Can Pancakes be Left Out Overnight?


Changing lifestyle habits and time limitations have made it difficult for people to cook fresh meals. Hence, workarounds like cooking large portions and saving them in the refrigerator have become common.

Research shows that several diseases arise from the kitchens. When leftover food is stored in refrigerators for more than 24 hours, especially where refrigerators are not regularly cleaned, such food gets infected by pathogens. Reheating such food also causes poisoning.

Among several foods that we leave overnight or refrigerate, we have picked pancake for a detailed study. Let’s examine if it is safe to eat them when they are left out overnight or in the refrigerator.

Do pancakes go bad?

Pancakes are round and thin cakes. They are made with a batter of all-purpose flour, milk, sugar, and eggs that are cooked on a frying pan with oil.

Well, pancakes can indeed go bad just like all other foods. It is natural for all foods to go bad. While some foods stay longer, some become stale in a few hours. Factors like protein synthesis, fermentation of carbohydrates, souring of fats, rancidity, growth of bacteria, and inhibition of pathogens degrade, decompose, and spoil the food.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), food can be safely left out at room temperature for about two hours. After this, bacteria start growing rapidly at room temperature. In fact, bacteria doubles in number every 20 minutes when not in the refrigerator.

So, are the ingredients in pancake perishable? Here’s a look.

Ingredient In PancakesPerishableShelf life (unrefrigerated)
All-purpose flourYes3-8 months
MilkYes2-10 hours
EggYes2-10 hours
ButterYes2-4 days
Baking powderYes6-12 months

Cooked food generally tends to last for a shorter while than uncooked ingredients. This is because cooking breaks down the components making them more digestible. This also makes them easier for germs like bacteria to grow. 

How long are pancakes good for?

According to the USDA, cooked food stays good for up to two hours at room temperature. However, depending on the room temperature, the growth of bacteria will be sooner or later.

In cooler climates, you may be able to keep the pancakes out for the entire night whereas in warmer regions pancakes will start degrading faster.

Storing pancakes in the refrigerator will keep them in good condition for two to three days. Meanwhile, storing them in the freezer will keep them good for up to three months.

How to tell if pancakes have gone bad?

Owing to natural decomposition, food starts to go bad two to three hours after it is cooked. The signs of it could be many. The food could change in texture and taste; it could develop a bad odor; it could leak; it could foam up; it could change color; it could dry up, or it could have growth of mold.

So, how can you tell if the pancakes have gone bad? Here are a few tips.

  • You may be able to spot green, black, or grey mold on the pancakes.
  • The pancakes may become soft with moisture.
  • It may smell unfavorable.

What happens if you eat out-of-date pancakes?

According to dieticians, who advise the consumption of fresh food for good health, eating any food that has spoilt or has sat beyond the expiration date, causes food poisoning. The symptoms of food poisoning differ for each person. It could cause stomach aches, diarrhea, vomiting, acidity, fever, rashes, headaches, and dizziness. In severe cases, the symptoms could be harsh.

Not just consumption of food that has gone bad, reheating stale food also causes severe symptoms, including poisoning in the stomach.

Consuming dated pancakes will result in similar symptoms. You could eat spoilt pancakes without facing any problems as not all molds are dangerous. According to USDA, molds that contain mycotoxins are extremely harmful and can even cause death.

In the case of pancakes stored in the refrigerator, USDA warns that food left out of the refrigerator for over two hours is not good for consumption. This is because when shifted to room temperature, bacteria multiply rapidly. Reheating such food leads to poisoning.

Therefore, consume pancakes fresh, before they expire, and within two days of refrigeration. An astounding 48 million people fall sick from food poisoning every year. So, eat fresh and stay safe.

Can you keep pancakes in the fridge?

The advent of refrigerators in the second decade of the 20th century has improved the shelf life of food. It also helps avoid wastage of food as leftovers can be preserved. Refrigeration keeps the food stay in cold temperatures, where the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms is slow. Therefore, refrigeration delays the spoilage of food due to pathogens.

Yes, pancakes can be stored in the fridge. If you are storing them in the refrigerator, they will stay good for two to three days – provided they are stored properly. The correct way of storing pancakes in the refrigerator is to put them in airtight boxes or ziplock bags. The ideal temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The batter for pancakes can also be stored in the refrigerator. It is best to place them in airtight containers or Ziploc bags. Also, make sure you maintain the ideal temperature inside the fridge. Since milk and eggs are perishable, the batter will stay good in the fridge for up to two to seven days.

Can you freeze pancake?

Freezing is another technique in food preservation. It is known to retain the taste, texture, and nutrition levels of the food for longer periods. As freezing temperatures are lower than regular refrigeration, it further slows down the growth of microorganisms and thus, spoilage of food. Freezing and cold storage have become increasingly common in the food industry.

Yes, pancakes can be frozen by keeping them in plastic bags or wrapped in wax paper. Make sure they have turned completely cool before placing them in the freezer. You can also freeze the batter by keeping it in airtight plastic bags. The technique will keep the pancakes and batter fresh for a long. Make sure the temperature inside the freezer is zero degrees Fahrenheit.

How long do frozen pancakes last?

Pancakes are known to stay good for up to three months in the freezer, provided you have stored them correctly. The system will not only prevent the food from getting spoilt but will also help in retaining its texture and nutritional value.