Is Expired Chocolate Still Good?

Recently I received a question from a reader wondering if a rather large supply of chocolate, 2 years past expiry, would still be good to use. 

It's a good question.  And it doesn't really matter the quantity of chocolate.  Here's my answer...

The options to use expired chocolate depend on two things.

  1. Flavor
  2. Safety

First Consider the Flavor of Expired Chocolate

First, if it is milk chocolate it is probably too late and will taste rancid, like cardboard paper or worse. The dairy milk in there will not last that long and still taste good. The bad flavors will still show through even if you use it in baking or frosting. I would throw it out if it tastes funny. It is still safe to eat, but the off flavor will not be disguised.

If it is dark chocolate, however, you may have some luck. Taste it and it may still be good. Probably the chocolate flavor will be very low in intensity, but still ok. It would be ok to use in baking or frosting, or grate it over ice cream or pastry as decoration. Also, a good idea is to make a syrup or hot fudge. The sweetness will mask any tiny off flavor.

If, however, it doesn't taste good at all, it should not be used. Again, the bad flavor will come through even if baked or cooked.

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Now, What About Safety?

If the chocolate has gone through up and down temperature changes, the chocolate may not be safe to eat. Temperature changes can promote bacterial growth, because if the chocolate gets too hot and melts even just a little, then it cools down right after, condensation forms and this provides a bit of water for bacteria and molds to grow. You may not see it, but it could be there.

If you are confident that the temperature has been stable for the two years or so, then it should be safe to eat especially if you melt it for baking or cook it for syrup.

Chances are the chocolate has "bloomed" which is a gray or white film over the surface. There are two kinds of bloom: fat bloom and sugar bloom. If the bloom is greasy to the touch, then it is just cocoa butter that traveled to the surface over time, and it is safe to eat. It will disappear when you melt the chocolate.

BUT....if the film is powdery, like dust or flour, then it is from sugar bloom. In this case, some melting and cooling took place that caused condensation to form and water to evaporate, leaving sugar exposed. I would not trust the safety of the chocolate if it has evidence of sugar bloom.

Photo: "weird hershey's bar" by Jelene Morris is licensed under CC BY 2.0 /cropped from original

Bryn Kirk

Bryn Kirk

Course Facilitator at Chocolate University Online
Bryn worked for nearly 10 years in a research and product development for Ambrosia Chocolate Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now she develops all of the CUO lessons and coaches the members of the Primal Chocolate Club.
Bryn Kirk

18 thoughts on “Is Expired Chocolate Still Good?

  1. avatar Daniel

    I just ate a Snickers bar that I got trick or treating, and it had two white dots on it. I wiped them off then ate it, am I going to get food poisoning, or sick for that matter!

     
    Reply
  2. avatar Tammy

    We got hershey milk chocolate bars at trick or treating last night. We ate them. They looked and tasted fine, but I just looked at the date and they expired a year and 11 months ago. Is it ok?

     
    Reply
  3. avatar Ruth

    I have this Anthon Berg dark chocolate with genuine spirits in liquid centers… it expired three months ago.
    Its hasn’t suffered any temperature changes.
    Do you think since is dark chocolate and has alcohol inside, its still safe to eat??

    Please let me know.

    Thanks,

    Ruth

     
    Reply
    1. avatar Bryn Kirk

      Yes, I do not believe there would be any safety concern eating a dark chocolate with alcohol center that is 3-months past its expiration date. In general, with chocolate, it is safe to eat anytime, even well past an expiration date unless it was somehow contaminated. The greater issue is quality of the chocolate. Even if kept in a good environment, it is possible that the liquid center has crystallized in part or completely. That means that you might not get the exact tasting experience that Anthon Berg intended.

       
      Reply
  4. avatar Gina

    Hi. I am Gina. I have this one container/bottle of Kirkland’s almonds milk chocolate (the coated kind). It was only this morning that I found out that it expired last April of 2016. It is still safe to eat? Thank you.

     
    Reply
    1. avatar Bryn Kirk

      As I explained in the post, the options to eat expired chocolate depend on two things…
      1. Safety
      2. Flavor

      Safety: If the chocolate has gone through up and down temperature changes, the chocolate may not be safe to eat. If you are confident that the temperature has been stable for the whole time you’ve had it, then it should be safe.

