Are Expired Chips Safe To Eat?


Potato chips are one of the most loved, shelf-stable foods in the United States. Potato snacks have become so addictive because they taste so good. But if you think your potato chips are stale, you might find yourself asking the question, are expired chips safe to eat.

stack of potato chips
stack of potato chips

We’ll help you know specifically when they’re safe to eat as well as when to throw them away. 

Are Expired Chips Safe to Eat?

If you think your potato chips are stale, perhaps you’re wondering if they’re safe to eat. And you’ll need to use your best judgment here.

Chances are if the bag is still sealed and you’re only a few days past the expiration, as a general rule, they’re not going to make you sick if you pop ’em.

But if you notice some of the more extreme key indicators of spoilage that we mention below, you’ll want to know when to make the decision to throw them away.

How to Store Potato Chips

The best way to store potato chips for a long shelf life is to keep them in a cool place that is also a dry place, as well as a dark place, as an unopened package of potato chips.

Keeping your unopened potato chips in the sealed container as you’ve purchased them from the manufacturer, until you’re ready to eat them is your absolute best option for storage for freshness.

stack of chips
stack of chips

If your chips are opened, we recommend storage at room temperature sealed in an airtight container. This will help to maintain low moisture content, particularly if they’re placed in a low temperature, dry area.

How to Maximize the Shelf Life of Potato Chips

Maximizing the shelf life of potato chips can be a goal if you like to store food ahead or if you don’t have many eaters around your table to eat a bag of chips in one setting.

And everyone loves chips that have the best flavor. When storing chips ahead, you’ll want to manage shelf-life dates so that the oldest get used first and the new ones are moved to the back.

Unopened chips are your best method for storage and length of shelf life. And unopened bag of chips can potentially last 2-3 months past the expiration date when left sealed and stored under the best conditions.

How to Know if Chips are Bad

There are key indicators to look for to know if your potato chips have gone bad. We’re not referring to the nutritional value of the chips here, but rather of spoilage.

potato chips with sour cream
potato chips with sour cream

Check the best-by date. If it’s only been a few weeks of the expiry date passing, and the chips are still sealed, the chances of your chips still being good are greater.

The first thing to do is to check whether your bag of chips has been opened, or if it’s still sealed in the brand packaging from the manufacturer.

potato chips
potato chips

If it’s open, the chips won’t last as long, if it’s still sealed, the chips will have a longer shelf life.

If you think your chips could have been opened for an extended period of time, not only will you have stale chips and a potential loss of flavor, but you might notice other signs of spoilage such as signs of mold, or the presence of harmful bacteria, which will create an off odor.

We’re no food scientist, but we’d recommend any food product that has reached this point should be thrown away. Don’t risk eating it.

Sell-by Date Vs Best-by Date

The difference between the best by date and the sell-by date are exactly as they sound.

potato chips with sour cream
potato chips with sour cream dipping sauce

Sell-by date. The sell by date is the recommended date as determined by the manufacturer that suggests when the chips should be sold or removed from the store shelves.

Best-by date. The best by date is the recommended date that’s determined by the manufacturer that suggests when the chips should be consumed in order to eat them while they’re still at their best quality.

What Happens When Spoiled Food is Consumed

Having a good understanding of food safety is important even for home cooks. Because of the health risk involved in consuming stale food or food that has gone bad, a good rule of thumb to follow is when you’re in doubt, throw the food out.

It can be easy to spot rancid food that has a rancid odour. It’s a given that this type of food is long gone and has become more of a science experiment living in your refrigerator than food that might still be in good condition. You can undoubtably make the decision that it can be thrown away.

potato chips with sour cream
potato chips with sour cream dipping sauce

And there might be the milder occasion when you have to determine whether the stale bread or stale potato chips are going to give you abdominal pain if you eat them. And we go back to that initial recommendation, if you’re in doubt, throw it away.

Symptoms of food poisoning can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and can become fatal of they’re not treated.  If you experience symptoms of foodborne illness, you should consult a doctor immediately.

What Do Chips Taste Like?

Potato chips are an all-American favorite snack food. And as the saying goes, let’s face it, you can’t eat just one. They taste so good, they’re addictive.

potato chips with sour cream
potato chips with sour cream dipping sauce

Potato chips come in a variety of flavors and the flavor that you buy will determine how your chips taste. They include additional ingredients that determine the chip’s flavor.

However, a plain good quality grocery store purchased pack of chips will taste salty. That is the most dominant flavor. We would also describe them as being greasy and tasting like potatoes, as secondary flavors.

The best time to eat chips is before they expire. This will provide the best quality for your eating experience as far as flavor and texture are concerned. So next time you’re looking for an excuse to finish the bag, this will give you good reason.

potato chips scattered
potato chips scattered

On the contrary, old chips that have been sitting around for a very long time might as well be thrown away. First of all they don’t taste good, and as a side of caution they could make you sick if unwanted bacteria is present.

Other Snack Food Items to Eat with Chips

Chips of any kind, whether potato chips, tortilla chips, or any snack food chips are a popular food item.And if you’re planning a party, you might be curious about other snack food items that can be served with chips.

We’ve pulled together a list of ideas to provide inspiration. We encourage you to think charcuterie board.

soft cheeses

milk chocolate

hard cheeses

semi-soft cheese

fresh fruits

natural peanut butter

deli meats

fresh berries

dark chocolate products









dips of any kind

Allow the favorites and dietary restrictions of those who gather around your table to determine your outcome.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to are expired chips safe to eat. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us in the comments box below and we’ll be happy to answer it.

Do chips expire if you don’t open them?

The peak quality of potato chips is before their expiration date. And the good news is, under normal circumstances, eating stale chip or two isn’t likely to cause much damage, as long as no key indicators of spoilage are present on the old crisps. But yeah, they still expire even if you don’t open them.

potato chips with sour cream
potato chips with sour cream dipping sauce

How long can you eat chips after expiration date?

A bag of chips can usually be eaten for up to 2-3 weeks after the use-by date, which is printed on the bag of chips. This is the case as long as your chips don’t show any of the key indicators of being spoiled.

Expired foods often depend on things such as their storage conditions and handling to determine their length of shelf life as well as freshness.  

Can you get food poisoning from old chips?

The short answer is if you choose to eat chips that have gone bad, Salmonella is the biggest risk for snack foods. And the best thing to do if you’re in doubt is throw your potato crisps away.

Other Snack Ideas:

Ultimate French Onion Dip
Johnny’s French Dip Sandwich
French Bread Pizza
Trader Joe’s Lemon Bars


We trust you found our summary helpful, so you know more about what the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends as well as signs to look for according to the Food and Drug Administration.

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Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

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