Kraft Mac and Cheese is a pantry staple in every American household.
You can’t think of quick and easy mac and cheese and not think of Kraft. You’ve probably got a box—or half a dozen; I’m not one to judge— sitting in your cupboard or the back of your pantry for ages.
It’s always there.
Does Kraft Mac and Cheese expire or go bad? Yes, Kraft Mac and Cheese can expire or go bad, but it is usually well past its expiration date, especially if the box is not opened. The expiration date means ‘best quality’ according to the manufacturer.
Does Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire?
Shelf-stable food like a box of macaroni and cheese has a rather commendable latitude in terms of expiration dates.
Unopened, they can technically be eaten well past their expiry date, and the same can be said for Kraft’s Mac and Cheese.
So, technically, a box of Kraft mac and cheese, left unopened, can be consumed well after its expiry date and with no noticeable change in quality.
You do not need to fear a massive bout of food poisoning by consuming a product after its expiry, use-by, sell-by, or best-by dates.
These dates are solely indicators of freshness, used by manufacturers and producers to convey when the product is at its peak. This does not mean that food becomes inedible after the use or best-by dates.
A box of Kraft’s mac and cheese does not ‘go bad’ or become inedible.
Properly stored, an unopened can or box of Kraft Mac and Cheese will retain its original quality for up to two years.
The dry mix sachet or the sauce mix that comes with the macaroni needs to be checked before you decide whether it has gone bad or is still edible.
How to Tell if Kraft Mac and Cheese Has Gone Bad
There aren’t exactly many physical indicators to show that a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese has ‘gone bad,’ if it ever does. Unlike fresh produce or pasta, which are likely to go bad and spoil beyond a certain time frame, dry pasta in a box is preserved to last longer.
Cooked macaroni and cheese can and will go bad, and when it does, you’ll know it.
Spoiled, cooked mac and cheese will have an unpleasant odor.
The cheese will smell rotten, and there is a good chance you will see some discoloration. You will also find that the mac and cheese have become moldy, which is when you dump it.
If all the ingredients of Kraft’s Mac and Cheese are still in their original packets, and are dry and still sealed, then the likely possibility is that it has not spoiled.
If however, the packet has been opened, its seal has been broken or has been damaged, then there is a possibility of moisture seeping in.
Mold on Food
There may be signs of mold; you may also find that the pasta has become clumpy or soft, or you might notice that the sauce mix is damp and lumpy.
Irrespective of whether or not you find any moisture or mold, if left unused for too long, the sauce mix or the flavor packet will lose its flavor and potency, and this means you’ll need to throw it away, not just out of caution and to avoid any mold or fungal formation, but also because it simply will not taste as good as it rightly should.
Additionally, the flavor pack likely contains some form of dairy additive like milk powder or whey, which will most likely lose flavor as time passes.
But the actual pasta itself should remain the same.
Boxed pasta will not spoil as it is a dry product.
This means that as long as it doesn’t smell funny, you can safely use it up to its prescribed shelf life of two, perhaps three years.
It won’t taste good, but it will still be edible, and you shouldn’t get sick eating it
Can You Put Kraft Mac and Cheese in the Refrigerator?
You would do better storing your Kraft Mac and Cheese box in your pantry or cupboards instead of putting it in your refrigerator.
Putting your box of unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese will not do much to lengthen its shelf life. There is a high level of humidity inside the refrigerator, which means a box of pasta kept inside it, without first being tightly wrapped and sealed, will be even more susceptible to any moisture that might seep in and cause the mac and cheese to become clumpy or moldy.
You can freeze cooked mac and cheese, but not for long, as it will thicken.
Thawing cooked pasta will reduce the flavor, and the cheese will always be different.
How to Store Kraft Mac and Cheese Properly
Kraft mac and cheese is meant to have a long shelf life. But does that mean you toss it onto the top of your cupboards, forget all about it and come back to it in two years?
That is precisely what most people do, and to a great extent, it works.
That is the whole point of boxed mac and cheese. But there are certain things you can do to remove any risk of your mac and cheese going bad.
Remember, dry pasta stores well. The sauce packet or the flavor sachet is the weak link. Be careful not to break or damage the seal of the packet in any way.
This will allow air and moisture in. If you do accidentally break open the seal, then transfer the contents to a clean, dry and airtight container and use it as soon as you can.
Make sure to store the entire box in a cool, dry place, devoid of moisture and dampness. Also, remember to keep it out of direct sunlight or any artificial light.
You can also make sure that the temperature remains stable by not moving the box from its original location to another, like the refrigerator or any spot that is significantly warmer or colder.
Factors That Affect Kraft Mac and Cheese Shelf Life
Storage conditions play a major role in determining the shelf life of Kraft Mac and Cheese. If it’s stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources, it’s likely to last longer than if it’s exposed to these elements. Heat and humidity can cause the noodles to become stale and the cheese sauce to spoil, while exposure to sunlight can cause the color and flavor of the cheese sauce to degrade.
The type of packaging used can also impact the shelf life of Kraft Mac and Cheese. For example, if the packaging is damaged or not properly sealed, air and moisture can get in and cause the noodles to become stale or the cheese sauce to spoil. On the other hand, vacuum-sealed packaging can help extend the shelf life of the product by preventing the growth of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
The presence of preservatives or additives can also affect the shelf life of Kraft Mac and Cheese. Some preservatives, such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, can help inhibit the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause spoilage. Additives such as anti-caking agents and stabilizers can also help extend the shelf life of the product by preventing clumping and separation of the cheese sauce.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Kraft Mac and Cheese
To extend the shelf life of Kraft Mac and Cheese, it’s important to store it properly and follow the expiration date on the package. You can also freeze it to make it last longer, but you’ll need to take certain steps to prevent freezer burn and ensure it stays fresh.
It’s also important to keep in mind that while Kraft Mac and Cheese may still be safe to eat after the expiration date, the quality may have deteriorated and the flavor may not be as good as when it was fresh.
When it comes to storage, Kraft Mac and Cheese should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. It’s best to keep it in its original packaging or transfer it to an airtight container to prevent moisture and odors from getting in.
If you do end up with leftover Kraft Mac and Cheese, you can store it in the refrigerator for a few days, but it’s important to reheat it properly to ensure it’s safe to eat. Simply heat it up on the stove or in the microwave, and make sure it’s steaming hot throughout before serving.