Shelf Life of Sugar: Do Sugars Go Bad & How to Store Them

I was cleaning out my pantry and food storage the other day when I came across an old bag of white sugar. It felt clumpy so I could help but wonder if the sugar had gone bad. The best buy date on the package was about a year past the date so I did some in-depth research to find answers to my many questions. Does sugar go bad or expire? How should I store sugar in my long-term storage? And what is the actual shelf life of sugar?

The shelf life of sugar (granular, syrup, honey, etc.) is indefinite because sugars are very resistant to microorganisms/bacterial growth. Sugar that is stored in a cool, dry location will last forever and never go bad. Sugar does have a best-if-used by date of 2 years due to its tendency to become clumpy/hardened in granular sugars and crystallize in syrup and honey but can still be safely consumed.

Sugar should be kept away from moisture and stored in an airtight container to avoid letting in any moisture or bugs. When stored this way, sugar can have an indefinite shelf life as long as it is not contaminated by bugs or moisture.

The Shelf Life of 5 Commonly Used Sugars

Sugar TypePantry Life (opened/original packaging)Long Term Life (airtight container with an oxygen absorber)
White Sugar2 YearsIndefinite 
Brown Sugar18 MonthsIndefinite
Powdered Sugar2 YearsIndefinite 
Honey2 YearsIndefinite
Syrup2 YearsIndefinite
The above table shows the shelf/storage life of white, brown, and powdered sugars in addition to honey and syrup.
the shelf life of white, brown, and powdered sugars
Shelf life of white, brown, and powdered sugars

Can sugar be stored long-term?

Sugar can and should be stored for the long term and included in everyone’s home food storage. In fact, it is common and recommended to include a variety of bulk sugars in your long-term storage.

According to food preservation experts at Utah State University “Sugars are simple carbohydrates that provide an excellent source of calories for energy. Sugars also add a sweet taste to many of our most delicious foods. Sugar can be stored in dry form (crystals) or in a liquid form (syrup –including maple syrup).”

Other shelf-stable foods that are worth storing in your long-term food storage include flour, yeast, and rice. Also know it is critical to know what factors affect food storage life and how to prolong it.

How to store white sugar for the longest shelf life?

Sugar is most often stored long-term in 5-gallon buckets with gamma lids for an airtight seal, or in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers for an even longer-lasting even indefinite storage life.

What you need to store sugar long term:

  • 5-gallon buckets with airtight gamma lids
  • Mylar bags
  • Oxygen absorbers

6 durable 5-Gallon Buckets | Airtight lids | Food Grade

These buckets work well for storage. We use them for rice, wheat, flour, sugar, and more and they create an airtight seal so we haven’t experienced any spoilage of food that we store in them. In addition to the buckets for long-term storage, we also like to use mylar bags and oxygen absorbers.

Check the price of these 5-gallon buckets and airtight lids on amazon

In addition to the buckets also consider getting the following:

Best storage conditions for Sugars

  • Dry location (off the ground, on a shelf, pantry, etc.)
  • Cool environment (cold storage, pantry, etc.)
  • Sealed, oxygen-free container

When sugar is exposed to moisture it begins to clump. This does not make the sugar unusable, however, storing sugar away from any moisture and other living things is a sure way to get the longest shelf life out of your sugar.

What is the shelf life of white sugar?

White or granulated sugar has an indefinite shelf life when stored in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber and in a cool, dry place. When stored in the original packaging or once opened, sugar has about a 2-year shelf life. 

Sugar is a staple ingredient in the kitchen. Luckily it has a very long shelf life. Sugar can last 2 years in the pantry after it has been opened. While it is recommended to throw sugar away after 2 years, sugar technically has an indefinite shelf life when kept away from contaminants and stored in a cool dry place. Sugar is great for long-term storage as it will serve its purpose in baking and cooking well past its expiration date.

Does white sugar expire or go bad?

Even though white sugar can expire it does not go bad and can last well past its best-by-date on the original packaging when stored correctly. The best storage conditions to get the longest shelf life include an airtight container and a dry cool environment.  

Sugar can go bad only if it is contaminated by either moisture, bugs, or bacteria.

Is sugar still good after 2 years?

Sugar can last decades past its best-by-date of 2 years. A good way to keep its quality from decreasing is by storing it correctly in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber. 

does white sugar go bad

How to tell if sugar has gone bad?

It’s not super common for sugar to go bad. White sugar has little to no moisture making it hard for bacteria to survive in sugar. 

If you think your sugar might be bad here are some things to look for.

  • Insects or bugs
  • Mold or any other organic growth
  • Stale smell
  • Smells like other foods (sugar that smells like other foods will give whatever you use it in that same smell/taste.)

How to extend the shelf life of sugar?

Sugar has a very long shelf life when stored correctly. However, there are ways to extend its shelf life. 

  • Repackaging (bucket, mylar bags, vacuum seal bags)
  • Freeze in an airtight container (Keep sealed to avoid letting in moisture)

When extending the shelf life of sugar, repackaging is often the easiest way. Using something such as a 5-gallon bucket with an airtight lid and mylar or vacuum seal bags with an oxygen absorber. 

