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Have you just found a packet of nachos in the pantry and are wondering if it’s still safe to eat them? Perhaps the package is just past its best-by date, or you’ve opened them, and they taste a little off. It’s good to check if nachos can go bad so that you don’t eat anything that will make you sick.
Nachos will last several months in a sealed package and longer if stored in a cool, dry place or the freezer. Nachos go bad if exposed to heat, moisture, mold, and bacteria. Nachos that have spoiled will show signs of rancid smell, taste, or mold growth and should be discarded.
My family rarely let a pack of nachos go unfinished, but even then, we sometimes manage to tuck an opened pack away, only to find it later. I didn’t want to risk any gastrointestinal issues, so I needed to find out how long nachos last and how I could tell if they were still safe to eat.
Do Nachos Go Bad?
We love eating nachos with dips; sometimes, we use storebought, and other times make homemade nachos. Either way, we occasionally have some leftovers or bought too many packets and left them in the pantry for later.
No one wants to get sick from tortilla chips that have gone off, so I wanted to know if nachos could go bad. Like any food, nachos eventually go stale, and if they are not sealed, moisture will make them rancid or cause mold to grow.
However, because nachos are cooked to become very dry and crisp, they have a very low moisture content. This dryness helps preserve them for longer. Food with a higher moisture content – like fruit – is usually quicker to spoil.
Drying and salting food is often a traditional way of preserving food – think of dried fish or jerky. While tortillas aren’t explicitly dried to preserve them, the way they are made helps keep them fresher for longer.
The low moisture content and the salt on the nachos help keep your chips fresh for longer. Thanks to these things, a pack of unopened nachos stored correctly can last several months. Storebought nachos may also have extra preservatives to keep them fresher for longer.
The salt on the nachos might help prevent microbes, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stop mold growth, and a serving of Doritos, nacho cheese flavor, as an example, only has 0.7% salt, which is under the cut-off of 10% salt to stop microbe growth.
Can You Eat Expired Nachos?
As we can see, nachos will eventually go bad, though it takes much longer than other foods. But what if the date on the package is past the best-by date – can you still eat the chips?
Because of the low moisture and high salt content in your corn chips, we’ve seen that nachos are resistant to spoiling when they are in an unopened packet. Most likely, your tortilla chips will have gone a bit stale.
If you open your packet of expired nachos and they look fine with no mold growth and they d not smell strange, they are likely fine to eat. If they have gone a little stale, you can crisp them up by putting them in the oven for a few minutes at 425F.
In the US, the packages’ dates may have different meanings – sometimes expirations dates, other best-by dates. The date is a guideline for food quality rather than a hard rule about when the food should be eaten.
Either way, nachos should be OK to eat past the expiration date, provided they were in a sealed package and do not look, smell, or taste rancid.
Another way to crisp up your stale nachos is to microwave them. Place the nachos on a microwave-safe plate lined with a paper kitchen towel. Microwave the nachos on high for 15 seconds; if they still need to crisp a little more, another 10 seconds.
Do Unopened Nachos Go Bad?
Unopened nachos will usually not go bad, so much as they lose their flavor and crispness. Stale nachos are not the best to eat, taste-wise, but will be unlikely to give you food poisoning.
If you see a tear in the packaging, your nachos are no longer perfectly sealed, and it is more likely that they will have gone off.
You can check for mold or growths to determine if your nachos have gone rancid. If they look fine, it’s likely then that they will only be stale.
No one likes stale nachos that taste mealy and have lost their crisp. You can revive your stale nachos using either the oven or microwave reheating methods above, which will help crisp them up and improve the flavor.
If the nachos taste strange or wrong to you, err on the safe side and throw them out rather than eating them.
The general guideline is that an unopened packet of nachos will last around two t three months before they begin losing flavor and crispness. Provided they seem fine, you can still eat nachos past their expiration date.
How Long Do Open Nachos Last?
Once you’ve opened a packet of tortilla chips, they will begin to go stale faster. An opened bag of nachos can usually be good to eat for 1-2 weeks if correctly stored, and after that, they will lose their taste, and instead of being crisp, they will become limp from the moisture in the air.
You will need to store your open bag of nachos in a sealed, airtight container. Either roll up the packet and secure it with a chip clip or vacuum-seal the container. Keeping the air out reduces the moisture and possible bacteria or mold spores, giving you fresher nachos for longer.
Store your nachos in a cool, dark place like a pantry to help them stay fresh.
If you prefer not to take the chance storing an opened bag of nachos, why not use them to make a light Easy Mexican Botnan Platter with its layers of oven-baked beans, cheese, and vegetables? This snack goes well with nachos, so it’s the perfect excuse to use your leftover nachos.
How Long Do Homemade Nachos Last?
Homemade nachos are delicious; it’s simple if you haven’t made your own. Head to our Oven-baked Nachos recipe, where we’ll show you how to make nachos from corn tortillas.
