Instant pudding is amazingly handy! On its own or mixed into dessert, pudding does it all! This convenient pantry staple can transform your dessert game, but does it go bad?
Just about everyone has found an aging box of instant pudding in their pantry and wondered if they can use it. The truth is instant pudding has two expiration dates; the date the mix itself goes bad and the date a fully prepared instant pudding expires.
Instant pudding mix has a printed expiry date that can be stretched with proper storage, and prepared instant pudding mix has a shelf life of up to 90 days based on its preparation date and storage.
Let’s explore the difference between these dates and how to interpret them. Plus, find out more about properly storing and serving instant pudding with this helpful guide to everyone’s favorite childhood dessert!
Does Dry Instant Pudding Mix Expire?
While this convenient dessert can last in a cool place for a long time, like all foods, instant pudding mix will turn.
The difficulty with this product is that it is actually good for a while after the date printed on the box.
Dry instant pudding mix will be printed with an expiration or best-by date, but those can be confusing. Basically, those dates’ meaning boils down to the last day the manufacturer would deem the pudding usable.
With instant pudding mix, though, expirations can be misleading. If you have a pudding mix that expired within the last four weeks, it may still be perfectly fine to eat.
Open it up and check the quality.
Inspect the mix for tainted color or smell. Consider how it has been stored.
If the mix has been stored unopened in a dark, dry spot and looks of sound quality, it is likely okay to eat.
Does Prepared Instant Pudding Expire?
Deliciously prepared instant pudding can be enjoyed as a snack or dessert on its own. It can even be stirred into other desserts like American Southern-style banana pudding, but how can you tell if it is still good?
The expiration date on the box of pudding mix refers to the dry mix itself.
The moment you mix up your instant pudding mix, you cut its shelf life drastically. In the right conditions, a fully prepared instant pudding can be enjoyed for up to 90 days after mixing.
Preparing the pudding mix activates ingredients that have been dormant in the dry mix.
Dehydrated milk and gelatin are both reinvigorated, making this dessert highly perishable.
So, to extend the shelf life of prepared pudding, you will have to store it either in the refrigerator or freezer.
How Long Can You Keep Instant Pudding in the Fridge?
Mixing instant pudding turns it from a shelf-stable mix into a perishable dessert. The dairy elements in instant pudding make chilling a must. Keeping pudding cold helps to extend its shelf life and allows it to hold its wonderfully thick texture.
Storing pudding in the fridge is a great way to keep it cold between servings.
Thanks to the fridge’s cold environment, instant pudding can hold a velvety and cool texture everyone loves!
To store in the fridge, prepare the pudding as the box directs.
Once prepared, cover the pudding with plastic wrap or transfer it to an airtight container. Then, you can refrigerate the prepared instant pudding for up to 7 days.
PRO TIP: Want to prepare your pudding for a party in advance? Mix the pudding a day or two early and refrigerate it to save valuable time on the day of the soiree!
How Long Does Instant Pudding Last in the Freezer?
One great trick to extend the expiration date of your delicious pudding is to store it in the freezer. This is an excellent choice for ice cream lovers or anyone looking to expand their pudding’s life. Pudding kept properly in the freezer can last for up to 90 days!
Not only does frozen instant pudding last much longer than refrigerated, but it can also be enjoyed straight out of the freezer as an alternative to other frozen treats.
The easiest and most fun way to store instant pudding in the freezer is as pudding pops. Here’s how to make them:
- Use a store-bought popsicle mold or plastic cups and fill them with freshly mixed but fully cooled instant pudding
- If using a popsicle mold, cover with the stick/lids; if using cups, place a popsicle stick in each one, then cover with plastic wrap
- Freeze the pops for 24 hours before enjoying them. Store in the freezer for up to 90 days
This awesomely nostalgic way to enjoy instant pudding is fun for all ages!
How Long Can Instant Pudding Sit Out?
Instant puddings are made with dairy; therefore, they are not made to sit out for long periods of time. The pudding might wilt or melt if kept out too long. It can even go bad if left in the wrong conditions, so make sure to follow safe food practices.
Instant pudding is safe to come out for parties or other occasions, but only for a short time. Never keep pudding out of refrigeration for longer than 2 hours.
PRO TIP: If serving instant pudding for a party, try keeping the dish on ice to help it stay cool.
Cold temperatures slow the growth of foodborne bacteria that can feed off the ingredients in this simple and delicious dessert.
That is why cold storage is essential, not just to the taste of this dessert, but to its safety and quality.
How Do You Know if Instant Pudding Has Gone Bad?
If you’re still wondering about the quality of your pudding, or think it might have expired, don’t worry! There are a few telltale signs that your instant pudding has turned.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Discoloration– if there are spots of different colors or shades in the pudding, toss it!
- Water– if liquid or bubbles appear on top of your pudding, throw it out!
- Smell– if there is a funky, earthy, or sour smell, get rid of the pudding immediately!
- Taste– if there are no physical signs of spoilage, but it tastes off or bitter, chuck it!
- Mold– this might seem obvious, but do not try to eat around instant pudding mold; just toss it in the trash and make a new one!
Remember, some age groups that really enjoy instant pudding are also at higher risk for foodborne illness.
When serving pudding, always err on the side of caution!
If you are unsure about the dish or would not personally eat it, mix up a new batch! It’s not worth taking any risks!