How long can I keep peppermint bark?

Peppermint bark is a popular holiday treat made from chocolate, peppermint, and sometimes white chocolate. But how long does it actually last? Here’s a comprehensive guide on storing peppermint bark to maximize freshness and shelf life.

The Shelf Life of Peppermint Bark

When properly stored, peppermint bark can last for the following time periods:

  • Peppermint bark with chocolate and peppermint oil: 2 to 3 months
  • Peppermint bark with white chocolate: 1 to 2 months

The shelf life of peppermint bark depends on several factors:

  • Ingredients used – Dark chocolate lasts longer than milk or white chocolate thanks to its higher cocoa content.
  • Storage temperature – Colder temperatures prolong freshness.
  • Exposure to air and humidity – Minimizing exposure helps prevent spoilage.
  • Preservatives – Some recipes use preservatives to extend shelf life.

Properly stored peppermint bark can maintain peak quality and fresh peppermint flavor for the time periods listed. But there are some signs that indicate it has gone bad:

  • Dull, streaky, or blotchy appearance
  • Soft or melt texture
  • Mold growth
  • Rancid or “off” smells
  • Loss of minty aroma and flavor

If your peppermint bark shows these signs, it’s best to discard it. Eating spoiled candy can cause foodborne illness.

How to Store Peppermint Bark

Follow these tips for maximizing the shelf life of homemade or store-bought peppermint bark:

Use an Airtight Container

The enemy of freshness is exposure to air, which can cause the chocolate to bloom (get a white, dusty coating) or dry out. Store the bark in an airtight container or zip-top bag, pressing out excess air before sealing.


Keep peppermint bark stored in the refrigerator, as the cold temperature will slow degradation. Aim for 40°F or below. You can store it in the fridge for the entire duration of its shelf life.

Freeze for Extended Storage

For storage beyond 2 months, the freezer is ideal. Wrap the bark tightly in plastic wrap and foil, or place in an airtight freezer bag or container. Frozen, it will keep for 6 to 12 months at 0°F.

Keep Humidity Low

Excess humidity can cause sugar bloom on chocolate. Store peppermint bark in a dry spot in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.

Avoid Temperature Fluctuations

Temperature swings are problematic, as condensation can form on the bark, leading to sogginess. Keep it in a stable temperature environment.

Stack Carefully

If stacking layers of peppermint bark, slip parchment or waxed paper between the layers to prevent sticking. Don’t stack too high.

Keep Away From Odorous Foods

Chocolate absorbs odors easily. Store the bark away from foods with strong aromas like spices, onions, etc.

How to Tell if Peppermint Bark Has Gone Bad

Watch for these signs that indicate peppermint bark has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Appearance: Mold, soft texture, dried out, white spots, grey streaks, breakage
  • Texture: Mushy, gummy, falls apart easily
  • Odor: Rancid, sour, “off” smell
  • Flavor: Loss of sweetness and minty flavor

If the bark has any odd appearances, textures, scents or change in taste, do not eat it. Chocolate can develop harmful molds not visible to the eye.

How to Use Up Peppermint Bark Before It Goes Bad

To use up peppermint bark while it’s still fresh, try these ideas:

  • Chop it up and use as a topping on ice cream
  • Melt it down and drizzle over brownies or cupcakes
  • Use crushed as part of the crust for a cheesecake
  • Swirl into cookie dough before baking
  • Make festive hot cocoa with melted peppermint bark
  • Blend into holiday milkshakes
  • Stir crushed peppermint bark into holiday baked goods like sugar cookies

With creative ways to enjoy peppermint bark, you can plow through batches while they’re at peak quality.

Does Peppermint Bark Need to Be Refrigerated?

It’s highly recommended to refrigerate peppermint bark to extend its shelf life. The cold temperature of the refrigerator (40°F or below) significantly slows the rate of deterioration.

However, if planning to consume peppermint bark within a week or two, it can be left out at room temperature in an airtight container. The quality may start degrading more quickly, but it will be safe to eat within the shorter timeframe.

Leaving peppermint bark out for longer than 3-4 weeks is not recommended, as the chocolate can start to seize up and the peppermint flavor will dissipate.

Can You Freeze Peppermint Bark?

Absolutely! Freezing is a great way to store peppermint bark for more than 2-3 months. At a constant temperature of 0°F or below, frozen peppermint bark can last for 6 months up to a year before quality degrades.

