same brand doesn’t have a shorter expiration date.

The bottom line, if you see an expiration date and choose to consume that product, you’re doing so at your own risk. The expiration date doesn’t mean that the pudding is automatically spoiled or rotten, but more than likely the quality and freshness has declined, so you’ll need to check that out for yourself. More on how to do that later.

Sell-by Date

These dates are also guidelines set by the pudding companies, but they’re not indicative of when the product’s quality will go downhill. They’re mainly meant for the stores that sell the products. Retailers are not to sell products past their sell-by dates. However, this is really up to the stores to monitor.

Having said that, it’s unlikely the pudding you purchase will have a sell-by date unless you’re buying freshly made pudding. But clearly, that’s not something you want to store for any lengthy period of time anyway.

Use-By Date

Again, you more than likely won’t see this date on a dried pudding or a snack-sized, prepackaged pudding snack. This is typically associated with ready to eat, refrigerated foods or baked goods.

However, it’s worth noting that pudding that’s already made can be frozen, and that will increase the longevity of the product.

How to Tell if Pudding has Gone Bad

This topic hinges on one key that will have to be established before you can make the executive decision on whether or not that pudding is bad… if it’s dry, boxed pudding, or the individually packaged, ready to eat pudding. It might sound silly, but it is important to keep that in mind because the ingredients in both are different.

Looking at the expiration date is a guideline for whether or not you might run into a possible pudding that’s gone bad.

Also, just because the expiration date has not been met, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t still be mindful of the indicators for pudding gone bad. It’s not unheard of to find items that have been mislabeled or gone bad before their expiration date. Especially if they’re not properly sealed, or not stored in the proper conditions. Being aware of these things will help avoid eating something that could make you sick.

Does it Look Normal?

For dried pudding, unprepared, in a box, look at the color of the pudding. This will be different depending on the flavor. But, if you think that the color is off or not right, then count that as strike one.

In prepared pudding cups, you might see that there’s a liquid forming, or separation happening in the package. This is a red flag and means the pudding is on the decline. With puddings that don’t have as many preservatives, the separation might not mean the pudding is totally done for, so you might want to check out a few more indicators before tossing it.

Mold is of course the number one thing to look for. If there’s any sort of discolored lumps or bumps in either dry or prepared pudding, it should be a no go. These are typically a bluish shade, but they can also be white.

This goes without saying, but bugs in the pudding are an instant roadblock. There’s no second chances here. Bugs can get into both kinds of pudding, even if they’re sealed.

Does it Smell Normal?

Pudding, both dried and prepared, should have a slightly sweet smell, with just a hint of milk. You should also be able to detect the flavoring if there is any. In some brands, the flavorings might smell a bit more artificial than others. Any of those smells are normal.

And now for the not normal smells. There’s a chance that at first whiff, you might catch something slightly off with both dry and premade puddings. This could be due to the packaging. If what you’re smelling is slightly reminiscent of cardboard or plastic, a second sniff might be necessary.

However, beyond that, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. The already made, snack-sized puddings can give off a rotten egg smell, or even a slightly metallic one, if they’re starting to rot. A sour scent is another one that tells you the time for your pudding to be thrown out.

Dried pudding can have an overly sweet smell when it’s gone bad. It can also have a pungent sour smell, or it can even smell like mildew. Clearly, none of these are things you want to smell when you’re putting food in your mouth.

Does it Taste Normal?

Hopefully, you’ve either found nothing that would lead you to believe your pudding is bad in the looks or smells department. Nobody wants to find out something is rotten after it’s already been in their mouth.

But, if you do take a bite of pudding and it just doesn’t taste right, then it’s best to stop eating it right away. This goes for premade puddings, as well as pudding that you’ve made from a box.

Along these same lines, if you do notice that your dried pudding is getting close to its expiration date, then you might want to taste a teeny bit before continuing to prepare it. That will save you some time and energy in the event that you do determine it’s gone bad.


Yes, pudding does go bad. But, it’s a great thing to have in your pantry or food supply because it lasts much longer than other foods. Pudding, both dried and the individually packaged cups, has a fairly long shelf life. Not to mention, it doesn’t take up a ton of room in a cabinet or box, so it’s great to keep.

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