Does Popcorn Go Bad?

Popcorn is a favorite snack of many people and it is usually eaten in movie theaters. Also, popcorn can be turned into sweets and desserts and it can be used as a topping for ice cream. Many people buy popcorn in bulk and store it for later use. But, have you ever wondered if popcorn can go bad? The answer is yes. We can say that popcorn can go bad, but it will not make you sick. Popcorn won’t spoil but it will lose its quality. If not stored properly, popcorn kernels won’t be able to pop and they will be useless.

If you want to know more about popcorn and its shelf life, read on this article. You will also find out how to store popcorn properly and how to tell if popcorn has gone bad.

More about Popcorn

Popcorn is a type of corn that expands from its kernel and it puffs up when it is heated. Popcorn is also called a popping corn. Popcorn can pop because its kernels contain a moisture-sealed hull.

Actually, about 15% of popcorn kernel is made of water. When popcorn kernels are heated there is a pressure within them and the end result is a small explosion, called ,,pop“. There are different techniques for popping corn. We can use small home appliances for popcorn, but it can also be prepared in microwave. It can be cooked with oil or butter and it is usually served salted.

Sometimes, popcorn can also be served with some other spices or even with a chocolate or caramel. Popcorn can also be sweetened with sugar.  Depending on the way of its preparation, popcorn is sometimes considered a healthy food, but some experts disagree with it.

What Is the Shelf Life of Popcorn?

Proper storage is the most important when we talk about shelf life of any food. If popcorn is stored properly, it can last for a long time. Of course, it refers to unpopped popcorn.

If the package of unpopped popcorn is unopened it can last for a few months. When you open the package, you should eat it within two weeks. Popcorn has a long shelf life because it is a grain. But, microwave popcorn has a shorter shelf life because the popcorn bag contains oils and different additives. Microwave popcorn usually has best by date, but it is just a rough estimate and a package of mikrowave popcorn can last much longer.

How To Store Popcorn Properly?

Popcorn should be stored in a jar that is tightly sealed. It is important to store it in a cool and dry area and at a neutral temperature. You should keep it away from heat and moisture. Popcorn will be good for a long time unless moisture gets into it. You can store popcorn in the pantry or in the cupboard. Of course, it refers to unpopped popcorn.

But, also popped popcorn can be stored for a couple of weeks, if it is placed in an airtight container or in a sealed bag. It is important to keep popcorn away from moisture and air, in order to prevent popcorn to go stale. Also, you should never store popcorn in the fridge, because the kernels will easily dry out and they will not be able to pop. It means that their shelf life is shortened.

How To Tell If Popcorn Has Gone Bad?

You will easily notice if your popcorn has gone bad. As we have mentioned, there is a small amount of moisture inside of popcorn kernel and that’s why popcorn pops. When kernels are heated the water in them will boil and the kernels will pop into popcorn. If your popcorn isn’t stored properly it will be dry and it will not pop. In this case you will find popcorn kernels at the bottom of the bowl.

Also, popcorn may be slightly darker when kernels are dried, but it is hard to be sure unless you try to pop them. If you use microwave popcorn, when you open the bag the smell of popcorn will be different, because the oils in the bag have gone bad. As we have seen, if you store popcorn in the fridge, it will also be dry and it will not pop.


As you have seen by now, popcorn can go bad if it was not stored properly, but it will not be harmful to our health. Both microwave and popped popcorn become useless after a certain period of time. If popcorn won’t pop, it is a sign that the popcorn is dried out and it should be discarded.

Also, if you notice any changes in appearance, taste or odor of the popcorn and if you notice any signs of mold, it is important to discard it.