To freeze:

  • Wrap bark tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil or place in airtight freezer bag or container.
  • Press out excess air before sealing.
  • Label package with contents and date.
  • Place flat in freezer. Avoid stacking items on top.

To thaw frozen peppermint bark, keep refrigerated overnight. Let come to room temperature before unwrapping. Thawed peppermint bark is best consumed within a week.

Can Old or Expired Peppermint Bark Make You Sick?

Consuming spoiled, old peppermint bark can potentially make you sick. Chocolate can harbor dangerous pathogenic molds that cannot be seen by the eye.

Potential risks of eating expired peppermint bark include:

  • Food poisoning
  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions

Always inspect peppermint bark carefully prior to eating and look for signs it has gone bad. Discard any expired or questionable peppermint bark.

Properly stored, high quality peppermint bark made with fresh ingredients should be safe to eat within several weeks if refrigerated or up to a year if frozen.

How Long Does Homemade Peppermint Bark Last?

The shelf life of homemade peppermint bark depends on the ingredients and storage method:

  • At room temperature: 1-2 weeks in an airtight container
  • Refrigerated: 2-3 months in a sealed container
  • Frozen: 6-12 months if tightly wrapped and frozen at 0°F

Follow these tips for maximizing homemade peppermint bark’s freshness:

  • Use high quality ingredients like fresh chocolate and natural peppermint extract.
  • Store in an airtight container, pressing out excess air.
  • Refrigerate or freeze immediately after making.
  • Avoid temperature fluctuations during storage.
  • Check periodically for signs of spoilage like mold.

How Long Does Store-Bought Peppermint Bark Last?

The shelf life of store-bought peppermint bark also depends on ingredients and storage method. Expect approximately these timeframes:

  • At room temperature: 3-4 weeks unopened, 1 week opened
  • Refrigerated: 2-3 months sealed
  • Frozen: 6-12 months if properly wrapped and frozen at 0°F

For maximum freshness of store-bought varieties:

  • Check the “best by” date and buy batches with the furthest dates.
  • Keep sealed until ready to eat.
  • Once opened, store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Discard if you see any mold or smells “off.”

Following proper storage methods can help both homemade and store-bought peppermint bark retain optimal quality and flavor.

The Shelf Life of Peppermint Bark Ingredients

The ingredients in peppermint bark also have individual shelf lives that impact the candy’s overall freshness:

Ingredient Shelf Life
Dark chocolate 2 years unopened, 6-12 months opened
Milk chocolate 1 year unopened, 6 months opened
White chocolate 10-12 months unopened, 3-6 months opened
Peppermint oil 2-3 years unopened, 1 year opened

Always start with the freshest ingredients when making peppermint bark at home. Use opened chocolate within the recommended timeframe.

With proper storage and fresh ingredients, both homemade and store-bought peppermint bark can be enjoyed for several months when kept refrigerated or frozen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does peppermint bark need to stay cold?

It’s highly recommended to store peppermint bark in the refrigerator or freezer to maximize freshness. The cold temperatures slow deterioration. If kept at room temperature, it should be eaten within 1-2 weeks.

Can old peppermint bark make me sick?

Yes, eating expired, moldy, or rotten peppermint bark could cause food poisoning or allergic reactions. Always inspect for signs it has spoiled before eating.

How can you tell if peppermint bark has gone bad?

Signs of spoiled peppermint bark include dried out, white spots, grey streaks, mushy texture, rancid smell, or loss of mint flavor. If you notice any of these, throw it away.

Does peppermint bark with white chocolate last as long?

No, white chocolate has a shorter shelf life than dark chocolate. Bark with white chocolate generally lasts 1-2 months refrigerated while dark chocolate bark lasts 2-3 months.

Can you freeze homemade peppermint bark?

Yes, freezing is a great way to store homemade peppermint bark for 6-12 months. Wrap tightly and freeze at 0°F.


With proper refrigerated or frozen storage, peppermint bark can last for 2-3 months at optimal quality. Signs of spoilage include mold, off-smells, and loss of texture and flavor. Consume within recommended timelines and discard bark that seems spoiled for safety. With careful storage and use of fresh ingredients, both homemade and store-bought peppermint bark can be enjoyed long after the holiday season ends.

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