Flour is a pantry staple that I always keep on hand and buy in bulk. When buying a 25-pound bag I would bring it right home and transfer it from its original bag to a 5-gallon bucket with a screw-on lid to keep the flour fresh and get the most out of its shelf life. This would also keep bugs and moisture out. But after some extensive research, I found that between the different flours there are different shelf lives and there are many easy and effective ways to extend the shelf life of flour depending on how you store it. So what is the shelf life of flour?
All-purpose flour has a shelf life of one year in a store-bought package that is unopened and stored in a dry, cool, and dark location. Once a package of flour is opened it has a shelf life of 3-8 months when stored correctly. Once opened you can store your flour in the refrigerator for up to one year and in the freezer for up to 2 years if stored correctly.
We use airtight containers and oxygen absorbers to make our flour last longer. See how to use oxygen absorbers to extend the shelf life of your food storage.
It’s important to note that in order to store flour correctly it needs to be stored in a dry, cool, dark location (For help see our guide on how to store flour long-term). Also, you’ll want to know how to store yeast and its shelf life so you can use it to make bread from your flour.
All-purpose Flour Shelf Life By Storage Type:
|Storage Type||Shelf Life of Flour|
|Unopened Package (dark, cool, pantry)||1 Year|
|Opened Package (dark, cool, sealed, low oxygen)||3-8 Months|
|Opened Package in Refrigerator (sealed)||1 Year|
|Opened Package in Freezer (sealed)||2 Years|
How long does whole wheat flour last?
Whole wheat flour can last up to 3 months after being opened, up to 6 months past the expiration date in the fridge, and one year past the expiration date in the freezer.
Whole wheat flour has more oils and germ still intact than the more commonly bought bleached flours which cause it to become rancid more quickly.
To know if your whole wheat flour has gone bad it can be harder to tell just by the look. You’ll need to go off of the smell. Whole wheat flour will develop a strong unpleasant smell when it has started to go bad.
Wheat berries have an infinite shelf life if stored correctly and can be milled/ground at home to produce fine whole wheat flour for baking. We love this because it gives you the option to mill your own flour whenever you need it which gives you fresh, nutrient-rich whole wheat flour that is unbleached and preservative-free anytime you want it. To know exactly which Grain Mill/Wheat Grinder is right for you check out our article Selecting the Best Grain/Flour Mill, Ultimate Buyers Guide.
To know if storing wheat is worth it for you see if grinding your own flour is actually cheaper.
Also, learn about the shelf life of other common foods that are good for long-term storage including rice, yeast, and sugars so you can tell when they go bad, what factors affect food storage life and how to prolong it.
How long does self-rising flour last?
Self-rising flours will last 3-4 months in the pantry. Self-rising flour’s shelf life is similar to white/all-purpose flour. It can be used 6-8 months after its expiration date, however, the self-rising reaction will be noticeably weaker the longer it has been opened and the older the flour gets.
Self-rising flour’s shelf life will extend to 1 year if stored in the refrigerator and 2 years stored in a freezer.
How long does cake flour last?
Cake flour will last 4-6 months in the pantry. Cake flour’s shelf life is similar to that of all-purpose flour. Cake flour can be used past its expiration date for about 6-8 months.
Cake flour is flour mixed with a little bit of cornstarch to help lighten the texture. The cornstarch can cause the flour to clump more when moisture is introduced to the flour.
How long does almond flour last?
Almond flour will last for 3 months in the pantry. Almond flour has more oil/fat than regular flour. This significantly reduces the shelf life of almond flour as the oils and fats will make the flour spoil much more quickly than other flours such as all-purpose flour.
Almond flour is not recommended to use after its expiration date due to the quicker rate of spoilage.
How long does gluten free flour last?
Gluten-free flours last for about 3 months in the pantry. Gluten-free flours are similar to whole wheat and almond in that they have a lot of fat and oils that cause them to spoil more quickly. Because of the higher amount of oil and fat, it is not recommended to use gluten-free flour after the expiration date due to the flour spoiling faster.
The Shelf Life of the 6 Most Common Types of Flour
|Flour Type||Pantry |
|Fridge (when stored properly)||Freezer||After Expiration Date|
|White (all-purpose)||3-8 months||1 year||2 years||6-8 months|
|Self Rising||3-4 months||1 year||2 years||6-8 months|
|Cake Flour||4-6 months||1 year||2 years||6-8 months|
|Whole Wheat||3 months||6 months||1 year||Not Recommended|
|Almond||3 Months||6 months||6-12 months||Not Recommended|
|Gluten-Free||1-3 months||4-6 months||6-12 months||Not Recommended|
Can expired flour make you sick?
No, consuming expired flour will not make you sick. HOWEVER, if your flour is discolored, moldy, or has a smell it has gone rancid and should be thrown away. Once the flour has expired bacteria and fungi begin to grow which can cause you to become sick if you consume a large amount.
How long does flour last past its expiration date?
Flour can safely be used 6-8 months past its expiration or best buy date. Whole wheat and gluten-free can usually safely be used 4-6 months past its expiration or best buy date because of the additional oils and fats that bleached white flour doesn’t have. HOWEVER, if your flour has developed a smell, changed color, or has mold you should dispose of it.
How can I tell if flour has gone bad?
You can tell your flour has gone bad if it has started to turn yellow or gray, has mold or shows signs of mold, has hard lumps from moisture, has bugs such as weevil or shows signs of insects. Flour does not normally have a strong smell so if your flour has developed a smell (bad, musty, or sour smell) it is a sure sign that your flour has gone bad and should be discarded.
What to look for:
- Flour has changed color (turned yellow or gray)
- Mold has started to grow in the flour or container
- Hard lumps have formed in the flour from moisture
- Bugs such as weevil are found or even just signs of insects
- Bad smell (musty, stale, or sour smell)
If you see weevils/insects you should discard flour. Weevil itself causes no harm to us but they do contaminate infested flour with their cast skins and feces. Weevils are really tiny (about 3mm) red or brown bugs.
**Use your best judgment. It is possible for flour to go bad even before the expiration date. If it smells off or tastes different, it’s always best to throw it away and start with fresh.
What happens if you use expired flour?
Using expired flour that has been stored correctly and isn’t discolored, smells bad, or has insects shouldn’t cause any problems.
You might notice a stale or undesirable flavor to whatever it is you baked or made. The flour may have a more gritty texture that will make the outcome of what you are making such as bread not as good as if you had used fresh flour. Depending on how old the flour is it may take more liquid to get the dough to the right consistency, and the loaf may still come out hard and dry making it undesirable to eat.
How long does flour last in the fridge?
Flour can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year when stored correctly. When storing flour in the fridge it should be in an airtight container which could consist of a glass jar, plastic container, or a sealed airtight plastic bag. The air-tight container will keep moisture out of your flour. Flour should also be kept away from fragrant foods to avoid contaminating the flour with smells or taking on other foods’ flavors.
Whole Wheat flour can also be stored in the fridge for up to 6 months when stored correctly.
How long does flour last in the freezer?
Flour stored in the freezer will last for up to two years. It is common when buying flour to store it in the freezer for 48 hours to kill any weevil or insect eggs that may be living in your flour. Most take the flour out after that and store it in the pantry or cold storage. If you have freezer space storing flour in the freezer is a great option to get a little more storage life out of your flour.
See Storing Food in the Cupboard by University of Missouri Extension