How Long Does Pudding Last? A Comprehensive Guide to Pudding Shelf Life

How long does pudding last?

Pudding, a creamy and indulgent dessert loved by many, has captured the taste buds of people around the world. Whether you enjoy instant pudding or prefer to make it from scratch, it’s important to know how long pudding lasts to ensure its freshness and quality. In this article, we will explore the shelf life of pudding, the factors that affect its longevity, and the best storage practices to maximize its freshness.

Understanding Pudding

Before we look at the shelf life of pudding, let’s first understand what pudding is. Pudding is a versatile dish that comes in different forms and flavors depending on the country or region. Traditionally, pudding refers to savory dishes such as blood sausage or haggis. However, in many parts of the world, the term “pudding” is commonly associated with sweet desserts.
In the United States and Canada, pudding usually refers to a sweet custard-based dessert or instant pudding mixes. In Commonwealth countries, egg-thickened puddings are called custards or curds, while starch-thickened puddings are called blancmanges and gelatin-thickened puddings are called jellies.

Ingredients and types of puddings

To understand the shelf life of a pudding, it’s important to examine its ingredients. Homemade puddings typically contain ingredients such as sugar, milk or cream, and a thickening agent such as cornstarch, eggs, tapioca or gelatin. Flavorings such as vanilla, chocolate, banana, or strawberry are often added to enhance the flavor.
Instant puddings, on the other hand, are popular for their convenience and quick preparation. They typically consist of sugar, flavorings, and thickeners such as gelatinized starch. Instant puddings also often contain food coloring and artificial flavors.

Factors that affect shelf life

Several factors affect the shelf life of puddings, whether homemade or instant. Understanding these factors is critical to determining how long pudding can be safely consumed.


The freshness and shelf life of homemade pudding is influenced by the perishable ingredients used, such as milk, cream and eggs. Once these ingredients are cooked, their shelf life decreases. Instant pudding powder, on the other hand, has a longer shelf life due to its low moisture content.

Method of preparation:

The method of preparation, whether homemade or instant, does not significantly affect the shelf life of pudding. While homemade puddings are usually cooked to thicken the mixture, instant puddings do not require heat.

Storage method:

The way pudding is stored plays a significant role in its shelf life. Factors such as temperature, moisture, oxygen and exposure to light can affect its longevity. Proper storage practices are essential to prolonging the freshness of pudding.

Shelf life of pudding

Now let’s explore the shelf life of pudding under different storage conditions.

Room temperature:

At room temperature, which is typically between 68-72°F (20-22°C), instant pudding powder can be stored in a pantry or on a counter. Unopened packets of instant pudding can be stored under optimal conditions for up to 3-4 weeks past the expiration date. However, once the powder is mixed with milk or cream, the shelf life decreases significantly. Manufactured instant or homemade pudding should not be stored at room temperature for more than one day due to the perishable ingredients.


For extended freshness, store instant pudding powder in the refrigerator with the package tightly closed. The cool temperature of the refrigerator, ideally at or below 40°F (4°C), inhibits the growth of bacteria and mold. Unopened packages of instant pudding will keep in the refrigerator for about 3-4 weeks.
Manufactured instant pudding or homemade pudding should be stored in the refrigerator due to the presence of perishable ingredients. Refrigeration helps maintain quality and prevents the growth of harmful microorganisms. When stored properly, pudding will keep in the refrigerator for about 5-7 days.


Freezing pudding is an excellent way to extend its shelf life. Both instant pudding powder and homemade pudding can be frozen, although the texture may change slightly when thawed. To freeze pudding, transfer it to an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and remove any excess air. Frozen pudding can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

Storage Tips

To maximize shelf life and maintain the quality of your pudding, follow these storage tips:

  1. Store unopened packages of instant pudding in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard.
  2. Once opened, seal the instant pudding package tightly and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Store purchased instant pudding or homemade pudding in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  4. Make sure the refrigerator temperature is set at or below 40°F (4°C).
  5. When freezing pudding, use airtight containers or freezer-safe bags to prevent freezer burn.
  6. Label containers with the date to keep track of the age of the pudding.
  7. Thaw frozen pudding in the refrigerator overnight before eating.


In conclusion, the shelf life of pudding depends on several factors, including the type of pudding, its ingredients, and storage conditions. Unopened instant pudding powder can be kept for several weeks past the expiration date if stored properly. However, once mixed with milk or cream, the shelf life decreases significantly. Homemade and instant puddings have a shorter shelf life and should be refrigerated to maintain freshness.
Proper storage practices, including refrigeration and freezing, can help extend the shelf life of pudding while maintaining its quality. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious pudding while ensuring its safety and freshness. Remember to always check for signs of spoilage, such as unusual odor, texture, or appearance, before consuming pudding that has been stored for an extended period of time.


How long does unopened instant pudding powder last?

Unopened instant pudding powder will keep up to 3-4 weeks past the expiration date if stored properly in a cool, dry pantry.

What is the shelf life of prepared instant pudding?

Once mixed with milk or cream, made instant pudding should be consumed within 5-7 days when stored in the refrigerator.

Can homemade pudding be stored at room temperature?

No, homemade pudding should not be stored at room temperature for more than one day due to the presence of perishable ingredients.

How long can I keep pudding in the refrigerator?

When stored properly in the refrigerator, pudding can last about 5-7 days, whether it is instant pudding or homemade pudding.

Can pudding be frozen?

Yes, both instant and homemade pudding can be frozen. Frozen pudding can last up to 2-3 months in the freezer.

Does freezing affect the texture of the pudding?

Freezing pudding may change the texture slightly when thawed, but it is still safe to eat.