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Do M&M’s Go Bad?

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M&M’s are the perfect treat. Not only can you enjoy a handful as a snack but you can also make a ton of different recipes that incorporate M&M’s.

From things like trail mix to M&M cookies and many other snacks and treats, you really can’t go wrong.

If you buy family or party-size bags, M&M’s can last for a really long time. You get a lot more M&M’s for the dollar with the larger bags but it might take a while to go through them.

Do M&M’s go bad? M&M’s can stay good for a really long time. They might even last well beyond their best-by date if they are stored properly. With that in mind, it is possible for them to start going bad eventually but it generally will take a really long time, generally taking over a year.

In this guide, we will dig a little bit deeper into the topic and talk about whether or not M&M’s go bad.

We will cover their expected shelf life, how to tell if they’ve gone bad, and more details about the expirations dates and safe eating. There are certainly some things to know and be aware of for best practices. 

Keep reading to learn if M&M’s go bad and more! 

Do M&M’s Go Bad? The Whole Story

To make a long story short, if M&M’s are stored properly, they might last you for years. They have been known to have a long shelf life that extends even significantly beyond the best-by date that you will find printed on the packaging. 

Speaking in general, M&M’s will often last up to a year beyond that best-by date.

The best-by date itself is pretty generous. If you can keep M&M’s in your pantry for 18 months, then you must have some really awesome willpower! 

We do want to mention that there are different types of M&M’s. Some of them might last longer than others. However, most M&M’s are made with pantry ingredients that also will last a long time.

Probably the thing you have to worry about the most is the milk chocolate itself. Some of the varieties made with nuts also might not last as long

You should also know that M&M’s can be frozen and this could potentially extend their shelf life even longer.

They won’t go bad in the freezer regardless of the best-by date on the packaging. You just need to be sure they are good when placed in the freezer. 

The Best-By Date

Let’s talk a little bit about the best-by date first. Most people see this as an expiration date. Now there are many foods that do have expiration dates. However, the date on the M&M packaging is not that. 

There is a difference between best-by and expiration dates. 

The expiration date is usually imprinted something like expiration or “exp” and then a date.

That date means that whatever food is in the packaging could go bad after the date. Things like milk expire and most people do not use it past the expiration date because it could spoil or be spoiled

If you see an expiration date, you might be able to give the food a few days’ grace but you can’t just ignore that date. It is unsafe to eat after that point most of the time. There are a few exceptions. Typically, that has to do with freezing the item. 

On the other hand, a best-by date just means that eating the food by that date is when they guarantee the best quality.

After the best-by date, the quality may not be as good or could degrade. It does not mean your M&M’s have gone bad or are spoiled. This means that they are safe to eat after that date in most cases. 

Keep in mind that there are signs to look for to know if they perhaps have gone bad. You also should keep in mind that an extended shelf life is based on proper storage. 

How To Tell If M&M’s Have Gone Bad

Chocolate is an ingredient that will usually last time. Milk chocolate M&M’s typically will last the longest.

However, other flavors and varieties of M&M’s will hold up well over time too. When you look at the website for M&M’s, the Mars Company even makes their own recommendations for storage life. 

Their website states a recommendation of using within a 13-month range from the date the M&M’s were manufactured.

This is probably where your best-by date is going to fall. They don’t just come out and tell you the exact manufacturing date easily. This is notated by a special code on the bag. 

However, that code follows a specific pattern. If you learn how to interpret the code, you can figure out the manufacturing date. But then again, you also have a best-by date so don’t feel like you have to go learn those codes! 

Since M&M’s can have a long shelf life and are typically good even after the best-by date, it’s a good idea to know how to tell if they have gone bad.

Even though they might not “go bad” right after the best-by date, the tastes could begin to alter and change. 

However, the best way to tell if they are bad is to take a look at them, maybe give them a sniff test. If all else fails and you try one, don’t eat more if they taste off

For the visual aspect, look for signs like the chocolate starting to turn white or discolor. This happens when chocolate starts to get old.

It might not taste rotten but it probably won’t taste great either. It’s a sign of dryness and we recommend not eating the M&M’s if that happens. 

You can also try to smell the M&M’s. They should smell like chocolate and if they have another ingredient, they might also have that smell. If they smell odd or just have a smell that seems off, it’s probably time to go ahead and throw them out. 

How To Store M&M’s For The Best Shelf Life

One of the things that could affect the life of your M&M’s is how they are stored. Storing them in a pantry or cabinet is just fine.

You want to keep them away from heat or moisture primarily. Those could take away from the longevity of your M&M’s so just be mindful of that. 

Always make sure they are sealed up well. You want to make sure they are airtight.

Most of the packaging will zip shut so you can seal it but you can always put it into a dish or even a storage bag if you are concerned about them being sealed well. 

Finally, a great way to extend the shelf life of your M&M’s is to freeze them. You can easily put them in the freezer and maintain them for another 12 months potentially.

You just need to make sure they are good when they go in the freezer. Also, make sure that they are in a freezer bag or an airtight container that is properly sealed. 

Related Questions

We hope that this guide to understanding if M&M’s have gone bad is helpful for you. There are many little details to know. However, the good news is that M&M’s are not likely to go bad anytime soon if you store them properly. 

Take a look at these common questions and answers for a few more details that could be useful!

Which flavor of M&M lasts the longest?

Most of the time, milk chocolate M&M’s are the flavor that is known to last the longest. However, most flavors will last well beyond their best-by date as long as you are storing them properly. 

What temperature do M&M’s melt at? 

Do you remember that old advertisement for M&M’s that was something like “they melt in your mouth and not in your hands”? This means that M&M’s are designed to not just melt when they are sitting out at room temperature.

Technically, melting in your mouth places them at about 98°F. This is not a set-in-stone number for melting

If you’re curious as to how M&M’s are made, here’s a great video on the topic!

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