Does Milk Powder Expire?

You may have a bag or container of powdered milk that's been sitting in your pantry for months or even years.

Does Milk Powder Expire

Powdered milk, also called dry milk or dried milk, has a much longer shelf life than liquid milk.

But does milk powder expire eventually? How can you tell if that old container of powdered milk is still safe to use?

Shelf Life of Dry Milk

The shelf life of powdered milk depends largely on the type of milk powder and how it is stored.

According to the USDA, most types of commercially packaged powdered milk remain edible for 2 to 10 years beyond the printed “best by” or expiration date, although quality slowly declines after about 2 years.1

Many powdered milk brands state a “best by” date of around 18 to 24 months from the production date. This applies to dry whole milk, nonfat milk, and buttermilk powder.

Nonfat powdered milk generally lasts the longest past its date, staying fresh for up to 4 years when stored properly. It has a lower fat content, so there is less risk of fat turning rancid over time.

On the other hand, powdered whole milk and buttermilk have higher fat contents, so they tend to expire quicker. Their quality declines rapidly after the “best by” date. For best quality, use opened containers of these types of milk powder within 3 months.

Once opened, all types of powdered milk stay fresh for about 3 months at room temperature when stored in a tightly sealed container.

Some survival food companies sell powdered milk labelled with an even longer 25-year shelf life. This ultrapasteurized milk contains less than 1% moisture and is packaged in containers that remove oxygen, allowing it to remain edible for decades in storage. However, the flavor and nutrient quality decline over time.

So in most cases, as long as it was stored properly in a cool, dark pantry and the packaging isn’t damaged, powdered milk remains consumable for about 2 years beyond the printed date. After this point, it may slowly develop off flavors but should still be safe to consume.

Key Takeaway: In general, commercially packaged powdered nonfat milk will stay fresh for about 2 years past the “best by” date if stored properly.

How To Store Powdered Milk for Maximum Freshness

To get the longest shelf life out of powdered milk, it’s important to store it correctly. Here are some tips:

  • Keep powdered milk in a cool, dry place like the pantry. Temperatures between 50-70°F are ideal.
  • Store in an airtight container to prevent moisture and oxygen exposure. Use the original packaging or transfer to a sealed plastic or glass container.
  • Keep container tightly sealed between uses to block moisture. Use a clip or rubber band if needed.
  • Store in a dark area, as light damages milk nutrients and flavors over time.
  • For whole milk and buttermilk powders, use opened containers within 3 months since fats oxidize quicker.
  • Label containers with open dates to track shelf life.

Following these guidelines minimizes moisture and air contact with the dried milk, keeping it fresher for longer.

You can also freeze powdered milk to pause the clock on shelf life. Simply store the sealed containers in the freezer. The frozen milk powder will retain optimum quality for about 3 years. Thaw and use as needed.

Key Takeaway: Storing opened powdered milk in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place extends its shelf life to about 3 months.

How To Tell If Powdered Milk Has Spoiled

So how can you evaluate if your old container of powdered milk is still usable? Here are some signs that powdered milk has expired and should be discarded:

  • Change in color: Fresh powdered milk is white to light cream. Yellow or brownish discoloration indicates oxidation and spoilage.
  • Clumping: If you see hard clumps or solid chunks rather than fine powder, moisture has gotten in. Toss clumped powdered milk.
  • Off odors: Powdered milk should smell mild and milky. Strong pungent odors mean it’s gone bad.
  • Mold: Check powder for fuzzy mold spots, which signal spoilage.
  • Insect infestation: Bugs inside the packaging are a bad sign. Discard any infested powdered milk.
  • Expired taste: If reconstituted powdered milk smells or tastes sour, bitter, soapy or rancid, don’t drink it.

When in doubt, use your senses. Rancid odors, bitterness, separation, gassiness, fizzing, mold, and clumping are all signals to discard expired powdered milk.

Always toss powdered milk straight in the trash if you notice any of the above changes no good for consumption. Don’t taste test suspicious milk that could make you sick!

Maximizing Shelf Life After Mixing Powdered Milk

What about shelf life after you’ve mixed up powdered milk? How long does reconstituted powdered milk last before it spoils?

Most powdered milk brands recommend drinking reconstituted milk within 24 hours for food safety and best quality. Bacteria multiply quickly once water is added to dried milk powder.

However, if refrigerated, freshly mixed milk may stay pleasant tasting for 2-3 days. Don’t let reconstituted powdered milk sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.

Here are some reconstituted powdered milk storage guidelines:

  • Drinking within 24 hours ensures safety and best taste
  • Lasts for 2-3 days when refrigerated
  • Store in airtight container in fridge
  • Discard if smells sour or curdled

The shelf life clock starts ticking fast once water is added to dried milk. For optimal freshness and food safety, use reconstituted powder within a day and don’t leave it sitting out.

Freezing Reconstituted Powdered Milk

Can you freeze leftover liquid milk made from powdered milk? Freezing gives it a longer shelf life.

Reconstituted powdered milk can be frozen for up to 3 months before quality suffers. To freeze:

  • Allow fresh liquid milk to fully chill in the refrigerator first
  • Pour into airtight freezer containers leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace
  • Label containers with date
  • Freeze for up to 3 months

The milk may separate and turn grainy when thawed but is still safe to consume. Simply shake vigorously or blend to reincorporate.


Does powdered milk expire?

Yes, powdered milk does eventually expire and has a limited shelf life. Dried milk powder lasts about 2 years past the printed “best by” date when properly stored.

Can you use powdered milk after the expiration date?

Generally, powdered milk remains safe to consume for 2 years beyond the “best by” or expiration date on the package. However, its quality and flavor will slowly deteriorate over time.

How long does nonfat dry milk last after opening?

An opened package of nonfat powdered milk will stay fresh for about 3 months at room temperature when stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Can you freeze powdered milk to make it last longer?

Yes, placing powdered milk in the freezer extends its shelf life. Frozen milk powder keeps for about 3 years before quality starts declining but remains safe indefinitely at 0°F.

Is it safe to drink reconstituted powdered milk after 48 hours?

No, for food safety do not drink reconstituted powder milk if its older than 48 hours old. After 2 days in the fridge, bacteria levels may be too high. Best practice is to drink powdered milk within 24 hours of mixing for optimal safety and freshness.


While powdered milk has an extended shelf life of about 2 years past its printed date thanks to the dehydration process, signs of expiration like clumping, bitter taste, or foul smell mean it’s time to toss. With proper dry dark storage away from moisture and oxygen, dried milk powder lasts even longer.

But no matter what, always err on the side of caution and discard rancid, spoiled, or potentially contaminated powder.

Sarah Cortez
Sarah Cortez

My name is Sarah and I'm a baker who loves trying out new recipes and flavor combinations. I decided to challenge myself to use a new spice or ingredient powder in my baking each week for a year. Some successes were the cardamom sugar cookies, vivid turmeric cake, and beetroot chocolate cupcakes. Failures included the bitter neem brownies and overwhelmingly hot ghost pepper snickerdoodles. Through this experience I've discovered amazing additions to spice up desserts while learning how to balance strong flavors. Follow my journey as I push the boundaries of baking with unique powders!

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