Plus, how to thaw it for best results. 

By Corey Williams
March 01, 2021
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There's nothing sadder than a stale, unusable loaf of bread. Keep your bread fresh well past its best-by date by freezing it for later use. Here's what you need to know:

How Long Does Bread Last? 

Chef John's White Bread
Credit: CHef John

It depends on what kind of bread it is and how it's stored. Bread is best stored at room temperature or in the freezer. It may seem counterintuitive, but refrigerating your bread will actually cause it to go bad faster. 

Packaged loaves from the grocery store (stored tightly in their original packaging at room temperature) should be good for three to seven days past the printed best-by date. Homemade and bakery-bought bread likely won't last as long — they'll usually be past their prime after about two or three days. 

Can You Freeze Bread? 

Better-Than-Bakery No-Knead Sourdough
Credit: luv2cook

Yes, you can freeze bread! And you absolutely should if you think you won't use the whole loaf before it goes bad. Bread actually freezes surprisingly well, but you have to do it properly so it doesn't lose quality. 

How to Freeze Bread

A loaf of fluffy-looking white bread on a cutting board with two slices cut
Credit: Dianne

If you're planning on using your store-bought bread within a month or so, there's really no need to do anything special: Keep it in its original packaging and throw it in the freezer. If you're dealing with homemade bread, just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil before stowing it away for a few weeks (make sure it's completely cool before wrapping). 

Planning to keep the bread for longer? You'll need an extra layer of protection. Wrap the loaf tightly in plastic wrap, then wrap it again in foil or freezer paper. Label with the date and freeze up to six months. 

Tip: Slice your bread before you freeze it. That way, you won't have to thaw and refreeze the entire loaf every time you want a slice or two. 

How to Thaw Bread

sliced loaf of instant pot crusty no-knead bread
Credit: Allrecipes

There's no need to thaw frozen bread if you plan to toast it — just pop a slice directly in the toaster or toaster oven. You may have to turn the dial to a slightly higher number than you use to toast fresh bread. 

Otherwise, simply transfer the bread to the fridge the night before you plan to use it. It should be thawed and ready to use by morning. 

Stale Bread Uses

French toast with fresh berries and syrup
Credit: Cooking Monster Bryan

You should only freeze bread that's at peak freshness. If you waited a couple days too long, don't worry! Stale bread is perfect for delicious French toast or bread pudding. You can also use it to make breadcrumbs and croutons.  

Of course, when we say "stale," we mean bread that's a day or two past its prime. If your bread smells weird or is growing mold, throw it out. 

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This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com