Can cookie dough go bad? (3 Key Facts)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can cookie dough go bad? We will discuss how long it takes for cookie dough to go bad and how to prevent it. We will also discuss the ingredients and factors that determine how quickly cookie dough spoils.

Can cookie dough go bad?

Cookie dough can go bad in 3 to 7 days, depending on your handling process. Cookie dough goes bad depending on how it was stored and handled. If cookie dough is stored in the fridge or better yet, the freezer, it will take longer to go bad.

However, when the cookie dough is left at room temperature, it will go bad within three hours. 

The temperature between 40°F and 140°F (4.4°C to 60°C) is called the danger zone because it harbors bacteria when food lies between the specified temperature. Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus are the most prevalent bacteria that cause spoilage to food. 

When cookie dough spoils, a change in the color of the cookie dough occurs in color, texture, and smell.

  • A mold or fungus causes the dough to turn green.
  • The edges of the dough become hard, and the color darkens.
  • A change in the smell that is funky, tangy, or rancid is also an indication, that the cookie dough has spoiled.

Throw away your dough if you observe any of the signs above. Consuming cookies made from spoilt dough can make you sick. 

The USDA advises to not consume cookie dough that was handled poorly or not kept in the fridge to prevent getting sick. 

If the cookie dough has spoiled, cooking it does not help to kill the bacteria and toxins. The toxins remain even at high temperatures, and the cookie dough remains unsafe even after baking.

What factors and ingredients contribute to when and how cookie dough spoils?

  1. Eggs

Cookie Dough spoils because it has one highly perishable ingredient; eggs. So avoid adding extra eggs. Raw eggs are present in the cookie dough to hold the dough together. Raw or spoiled eggs will make you sick; it has bacteria such as Salmonella and E-coli.

  1. Butter

Butter goes rancid, which means the fats present oxidize and develop an off-odor and taste. Rancidity is also a result of bacterial growth.

The shelf-life of your cookie dough will vary depending on the individual product and brand. For accurate information, it is best to read the labels on your product.

Other unapparent factors will come into play such, as the ingredients and size of the cookie dough. The preparation method, the variety of dough also account for the shelf-life of dough.

What factors strengthen and elongate the shelf-life of cookie dough?

  1. Storing cookie dough 

To store cookie dough, you must put it in a cling wrap or an air-tight container and then refrigerate. If you leave the cookie dough out of the fridge or freezer for more than 2 hours, it will make it go bad.

The bacterial spores multiply, consequently cause the cookie dough to spoil, and covering the cookie dough, protects it from external contaminants and bacteria. Therefore, it is advisable to cover all food items, preferably in an air-tight container.

If you store cookie dough properly, it will not go bad later than it would otherwise.

  1. Sugar and moisture content

Sugar and moisture levels collectively contribute to the life of cookie dough. Sugar wards off bacteria, hence a higher sugar content guarantees a longer shelf-life.

The sugar binds free water molecules that are present in any food. As the sugar does that, it reduces the water activity. A lower water activity means that bacteria do not have enough water to contaminate, grow and thrive. Hence, lower water activity is linked to delayed spoiling of cooking dough.

Without sugar in perspective, dough that is wet and runny will spoil quickly. The best way to make the cookie dough last long is to dehydrate it to reduce the moisture content. 

What is the difference between raw cookie dough and edible cookie dough? 

Edible cookie dough will spoil quicker than raw cookie dough. If edible cookie dough was left out for more than 2 hours, it becomes unsafe to eat. If you leave the cookie dough out of the fridge for long, you can eat it after baking it thoroughly.

Considering only the safe limit of cookie dough handling has lapsed, baking the cookie dough will kill most of the bacteria. 

Raw cookie dough contains eggs and raw flour that can spoil quickly and cause food poisoning. Edible cookie dough is made safe to be eaten raw, by using heat sterilized flour and omitting eggs. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can cookie dough go bad? We discussed how long it takes for cookie dough to go bad and how to prevent it. We also discussed the ingredients and factors that determine how quickly cookie dough spoils.

Find out more about cookies that have gone bad.

Citations

https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-is-the-shelf-life-of-cookie-dough#:~:text=Homemade%20cookie%20dough%20should%20be,in%20the%20refrigerator%20as%20needed.
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/raw-cookie-dough#raw-eggs
https://www.cuisinevault.com/how-long-can-cookie-dough-sit-out/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.