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Do Rice Cakes Really Go Bad?

Found expired rice cakes in the back of your pantry? Here’s what you should know before putting them in your mouth.

Rice cakes—while seemingly simple with their primary ingredient being puffed rice compressed into cake form—are a snack that’s worth a closer look.

Enjoyed at any time of the day, their crisp texture and mild flavor make them a versatile treat. But, as with many other pantry staples, rice cakes aren’t immune to the effects of time.

So let’s talk about the shelf life of rice cakes to help you get the most out of every bite. Understanding their longevity not only helps in maximizing their freshness but also in ensuring that the rice cakes you purchase don’t go to waste.

Rice cakes can last up to 6 months in their unopened original packaging. Once you open them, they’ll last up to a month if you store them in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Still, you can eat expired rice cakes if there are no other signs of spoilage, like mold. Just bear in mind that they might not be as crispy or tasty as fresh rice cakes.

Read through this guide to learn more about how long rice cakes last before going bad and whether you can eat them if they’re expired.

What Are Rice Cakes Made Of?

If you truly want to understand rice cakes and everything to do with them going bad, you must first know what they’re made of.

As their name suggests, rice cakes are made of rice. But more specifically, they consist of puffed rice compressed into a cake form—hence its name.

Rice cakes have little to no flavor, unless of course they are flavored, so most people eat them as part of a larger meal with other ingredients.

While all rice cakes are generally made the same way, you’ll find some differences between the brands you buy them from. For example, some rice cakes contain a bit of salt. Not only do some manufacturers do that to enhance the flavor, but the salt also acts as a preservative that makes the rice cake last longer.

Besides that, some manufacturers produce additional rice cake varieties in different flavors and colors.

Do Rice Cakes Go Bad?

Yes, rice cakes eventually go bad. Thankfully, you can make them last longer by storing them correctly.

For starters, unopened rice cakes still in their airtight packaging can last up to 6 months or more. Once you open the rice cakes, though, their shelf life drops significantly. Rice cakes in open packaging typically last around a month instead.

Again, all of this depends on how you store your rice cakes. You can maximize the shelf life of your opened rice cakes by keeping them in a cool, dry place without any exposure to direct sunlight.

Better yet, storing them in an airtight container will do wonders to keep them nice and crispy for longer until you’re ready to eat them.

In addition to everything described above, you can also use the expiration or “best before” date on the rice cakes’ packaging as a helpful reference.

These dates will give you a better sense of how long your rice cakes will last, especially if they’re still in their original packaging.

How Do You Know If Rice Cakes Have Gone Bad?

It’s pretty easy to tell if your rice cakes have gone bad.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to keep your rice cakes:

They’re Past Their Expiration Date

First and foremost, you can know if your rice cakes have gone bad by referring to their expiration date and estimating how long you’ve been keeping them.

Simply put, if your rice cakes are well beyond their expiration date, you can safely assume they’ve gone bad. That’s also true if you know that you’ve been storing them for much longer than rice cakes should be kept (e.g. keeping them opened in your pantry for more than a year).

They’re No Longer Crispy

Aside from looking at the duration and expiration dates, you can test your rice cakes with your hands to know if they’re still good to eat or not.

Remember: Rice cakes are made by compressing puffed rice, making them into crispy cakes.

As time goes by, air will fill the cake and make it significantly less crispy. When you find the rice cake soft to the touch, that means they’ve gone bad.

They might still be safe to eat, but soft rice cakes are a lot less enjoyable.

They’re No Longer As Flavorful

Earlier, you read that some rice cake varieties are flavored. One way you can test those kinds of rice cakes is by taking a small bite out of them.

If they’ve gone stale, you’ll notice their flavor has faded. Combined with their softness from being kept too long, you’ll know that it’s time to throw them out.

They Have Gotten Moldy

Last but certainly not least, you can tell that a rice cake has gone bad if there is mold on them. Mold will accumulate on your rice cakes if you’ve kept them too long, especially in an environment with consistently high moisture content.

When you see mold on your rice cakes, you must throw them out immediately.

What Are Those Black Spots On Rice Cakes?

Sometimes, you’ll find black or brown spots on rice cakes. You must understand that those marks are not signs your rice cakes have gone bad.

Instead, the black and brown spots on rice cakes are part of the germ and epidermis (i.e. the exterior) of the rice used to make that rice cake. Those marks sometimes stay on the rice even after it has been polished by the manufacturer.

As long as you don’t see any other signs the rice cake has gone bad (e.g. mold presence or loss of crispness), the rice cakes are still enjoyable and safe to eat.

Can You Eat Expired Rice Cakes?

Yes, you can generally eat rice cakes that have expired or gone beyond their “best by” date, as long as you don’t see any other signs of spoilage. However, you will likely find they’ve lost some crispness or flavor.

The best time to consume rice cakes is when they’re fresh, directly after opening the packaging.

Final Thoughts

All in all, it’s important to remember that rice cakes can and do go bad. They’ll last up to 6 months if they’re unopened in their original packaging.

However, opened ones will only last up to a month if you keep them in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight.

You can still enjoy expired rice cakes, but only if they’re free from any other signs of spoilage. Just know they might no longer be as crispy or flavorful as expected.

Know your author

Written by

Dim is a food writer, cookbook author, and the editor of Home Cook World. His first book, Cooking Methods & Techniques, was published in 2022. He is a certified food handler with Level 1 and Level 2 Certificates in Food Hygiene and Safety for Catering, and a trained cook with a Level 3 Professional Chef Diploma.