Can chocolate go bad? (+their shelf-life)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can chocolate go bad?”, and how to store chocolate to prevent it from going bad?

Can chocolate go bad?

Yes, chocolate can go bad. Chocolates do not usually have an expiration date, instead, they have a best-before date. After that time the quality of chocolate deteriorates considerably.

Chocolates are usually shelf-stable and will be good to eat for days if the package was left unopened in the pantry and months if the chocolate was refrigerated.

Read on if you want to know which chocolate has the highest shelf life and how to tell when to discard chocolate.

Does milk chocolate go bad? 

Yes, milk chocolate does eventually go bad. The shelf life of milk chocolate is 1 – 2 years depending on its ingredients. For example, white chocolate, that comprises dairy and cocoa butter has a shorter shelf life and is likely to go bad sooner.

The shelf-life of different types of chocolate

The shelf-life of chocolate depends on the composition of the chocolate. The more the milk, the lesser the shelf-life. This means that dark chocolate will last longer than milk chocolate. After the best before date, there are visible changes in the appearance and detectable changes in the taste of the chocolate.

White chocolate

White chocolate has a lot of milk and cocoa butter making it susceptible to spoilage. So white chocolate will last about 6 months in the pantry if unopened. If placed in the fridge, it will last longer. An opened package will be good for about 4 months in the pantry.

Milk chocolate

Milk chocolate is everyone’s favorite as it has a very silky and rich texture due to all that milk. But the milk is susceptible to spoilage. So, an opened bar of milk chocolate will last 1 year in the pantry and longer if kept in the fridge. If opened, milk chocolate can only stay for 8-10 months in the pantry.

Bittersweet chocolate

Bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate has about 70% cocoa. Less amount of milk allows it to stay as long as 2 years in the pantry or in the fridge if unopened. 

Belgian chocolate

This fudgy treat has about 35% cocoa and will stay good for a week or two in the pantry if unopened. Putting it in the fridge will extend it s shelf life to about 4-5 weeks. Freeze the Belgian chocolate to keep it around for 2 months.

Chocolate chips

If unopened, chocolate chips will be good in the pantry for about 2-4 months. Keeping it in the fridge will extend its shelf life to about 6-8 months. Frozen chocolate chips will last for 2-3 years in the freezer.

Handmade chocolates or truffles

It is not recommended to put these delicate truffles in the fridge or freezer. They are to be consumed within hours of purchasing for optimum taste. However, they will last for a week or two in the pantry if unopened.

Cocoa powder

Cocoa powder is quite a shelf stable product. It will only gradually lose its strength of flavor over time it will be good for about 3 years in the pantry if left unopened. An opened package will last a  year or two in the pantry.

How to tell if the chocolate is bad?

If the chocolate appears discolored or develops white spots and a moldy appearance, discard it immediately as it is not safe for consumption. If the surface turns white or grey, it may be an indication of sugar or fat bloom. It does not mean the chocolate is unsafe. Instead, it is an indication of sugar or fat bloom. 

When it doubt and you are unsure, throw it away, because safety first!

How to store chocolate to prevent spoilage?

Keep the chocolate away from moisture, high temperature, temperature fluctuations, or unwanted odors. The temperature fluctuations and humidity will crystallize the sugar resulting in sugar bloom. It ruins the silky texture of the chocolate.

Similarly, exposing the chocolate to high temperatures will result in fat blooms that happens when coco butter/fats separate from the sugar and crstallize.

In the fridge

Whenever you are refrigerating your chocolate, make sure it is wrapped up tightly. It is recommended to place it in an air-tight container to prevent the humid environment of the fridge from damaging its quality. It will also protect the chocolate from absorbing undesirable odors from the fridge.

In the freezer

Before freezing the chocolate, refrigerate it first. Temperature shock will damage the quality of your chocolate. Keep the chocolate in a freezer bag when storing it in the freezer.

What happens if I eat expired chocolate?

Eating expired chocolate will not make you sick but it sure will taste very off. If it was refrigerated or frozen, expired chocolate tastes fine after the expiry for varying time periods.

Other FAQs about Chocolate that you may be interested in.

Can you eat M&M’s when pregnant?

Where is lindt chocolate made?

Can you eat kinder Bueno when pregnant?


In this article, we answered the question “Can chocolate go bad?”, and how to store chocolate to prevent it from going bad?