Can steel-cut oats go bad? (+3 Ways to tell)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can steel-cut oats go bad?”, and how to tell If the oatmeal has gone bad?

Can steel-cut oats go bad?

Yes, steel-cut oats can go bad. Inspect the oats for any off-odors, off-colors, and flavors. The presence of mold or clumping is an obvious sign of spoilage.

Can rolled oats go bad?

Yes, rolled oats can go bad after a certain period of time. Flavored oats last for around six months and classic recipes last for up to one year to three years. Depending on the storage condition and by limiting the exposure to moisture you can prolong the shelf life of rolled oats.

What happens If you eat expired oats?

Eating expired oats won’t make you sick unless the oats are spoiled. However, The nutritional value and the quality will be compromised. 

Consuming expired oats on regular basis can upset your stomach and cause intestinal inflammation. However, If the oats were moldy, they will cause food poisoning.

Similarly, consuming rancid eats won’t make you sick If the rancidity is only due to lipid oxidation. In some people, It may disturb the digestive system. Moreover, rancid oats have a poor nutritional profile like expired oats.

What can you do with old oatmeal?

Oatmeal has a rich nutritional profile containing high fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds like beta-glucan. 

It helps reduce bad cholesterol and boost immunity. Expired oats can be utilized in some useful ways. Some of them are discussed below.

  • The mild exfoliating action of expired oats can be used to get glowing skin. Besides they can also be used in bath bombs and soaps. Oatmeal scrubs are an excellent way to treat acne and get rid of dry and irritated skin.
  • Use the expired oats in a face mask by combining it with some water and flour till thick paste forms. Gently scrub and remove after 15 minutes.
  • Expired oats can also be gently scrubbed onto pets to get rid of unpleasant odors.
  • Old or expired oats can be converted into dough clay by soaking it overnight. You can add food-grade colors into this clay-like oat dough so that kids can play with this.

Shelf-life of oatmeal 

The shelf-life of oats depends on how they were manufactured or processed plus what type of ingredients were added to it during cooking. An opened container of store-bought uncooked rolled, quick, or steel-cut oats will stay fresh for about 12 months. 

If the container is unopened and stored under the right storage practices, It will last for 2 years. Commercially processed oats are steamed during processing which contributes to their extended shelf-life. Oats that do not undergo such a steaming process will only last 3-4 months. 

Oatmeal with added ingredients like dry milk and dry fruits has a shelf-life of 4 months-1 years depending on the type of ingredients. Read the label for a more accurate estimation of the shelf-life of oats. 

Cooked oatmeal will last 3-4 months in the fridge If stored in an air-tight container. In the freezer, they will stay fresh for up to 3 months.

Unopened or Opened (and re-sealed)In the pantryIn the freezer
Past Printed Date 
Instant Oatmeal1-2 Years—-
Flavored/Cream Instant Oatmeal6-9 Months—-
1-minute Oatmeal 2-3 Days—-
5-minute Oatmeal2-3 Days—-
Steel Cut Oatmeal (Irish Oatmeal)1-2 Years—-
Oatmeal Cookies2-3 Days4-5 Months
Prepared Refrigerated Freezer 
Prepared (Cooked) Oatmeal5-7 days Not recommended 

Other FAQs about Oatmeal which you may be interested in.

Do you have to use chia seeds in overnight oats?

What happens If you eat expired oats?

What happens if you eat expired oatmeal?

How to tell If the oatmeal has gone bad?

If the oats have been stored for too long, they won’t go bad unless you help them. Instead, they will lose their flavor becoming stale and developing unwanted colors. Such oats have a poor nutritional profile.

  • If the dry oats come in contact with moisture during storage, mold grows and It is an obvious sign of spoilage.
  • Similarly, If the oats start to clump, they better be discarded.
  • If the oats develop unusual colors or give off strange odors, discard them right away.

Storage tips to maximize shelf-life 

The rule of thumb is to keep the uncooked dry oats in a cool, dry, and dark place away from sources of heat like the direct sunlight and the stovetop. Once opened, do not keep the oats in their original packaging. 

Instead, transfer them to a glass, ceramic or stainless steel air-tight container. Cooked oatmeal should always be stored in an air-tight container. When storing it in the freezer, go for a high-quality air-tight container to prevent the oatmeal from freezer burn.

The nutritional profile of oats 

The following nutrition facts apply to Half a cup or 78 grams of dry oats.

Carbs 51 grams 
Protein 13 grams 
Fat 5 grams 
Fiber 8 grams 
Manganese 191% of the RDI
Phosphorus 41% of the RDI
Magnesium 34% of the RDI
Copper 24% of the RDI
Iron 20% of the RDI
Zinc 20% of the RDI
Folate 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)39% of the RDI
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) 10% of the RDI


In this article, we answered the question “What happens if you eat expired oatmeal?”, and how to tell If the oatmeal is bad?


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