Was there anything better than your mom handing you the spoon after mixing together a fresh batch of sweet, gooey cookie dough?
Over the years, this delectable tradition has become even more convenient with pre-packaged cookie dough that is ready to slice and bake.
However, for those who forget to eat this sugary snack prior to the Use By date, can you eat expired cookie dough?
Using expired cookie dough carries a risk, as it may not be safe to consume depending on how far past the expiration date it is. Ingredients in the dough, such as eggs and flour, can degrade or become susceptible to bacterial growth over time. While cookie dough might be okay to use a short time after the ‘best by’ date if stored properly in the refrigerator or freezer, it’s essential to inspect it for any unusual odors, textures, or colors. Consuming expired cookie dough, especially if it shows signs of spoilage, can lead to foodborne illness, so it’s generally recommended to err on the side of caution and avoid using it.
Thankfully, you can also elongate the shelf life of your cookie dough by freezing it prior to the Best By date. Frozen cookie dough will be good for up to 9 months in the freezer.
By doing this, you will keep the product safe for an additional two months.
Cookie Dough Ingredients
If you have ever baked before, you know that most of the ingredients that make up a cookie are shelf stable foods – flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips.
Mixed together or stored separately, all of these foods are safe to keep for extended periods of time. They also have a low risk of spoilage, even past their expiration date.
Interestingly enough though, while these products will all remain safe to cook with, flour is not safe to consume without properly heating it first.
That is because E. coli is surprisingly prevalent in this fine powder. For this reason, you should not eat expired dry cookie mix prior to cooking.
Raw Eggs And Raw Flour Are A Threat
Moreover, cookie dough also contains butter and eggs. Both of these foods not only require refrigeration, but their lifespan is much shorter than the other ingredients.
This is what makes this mixture perishable and it can bring some worrisome health risks.
The Dangers Of Eating Raw Cookie Dough
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “raw cookie dough may contain raw eggs that can have Salmonella bacteria, so it is not safe to eat.”
The Centers For Disease Control further emphasizes that “uncooked flour and raw eggs can contain germs that can make you sick if you taste raw dough.”
Thus, while delicious, eating out of date cookie dough can have detrimental implications.
More specifically, both E. coli and Salmonella infections can be quite serious, causing hospitalization and even death.
Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, bloody stools and extreme dehydration.
While the chances of contracting these illnesses are slim, the probability will increase if you choose to eat products like expired cookie dough (both raw and cooked).
What this means is that no matter if your cookie dough is expired by one day or one month, it is never a safe option to eat past this time frame.
Additionally, this apple to both the refrigerated and dry mix varieties of cookie dough.
That is because both flour and eggs are the main culprits for spoilage, and thus, food poisoning.
Cooking Does NOT Kill All Bacteria
For those who tend to use their cookie dough after it has expired, another key detail to note is that while cooking food at certain temperatures can kill dangerous bacteria, it will not eliminate the byproducts of these microorganisms.
The USDA states that “some foodborne bacteria produce poisons or toxins that are not destroyed by high cooking temperatures if the food is left out at room temperature for an extended period of time.”
You may be thinking that you made sure your food was handled properly. However, that does not guarantee that the manufacturers, transporters and grocery store workers were as meticulous at following the 2-hour rule.
Therefore, it is important to follow expiration dates. Do not consume cookie dough that has expired. Cooking it may not be enough to protect you from food poisoning.
Signs Of Spoilage In Cookie Dough
Changes in color are always one of the first signs that a food product has gone bad. Thus, if the cookie dough looks darker around the edges or has begun to develop mold, throw it out.
Bacteria like E. coli can bring a rancid smell to your signature dough. Thankfully, changes in aroma are a deterrent that most people pay attention to when it comes to food. If you do notice changes in the scent of this product, it is no longer safe to eat.
Sometimes Nothing Is Something
Most people assume that if the product smells fine, it is safe to eat. Regrettably, this is not the case with Salmonella bacteria.
