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, isn’t it?
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 it’s expiration date, especially if the box is not opened. The expiration date just 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, either, by consuming a product after it’s so-called 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 by 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, however, 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 fresh 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, however, 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 rancid and there is a good chance that you will see some discoloration. You will also find that the mac and cheese have taken on a moldy appearance, 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. There may be signs of mould, 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 mould, 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 mould 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 box of Kraft Mac and Cheese in your pantry or your cupboards, instead of putting it in your refrigerator.
Putting your box of unopened Kraft Mac and Cheese will not really do much to lengthen its shelf life. There is a high level of humidity inside the refrigerator, which means a box of pasta that is 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, yes, but not for long, as it will congeal. Moreover, thawing cooked pasta will reduce the flavor and the cheese will never quite be the same.
How to Store Kraft Mac and Cheese Properly
Kraft mac and cheese is meant to have a long shelf life, yes. But does that mean you toss it on to the top of your cupboards, forget all about it and come back to it in two years?
That is precisely what a majority of people do, and to a great extent, it works. That is the whole point of boxed mac and cheese, isn’t it? But, there are certain things you can do to remove any risk of your mac and cheese going bad.
Remember, dry pasta stores really well. It is the sauce packet or the flavor sachet that 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.