How Long Does Jello Last?

published May 4, 2017
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

There’s not a time when jello or unflavored powdered gelatin hasn’t taken up a small space in the corner of my pantry. And it’s not because I make jello on a regular basis. Jello simply falls into that category of ingredients I know will come in handy at some point, and because it won’t go bad anytime soon.

Dry Jello Has a Lengthy Shelf Life

As you might have guessed, dry powdered jello has a pretty lengthy shelf life. We’re talking years. Most boxes are stamped with a use-by date. This is an indicator of the timeframe in which the jello will have the best quality, although it is safe to use far beyond that date. The key to keeping dry jello around for the long haul is storing it properly.

When stored in a cool, dry place, like the pantry, an unopened package of powdered jello can last for years. Just be sure it doesn’t come into contact with any moisture. Once the package of jello has been opened, it’s best if used within three months.

The Lifespan of Prepared Jello

I’m talking about the cups of jello you stirred together for dessert, the cut-outs made for snacking, that layered jello mold, and even boozy jello shots. Those pre-packaged plastic cups of jello are a whole different story.

There’s no need to be in a rush to gobble up all that jello. When stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, this jiggly treat can last for up to seven to 10 days. That’s quite a while, as far as deserts go. Even so, the taste and texture will deteriorate little by little each day, so it will be at its best soon after setting.

There is one caveat, however: jello molds (and cups) made with fruit. Because of the presence of fruit, these no-bake desserts are best when eaten in with three days of preparation.

Signs Jello Has Gone Bad

Despite its long shelf life, jello can go bad, and when it does there are usually telltale signs to clue you in. Noticeable changes in the color or texture or an obviously off odor point to spoiled jello. Mold is also a dead giveaway.