Does Cake Flour Go Bad, and How Long Does it Last

Cake flour is a must when baking cakes. It produces light, tender, and fluffy cake with just the right amount of height and moisture. The best part is that this type of flour can be stored in the pantry for up to a year, the fridge for two years, and the freezer for three years.

Hello, cake fans! I’m Michelle, and I’ve spent the last ten years baking everything under the sun (or should I say kitchen lights?). Cakes are one of my favorite things to bake as they’re so versatile, and there are endless possibilities.

While I sometimes use other types of flour for baking cakes (I’m looking at you, handy all-purpose flour), there are no results like the results cake flour provides. If you have some on hand and you’re wondering when it will expire, I’m here to throw down some facts.

Let’s talk about cake flour.

How Long Does Cake Flour Last?

Cake flour can last up to a year in the pantry, two years in the fridge, or three years in the freezer. No wonder it’s not uncommon for people (including myself) to have bags of flour hanging around their kitchen.

The key is where and how the cake flour is stored. You see, although cake flour has a remarkable shelf life and can last for many years, it doesn’t mean it necessarily will.

Can I Use Cake Flour After Expiration Date?

Most cake flours won’t have an “expiration date.” Instead, they will have a “best-by” or “sell-by” date. These are not used as indicators for expiration. They are simply placed to detail when the cake flour should be sold and when it will be at its peak of freshness.

With that in mind, yes, you can use cake flour after the listed date. As long as it has been stored correctly and there are no signs of spoilage, it is perfectly safe to consume for weeks, months, or even years beyond the given date. 

How to Store Cake Flour

To get the greatest longevity from your cake flour, you need to ensure it’s stored correctly.

Storing in the Pantry

Storing in the pantry is an excellent idea, especially if you plan to use it all within a year. Remember: cake flour will only last up to a year in a kitchen cabinet. Here are some simple tips to make sure it reaches that one-year mark.

  • Transfer to an airtight container, or cover the original packaging with a resealable plastic bag. 

Most flour comes in packaging that is, well, pretty awful. It’s a pain to get into, and keeping it shut is almost impossible. I recommend transferring to an airtight container if you have one. If not, wrap the original packaging with a resealable plastic bag.

  • Keep it away from heat and sunlight. Your cake flour (like any other flour) enjoys a cool and dry place. It will gladly take a seat towards the back of your pantry, away from any heat or light sources.
  • Keep it far from moisture, too. Moisture is the enemy of flour. If your flour gets wet, it will spoil and need to be thrown away. That said, ensure your cake flour is away from any possible liquid.
  • Date it. Since cake flour won’t last indefinitely in the pantry, it’s important to date it. 

Storing in the Fridge/Freezer

If you store your cake flour in the fridge or freezer, it can last up to three years- which is excellent news for those who might not use their cake flour as often as a baker such as myself. Here’s how to do it.

  • Place cake flour in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. When stored in the fridge or freezer, cake flour shouldn’t be left in its original packaging. Transfer the cake flour to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
  • Date it. Although cake flour can last indefinitely in the fridge or freezer, knowing when you initially added it to your appliance is essential. 

After all, you might not be concerned about spoilage in a two-month-old container of cake flour. On the other hand, a three-year-old container might be a bit riskier, and you’ll want to double-check it for signs of spoilage. 

  • (Optional) store in small increments. I prefer to store cake flour in small, resealable plastic bags. That way, I can pull out small portions from the fridge or freezer when I need them – without thawing the whole amount.

Does Cake Flour Go Bad?

Proper storage is the ultimate gateway to cake flour with impressive longevity. However, even if you do everything correctly, your cake flour can still go bad. Here are some signs to look out for, indicating that your cake flour should be tossed.

Presence of Insects or Bugs

This is only an issue if you store your cake flour in the pantry. 

If you see any insects or bugs in the container of cake flour, throw it away immediately. Nobody wants to eat a cake made with bug-infested flour.

While you’re at it, you will want to make sure you take care of the bug or insect problem. These critters will likely find your other food items (if they haven’t already) and will keep coming back for more.

Moisture

If your cake flour comes in contact with any kind of moisture, it will need to be tossed. 

Not only will cake flour become a clumpy, disgusting mess, but damp flour is the ideal environment for bacteria growth. 

To avoid potential illness, get rid of any cake flour that’s contacted moisture.

Odd Scent

Take a whiff of your cake flour. Does it have an “off” scent? Does it smell rancid, musty, or possibly sour? Then it’s time to get rid of it.

Cake flour should have a neutral smell. If you notice a scent that’s anything but tame and nondescript, it’s best not to risk it.

Weird Flavor

Again, cake flour should have a neutral flavor. Put a little dab of cake flour on your fingertip and give it a taste. If it tastes gross, you definitely won’t want to use it in your following recipe.

Discoloration

Last but not least, give it a good lookover. Cake flour is white. If you notice any discoloration in the flour, it’s gone bad. There may even be the presence of mold, which will appear as speckles of colored dots in your cake flour.

FAQs

Needless to say, we should give cake flour a round of applause for its excellent shelf life. If you have more questions about this topic, check out the frequently asked questions below.

Can you use flour 4 years out of date?

Potentially, yes. It all depends on how it was stored and whether there are any spoilage indicators. You should thoroughly check four-year-old cake flour before using it. The good news is that expired cake flour shouldn’t make you ill; it will simply render undesirable results.

What can you do with expired cake flour?

If your cake flour is actually rancid and not just past the “best by” date, you can still potentially use it for other things. As long as no mold is present, you can use it as a dry shampoo, create clay molds, or even paint with it (Swedish painting!).

What does rancid flour smell like?

It can be hard to distinguish what rancid cake flour smells like, considering it has a neutral odor, to begin with. However, any smell that is not “neutral” can indicate your cake flour has gone bad. More specifically, look for a musty, sour, or even Play-Doh-like smell.

Final Words

With proper storage, cake flour can last up to a year in the pantry, two years in the fridge, or three years in the freezer. Some even say they use their cake flour beyond the three-year mark, but they double-check the batch for signs of spoilage before use.

How do you store your cake flour?

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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  • Cheryl Josephson

    What is the shelf life of cake flour if dry-canned into glass ball jars?

    Reply
    • Michelle

      Hi Cheryl,
      Dry-canned cake flour should last several years. Many websites have stated five years or longer. I have not dry-canned flour personally, so I do not have individual experience.
      Happy baking,
      Michelle

      Reply