As you see, these nachos are coated with oil and oven-baked at a high temperature, which makes them dry and crisp. Because homemade nachos usually do not have the same salt or preservatives as storebought, they can go stale faster.
If you’ve made your nachos or bought proper tortilla chips from a Mexican restaurant, you might wonder how long you can keep them.
If your nachos already have toppings on them, you shouldn’t keep them longer than two days in the fridge. The toppings have more oil and moisture and will go off faster, making your tortilla chips rancid.
If your homemade nachos are plain, you can keep them in the fridge for a week by storing them in an airtight container. If you wish to store homemade nachos for longer, put the sealed container in the freezer, where they can keep for 6-8 months.
Reheating Homemade Nachos
If you want to reheat nachos that already have toppings, you can do this the same way as crisping stale nachos. Pop the topped nachos in the oven at 425F for a few minutes. Nachos can burn quickly, so check them to ensure they are not getting too burned.
Five minutes in a preheated oven is usually enough to crisp up homemade nachos, but if they have toppings on them already, you’ll need to check at intervals to see if the nachos are cooking as you want them.
Once the cheese has melted and bubbled and the edges of your nachos look crisp, your nachos should be ready. Remove carefully from the oven with oven gloves, and leave them to cool for a few minutes.
When reheating plain nachos, you may prefer to crisp them for a few minutes in the hot oven before adding the toppings and continuing to heat them to your taste.
Can Rancid Nachos Make You Sick?
Rancid food will make you sick, and nachos are no exception. If you are concerned about your nachos’ look, smell, and taste, you should throw them out and not eat them. If any food, including nachos, looks suspicious, you should not take the risk.
If nachos have not been stored correctly in an airtight container, moisture and bacteria have a chance to get in, and this causes food spoilage.
I always recommend people store nachos in a cool, dark place – even the freezer – as bacteria thrive in warm damp conditions. Mold will grow in humid environments and will ruin your food.
When food goes rancid, the taste will change. Rancid food has a distinctive bitter, cardboard-like taste and will smell foul. People have compared the smell of rancid food to oil paint, play dough, and wood varnish.
If your nachos smell anything like this or taste strange, you should throw them away immediately. Not all rancid food can make you ill, but they are not healthy for you.
However, there is a chance that rotten food can make you sick and has also been responsible for disease outbreaks that have killed people. Whole flours and vegetable oils are ingredients that go rancid, and tortillas contain both.
How Do You Know if Nachos Are Bad?
It’s a good idea to recognize the signs that your nachos have spoiled or gone off. While nachos past their sell-by date will merely taste stale, here are the signs that you should throw your tortilla chips away.
When there was an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at a correctional facility in 2015 due to rancid tortilla chips, people complained of the chemical smell. Use your sense to confirm if your nachos have gone bad, and trust your gut if you don’t want to eat the chips.
- Look for any signs of mold on your chips. Mold can appear as white spots, as well as greenish patches. Mold can affect storebought and homemade nachos.
- If mold is on only one or two chips, and the rest are fine, you may want to throw the affected chips away and eat the rest. I prefer throwing them all away, and I recommend throwing the pack away if a third or more of the chips have mold.
- If the best-by date is past six months, it’s safer to throw them away. While people can and do eat nachos a year past the expiry date, I prefer not to take that risk.
- When food goes off or rancid, it will start to smell strange. Oils and flour are likely to go rancid, so if you smell a strange chemical odor like turpentine, oil paint, or soap, your nachos are likely rancid, and you should throw them away.
- If all looks fine, but your nachos taste off – especially if they taste bitter or unpleasant – you should throw them in the trash.
- Stale nachos will taste a little flavorless but should taste disgusting. If the nachos are still edible, you can use one of the methods for crisping them.
How Can You Keep Nachos From Going Bad?
You can keep your nachos fresher for longer and prevent them from going bad by storing them correctly.
If they’re in a sealed packet, store the unopened nachos in your pantry or any cool dark place. You want to avoid heat and moisture as these will affect your nachos and may cause bacterial growth.
Close an opened packet of nachos by rolling it up to remove excess air and sealing with a chip clip. If you have a handheld vacuum sealer, this is even better. You can store your sealed container in the freezer to improve the shelf-life.
Storing nachos in the freezer might sound counter-intuitive because of the moisture, but if the container is firmly sealed, no moisture should get in. Your nachos will not freeze, as there is not enough water content, but will merely become very cold.
When you want to eat your nachos, take them out of the freezer for a few minutes, then crisp them in an oven or microwave before serving.
Avoid Bad Nachos With Good Storage
While nachos can go bad, it’s unlikely to be a problem if you store them correctly and practice good kitchen hygiene to avoid cross-contamination. Wash your hands properly before handling opened food, and store nachos in a sealed container in the freezer for extra safety.