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Are Stale Chips Bad For You?

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If you’ve ever had a snack craving and rummaged through the pantry to find a pack of chips to snack on, only for them to taste stale, you might be slightly concerned about whether they are okay to eat or not!

Stale chips often lack flavor and crispness and are not all that pleasant to eat. However, in a pinch, they can pass as a semi-acceptable snack.

But are stale chips bad for you? Stale chips are not necessarily bad for you, as long as they have not gone well past their expiry date. Chips can become stale from being left out or just from being left in the pantry for too long, but being stale does not mean being spoiled, so they should still be fine to eat.

So, if you want to know whether or not you can keep munching away at stale chips or if you should throw them away, keep reading to find out when it is okay, and when it is not!

Are “Stale” And “Expired” The Same Thing?

Many people lump “stale” and “expired” into the same category — however, while chips can be stale and expired at the same time, chips can also be stale but not expired.

Stale chips are chips that do not taste fresh anymore. They will likely taste less flavorful and their texture will be less crispy. This usually happens when either air or moisture gets into the chips and causes them to decline in quality.

However, stale chips are not necessarily spoiled, especially if they have not passed their expiry date. As long as the chips were kept protected, they should be fine to eat within the expiry date, even if they do taste a little stale.

Expired chips are chips that have gone past their expiry date, or past their best-by date. This does mean that the chips have passed their period of being at their best quality, but expired chips are not always spoiled just yet.

Chips might expire based on the date, but they can still be fine to eat.

Is It Okay To Eat Chips That Taste Stale?

Stale chips might not be all that enjoyable, but they are not necessarily bad for you. If stale chips are still within their expiry date and show no signs of spoiling, then they should still be fine to eat.

You will notice that the chips are softer and less crispy than fresh potato chips — they might taste less flavorful, too. This isn’t always great to eat, but it does not mean that the chips would make you sick.

When eating stale chips, just be sure to check that there are no other signs that the chips have spoiled — you want to make sure that they are still safe to eat.

Is It Okay To Eat Chips Past The Expiry Date?

Almost all bags of chips will have an expiry date or a best-by date. An expiry date shows when the chips should be eaten by to avoid them spoiling, and a best-by date indicates the period in which the chips hold their best quality.

If you have a packet of chips and notice that the expiry date has passed, it does not always mean that you need to throw the chips away.

Potato chips are one of the foods that do not expire quickly, and which can still be fine to eat after the expiry date. This is because they have a low moisture content, so they are not very easy for bacteria to thrive on.

If you open a packet of chips that have passed their expiry date, and they smell normal and taste crispy and flavorful, then they should be fine to eat.

However, if the chips taste stale, have a strange smell, or seem discolored, then it is best to throw them away.

When it comes to the best-by date, chips are usually fine to eat after this has passed, as it only indicates when they will be at their best quality and not when they would expire.

How Long Past The Expiry Date Can I Eat Chips?

There is no rule on how long past the expiry date potato chips will still be fine to eat, and this is something you would need to use your own judgment for.

Some people choose not to eat anything that is even a day past the expiry date, and others might be willing to risk it more.

As chips do not spoil easily, due to their low moisture content, there is little risk that they will actually be off soon after the expiry date — especially if they have been stored correctly.

If it is a few days, weeks, or even a month or two past the expiry date, then your chips should be fine to eat.

However, before eating expired chips, you should look for any signs that they might have begun to spoil, just to be safe and make sure that they are still okay to eat.

If any moisture has got into the bag of chips, it could accelerate how quickly the chips spoil, so you do need to check.

You will just have to use your own judgment when deciding whether or not to eat chips that have passed their expiry date.

Signs That Chips Have Gone Bad

When eating stale chips, or chips that have passed their expiry date, you should definitely look for signs that the chips have gone bad.


As you open the packet of chips, take a quick smell inside. The smell of the chips should just be the flavor of the chips — there should be no off odors or rancid smells.

If you notice anything off with the smell of the chips, then it is safer to throw them away and grab a fresh packet.


Chips should be crispy and light — if the chips have lost this crispness and are soft or even soggy, then they are likely stale, but it could also be a sign that the chips have gone off.

Check the texture of the chips along with other signs that the chips might have spoiled.


The appearance of the chips should be normal. There should be no discoloration — the chips should not be faded or lighter in color than normal.

Also look for signs of mold, which would be green or white spots on the chips. If you notice any mold or changes in appearance, throw the chips away!


Do not rely on taste as the first sign that chips have spoiled, as you really don’t want to put spoiled food in your mouth.

However, if you do happen to take a bite and the chips taste sour or off, then spit it out and throw them away.

How To Store Chips To Stop Them Going Stale

Stale chips will not necessarily make you sick, especially if they have not gone off, but they are not that enjoyable, and you will definitely want to avoid your chips going stale.

If you have bought potato chips in bulk, or opened a bag of chips and not finished it all, you would want to keep them fresh and crisp and not let them go stale.

The best way to store chips is to place them in an airtight and resealable plastic bag, removing as much air from the bag before sealing.

You can keep the chips in their original packaging to store them, but an extra layer of protection would definitely help.

Another option is to use an airtight bag sealer clip and close the open packet with this, making sure that no air or moisture can get in.

Keep the chips in a cool, dry area, such as in a dark pantry, to keep them fresh!

Final Thoughts

Stale chips are not necessarily expired chips. If chips have gone stale, but have not spoiled, they will still be fine to eat — they just won’t be as crispy or flavorful.

When eating suspected stale chips, make sure to check the expiry date and look for other signs that the chips might have spoiled before finishing the package.

Chips go stale quite quickly when not stored correctly — make sure to store the chips in airtight packaging and in a cool, dark place so that you can enjoy crispy, flavorful chips when you want a snack!

Related Questions

Now that we’ve learned all about why potato chips go stale and whether stale potato chips are safe to eat, here are some additional questions we thought you might have.

Is stale food bad for you?

Food such as bread and chips go stale when they are exposed to air, but it does not mean that the food has spoiled.

Stale food, such as stale bread or stale chips, is not bad for you if it has not gone off. However, if the food has gone off and is stale, then there is a chance that it could make you sick.

Can you get sick from eating old chips?

If your old potato chips have spoiled and have increased bacteria growth, there is a chance that they could make you sick.

Chips do not spoil as easily as other types of food, but they can still go off and you do need to be conscious of what to look for.

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