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Are Out of Date or Expired Chips Safe to Eat?

Yes, in most cases, expired chips are safe to eat as long as the bag hasn’t been opened. I’ve been asked how long tortilla chips are good after opening. Here you’ll find the answer to this and more.

You also don’t want to go too long past the expiration or use-by date. However, old chips may have an “off” taste, or their texture may not be as good as when they were fresh.

packages of potato chips and corn chips

The fact that chips typically are high in salt and low in moisture keeps them from going bad quickly. That said, you still need to be cautious. 

Please keep in mind that these are general rules. If you have a pack of chips that you don’t feel good about eating, it’s best to toss them. The best way to know is to do the visual, smell, and nibble test before you consume the chips. Food safety is essential to prevent people from getting sick, so don’t take any chances.

Expired Dates on Chip Bags

Remember that stale chips aren’t necessarily a health risk as long as they haven’t gone rancid or developed an issue with harmful bacteria. And most of us try to avoid food waste since everything is so expensive now.

potato chips spilling out of a bag

How to Test Expired Chips

Some chips last a long time past their sell-by date. An unopened package of potato chips that hasn’t allowed moist air inside can be good weeks after the expiration date has passed.

Use your senses and test for these 3 things:

  • Visual changes
  • Bad smell
  • “Off” taste

Visually inspect the chips. You need to look for any green color, white spots, or other discolored areas that could indicate mold.

Next, sniff the inside of the bag and a couple of the chips. If the smell isn’t right with an off odor, they may be rancid. 

If the visual and smell test pass, take a nibble of a small chip. Even if the chip isn’t quite as crispy as it once was, it may still taste fine. 

Chips that don’t pass the visual, smell, or nibble test should be tossed. You don’t want to take any chances on eating rancid chips that can make you sick.

Differences in Dates on Packages

You may have noticed that there are different types of dates on packages of chips. The 2 most common are the sell-by date and use-by date. Some chips have a best-by date. This means that their peak of freshness is before that time, even if the chips are still okay to eat.

The sell-by date isn’t an indication of when the chips will go bad. It’s more for rotation purposes. Older products should be rotated to the front of the shelf to keep from having spoilage.

The use-by date lets you know the peak time according to the manufacturer. This still doesn’t mean that the product will go bad. It is more about the texture, color, and taste.

Storage Conditions

As you’ll see mentioned (more than once) here, the storage conditions make a big difference in how long the chips will last. The good news is that if you store them in a cool place (not the fridge), you can keep them fresh longer

The best time to eat chips is right after you open the bag. However, that’s not always what happens. And most people don’t want to throw away chips that are still good. So reseal the bag and store chips in a cool, dark place.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Expired or Out of Date Chips

Here are some of the things that can cause chips to go bad quickly:

  • Exposure to moisture
  • Extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
  • Exposure to sunlight

When they’ve been exposed to any of the above, they’ll lose some of their crisp texture and delicious flavor. 

Most food companies are extremely cautious with the dates on the bags of chips. Although expired chips aren’t likely to be as fresh tasting as they were, they’re probably safe to eat. 

A lot depends on how they’ve been stored. If they’re kept in a closed, air tight bag or container, they’re probably fine for a while after the date on the bag. 

Types of Chips Make a Difference

Another thing that affects how long they last after the expiration date is what type of chips they are. Certain ingredients go bad more quickly than others. For example, if there are any dairy products on the ingredients list, they won’t last as long. That means cheesy chips will go bad more quickly than plain, salted chips.

Other Ingredients in Expired Chips that Make a Difference 

You need to look at all of the ingredients in the chips. Certain ingredients will turn rancid more quickly than others. 

These oils go bad more quickly than others:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Corn oil
  • Soy oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine

The main reason that these oils go bad quickly is that they oxidize when they decompose. You’ll notice a stinky odor or odd flavor, which means they’re rancid.

What Oils Are the Most Stable?

Here are some of the most stable oils:

  • Coconut oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Olive oil. 

Although these oils have a longer shelf life, they can still go bad over time or under less-than-optimal conditions.

When Purchasing Chips

When you’re at the grocery store, always choose the freshest possible chips you can find. Store personnel are supposed to rotate the chips with the freshest bags in the bag and the ones in the front with the closest date.

If you know for certain that you’ll be eating the chips within a day or two, go ahead and pick the bag in front. Otherwise, I recommend getting one that’s farther back.

But still check the date because some stores aren’t so good about chip rotation. This helps to prevent close-dated or soon-to-be expired chips.