      Flavor: It is a milk chocolate and anything older than 6-8 months and it probably will taste “off”, which means rancid, like cardboard paper or worse. The dairy milk in there will not last that long and still taste good. Also, it has almonds, and almonds also go rancid fast. HOWEVER, you don’t mention if these were in the freezer. If they were frozen, the flavor should still be OK, even with it almost a year old. NOTE: check that the bloom is not sugar bloom. If it is not, then it will be safe to eat. Of course, if the flavor is bad, just get rid of it and buy some fresh – it will be worth it!

       
      Reply
  5. avatar Jackie Chan

    I have 100 pcs. of pralins white chocolates which are tightly wrapped in a celophane purchased last December 5, 2016 from factory. Now is already February 3, 2017. I checked it out, and it still looks good.

    My question is. . . how long does this kind of branded chocolates lasts? Or how long they give period of expiry date?

    Thanks
    Jackie Chan

     
    Reply
    1. avatar Bryn Kirk

      White Chocolates expire the fastest among the three kinds of chocolate (milk, dark, and white) because it contains the most milk fat and milk solids of the three.

      As white chocolate ages, it turn more yellow, and the flavor will get rancid. Typically, white chocolate has a shelf life of 1-3 months, depending on the amount of cocoa butter and if it was stored properly. Of course, I’m assuming these pralines are made with cocoa butter. If there are other fats in there like palm kernel oil, then the shelf life is much longer as those fats are more stable due to being saturated.

      You have a box of chocolates. Most commercially made boxed chocolates are made months prior to getting them to the stores. Your box is older than your purchase date and could already be past it’s prime. However, tasting it is the only to know! Try one and if it tastes good, enjoy the rest. If not, throw them away.

       
      Reply
  6. avatar Serene Teo

    Dear Bryn, greetings. I am from a company in Spore, supplying expired dried stuff as Animal Feed for farms across Msia. I have big supplies of expired unadulterated chocolate (not mixed yet) but these are not favored by livestock. As i have to buy from Manufacturers at a lower price, i cannot dispose whatmore incineration fees will be charged too.

    Based on your knowledge, is there any commercial value for expired chocolate (less than 3yr)? We believe in Re-cycling: less wastage = better earth. As of now i have around 80mt not knowing what to do with it. Can u pls enlighten me? Tks very much. Serene teo 65-91122085.

     
    Reply
    1. avatar Bryn Kirk

      Hi Serene,

      Please describe the chocolate a little more. When you say “expired unadulterated chocolate (not mixed yet)” do you mean some form of finished chocolate? Or are you referring to chocolate liquor, cacao nibs, or cacao beans with shells?

      Bryn

       
      Reply
  7. avatar Marie

    Hi..
    I have Hershey milk chocolate bar and expired last November 2015, will its still be good to eat?
    Thank you and Godbless

     
    Reply
    1. avatar Bryn Kirk

      Hi Marie,

      Since it is only a few months past its expiration date, the chocolate is probably fine as long as it has been stored properly.

      My suggestions would be to open the package and inspect the chocolate. If it doesn’t look good, throw it away. If it still looks normal, it probably tastes as expected. Try a piece. If you like it, all is well.

      Bryn

       
      Reply
  8. avatar Bryn Kirk

    First, take a look at the best used by date on the box (if there is one). Chocolates have a shelf-life. Milk chocolate, white chocolate and nut clusters have a shorter shelf-life then dark chocolates.

    Chocolates can bloom (get a layer of white haze covering them, either from sugar or cocoa butter) and eventually take on a rancid or ‘cardboard’ taste. Chocolates with syrups and caramels can get hard and crystallize over time. These are just some of the effects of aging.

    Most of the time out-of-date chocolate may have an unpleasant appearance, but eating it is safe. Even so, I always encourage people to consume chocolate at its best.

    Even if the boxes of chocolates haven’t expired, I would open one of them, take a look, and eat a few before you decide to give them away!

     
    Reply
  9. avatar Marcos

    hi! i bought some chocolates for a very good price back in february. after valentines day i got like 20 boxes of russell stover truffles and still haven’t eaten them. will it still be ok to give away? i have a lot of people who i’ve told.

     
    Reply

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