Does Cocoa Powder Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on July 8th, 2022

Cocoa powder is one of the most popular ingredients in baking. It can be found in everything from brownies to chocolate cake, hot cocoa mix, and more.

Cocoa powder is made by crushing cocoa beans and pressing them to create a powder. Cocoa beans are rich in antioxidants and flavanols, promoting heart health and lowering blood pressure. So it’s no wonder that this tasty ingredient is so popular!

brown powder

However, how long does cocoa powder last? And what’s the best way to store it?

What Exactly Is Cocoa Powder?

Cocoa powder is an unsweetened substance manufactured from cacao beans. Cacao beans are gathered from tropical plants as the fruit.

These beans are crushed to extract the fat or cocoa butter. The remainder of the dry solids is crushed to make cocoa powder.

Is Cocoa Good for You?

Some claim that cocoa is worthless, while others claim it causes obesity when consumed regularly. Where can I find the truth?

Cocoa powder, on the other hand, is highly fattening, even though low-fat varieties are now widely available.

What is your typical method for utilizing cocoa powder?

If we consider chocolate cookies made with ordinary fat cocoa powder, the fat in these treats can range from fifteen to twenty-five grams per one hundred grams on average. Certain modifications are, of course, conceivable.

Recipes for more fatty sweets, such as chocolate cake or muffins, include even more fat owing to the use of fat cocoa powder and melted chocolate (which contains that cocoa, too).

It is feasible, however, to reduce the fat content of such recipes by using low-fat cocoa powder or by substituting other comparable goods, such as carob.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, such substitutes, although tasting nearly identical to classic cocoa, have significantly less fat and may be safely ingested even by individuals who are forbidden from eating cocoa-containing goods.

Nonetheless, this basic product has several health advantages you may not be aware of.

  • It is a natural antioxidant that aids in the fight against inflammation improves blood flow, and lowers blood pressure.
  • Cocoa powder helps to keep our cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check.
  • Pure cocoa powder lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • It improves our cognitive abilities.
  • It lifts one’s spirits.
  • Products with a high cocoa content (70 percent or more) tend to help us lose weight more effectively, provided we don’t overdo it!

What’s the difference between Dutch-processed cocoa and ordinary (natural) cocoa?

After fermenting and roasting cocoa beans, cocoa powder is manufactured by drying and grinding cocoa liquid into a fine powder. Natural or ordinary cocoa powder is created at the end of this phase.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder (sometimes referred to as European style or alkalized cocoa powder) is cocoa powder that has been treated with an alkaline chemical to lessen acidity. As a result, Dutch-processed cocoa seems darker, but raw cocoa powder appears lighter since it is unprocessed.

Dutch-processed cocoa powder has a smoother and gentler flavor than natural cocoa powder, which is somewhat acidic.

Can I substitute Dutch-processed cocoa powder?

Natural cocoa powder can be used in place of Dutch-processed cocoa powder in baking. To neutralize the acidity, add 1/8 teaspoon baking soda for every three tablespoons of chocolate powder. This substitution may provide a somewhat lighter hue than the original recipe.

Is cacao powder identical to cocoa powder?

Cacao powder is produced at low temperatures from fermented unroasted cacao seeds, whereas cocoa powder is produced at high temperatures.

Does Cocoa Powder Go Bad?

Cocoa powder, like other dry commodities, does not spoil. But keep in mind that it loses its efficacy with time.

So, if you’re in the middle of creating batter for some delectable chocolate cupcakes and you suddenly discover the cocoa powder that’s been sitting on your shelf for months, if not a year, we suggest you don’t stop!

However, the flavor of baked goods created using a less powerful cocoa powder stored for years, even past its expiration date, may be somewhat wrong. So, the fresher the cocoa powder, the richer the chocolate scent and flavor!

How Long Does Cocoa Powder Last?

We’ve previously told you the good news: cocoa powder doesn’t spoil. But does the quality deteriorate with time? Yes, it does. So, how long do you have before the scent and flavor of the expired cocoa powder begin to fade?

Cocoa powder retains its flavor and freshness for up to two years after its expiration date.

However, it may taste excellent and delightful even after that point. As previously said, it primarily depends on how you have preserved this nutritious baking ingredient.

Furthermore, even if the cocoa powder’s flavor isn’t at its peak, it just signifies that the quality has deteriorated, implying that it is still safe to ingest. So, if the cocoa has been sitting on your pantry shelf for too long, you don’t have to throw it out unless you don’t mind sacrificing taste.

Nonetheless, though it is uncommon, cocoa powder can occasionally get moldy. If it does, check on other dry products you’ve been storing because there might be a problem with your storage technique.

Most likely, the wrapping was not airtight enough, allowing moisture to enter the package. If you come across a moldy bottle, it is better to throw it away immediately.

Shelf Life of Cocoa Powder

At pantry
Cocoa powder (Unopened)‘Best by’ + 2 years
Cocoa powder (Opened and stored correctly)2 years

Is cocoa powder need to be refrigerated or frozen?

Cocoa powder is naturally shelf-stable and has a long shelf life. As long as it is kept cold and dry, it should keep its optimum quality until the best date.

Refrigeration or freezing is unnecessary unless you live in an extremely hot region. Refrigeration, on the other hand, increases the danger of spoiling due to moisture buildup.

How to Tell If Your Cocoa Powder Is Bad

As we all know, cocoa powder loses quality over time if it is stored poorly or for an extended period of time. In the worst-case situation, it might become bad, i.e., moldy.

So, if you’re attempting to figure out whether the cocoa powder in your cupboard has gone bad, here are a few pointers to consider.