Homemade Chips

Whether you make homemade sweet potato chips, regular homemade potato chips, or homemade sweet potato chips, you control the ingredients. 

Bowl of baked sweet potato chips

Or if you make these corn tortilla chips, you will know what ingredients you used. They’re also so easy to make that you can always have fresh chips with your salsa.

plate of corn tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa

So you can use the oils that are less likely to turn rancid quickly. That gives you a longer shelf life if you can resist eating all of them in one sitting.

Shelf Life of Corn Chips vs. Potato Chips

Corn chips will usually last longer than potato chips. The masa flour is more shelf-stable than potatoes. Most corn chips also contain some level of preservatives that can make them last longer. Some of them even have lime juice which helps to stabilize them and give them a longer shelf life.

Potato chips are made from potatoes that have been sliced thinly and then fried on some sort of oil. Although they can still last beyond their expiration date, they can lose their crispiness and become soggy due to the higher amount of moisture in them.

Most people don’t care for soggy chips of any type. The best remedy to prevent either corn chips or potato chips from losing their crisp texture is to store them in a cool dry place.

It’s also good to store them in an airtight container. However, unopened chips in the original packaging and sealed are self-contained and don’t need additional storage. That said, I often put bags of chips in a large sealed container. This is especially a good practice if I stock up when the local grocery store has a BOGO sale.

chip clip on potato chip bag

Pick up a bunch of chip clips at the dollar store. You can usually get anywhere from 4 to 6 for around a dollar. If you fold the top of the bag over at least a couple of times, the chips should be good for a few days.

chip clips

How to Make Chips Taste Fresh Again

After you’re certain that the chips aren’t rancid, there are ways to bring them back to life. It’s easy, but you can only do this one time per batch of chips effectively.

To bring back a crispy texture to potato chips, turn the oven on 300 degrees F. Spread the chips out on a baking sheet. Place them in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until they reach the desired crispness. 

You can do the same thing for corn chips. However, my favorite way to heat them up is to place them in the air fryer. Here is how I reheat nachos or corn chips to make them crunchy and super delicious.

Questions about Out of Date or Expired Chips

Here are some questions you may have about eating chips that are past the date on the package.

What Happens When You Eat Expired Chips?

Chances are, nothing will happen, besides a slightly different texture. Most chips are still okay to eat as long as they’re not moldy and don’t smell or taste stale. 

Should You Refrigerate Open Bags of Chips?

The answer is no for an open bag of chips. It’s not a good idea to refrigerate chips of any kind. Refrigerators are typically humid, which will cause the chips to become soggy and unappetizing.

pouring corn chips out of a bag

Even unopened chips can get soggy, so it’s not a good idea to refrigerate them. In fact, they don’t need any of the benefits that refrigeration offers other types of food.

How Long Do Tortilla Chips Last After Expiration Date?

An unopened package of tortilla chips should last at least a couple of months after their expiration date. However, I recommend giving them the smell, taste, and crunch test.

If they have an “off” odor or taste bad, toss them in the garbage. However, if they smell and taste fine, you can bring back the crunch by heating them up.

How Long Do Potato Chips Last After Expiration Date?

Potato chips are good for about a month after the expiration date listed on the package. But as you would with tortilla chips, toss them if they smell or taste bad.

Make Out of Date Chips Taste Better

There are ways to make stale potato chips and corn chips taste even better than when they were at peak freshness. Try one or more of these tips:

Add some of your favorite seasonings to the chips. Then place them in a heated oven or air fryer for a few minutes so the flavors can blend with the chips.

Make some delicious dip, such as any of these sour cream dips or Southern Bite’s yummy dill pickle dip to add flavor.

container of sour cream

Crush the chips and use them in recipes, such as this amazingly easy chicken pot pie. You can actually top any casserole with crushed chips to add even more flavor and texture.

fork with a bite of chicken pot pie

I sometimes use potato chips instead of French fried onions on top of this green bean casserole.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

Chances are, if you eat stale chips that are beyond the due date for consumption, you’ll be fine. However, if you develop any of these symptoms, seek medical treatment immediately.

  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating and chills
  • Fever 
  • Dizziness or overall weakness
  • Difficulty swallowing

Expired Chips? Use Common Sense for Best Results

Always use common sense before eating expired chips of any kind. If you’re uncertain or uneasy about the chips or any food item past the date on the package, get rid of it.

sealed bags of potato chips and corn tortilla chips

A sealed bag of unopened potato chips is the best way to maintain food quality. However, if you open the bag, press out as much air as possible and seal them well enough to prevent moist air from entering the package

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