Ramen noodles are common in Japanese cooking, as well as the diets of some college students, myself included. These dried noodles last for months, but how long can they last?
The answer depends on the kind of noodles you’re eating, and if they’re dried or fresh. The dried packs and noodles that come in cups can last over a year after packaging. Fresh ramen noodles, the kind that is found in specialized shops, can last two weeks in the fridge.
The different kinds of ramen mean that there are lots of ways to make them last as long as possible.
Do Ramen Noodles Go Bad? How Long Do Ramen Noodles Last?
Here’s a guide to how long ramen noodles can last, as well as some handy tips to storing your noodles so they stay fresh as long as possible.
How Long Does Ramen Last Outside?
Ramen’s staying power has been the punchline to many jokes; however, ramen noodles can last a long time in a pantry or cupboard.
- Packs of ramen noodles can last around eight months to a year after production. At the highest extreme, they can last a year after the “best by” date
- Ramen cups can last at least six months after production
- Wheat ramen noodles can stay good about three to six months after the “best by” date
- The dried packs and cups of ramen noodles have many chemical and added preservatives in them, such as salt, which makes them last for a long time
- Dehydration also contributes to ramen’s shelf life because it removes moisture that bacteria need to grow
- If cooked, ramen noodles will probably be good for about eight hours outside of the fridge
How Long Does Ramen Last in the Fridge?
Fresh ramen noodles, as well as noodles that are cooked, should be stored in the refrigerator, rather than the pantry, preferably in air-tight packaging.
- Fresh ramen can last about two to three weeks in the fridge. It might be a better idea to freeze them if you’re planning on keeping them for longer than that
- Cooked ramen stored in the fridge lasts around a week because the formerly dried noodles now have moisture in them, promoting bacterial growth and increasing the potential to go bad over time
- All noodles, fresh or cooked, should be checked for signs of going bad before you eat them
How Long Does Ramen Last in the Freezer?
If you want to store cooked or fresh ramen noodles for longer than a week or two, putting them in the freezer is the best idea.
- Fresh ramen can stick around for over a month in the freezer in air-tight containers. If cooked in broth, the noodles and the broth should be stored separately
- Dried ramen noodles can also be frozen, but since they last a long time in the pantry it’s a better idea to keep them there
- Freezing has the benefit of protecting your ramen noodles from any insects that might get into it
No matter where you keep it, don’t forget to check your ramen noodles for any signs that you need to throw it out.
How Do You Know if Your Ramen is going bad?
Ramen noodles don’t last forever, but there are signs that it’s gone bad.
Holes in the package: The package is what keeps the ramen sealed from harmful bacteria and insects. If that’s torn, and I’ve found it usually happens through a packaging error, then it’s probably not safe to eat. This includes the flavoring packages that come with the dried packs.
A weird color: If your ramen looks off-color, this is because the oils used to hold the dough together break down over time, turning rancid in a process called oxidization. This is a slow process that happens over months, so it might not be noticeable at first.
A weird smell or taste: Another effect of the oil in your ramen noodles breaking down and becoming rancid is if it smells or tastes strange.
Black dots: Do you see any black flecks in your ramen? If it has little black dots on it, this is a sign that it’s becoming moldy. This is caused by bacteria getting into the package over time through air and water.
Insects: If you see any insects in the ramen, dead or alive, throw it out. While bugs want to eat your noodles, that doesn’t mean you want to eat them!
How Do You Store Ramen?
Storing ramen noodles depends on what kind of ramen noodles you have, and whether it’s been cooked or not.
Dried ramen: The best-known kind of ramen noodles is best stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Pantries work the best for this, as do cupboards. This kind can also be stored in the freezer, where you won’t have to worry about insects getting into it, but it’s not necessary for making your ramen last. Keep it away from anything that smells strongly, because that could affect how the noodles taste.
Cup Ramen: Cup ramen is similar to dried ramen, so you can store it in a pantry or cupboard with no problems.
Cooked ramen: Cooked ramen should be stored in the refrigerator if you’re planning on eating it later.
Fresh ramen: Since fresh ramen hasn’t been dried, it’s at its best if you store it in the refrigerator or in the freezer for long-term storage.
Can You Freeze Ramen?
Ramen noodles can be frozen for long-term storage, especially fresh or cooked ramen. You can also freeze dried ramen noodles.
- Ramen is vulnerable to moisture, especially dried ramen. All types should be stored in an air-tight container to keep contaminants like water out
- Freezing also stops any insects that might get into your noodles
- Store ramen away from any smelly foods. Ramen can absorb odors and will taste and smell strange if kept near pungent food for too long
- Resealable freezer bags are very handy for freezing ramen noodles. Make sure the bag is tightly sealed before you put it in
- If you freeze cooked ramen, it’s easiest if you cook it enough that the noodles are still firm. This way the noodles won’t turn soggy when they’re thawed
How Do You Thaw Ramen?
Thawing ramen noodles can be done as easily as freezing them.
If you have the time to wait before cooking them, you can move your noodles from the freezer to the refrigerator for a few hours. You can do this before you go to sleep.
You don’t have the time to wait? Put your noodles in a microwave for thirty seconds, or into a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ramen’s Shelf Life
My ramen is past its “best by” date. Is it still safe to eat?
In theory, your ramen should be good a year after the package’s “best by” date. In practice, it’s definitely a good idea to smell and take a tiny taste of those noodles before you dig in. Even if nothing got into your noodles, the oil inside of them is probably starting to break down. It might not be toxic, but that doesn’t mean it won’t taste bad or make you sick.
Does the flavoring packet go bad, too?
The flavoring packet that comes with dried ramen noodles is made of various powdered stock seasonings, depending on what the flavor is. Since those ingredients include salt, a preservative, and since the packet is sealed off from any contaminants inside the already-sealed packet, it should last as long as the noodles. Be sure to test it before you use it by smelling or tasting it.
Ramen noodles can last for over a year with the right storage; even the fresh kind can last for months in the freezer. This means you’ll have a meal that’s ready in no time.