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Do Instant Noodles Expire? (Important Food Facts)

Do Instant Noodles Expire? (Important Food Facts)

If you have ever tried to feed a family on a budget or prepare a filling meal in a rush, you’ve probably picked up a pack or two of instant noodles.

They are the ultimate kitchen convenience; you can use them in so many ways, and they’re ready in no time.

Being this versatile, many people wonder how long you can store dry and cooked instant noodles. So I did some research and wrote this helpful article on the topic.

While dry instant noodles can last for many months past their expiration date, cooked noodles can only be kept for up to three days in the fridge and for 2 to 6 months in the freezer. Cooked instant noodles should be kept at room temperature for at most 2 hours.    

Keep reading this article and find out exactly how you should store your noodles in the fridge and freezer, if they can make you sick, and how to tell if they have gone bad.

Do Dry Instant Noodles Go Bad?

two packs of dry instant ramen noodles

Instant noodles are amazing! They can last months unopened on the shelf. Depending on the brand, dry instant noodles can last between 6 months and 2 years.

Their prolonged shelf life can be explained by how they have been produced. After being steamed or boiled, the noodles are dried by applying air, inert gas, or a mixture of both.

They are dried at a temperature of about 210 to 390°F (100 to 200°C), dehydrating them to a point where they barely contain any water.

In this super dry state, it’s basically impossible for any mold or bacteria to grow on the noodles, even after many months of storage.  

To be safe, always check the best by or expiration date, especially if the noodle package is already opened! This way, you’ll avoid eating some dusty 10-year-old noodles! 

And make sure that they haven’t come in contact with water or any other liquids, as this could have activated them, allowing for possibly harmful bacteria or mold growth. 

However, if they have been stored properly, most instant noodles can actually be eaten after this date, but be aware that they might lose some quality and flavor. 

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Instant Noodles in the Freezer?

If you made a large batch of instant noodles, you don’t need to waste a single bite; just freeze them! It’s an economically smart and practical way to have some cooked noodles ready anytime. 

Plain-cooked frozen instant noodles will maintain their best quality for about 1 to 2 months, but you can easily keep them frozen for 3 to 6 months.

Just make sure you don’t expose them to any air or moisture, as this can negatively affect the noodles’ taste and texture (freezer burn). 

Before freezing the noodles, allow them to cool completely and then move them to a freezer-safe bag. Press out all the excess air and label the bag with the contents and cook date. 

If the instant noodles are in a soup, like ramen, or even covered in sauce, they can still be frozen using the same method and kept for about 1 to 2 months without losing their quality or wonderful flavor.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Instant Noodles in the Fridge?

a bowl with hot instant noodles

Instant noodles are a hit as a late-night snack or budget dinner. They can be dressed up and turned into a meal worth saving! Fortunately, you can store your cooked instant noodles in the fridge to extend their shelf life.

Instant noodles are as easy to store in the fridge as they are to make! 

Simply allow the noodles to cool and then refrigerate them in an airtight container. 

Properly stored instant noodles can last up to 3 days in the fridge.

One trick for saving leftover instant noodles is to label the container. A dry-erase marker will work on most glass or plastic food storage containers, so use this to write the date on any foods you save for later. 

Not only does this trick help you to serve the freshest food, but it is a game changer when it comes to organization!

How Long Can Cooked Instant Noodles Sit Out?

a plate with freshly cooked noodles on the dinenr table

When serving food, you always want to be aware of how long it can sit out. Instant noodles are no exception here. When food is not temperature controlled, there is a greater risk for harmful bacteria to grow and multiply.

Cooked instant noodles can sit at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours before being eaten, refrigerated, or frozen.

This 2-hour window is the FDA’s official recommendation for storing food safely. 

Microorganisms that can carry foodborne illnesses can grow rapidly on foods that are left at room temperature, which is why remembering this 2-hour rule is so important.

Oh, and by the way, if the air temperature is 90°F or more, this window shrinks down to just 1 hour! 

PRO TIP: If you want to extend this time, you can keep the cooked instant noodles in a slow cooker or Instant Pot to help them hold their temperature. Cooked Instant noodles can be safely held at a warm temperature in a slow cooker for up to 4 hours.

Can You Get Food Poisoning From Instant Noodles?

Uncooked instant noodles are nonperishable and should not make you sick, even if they are a few months past their expiration date. But then again, who eats dry noodles anyways, right?

On the contrary, cooked instant noodles can pose a serious health risk if not properly handled.

When the cooked noodles spend too long in the “temperature danger zone,” they can grow harmful bacteria like listeria and cause food poisoning. 

DID YOU KNOW: The temperature danger zone for food has a range of 40°F and 140°F. Harmful bacteria grow most rapidly within this temperature range and can double in number in just about 20 minutes. 

That is why it is essential not to leave cooked instant noodles on the counter for too long. Always practice good food handling to ensure that your instant noodles are high quality and safe to eat!

PRO TIP: You can use a basic food thermometer to check the temperature of your instant noodle dish. Hot noodles should be at 135°F or higher, and cold noodles should be at 40°F and lower. This trick comes in handy when you are serving noodles for a crowd.

When serving high-risk populations, like the elderly, immunocompromised, and infants, you should always stick to the safe side and carefully check the temperature, serving time, and dates of foods. 

Just remember, when in doubt about instant noodles, throw them out!

How Do You Know if Cooked Instant Noodles Have Gone Bad?

Nobody wants to play around with a foodborne illness, so it’s always best to play it safe. Luckily there are a few good ways to tell if your instant noodles have gone bad.

First, you should always look out for time frames. If your instant noodles have been in the fridge for longer than 3 days or in the freezer for many months, they should be discarded. 

Additionally, any cooked instant noodles that have been out of temperature control for longer than 2 hours should be tossed.

If you are not sure how long you have kept your noodles, you can check for signs of spoilage. 

Instant noodles that have gone bad may have a foul odor, discoloration, pooling liquid, mold, or bitter taste. If your instant noodles have any of these signs, toss them out immediately.

Bitter taste and odor are probably the most common signs of spoiled noodles. They’re easily detectable, and the noodles will taste absolutely awful. Trust me; I have personal experience here. 

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