Your Oven Is The Key To Reviving Stale Cereal

Everyone has their own feelings about whether a bowl of cereal is best at that first bite when it's at its crispiest, or the final bite when it is soggy and the milk is full of flavor, but we can all share in the disappointment of discovering a box of cereal has gone stale. Fortunately, there's an easy fix: bake it in the oven.

Doing so will give your stale cereal new life, allowing it to return to its desired texture. To try this hack, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spread the cereal evenly across a baking sheet, then place it in the oven and bake for around five minutes. (Depending on the kind of cereal, it may need a few more minutes.) 

When ready, the cereal should be crunchy again. A bit of browning can add some good toasty flavor, too, but be careful not to let the pieces burn. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cereal to cool completely before eating or cooking with it.

Storing your cereal for a longer shelf-life

Heat, light, and moisture are the main culprits when it comes to causing cereal to go stale. But, storing it correctly can prevent exposure to these elements. The best idea is to pour the contents inside a cereal box into an airtight container, ensure the seal is secure, and keep it in the pantry or another cool, dark place in the kitchen.

While stale cereal may be disappointing, it's unlikely that it's dangerous to consume. Unless there are visible signs of an insect infestation, mold, or other health risks, there's no need to worry. You have about four to six months to eat a box of cereal once it has been opened, and if you haven't yet opened it yet, it can last six to eight months past the expiration date. 

The texture of the cereal, however, will change over time. While you might not have expected to turn on the oven to enjoy a bowl of it, taking the time to bake not-so-fresh cereal can be well worth the effort.

Other options for working with stale cereal

If you find yourself with a lot of cereal that has gone stale or is starting to lose its crunch, there are plenty of other ways to burn through a box besides just heating it up in the oven and reviving it for breakfast. Stale cereal also has plenty of other applications that can enhance sweet and savory dishes.

For example, classic, simple cereals such as corn flakes and puffed rice can easily be used for breading meats, seafood, or vegetables for a main course, like cornflake fried chicken. When the stale cereal is added to the surface of the dish and then baked, it takes on the same effect in the oven with its texture coming back to life.

Or, you can ground stale cereal into flour for baked goods. Fruity, chocolatey, or other sweet flavors make a great addition when baking things like rice krispie treats or infusing milk for ice cream. If you feel like experimenting with happy hour, too, try making cereal cocktails for another unique way to use up that old box.