Having a box of brownie mix on hand is great for last-minute desserts or bringing to the office potluck. What if you find a box of brownie mix in the back of your pantry with an expiration date of a month ago? Should you just throw it in the trash, or is it still safe to use?
Yes, brownie mix can go bad, but it is related to quality rather than safety. Brownie mix has a recommended shelf life of 12-18 months. After that, the brownies may lose flavor, and the mix will not rise in the pan. It’s recommended that you use store brownie mix properly and use it before the expiration date on the package.
Read on to learn about expiration dates on brownie mixes, how you can tell if your brownie mix is past its prime, those proper storage methods, and some brownie mix options.
- What do the expiration dates on brownie mixes mean?
- Does Brownie Mix Go Bad Over Time?
- How Can You Tell if Brownie Mix Has Gone Bad?
- How to Properly Store Brownie Mix
- Does Brownie Mix Go Bad After Opening?
- Can You Get Sick from Eating Expired Brownie Mix?
- Alternatives to Brownie Mix
- Related Questions
What do the expiration dates on brownie mixes mean?
Expiration dates on brownie mixes indicate the quality and freshness of ingredients. They do not indicate the safety of the product.
- A “Sell-By” date is placed in there for the store. It means that after that date, the items will be pulled off the regular shelf; they may be marked down and placed on a sales rack for a period of time to see if they will sell quickly. After that, they are discarded.
- The “Best if Used Before/By” date is the date you should try and use the product in order to be the freshest.
- The USDA has recommended “Use-By” dates, but the product could be good after this. These are just guidelines. How long your food/product/brownie mix lasts depends on a number of factors.
Does Brownie Mix Go Bad Over Time?
Brownie mixes are generally made from flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa powder, cake, and brownie mixes generally last as long as 12-18 months. It really depends on the quality of ingredients and their expiration date as well.
- All-purpose flour lasts between 6-8 months, but self-rising flour lasts only 4-6 months.
- Cocoa powder lasts 1-2 years.
- Baking powder lasts 18-24 months.
- Baking soda lasts 18 months.
- Granulated white sugar lasts indefinitely.
Over time, the baking powder and baking soda will affect the cake’s rising ability. The cocoa can develop a flatter taste, and the flour may end up tasting or smelling off.
Some cake mixes add preservatives that will extend the mix’s life, but all of these combine to determine a recommended “use-by” date.
What About Homemade Brownie Mix?
While a bowl of brownies from fresh ingredients is the best, you can certainly whip up a batch of dry mix and keep it in a jar. One recipe I saw had flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and vegetable shortening. Mixed up and kept in an airtight jar, it had a shelf life of about three months and made about three batches of brownies. Use the freshest ingredients and store it like you would other mixes.
How Can You Tell if Brownie Mix Has Gone Bad?
If a brownie mix has gone bad, you might notice a sour smell. If it does not smell neutral or has a slight aroma of chocolate, some ingredients may have begun to decompose. Toss it to be safe.
If you start to mix the other ingredients, such as water, eggs, or oil and the consistency is not fluffy and thick, it may be past its prime, and you will get flat brownies.
Check for a change of color that might be a mold or mildew, swish it around, and check for bugs. If anything looks weird, it’s best to toss it and get a new mix.
You can certainly try to mix up the batch of brownies, but you might go through a lot of effort for a bad batch of brownies.
How to Properly Store Brownie Mix
- Brownie mix should be stored in a cool, dry area. Avoid humid or damp places, as this can encourage mold growth. Avoid direct sunlight as this will degrade the ingredients as well.
- Keep the mix in an area free of bugs and rodents. If they are hungry, mice will chew through paper and plastic packaging. Once they break-in, the spill will attract other critters. If you find a hole in the package, determine whether it happened at the grocery store or at home. If it happened at the store, you might want to be safe and toss the package. If it happened at home, check the mix for bugs and your pantry for signs of rodents. If there are none, transfer the mixture into an airtight container.
