Do Bread Crumbs Go Bad and How Long Do They Last?

One ingredient I always have on hand is bread crumbs (or breadcrumbs, one word). They’re incredibly versatile and can be used for crispy coatings, thickening agents, or as a delectable topping for certain foods like mac and cheese. But do handy breadcrumbs go bad, and how long do they really last?

Although breadcrumbs seem like one of those ingredients that last forever, the truth of the matter is that breadcrumbs do go bad. In the pantry, store-bought breadcrumbs will last up to three months past the best-by date, while homemade varieties will last just two weeks.

Hello, fellow bakers! I’m Michelle, an experienced, self-taught baker with an affinity for breadcrumbs. I was curious to learn whether or not bread crumbs go bad and how long they last. I’m here to share my findings with you today.

Let’s learn about breadcrumb longevity!

How Long Do Breadcrumbs Last?

How long breadcrumbs last depends on two main factors: whether they’re store-bought or homemade and where they’re stored. Let’s take a closer look.

In the Pantry

Most people (myself included) store their bread crumbs in the pantry simply because they do not need to be refrigerated. In fact, some may argue that storing in the fridge can cause the bread crumbs to dry out just like real bread – especially if not properly stored.

How long do they last in the pantry?

  • Store-bought bread crumbs: up to three months past the best-by date
  • Homemade bread crumbs: up to two weeks 

In the Freezer

If you want to extend the lifespan of your breadcrumbs (store-bought and homemade), your best option is in the freezer

When correctly stored in the freezer, store-bought bread crumbs will retain their quality for up to a year past the best-by date. You can use them after this timeframe, but the flavor and texture may have deteriorated. 

As far as homemade bread crumbs are concerned, they can easily last up to six months or longer in the freezer. Just keep in mind that they will lose quality beyond the six-month mark, so it’s best to consume before reaching that date.

How to Tell When Bread Crumbs Went Bad: 7 Signs of Spoilage

Breadcrumbs are a lot like that container of baking powder in your cabinet. You think they last forever, but the fact of the matter is both of these ingredients go bad over time, especially if they’re not stored correctly.

So how can you know if your bread crumbs are ready to coat your upcoming batch of fried chicken? Here are the tell-tale signs it’s time to buy or make breadcrumbs.

1. Odd Odor

The first thing to do is smell your breadcrumbs. 

Bread crumbs do not have an overwhelming flavor (unless seasoned). If not seasoned, they should simply have a neutral scent with a slight bready odor. If your bread crumbs emit unpleasant smells, it’s time to toss them.

2. Mold

If the breadcrumbs smell OK, your next step is to take a good look at your container of breadcrumbs. Double-check for any signs of mold. Mold appears as colorful spots that may or may not be accompanied by the (very appetizing) fuzz.

3. Pantry Bug Infestation

Crumbs of any kind tend to attract bugs – so it’s not surprising that plenty of people find pantry bugs in their container of bread crumbs, especially if they weren’t stored correctly with a tight seal.

Now, this one’s pretty basic: if you open your container of breadcrumbs and see little “things” walking around inside, get rid of it.

4. Wet Clumps

When storing breadcrumbs, it is imperative to seal them in an airtight container or plastic bag. If any moisture penetrates the breadcrumbs, they’ll become wet and clumpy – rendering them unable to use.

And honestly, who would want to try and coat their lasagna with wet and clumpy breadcrumbs? It doesn’t sound too appealing!

5. Rock Hard Texture

This one is a little tricky. 

“Technically,” bread crumbs that have become dried out with a rock-hard and crunchy texture are safe to consume as long as there are no other signs of spoilage.

However, I don’t necessarily recommend using them.

Although they may be OK to consume, they likely won’t render the desired flavor or texture you want in your dish. Save yourself the disappointment and buy fresh.

6. Sour Taste

If you’ve checked for all other signs of spoilage and have come up with nothing, you can do one final check: the taste test.

Go ahead and take a bite of your breadcrumbs. Do they taste scrumptious, or have they taken on a sour and unpleasant flavor?

If they’re anything but delicious, throw them in the garbage!

How to Store Bread Crumbs

Proper storage is the key to extending the longevity of your breadcrumbs. Here are my top three tips for storage.

1. Keep in a Sealed Container/Bag

Breadcrumbs must be stored in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag. Otherwise, they’ll be prone to drying out, becoming moldy, or developing a rock-hard and undesirable texture. It also opens up the possibility of a bug infestation.

Now, some breadcrumbs come with a handy container that seals tightly. In this circumstance, you can keep it in the original container. Just make sure you close it after each use.

If your breadcrumbs come in a bag that does not reseal, I highly recommend purchasing food storage containers or resealable bags. You can also use a clip to close the bag, but honestly, my bags are never in good enough condition to use – that’s why I always transfer my ingredients into airtight containers!

2. Store in a Cool and Dry Place

Bread crumbs do not have to go in the refrigerator. They can remain right in your pantry. However, they must be placed in a cool and dry place. If moisture reaches the bread crumbs, they will become wet and clumpy, in which case you’ll need to toss them.

3. Consider the Freezer

If you don’t use breadcrumbs too often and want to ensure they can stand the test of time, consider stashing them in the freezer. 

Just make sure that they’re placed in a tightly sealed container or resealable freezer bag. You don’t want your bread crumbs to become dried out or take on any flavors swirling around your freezer. Ew.


Now you know all the facts about breadcrumb longevity. If you’re still itching to learn more about this topic, I have you covered. Below are some interesting FAQs you might want to check out!

Can I use 2-year-old bread crumbs?

While it’s probably OK to eat two-year-old bread crumbs that were stored correctly, I don’t recommend it. Two years is a long time to keep breadcrumbs around. At this point, I suggest buying a new container of breadcrumbs or making a batch of tasty homemade breadcrumbs.

Is it OK to use expired panko bread crumbs?

If the bread crumbs were correctly stored and there are zero signs of spoilage, it’s perfectly fine to use expired panko bread crumbs. Panko bread crumbs will typically last up to three months beyond the best-by date under the right conditions.

Can we use expired bread for bread crumbs?

If your bread is expired but doesn’t show any signs of going bad, you can use it for bread crumbs. In fact, that’s one of the best ways to use expired bread that may have become somewhat stale and undesirable!

Breadcrumbs Go Bad But Have a Long Shelf Life

Unfortunately, breadcrumbs don’t last forever. The good news is that they have a relatively long shelf life, especially when stored correctly. Store-bought varieties can last up to three months beyond the best-by date, while homemade breadcrumbs last two weeks. Store in the freezer to increase longevity!

Did you know that bread crumbs go bad? How do you store your breadcrumbs? What are some of your favorite ways to use breadcrumbs? Let’s hear it in the comment section below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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