Freezing sugar in an airtight container is also an option, however, you should be cautious of moisture getting inside the container whether from condensation or not being in an airtight container.  

The shelf life of brown sugar
The shelf life of brown sugar

What is the shelf life of brown sugar?

The shelf life of brown sugar is 18 months. Brown sugar has more moisture than white sugar, therefore, decreasing the shelf life of brown sugar compared to white sugar when stored in the pantry in its original packaging. However, when stored in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber brown sugar can have an indefinite shelf life. 

Brown sugar is another pantry staple that is commonly kept on hand and bought in bulk. Brown sugar’s shelf life isn’t quite as long as granulated sugar when stored in the pantry but still has a long shelf life. 

Brown sugar can serve its purpose for long after the best by date. However, when not stored correctly it can lose some of its original flavor and texture. If brown sugar has been exposed to outside contaminants it also has a chance of going rancid. 

Storing brown sugar in an airtight container is the best way to extend the shelf life as well as keep it fresh for a long time.

Does Brown Sugar expire or go bad?

Brown sugar can go bad if it is exposed to moisture or other organic matter. While it has a best-by-date that is about 18 months in the original packaging it will have the longest shelf life when stored in an airtight container such as a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. 

While brown sugar does have a best-by-date it is common for brown sugar to last well beyond that date. Brown sugar is known for turning hard over time. This is because the moisture in the sugar evaporates, but this does not mean that it has gone bad. Brown sugar that has become hard can easily be revived.

5 easy ways to revive your hard brown sugar

  • Place a slice of bread in the container
  • Place an apple slice in the container 
  • Microwave the brown sugar covered with a damp paper towel for 10 seconds at a time
  • Place sugar in the oven with the temperature as low as it will go for 5-10 minutes checking frequently and fluffing with a fork 
  • Buy a Brown Sugar Saver – here is our favorite check it out on Amazon

Can brown sugar be stored long-term? / How to store brown sugar?

Brown sugar is a common ingredient to be stored long term. To store brown sugar long-term it should be stored in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber in a cool dry place. Brown sugar is most commonly stored long-term in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. Storing brown sugar in a mylar bag helps keep unwanted moisture and bugs out as well as helps the brown sugar keep its original moisture to avoid letting it dry out. 

What you need to store Brown Sugar long term

Shelf life of powdered sugar
Shelf life of powdered sugar

What is the shelf life of powdered sugar?

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners sugar, has a shelf life of 2 years. Powdered sugar is white granulated sugar milled into a powder so the shelf life is going to be similar. When stored correctly in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber, stored in a cool dry place, powdered sugar can have an indefinite shelf life.

Does powdered sugar expire or go bad?

Powdered sugar, also known as confectioners sugar, is very similar to granulated sugar in that it can go bad when exposed to moisture or other organic matter. Powdered sugar has a best-by-date usually around 2 years after purchase when stored in the original packaging, however, powdered sugar can last indefinitely when stored correctly.

How to store powdered sugar long-term?

To store powdered sugar long-term it should be stored in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber and kept in a cool dry place. 

Powdered sugar is most commonly stored long-term in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. Storing powdered sugar helps keep unwanted moisture and bugs out.   

Powdered sugar is not as easy to restore to its original state once it has been exposed to moisture. To restore powdered sugar to its original state once it has become clumpy, you will need to put it in a food processor or blender to break up the clumps.

What you need to store Powdered Sugar long term:

Shelf life of honey
Shelf life of honey

What is the shelf life of honey?

The shelf life of honey is 2 years. However because of the high sugar content which makes it near impossible for bacteria to thrive, when stored properly honey can have an indefinite shelf life.

Over time it is common for honey to darken and become hard and crystallized or even cloudy looking. Honey is easily revived when it is heated up and the crystallized sugars have been melted. Heating the honey can cause a change in the flavor, but it is still safe to eat. 

To have an indefinite shelf life honey should be stored in a sealed airtight, glass, or plastic container. Metal can oxidize the honey but it is still safe to use.

How to tell if honey has gone bad?

You can tell honey has gone bad if it has developed mold from contamination, or a vinegar smell in which case it has gone bad. Honey does not usually go bad unless it has been contaminated with other organic matter such as dust, dirt, or other foods.

Hard, crystalized, or foggy honey is often mistaken as honey that has gone bad. This is natural and common for honey and can easily be revived to be able to continue to use. 

3 ways to revive hard/crystallized honey

  • Place container in hot water till melted
  • Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each session 
  • Heat in a saucepan if you can get the honey out of the container

How to store honey?

Honey should be stored in a tightly sealed container in a cool place away from direct sunlight. A glass jar or food-safe container is recommended for storage.

While you can store honey in a metal container it is not recommended as it can cause the honey to oxidize. Honey does not need to be refrigerated. In fact, it is much easier to use if it has not been refrigerated as the cool temperature can cause the honey to solidify.  

What is the actual shelf life of sugar?

Kaycee Blair

I'm Kaycee Blair, co-owner of EZ-Prepping with my husband Colton. My family is the most important thing to me in this world. I couldn't bear watching my two little boys go hungry so finding easy and practical ways to be prepared for the future by building food storage and gathering other emergency preparedness items has become a passion to me.

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