If the cocoa powder does not smell chocolatey enough, it will not accomplish the job properly. So, if you’re planning to make a rich chocolate cupcake but your cocoa doesn’t smell strong enough, it could be time to add cocoa powder to your shopping list.


When it comes to food, the easiest method to tell if it’s in good condition is to taste it. So, if your nose wasn’t up to the task, it’s time to taste the cocoa powder. Likewise, if the baked products or cocoa powder don’t taste well, it’s time to throw out the bottle.


Moldy cocoa powder is not something you see every day. But if you see one, you’ll know it right away. As a result, if you see any evidence of mold development, such as pale color or a moldy odor, throw away the bottle immediately.

If you encounter such a notice, don’t risk your health by sniffing or tasting the chocolate powder. Molds frequently release toxins, which cause allergic responses and respiratory issues in certain people. So, a bottle of cocoa powder, most likely of poor quality, is not worth the risk.

Is it okay to use expired or old cocoa powder?

Cocoa powder is typically safe to consume after its expiration date, as long as there are no symptoms of deterioration. The “best by” date indicates the highest quality. However, the flavor may alter somewhat depending on how you keep it.

The Dangers of Consuming Old Cocoa Powder

As previously stated, the best-by date is only an indication of safety. It signifies that the food is of the highest quality up to date. In contrast, some food goods, such as cocoa powder, keep their quality far longer than the indicated date on the box.

As a result, you’ll probably enjoy the flavor and scent of the expired powder in your baked items while experiencing no health problems.

Though there are no health dangers in the following situation, the flavor and scent of the expired cocoa powder may not be particularly appealing. As a result, you may feel some pain when eating the products that were meant to be enjoyable.

Finally, there’s a chance you’ll become sick if you consume expired cocoa powder.

However, this is rare, and the dangers are quite low. In addition, because the cocoa powder has substantially less water, it is resistant to bacterial and fungal development.

Mold may grow in the bottle as an exception if the storage conditions are not suitable. As a result, if you ingest such cocoa powder, there’s a potential you’ll get mold-related health problems.

However, because most chocolate recipes call for baking at high temperatures, ingesting outdated cocoa powder should not be a concern.

How to Store Cocoa Properly

If we want to enjoy a flavorful drink at any moment, we must store it properly.

If you follow a few easy principles for cocoa storage, you won’t have to worry about it expiring.

  • Because hot air is detrimental to the product, it should never be kept in its packaging near a stove.
  • Always firmly seal the tank where it is kept to minimize taste loss and premature spoiling.
  • Powdered cocoa thrives in a dark, cold (60-70°F) environment.
  • Keep it in the original tank, but if it came in a carton package, repack it in a tank that can be firmly sealed.

It will significantly add to the increased shelf life of any cocoa powder or product.

How to Select an Appropriate Cocoa Storage Container

  • Because cocoa readily catches up on exterior scents, look for tanks with a firmly fastened cover.
  • Choose either glass or plastic for the tank’s material, but make sure that the plastic one does not transfer any scents, as many inexpensive containers sadly do. We recommend you ask a store seller which plastic tank is ideal for keeping cocoa because not everyone can detect the difference between good and bad plastic.
  • Choose a tank with a screwed-on lid or one with a latch. As a result, the material will be shielded from air contact and will most likely endure for more than a year.
  • Because cocoa powder can not tolerate temperature variations or moisture, storing it refrigerated is as bad as leaving the tank on the shelf.

We propose purchasing a wine fridge, setting it to the proper temperature range of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, and leaving the tank with the cocoa powder in place.

The product will be shielded from all scents except chocolate, and the temperature will be maintained at the same level!

Because these refrigerators do not dehumidify, keep the foodstuff firmly covered, and your chocolate will be edible even after a year of storage!

Is it possible to freeze cocoa powder?

Though the response is ‘Yes, you may freeze cocoa powder,’ freezing cocoa powder is not essential. When you freeze any food, the water content freezes into ice crystals, making it inaccessible to microbes for development.

However, when it comes to dry commodities like spices or cocoa powder, the moisture content is very low or non-existent. As a result, the possibilities of rotting in such commodities are already quite low compared to foods with significant water content, such as vegetables and fruits.

When cocoa powder is stored correctly and carefully, it may keep for years, even when kept at room temperature in a closet. Furthermore, poor refrigeration and freezing may result in the lumping of the powder, and higher moisture content may stimulate mold development.

However, if you’ve purchased cocoa powder in bulk and are positive that you won’t use it up within a year or two, you may freeze it. When you do this, ensure sure the freezer bag is well packed and that there is as little air as possible within the bag.

However, be certain that you will not frequently remove and refreeze the powder. This increases the likelihood of cocoa powder lumping and mold formation. Instead, you may keep the cocoa powder you’ll need for a year or two in your pantry cabinet and freeze the rest.

What Is the Best Way to Store Cocoa Powder in the Freezer?

Some people prefer to keep their cocoa powder in the freezer. However, like the refrigerator, cocoa powder can only be securely stored in the freezer in an airtight and sealed container.

To be safe, place frozen cocoa powder in a well-sealed container that can withstand freezing temperatures. However, a glass container might not be ideal because it could fracture in the freezer.


Cocoa powder isn’t something you’ll find in our kitchen regularly unless you’re a baker. However, there are several more uses for cocoa powder, such as preparing a chocolate milkshake or a dip for strawberries.

If you’re wondering if your cocoa powder is okay to eat, you generally don’t need to throw it out unless it’s moldy or has been stored for a long time!


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!