Does Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire? Does It Go Bad?

Does Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire? Does It Go Bad?

A pantry staple in every American household is the box of Mac and Cheese by Kraft.

You can’t think of quick and easy mac and cheese and not think of this company.

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.

Can Kraft Mac and Cheese Expire and Go Bad?

Kraft Mac and Cheese can expire, but this usually happens long after the expiration date. This is especially true if the box is unopened. The expiration date means ‘best quality’ according to the manufacturer.


Unopened, they can technically be eaten well past their expiry date.

You do not need to fear a massive 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 food becomes inedible after the use or best-by dates.

mac and cheese

A box of Kraft’s mac and cheese does not 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 with the macaroni must be checked before you decide whether it has gone bad or is still edible.

How Do You Tell If It Has Gone Bad?

There aren’t 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 will likely lose its taste and spoil beyond a specific time frame, dry pasta in a box is preserved to last longer.

mac and cheese bad

Cooked Kraft Mac and Cheese can become inedible. When it does, you’ll know it.

Spoiled, cooked mac and cheese will have an unpleasant odor.

The pack of cheese powder will lose flavor over time.

The cheese will smell rotten, and there is a good chance you will see some discoloration. You will also find that the box of mac and cheese has become moldy, which is when you dump it.
If all the Kraft Mac and Cheese ingredients are still in their packets, dry and sealed, they likely don’t show signs of spoilage.

If the packet has been opened, its seal has been broken or damaged; then there is a possibility of moisture seeping in.

Mold on Food

Look for mold or clumps in pasta or sauce mix.

  • Stale sauce mix loses flavor.
  • Dairy additives may lose taste.

Dry pasta stays good for 2-3 years if it doesn’t smell bad.

It won’t taste great, but it won’t make you sick.

Can You Put Kraft Mac and Cheese in the Refrigerator?

You would better store your Kraft Mac and Cheese box in your pantry or cupboards instead of in your refrigerator.

put in fridge

Putting your box of unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese will not do much to lengthen its shelf life.
The refrigerator is very humid. If pasta isn’t sealed tightly, it can get 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 differ.

How to Store The Product 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 return to it in two years?

Well, yes. 


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 accidentally break open the seal, transfer the contents to a clean, dry, and airtight container and use it as soon as possible.

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.
To keep the temperature stable, don’t move the box from its original spot to a different place, like the fridge or somewhere warmer or colder.

Kraft Mac and Cheese Shelf Life

Storage conditions play a significant role in determining the shelf life of Kraft Mac and Cheese.

If stored properly in a cool place away from direct sunlight and heat sources, it’s likely to last longer than if exposed to these elements.

  • High temperatures and humidity can make the noodles go stale and spoil the cheese sauce.
  • Sunlight can also change the color and flavor of the cheese sauce.
  • The type of packaging used can also impact the quality of Kraft Mac and Cheese.
  • Air and moisture can get in if the packaging is damaged or not sealed properly. This can make the noodles stale or spoil the cheese sauce.

However, vacuum-sealed packaging can keep the food item fresh for longer by stopping bacteria growth
The presence of preservatives or additives can also affect the quality of Kraft Mac and Cheese.
Certain preservatives, like sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, can prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from causing spoilage.
Additives, like anti-caking agents and stabilizers, can make the cheese sauce last longer. They stop clumping and separation.

Extending the Shelf Life

To extend it, it’s essential to store it properly and follow the expiration date on the package.

  • Freezing: Freeze for longer storage, but prevent freezer burn and maintain freshness.
  • Expiration Date: Even if it’s past the date, it may not taste as good.
  • Storage: Keep in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat sources.
  • Packaging: Use original or airtight containers to prevent moisture and odors.
  • Leftovers: Refrigerate leftovers for a few days, then reheat thoroughly on the stove or in the microwave.

Obviously, my best tip is to eat it before it expires. It’s always safe to eat it in this case.