How to Tell if Cookie Dough is Bad (Best Tips!)

Cookie dough is a wonderful thing, beloved by many. However, there are instances where you may need to store cookie dough for later use. In this post I want to show you how to tell if cookie dough is bad (if you’ve tried to store it for a bit too long!)

Can cookie dough spoil?

Unfortunately, yes, cookie dough can spoil just like any other food. That said, the “shelf life” of your dough may depend on a lot of factors. For example, if you have a batch of homemade dough, it may not last as long as store bought.

We’ll talk more about the shelf life of cookie dough in a bit, but first, let’s cover the signs to look for to see if it has gone bad (most of these are the same whether it is homemade like these blackberry cookies, or store bought!)

chocolate chip cookie dough close up

How does it look?

The first question to ask when looking at cookie dough that’s been sitting for a while is, “how does it look?” There are several tell tale signs that will instantly give away that the dough is bad.


First, check for mold. If there is any mold growing on the surface, the dough has got to go. It is safer to make a new batch at this point.


If there is no mold, you still want to look for discoloration. This can start to happen at the beginning stages of cookie dough going bad. The edges may turn a darker color. This usually happens because of a chemical reaction called oxidation.

How does it smell?

The next thing to note is the smell. If the dough smells foul or “off” compared to when it was opened/made, you are better off throwing it out.

How does it taste?

The last thing to do is taste the dough. I know this is often a daunting thing to do, LOL! But if you’re unsure, it is the best way to figure out the state of the dough. Just take a small piece and note the flavor. You will be able to tell if it’s bad, trust me!

Related: How to Thicken Cookie Dough and How to Fix Dry Cookie Dough

mixing cookie dough

What happens if you eat bad cookie dough?

At this point, we need to make a distinction between bad and expired.

If you know that cookie dough is bad or spoiled, please do not eat it. It is simply not worth the risk. Raw eggs can carry diseases like Salmonella and E.coli, especially if not stored properly. If your cookie dough shows the signs we talked about above, don’t risk it. Throw it out and make (or buy) a new batch. (To learn more about this, please see this Healthline article).

Now that said, there is a difference between dough being bad and expired! Perhaps you bought a roll of cookie dough from the store. If so, make sure to look for TWO dates on the packaging.

The first date to look for is the “best buy” date. This date is an indicator of freshness, and does not necessarily mean the dough is bad. It shouldn’t make you sick to eat dough that is past this date (though still check for the signs of spoilage!)

The second date to look for is the actual EXPIRY date. This is more important to adhere to as it is a clear sign that the dough is bad. You can get sick if you eat truly expired cookie dough, so throw it away if it is past this date.

How to Store Cookie Dough

Of course, hopefully you are not at the point where you have cookie dough that is already bad! There are lots of things you can do to PREVENT your dough from spoiling. A lot of this has to do with storage.

Store in An Airtight Container

The first point to keep in mind is storing your dough in a container that is airtight. If you’re going to be storing the dough for more than a day or so, this is important. The dough will last longer if you store it in an airtight container (rather than covered with plastic wrap in a bowl, etc.)

Keeping raw cookie dough in the fridge

Next, make sure you put your raw dough in the fridge at the very least. Cookie dough should not sit out on the counter for more than an hour or so. It is important to put it in the fridge so it does not collect harmful bacteria.

As far as how long cookie dough lasts in the fridge, it really depends on the type of dough you have. Store bought dough will last longer than homemade since it has more preservatives and added ingredients.

According to the USDA, homemade cookie dough can last for 2-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge before spoiling.

Freezing Cookie Dough

If you need your dough to last even LONGER, I highly recommend freezing it! Dough can last for a longer period of time frozen. If this is the route you want to go, here are the steps to take:

  1. Roll the dough into balls. Balls will be much easier to work with when you get the dough out of the freezer (rather than a giant bowl of frozen dough!)
  2. Refrigerate the dough balls for at least an hour to get them nice and chilled, so they don’t stick together. You can also flash freeze them beforehand too.
  3. Place the chilled dough balls into a ziploc freezer bag. Seal the bag and write the date on it so you don’t forget when you froze them!

Cookie dough can last for 2-3 months in the freezer, which allows you a lot more time before the dough spoils! Sources vary on the exact length of time. If you want to play it safe, make sure to make the dough into cookies before the 2 month mark. Having the date written on the bag will really help you make them in time!

Can cookie mix expire?

Yes, cookie mix can expire just like any other dough. Again, make sure to check those dates on the packaging. If you’re concerned about a mix expiring soon, you can always throw it in the freezer before it goes over the expiry date! This goes for lots of store bought cookie pixes like Pillsbury, or Betty Crocker cookie dough.

Can I use cookie dough that was left out overnight?

Generally, this is a no-no. Dough should only be left on the counter for an hour or so. Leaving the dough out overnight can easily cause bacteria to grow. It is better to throw out this dough and make a new batch.


Cookie dough is a delicious thing to make, but sometimes you may need to check to make sure it is still good. Remember to check for all the obvious signs like taste and looks before determining if cookie dough is bad! And if you store your dough properly, you should never end up with something like gross mold on it. In the end, cookies are amazing but only if you treat the dough the right way!

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