- Brownies mixes can also be placed in a freezer bag and stored in your freezer for long-term storage.
- One other tip: when you bring home a new box of brownie mix, put it in the back of the pantry behind the older mix. That way, you are using the oldest one first. Also, check the expiration dates periodically and plan meals around foods that are about to expire.
Does Brownie Mix Go Bad After Opening?
If you open a package and then change your mind about cooking, place the mix in an airtight container. Brownie mix is usually good for six months after opening when stored in this way. After that, the brownie mix will degrade just as if it is not opened.
Can You Get Sick from Eating Expired Brownie Mix?
No, brownie mix will taste off or not rise, but it will not harm you. The worst thing that will happen is that you will have wasted time and a few other ingredients. If you are baking for a potluck at the last minute, you might not want to take that chance.
Can I add Baking Powder to Old Brownie Mix to Get it to Rise?
This is a theory floating around. Since baking powder is a leavening agent and is one of the ingredients that degrade over time, some cooks advocate adding a bit of baking powder to old mixes. The drawback to this theory is that it could throw off the taste of the mix. Secondly, there is no specific amount recommended. Homemade brownie mixes call for one teaspoon of baking powder; you could try ½ that and see if it works. Most likely, you’ll just want to toss the box.
Alternatives to Brownie Mix
Almond flour lasts between two and four months in the pantry, six to 12 months in the fridge, and 12 to 24 months in the freezer. It also contains tapioca starch with a 12-month shelf life and arrowroot, which has a three-to-four-year shelf life.
Simple Mills products have natural, wholesome ingredients, including real chocolate chips in addition to the Dutch cocoa powder. They claim the baking mixes have a shelf life of 1 year on their website. This mix is gluten-free and organic.
Betty Crocker makes ten different brownie mixes, plus two brownie bar mixes that are kind of like a giant cookie in a pan. Made with Dutch Coca, it also has corn syrup, vegetable oil, and artificial flavors in the mix.
Check on the box or pouch for an expiration date and use for three to six months after this date before tossing. This mix does contain wheat, eggs, and soy.
This mix is grain-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, and keto-friendly. Ingredients include sunflower seed flour, soluble tapioca powder, and a sweetener that uses erythritol, allulose, and monk fruit extract.
There’s no mention of shelf-life on their website so check the package. Sunflower seed flour has a shorter shelf-life of about three months, so buy this fresh and use it rather quickly.
This mix is vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, allergy-friendly, and kosher. They have two different brownie mixes. It has a mix of organic flours, including light buckwheat, oat, cassava, and tapioca flours. Cassava flour has a one-year shelf life. Brown sugar tastes best within two years.
Buckwheat flours last one month in your pantry and six months in the freezer. This tells me that this brownie mix should be used relatively soon after buying it. Please pay attention to the date, and don’t go too much past it for maximum freshness.
Does Brownie Mix Need Eggs?
Every brownie mix has different directions. Some add egg and oil, while some just call for water. It depends on the ingredients in the mix. In brownie mixes that call for eggs, they act as an emulsifier binding the ingredients together. Without eggs or a substitute, the brownies will come out flat instead of light and fluffy. There are many substitutes for eggs, including ground flax, pureed bananas, or applesauce.
Does Brownie Mix have Gluten?
It depends on the ingredients. One of our alternatives was gluten-free, as it was made with different types of flour. Betty Crocker and other mainstream mixes use enriched flour that contains wheat, but even those companies are answering the call of the celiac community and offering gluten-free alternatives.
What Makes Brownies Rise?
A bit of chemistry here! Brownies require a leavening agent, which makes them rise. When you add egg and sugar and beat the mix, a lot of air is incorporated into the mixture. These air pockets expand in the oven creating a lighter, fluffier brownie. The same thing happens when a recipe asks you to beat together butter and sugar. Baking powder is activated in the oven and creates carbon dioxide. This adds lift when baking.