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Shelf Life of Common Baking Ingredients

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Part of my Baking Basics series: An extensive list of commonly used baking ingredients in the pantry, fridge, and freezer and their shelf lives so that you know when it's time to replace them for the best baking results.

California Closets White pantry shelving with cabinet and drawer

We all know expiration dates are a thing, but some people take them more seriously than others (remind me to tell you about my husband's history with expiration dates some time).

When it comes to baking ingredients, fresher is always better – especially when we're talking about leaveners, as they can make or break the results of your recipe.

It's hard to keep track of the shelf life of everything in your pantry, fridge, and freezer, so I wanted to provide you with charts about all my most commonly used ingredients as a point of reference.

A few tips for shelf life hygiene

  • Keep in mind, this all assumes that the ingredients are stored properly, which generally speaking means airtight containers at room temperature or in a cool, dry, dark place. Learn how to properly store all your ingredients!
  • If you're not sure how long you've had something, and/or there's no date on the package, it's time to toss it for a new one. “When in doubt, throw it out!”
  • If you can't read the expiration date on a package because it's worn off… that's a good sign it's time to replace it.
  • I've made it practice to replace my baking powder, baking soda, and cornstarch before the holidays to make sure I'm giving my best to all the Christmas goodies.

How do I know if my baking powder is expired?

I call out baking powder because this is the most common troublemaker. Thankfully, there's an easy way to test if your baking powder is still active!

  • In a small bowl, pour 1/2 cup hot water (not boiling) over 1 teaspoon of baking powder

If the mixture immediately starts fizzing and dissipates all of the baking powder, you're golden – it's still active.

If there's no bubbling, that means the baking powder doesn't have its magical powers anymore and needs to be replaced.

Check out the short video below to see what I mean!

Dry pantry staples

IngredientShelf Life
Baking powder1 year
Baking soda2 years
Candy melts18 months
Chocolate baking bars1 year
Chocolate chips1 year
Cocoa powder1 year
Cornstarch1 year
Cream of tartar2 years
Espresso powder3 months
Flours6 months
Marshmallows6 months
Marshmallow Fluff6 months
Salt, no additivesForever!
Salt, sea or fleur de selForever, but best to use by date on the package
Sprinkles3 years
Sugar, coconut2 years
Sugar, granulated 2 years
Sugar, light or dark brown 2 years (but technically, never goes bad and can be re-softened)
Sugar, powdered2 years
YeastDate on package

Liquid pantry staples

IngredientShelf Life
Broths (chicken, beef, vegetable) Unopened: 1 year
Opened: 5 days
Coconut milk Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 7 days
Extracts (almond, mint, imitation vanilla, etc.)2 years
Maple syrup, real1 year, unopened
Milk, shelf-stableDate on package
Milk, sweetened condensed1 year
Molasses2 years
Oil, coconut2 years
Oil, vegetable or canola1 year
Oil, extra virgin olive6 months
Oil, non-stick spray1 year (or date on the package)
Vanilla, pure extract Forever!

Canned goods

ProductShelf Life
ApplesauceUnopened: 1 year
Opened: 14 days (covered in the refrigerator)
Broths (beef, chicken, vegetable)2 years (or as noted on the package)
Fruit (peaches, pineapple, cherries, etc.)1 year
Pumpkin, pureeUnopened: 1 year
Opened: 4 days (covered in the refrigerator)
Seafood (salmon, tuna, etc.)2 years (or as noted on the package)
Tomatoes (crushed, diced, stewed, sauce)1 year


ProductShelf Life
Dressings1 year (or as noted on the package)
Hot sauce5 years
Jams2 years
Jellies2 years
Mayonnaise3 months
Mustard, yellow or ground2 years
Peanut butter9 months (unopened), 3 months (once opened)
Sesame oil1 year
Soy sauce3 years
Vinegar, any kindForever! (but best if used within 2 years)
Worcestershire sauce1 year

Dried goods

ProductShelf Life
Breadcrumbs6 months
Chia seeds3 years
Fruit (cranberries, figs, raisins, etc.)12 months
Nuts6 months
Oats12 months
Pasta, dried and boxed2 years
Rice, brown6 months
Rice, jasmine2 years
Rice, white2 years
Rice, wild6 months
Drawer full of spice jars

Commonly Used Spices

These are the spices I use most often and that you've seen in recipes on this site. Outside of this list (generally speaking):

  • Whole spices will last 4 years
  • Ground spices will last 3 years
  • Dried herbs will last 2 years
SpiceShelf Life
Allspice2 years
Bay leaves1 year
Chili powder2 years
Cinnamon, ground2 years
Cinnamon, sticks3 years
Cumin2 years
Garlic powder2 years
Ginger, ground2 years
Mustard, ground yellow3 years
Nutmeg 2 years
Onion powder2 years
Oregano, dried2 years
Parsley, dried2 years
Pepper, black2 years
Pepper, white2 years
Poppy seeds3 years
Thyme 1 year
Vanilla, whole beans 1 year
Refrigerated items in a fridge door
The above photo is for the sake of showing a collection of products – most are not actually stored in the fridge door.


ProductShelf Life
Bacon2 weeks
Butter3 months
Buttermilk2 weeks
Cheese, hard6 months (unopened)
Cheese, soft1 week
Cream cheese2 months, or by the date on the package
Eggs1 month
Heavy cream2 weeks
Mascarpone cheese2 months, or by the date on the package
Milk, dairy1 week
Milk, non-dairy (refrigerated)10 days
Milk, non-dairy (not refrigerated)1 month
Sour cream3 weeks
Drawer of freezer full of various foods


ProductShelf Life
Bacon6 months
Cool Whip4 months
Corn 1 year
Cranberries1 year
Ice creamDate on package
Peas1 year
Phyllo dough3 months
Pie crust1 year


How do you store common baking ingredients?

Every item is a little bit different. Check out my post about the proper way to store the most common baking ingredients for tons of detailed information!

Do dry ingredients go bad?

They do, but not in the sense that you're going to see them growing mold. Different dry goods expire at different rates depending on many factors, including how they are stored (see above). Things like baking powder will lose their effectiveness over time.

Can cinnamon expire?

Spices like cinnamon don't expire, perse, but they will lose their fragrance over time. Generally speaking, whole spices will last 4 years, ground spices will last 3 years, and dried herbs will last 2 years.

What ingredients don't go bad?

Salt, honey, vanilla extract, and vinegar will really never go bad.

Does sugar expire?

Technically no, but you want to use sugar within 2 years for the best results.

Does powdered sugar have a shelf life?

This is another case of technically it won't go bad if stored properly for the entire duration that you have it. But if you notice clumps then that means it's been exposed to moisture and it's time to go.

Leslie leaning on a counter

I hope this information helps!

Do you have any questions about this topic that I didn't answer? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Oy vey! Don’t let my husband see this list or we will be pitching out everything in our pantry! He’s a stickler for expiration dates while I’m the one who on January 7 was still drinking milk dated December 25. I’m a new follower of Stress Baking and love it. Baking is so therapeutic.