That is because it does not have a smell. Thus, whether your cookie dough is expired or freshly purchased from the store, it is not safe to eat it raw if eggs are a part of the ingredients list.
If you choose to eat your expired cookie dough and you notice that the first bite has a different taste than the norm, spit it out!
Flavor changes are another clue that your cookie dough is no longer safe to consume.
Safer Cookie Dough Alternatives
While it is never recommended to eat expired products, big cookie brands have noted that their customers love to consume their signature cookie dough raw.
Thus, they have made special cookie dough lines that are specifically made to be safe to eat without baking!
Pillsbury Eat Or Bake Cookie Dough
Whether you prefer chocolate chip, peanut butter, birthday cake or just a classic sugar cookie, Pillsbury has made it easy to determine if you can eat their dough raw. Simply look for the “eat or bake” and “safe to eat raw” labels on the packaging!
The company notes that “it’s the same cookie dough you’ve always loved, but now we have refined our process and ingredients so it’s safe to eat the dough before baking.” This is thanks to the use of pasteurized eggs and heat treated flour.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of these products are not suitable for baking, so always refer to the packaging for specific instructions for use.
Nestle Toll House Edible Cookie Dough
Conversely, Nestle has taken a different approach, removing eggs from their Edible Cookie Dough Recipe all together!
Just like their competitors, they “have several edible cookie dough products that are ready to enjoy right out of the container.”
However the company does state that despite these changes, “we do not recommend using products beyond the date indicated on the package.”
Homemade Edible Cookie Dough
For those who still like to flashback to their childhood and make this delicious recipe from scratch, there is an easy way to alter the recipe to help keep the cookie dough safe to eat raw. Simply swap out your wheat flour for a safe alternative!
The first option is to use your food processor to transform oats into a fine powder. This is an item that most folks have on hand, making it a simple substitute.
Another option is to use almond flour. Just note that these alternatives will slightly alter the texture of the dough, giving it a slightly grainy texture.
Additionally, eggs are present in cookie recipes because they serve as a stabilizer and volumizer in the baking process.
What that means is that they are actually not necessary if the intent is to eat the cookie dough raw.
By eliminating these two ingredients, you can feel secure that the cookie dough is safe to eat without baking. Nonetheless, it is still best to never eat old cookie dough.
Storage Recommendations For Cookie Dough
Expired Opened And Unopened Cookie Dough Are Never Safe To Eat
The USDA notes that consumers should store “commercially prepared cookie dough, either unopened or opened, in the refrigerator and use it before the date on the label.
[Conversely,] homemade cookie dough should be stored in small containers in the refrigerator for two to four days.”
Keep Cookie Dough Longer By Freezing It
The best way to extend the shelf life of your cookie dough is to freeze it. As long as it is transferred to cold storage prior to the expiration date, cookie dough can last for up to two more months.
However, once thawed, you must consume the product within three to four days.
Handle And Store Your Cookie Dough Properly
Additionally, while you dough will remain safe in the sealed original packaging, once opened, it is imperative that you transfer it into an airtight container.
This can be a ziplock bag, a plastic Tupperware bin, a Pyrex dish or even a vacuum sealed plastic bag.
This will limit the instance of oxygen and moisture, which can quickly lead to decomposition. Finally, never keep cookie dough at room temperature for more than two hours.
Once this time frame has passed, foods enter into what is referred to as the “Danger Zone”. This is where dangerous bacteria can begin to grow and multiply.
Remember that if you ever find yourself thinking, “should you eat expired cookie dough?”, err on the side of caution and throw it out.
While “Best By” dates can a guideline for use or quality, expiration dates and “Use By” dates signify a time when the food is no longer safe to consume, no matter the method of preparation.
Remember that most cookie dough runs less than $5 a package. Is your craving really worth you or your child’s health? While we never want to waste, we also need to prioritize safety.
We are a team of passionate moms and homemakers. Among us are certified nutritionists, chefs, certified food handlers, accountants, financial gurus, and other professionals. Our joint goal is to educate homemakers. Check out the about us page for more information about our team’s credentials.