While chocolate never lasts long at my house, occasionally, you may find a forgotten chocolate bar in the back of your cupboard and wonder if it’s still good. Or maybe you bought a large amount of on-sale chocolate bars and want to save them for Christmas-time when you make your favorite fudge recipe.
So how long is chocolate good for? It depends on the type of chocolate. Dark chocolate lasts the longest because it doesn’t contain any dairy, so it is less perishable. Milk and white chocolate do contain dairy, so they don’t last as long. If chocolate contains other flavorings or add-ins such as fruit, nuts, caramel, creams, etc., that will also affect its shelf life.
|Type of Chocolate||Opened||Unopened|
|Dark Chocolate||1 year||2 years|
|White/Milk Chocolate||6-10 months||1 year|
|Chocolate + nuts/fruit||2-4 months||5-8 months|
|Chocolate + nougat,|
caramel, wafer, etc.
|2-4 months||5-8 months|
|Boxed/filled chocolates||1-2 weeks||3-4 weeks|
Most chocolate is best eaten as fresh as possible. Especially if it contains dairy or butter, as this makes the chocolate more likely to go bad. Some feel that high-quality dark chocolate becomes better with age, but you should still eat dark chocolate within 2-3 years of when it was made.
Should I Freeze My Chocolate?
Freezing chocolate will make chocolate last longer, about 8-12 months longer. However, freezing can introduce moisture and can affect its texture. The other foods in the freezer can also cause an off-taste in your chocolate. It can be useful in storing cheap chocolate you want to bake with later.
How to Store Chocolate
Chocolate is best stored in a cool, dry place such as your pantry. While storing chocolate in the fridge can increase shelf-life by 2-4 months, it increases the risk of condensation affecting its texture and flavor and of absorbing flavors from other foods.
Chocolate is best stored unopened in its original wrapper. If storing a chocolate bar that has been opened, wrap the chocolate bar in foil. Then place the chocolate in an air-tight container to minimize how much oxygen the chocolate is exposed to.
How to Know if Chocolate Has Gone Bad
The “best-by” or “best-before” date is an estimate of how long your chocolate will maintain its best texture and flavor. Chocolate is usually good long past the best-by date. Chocolate doesn’t have much water activity and lasts a long time as there’s no environment for bacteria to grow. Cocoa butter also helps stabilize the chocolate.
Chocolate that has gone bad can make you sick, though it is unlikely. You can’t tell if chocolate is bad by looking at it. You can tell chocolate is bad if it has a rancid or bad smell or tastes off. However, if you are concerned that your chocolate has gone bad, don’t eat it and just throw it out.
Is Chocolate with White on it Still Good?
While chocolate with whitish spots or a white film may not look appetizing, it is still edible. Either sugar bloom or fat bloom can cause this. While it may slightly affect the texture of the chocolate if you eat it, it is perfect for baking with.
What is Sugar Bloom
Sugar bloom causes a uniform white coating on the chocolate. This happens if the sugar in chocolate comes into contact with water. The sugar on the surface of the chocolate dissolves, then as the moisture evaporates, the sugar becomes crystallized. This leaves a dried sugar layer on the chocolate, giving it a dusty appearance.
What is Fat Bloom
Fat bloom causes white/gray spots or streaks on the chocolate. This is usually caused by poorly tempered chocolate or temperature fluctuations.
If chocolate becomes warm, the cocoa butter in the chocolate softens and separates from the other ingredients. Then it resolidifies at the surface of the chocolate, leaving the white/gray spots and streaks.
To prevent sugar and fat bloom, store chocolate properly in a cool, dry place in an air-tight container.
If you want to learn more about how chocolate is made, check out this article. If you’re craving something with chocolate check out my Triple Chocolate Cookies or Orange White Chocolate Cranberry No-Knead Bread. Happy baking!