Pancake mix is actually one of the more difficult pantry staples to store for a long time. This is because pancake mix contains several ingredients — all of which have different shelf lives and storage methods.
If you want to buy pancake mix in bulk or stockpile it for emergencies, here’s what you need to know.
Does Pancake Mix Go Bad?
Pancake mix usually doesn’t go bad in the sense that it becomes unsafe to use. Instead, three things can happen to old pancake mix: the leavening ingredients won’t work anymore, the milk powder gets rancid, or pests get into the mix.
Leavening Ingredients Going Bad
Pancake mix contains leavening ingredients (usually baking soda and powder). These are what make the pancakes rise and get fluffy. As baking soda and powder get old, they start to go through chemical reactions and won’t work anymore. Old leavening ingredients also get a bitter or metallic taste.
In a sealed unopened container, baking soda will usually 2-3 years. Once opened, it needs to be used within 6 months. Baking powder lasts a bit longer unopened but also needs to be used within 6 months of opening.
Dried Milk Powder Going Bad
Most brands of pancake mix powder have some dried milk powder in them. Dried milk is tricky to store because it has a lot of fat in it.
In warm temperatures, the fat starts to break down and go rancid. It won’t make you sick to eat but will have a gross sour taste.
Milk powder also absorbs moisture from the air. In very humid climates, it can start growing mold.
Pests Getting into Pancake Mix
If you leave pancake mix long enough, don’t be surprised if it gets infested with pantry pests.
Indian meal moths particularly love to snack on flour and are very good at getting through cardboard and plastic packaging. It is actually safe to eat food with pantry pests but, because of the yuck factor, you’ll probably want to take steps to keep moths out of your pancake mix.
How to Store Pancake Mix
- Place pancake mix is in an air-tight container such as mason jars, food-safe plastic containers or sealed Mylar bags.
- Put a desiccant on top of the pancake mix before closing the container to control moisture.
- Keep the container in a cool location away from light.
When stored this way, pancake mix should last 2-3 years but still make sure to rotate through your stockpile.
Do I Have to Use Desiccants When Storing Pancake Mix?
The reason for using a desiccant when storing pancake mix is because the dried milk and leavening ingredients are very sensitive to moisture. You don’t have to use a desiccant but it is highly recommended if you live somewhere with lots of humidity.
Alternatively, you can seal the pancake mix in Mylar bags (do it on a low-humidity day). Because Mylar doesn’t let moisture from the air through, it will be safe even in humid climates.
Can I Store Pancake Mix in Its Original Packaging?
It is not recommended to store pancake mix in its original packaging. Most brands package their pancake mix in thin plastic pouches. These plastic pouches do let some air through. They are also surprisingly easy for moths to chew through.
Left in its original packaging, pancake mix will probably go bad within a year. Instead, remove the pancake mix from its original packaging and put it into air-tight food containers.
Pancake Mix in Metal Pouches
Note that some pancake mix comes in higher-quality foil pouches. These pouches are better at keeping air and pests out. In cool weather, the pancake’s shelf life might even be up to two years. You don’t have to repackage this pancake mix but should still aim to use it by the listed “best by” or expiration date.
Can I Refrigerate Pancake Mix?
Refrigerating pancake mix is not recommended. The reason is that there is a lot of humidity in your refrigerator. The humidity can cause the milk powder to get wet and start going bad. It can also activate the leavening ingredients in the pancake mix.
On top of this, the baking soda in the pancake mix might absorb bad smells from your refrigerator. For these reasons, it isn’t recommended to keep pancake mix in the fridge.
Can I Vacuum Seal Pancake Mix?
Yes, you can vacuum seal pancake mix. Because it removes air and helps control humidity, it will help the pancake mix last longer.
However, vacuum sealer bags do let some air through. It’s also possible for moths to chew through vacuum sealer bags. For this reason, it’s better to keep pancake mix in air-tight plastic containers, mason jars, or sealed Mylar bags.
To vacuum seal pancake mix: Leave it in its original packaging and just vacuum seal the entire pouch or cardboard box.
Can I Freeze Pancake Mix?
Pancake mix will last indefinitely in the freezer. However, the baking soda in pancake mix will quickly absorb bad smells from within the freezer. If you want to store pancake mix in the freezer, make sure it is in air-tight packaging.
Can I Store Pancake Mix in #10 Cans?
Don’t store pancake mix in #10 cans. The mix can develop a metallic taste from the cans and the leavening ingredients might react with the metal. Read more about #10 cans here.
Can I Use Oxygen Absorbers with Pancake Mix?
Do not store pancake mix with oxygen absorbers. The iron in the oxygen absorbers might react with the baking powder and other leavening ingredients in the mix. Read more about oxygen absorbers for food storage.
Can I Use Expired Pancake Mix?
Unless there are obvious rancid smells or visible mold, it is safe to use pancake mix long after its “best by” date. However, the leavening ingredients in the pancake mix will probably not work anymore so the pancakes won’t rise. You’ll have to add more leavening ingredients to the mix.
How to Check If Pancake Mix is Good
Mix up a small amount of pancake batter. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the mixture. Wait 5 minutes. If you see bubbles forming, the pancake mix is still good. If no bubbles form, the leavening ingredients in the pancake probably don’t work anymore. You’ll need to add your own.
To use expired pancake mix:
- Add approximately ¼ tsp. of baking soda per cup of pancake mix OR 1 tsp. of baking powder per cup of pancake mix.
- Mix the pancake batter according to the instructions.
- Add a splash of lemon juice to the batter. You can also use something else acidic, such as vinegar or buttermilk. This will activate the baking soda or baking powder in the batter so it can do its job. You’ll get nice, fluffy pancakes.
- Wait 5 minutes and then make your pancakes.
Alternatives to Storing Pancake Mix
Unless you use lots of pancake mix, it doesn’t make sense to buy it in bulk or stockpile it for emergencies. Pancake mix will only last about 2 years and you probably won’t be able to rotate through your stockpile before it goes bad.
Consider stockpiling all of the ingredients you need to make pancakes instead.