Do Rice Cakes Expire? Understanding the Shelf Life of Puffed Rice Cakes

Do rice cakes go bad?

Rice cakes, also known as puffed rice cakes or rice crackers, are a popular snack enjoyed by many. These hard, flat, circular discs of puffed rice can be a tasty and low-calorie option for those looking for a satisfying treat. However, like any food product, rice cakes have a limited shelf life and can go bad if not stored properly. In this article, we will explore the factors that contribute to the spoilage of rice cakes, how to tell if they have gone bad, and the best storage practices to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

Understanding Rice Cakes

Before we delve into the topic of rice cake spoilage, let’s take a moment to understand what rice cakes are. Rice cakes are made from a special type of rice commonly found in Asian cuisines. They are different from other types of rice crackers and rice cakes made around the world. For example, Korean rice cakes (tteokbokki) are dough-like ingredients used in savory dishes, while Japanese rice crackers (okaki) are traditionally made with kiri mochi, or fresh mochi, and then dried.
Rice cakes, or puffed rice crackers, are typically used as containers for other ingredients or eaten on their own as a snack. While they are not particularly high in nutrients, they can be a low-calorie option when paired with toppings such as peanut butter, fresh sliced vegetables, or sauce. Flavored rice cakes, including chicken, caramel, salt and vinegar, and BBQ, are also available on the market.

Factors that contribute to rice cake spoilage

Rice cakes can go bad over time due to several factors. While they are less likely to develop mold, they can become stale, losing their crisp texture, firm consistency and distinctive flavor. Staleness is the primary concern when it comes to rice cake spoilage. Prolonged exposure to oxygen causes gradual changes in texture and flavor, resulting in a less enjoyable eating experience.

Identifying spoiled rice cakes

When determining whether rice cakes have gone bad, it is important to look for specific signs of spoilage. Staleness is usually the first indicator, as the texture and flavor of rice cakes change over time. Stale rice cakes may not physically change in appearance, but will lack the desired crispness and freshness.
Mold growth is another potential problem, although it is less likely to occur. For mold to develop on rice cakes, they must be exposed to sufficient oxygen, moisture, and favorable temperatures. If mold appears on the rice cakes, it is important to discard them immediately to avoid potential food poisoning.
A rancid odor may also indicate spoilage, but is less common. If rice cakes spoil in a specific way, such as by the growth of certain strains of bacteria, they may emit a rancid odor. Rice cakes are typically nearly odorless, except when flavored, so any change in odor should be cause for concern and further inspection for signs of spoilage.
Changes in color may also indicate spoilage. Normally, puffed rice cakes have a white or off-white color with light brown tones between the rice grains. Any significant change in color, both on the surface and inside the rice cakes, should be a red flag and may indicate bacterial growth. In such cases, it is advisable to look for other signs of spoilage.
Flavor change is another key indicator that rice cakes have gone bad. If rice cakes taste significantly different from their original flavor, or if they have acquired a sour taste, it is likely that spoilage has occurred. In addition, a crumbly, gritty, or flaky texture may also be a sign of spoilage.

Proper Storage of Rice Cakes

Proper storage is critical to maintaining the freshness and quality of rice cakes for as long as possible. Here are some guidelines for storing rice cakes:

Room temperature storage

If the Rice Cakes are still sealed in their original packaging, they can be safely stored at room temperature. However, it is important to keep them away from direct sunlight and heat sources. A cool, dry place such as a pantry is ideal for storing sealed rice cakes.
If the Rice Cakes package has been opened, it is recommended that the Rice Cakes be transferred to an airtight container or resealable Ziploc bag. A tight seal is essential to prevent air and moisture from affecting the rice cakes. The container or bag should also be stored in a cool, dry place, similar to the sealed rice cakes.

Avoid refrigeration

Refrigeration is not recommended for storing rice cakes. Unlike some other foods, rice cakes should be completely dry. When exposed to moisture, their crisp and crunchy texture can become soft and even soggy. Rice cakes may also lose their flavor when stored in the refrigerator.

Protect from moisture and air

To prevent moisture and air from reaching the rice cakes, it is important to ensure proper packaging. If the original packaging is not resealable, the rice cakes must be transferred to an airtight container or resealable bag. This step will help maintain the desired texture and flavor of the rice cakes for a longer period of time.

Avoid cross-contamination

When storing rice cakes, it is important to keep them away from strong smelling foods or substances. Rice cakes can easily absorb odors, which can affect their taste and overall quality. It is best to store them away from items such as spices, onions, or strong smelling cheeses.

Rotate stock

To ensure that you use up Rice Cakes before they go bad, it is a good idea to practice proper stock rotation. When you buy new rice cakes, place them in the back of the pantry or cupboard and move the older ones to the front. This way, you can easily keep track of their expiration dates and consume them in a timely manner.

Best before dates

Rice cakes usually have a “best before” date printed on the package. While the quality and taste of the rice cakes may deteriorate after this date, it does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe to eat. However, it is recommended that you use your judgment and rely on sensory indicators such as staleness, mold growth, or taste changes to determine if the rice cakes are still safe to eat.


In summary, rice cakes can go bad over time due to factors such as staleness and, although less likely, mold growth. Stale rice cakes can lose their crisp texture and firm consistency, while moldy rice cakes should be discarded immediately to avoid potential food poisoning. Proper storage is critical to maintaining the freshness and quality of rice cakes. Keeping them in a cool, dry place in airtight containers or resealable bags helps protect them from moisture and air. In addition, avoiding cross-contamination and practicing stock rotation can help ensure that rice cakes are consumed before they expire. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the delicious and satisfying crunch of Rice Cakes while minimizing the risk of spoilage.


How long do rice cakes last before they go off?

Rice crispies can be kept for several months if stored correctly. However, they can become stale before they go bad, losing their crisp texture and flavour.

Can Rice Cakes get mouldy?

Although less common, rice cakes can develop mould if exposed to sufficient oxygen, moisture and favourable conditions. If mould occurs, it is important to discard the rice cakes to avoid potential food poisoning.

How can I tell if rice crispies have gone off?

Signs of spoiled rice cakes include staleness, changes in texture, off-flavours, mould growth and unusual odours. Any significant deviation from the original taste, appearance or smell should be cause for concern.

Can I refrigerate rice cakes to extend their shelf life?

Refrigeration is not recommended for rice cakes as it can affect their texture, making them soft and mushy. The best way to store them is in a cool, dry place at room temperature.

How should I store Rice Cakes to keep them fresh?

To keep rice cakes fresh, store them in airtight containers or resealable bags in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and strong odours. Proper packaging will help protect them from moisture and air, and maintain their desired texture and flavour.

Can I eat Rice Cakes after the best before date?

Although the quality and taste of rice cakes may deteriorate after the ‘best before’ date, they are usually still safe to eat if there are no signs of spoilage. However, you should rely on sensory indicators such as staleness, mould growth or flavour changes to determine their suitability for consumption.