I got a "Paella kit" for my birthday recently. It consists of a pan, some rice, some spices, and some instructions.

Rice packet

Unfortunately, upon inspecting the rice packet I see that its "best before" date is June 2015 (ie. about 8 months ago).

Best before date

Rice isn't particularly expensive, so should I just replace it? (Rather than possibly dying a horrible death?).

The rice is "Spanish Rice special for Paella".

If it is not OK to eat, what sort of rice should I substitute for "Paella rice"?

  • More details on risotto vs. paella rice here.
    – Stephie
    Feb 19 '16 at 9:45
  • "Best before" dates aren't there to stop you dying a horrible death - they're there to stop you having a meal that isn't one of the best. "Use by" dates may stop you dying a horrible death.
    – bdsl
    Mar 18 '16 at 21:12
  • In Australia we generally have "Use by" dates rather than "Best before". I used to think the difference was mainly semantic. I mean, I would read it as "Best to use by ...". If there is a difference, why don't they print two dates? Mar 18 '16 at 22:22

Rice is one of those dry staples that last a looooong time if stored properly, which in this case means cool and dry and safe from insects.

The more critical part is the seasoning. Ground spices tend to loose aroma quickly. This does not mean they will necessarily turn bad, but possibly a bit bland. Mold is only a problem when humidity comes into the equation, like with the rice.

Even more critical is fats. Some spice mixes contain fats, they can go rancid after a while. I suggest you check the label.


  • check the rice for "critters" and their traces
  • sniff at your seaoning mix in case something smells off

And if everything seems ok, enjoy your paella.

Edit as your question focuses on the rice:

White rice stays safe "indefinetively", brown rice has a limited shelf life of a few months as its fats can turn rancid. See Still Tasty for more.

In the unlikely case that your rice is off (or for future paella dishes), use the so-called bomba or Calasparra rice. A Spanish short grain rice with a lower starch content than the Arborio used for a ceamy risotto.

For substitutes, sources are at odds:

  • some say use arborio for the most similar grains, but you'll get more sticky results
  • others favour long grain rices because the rice is less sticky.
  • In the event that the rice looks dodgy, what should I substitute? Arborio rice? Feb 19 '16 at 8:46
  • Rice is one of those dry staples that last a looooong time if stored properly - I can believe that. I bet that in the olden days rice was used on sailing ships, and expected to last for years. Feb 19 '16 at 8:50
  • If it says best by rather than expiration, then it's safe. In many cases they just want you to consume the product so you'll buy more
    – Escoce
    Feb 20 '16 at 15:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.