» Does Butter Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

Does Butter Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

Does Butter Go Bad How Long Does it Last
Image: Lucky Belly

Be it for baking some cakes, or cooking curry, or if you simply want to have bread-butter for your breakfast, one essential ingredient you’ll require is butter.

Thus, it’s not very uncommon to overstock butter. But that’s where the major question arises – Does butter go bad? Well, read on to find out.

Does butter go bad?

Does butter go bad
Image: Lucky Belly

Butter indeed has a very high fat content and low water content making the environment unfavorable to many bacterial species. Especially if it’s salted butter, the high salt content makes the environment extremely inhospitable for the majority of bacteria except for a few species.

But many believe that it will never go bad. But to your surprise, it does! However, you don’t have to panic and throw all the remaining butter into a trash can.

Butter spoil very slowly when compared to some other dairy products. But if not bacterial growth, what triggers the butter to go bad? The answer is oxidation.

The fat in the butter goes rancid, and the major catalyst for this process are heat, light, and oxygen exposure.

How long does butter last?

How long does butter last
Image: Lucky Belly

Now that we’ve understood that butter does go bad, let’s discuss how long does it last. As mentioned earlier in this post, though butter is quite immune to bacterial spoil, it might go rancid due to oxidation.

We’ve now already known what the primary triggers are for butter oxidation. So, when it comes to butter’s shelf life, the primary question is – ‘How are you storing the butter?’.



Past the printed date

Past the printed date

Regular Butter (Unopened)

1 month 6-9 months
Regular Butter (Opened) 2 weeks

6-9 months

Salted Butter

5 months 1 year
Flavored Butter 5 days

6 months

Butter can hold its flavor and quality way past its expiry date, be it opened or unopened. It can be stored up to a few weeks at room temperature but can last months when refrigerated or frozen.

Regular unsalted butter can last up to 1 month past the printed date when refrigerated and can last for 6-9 months when frozen. However, when opened, you must freeze it if in order to make it last for months.

Likewise, flavored butter, also called compound butter, lasts for around 5 days when refrigerated and for 6 months when frozen. Salted butter has the highest shelf life and lasts up to a year when frozen.

If you’re someone who loves spreading velvety smooth butter on the bread for breakfast, keeping a few cubes in your butter bell or butter dish for instant use might be a brilliant decision.

5 Tips to Tell if Butter has Gone Bad

5 Tips to Tell if Butter has Gone Bad
Image: Lucky Belly

If you store butter improperly on the counter for weeks, or if you refrigerate it for months without wrapping it, the butter will go bad.

So, in case you’re wondering whether or not you can tell if the butter has gone bad, you definitely can! Here are 5 tips to know if your butter has gone bad.

1. Mold growth:

Though it’s rare, butter, especially unsalted one, does favor mold growth when kept at room temperature. Unsalted butter must be kept at a low temperature if you want to avoid mold growth. The green/black coloration on the butter is an indication that the butter has molded.

An essential tip for you – never use a spoon or knife that you’ve already used to handle some other food on your butter block. The leftovers from the food on the butter might act as the primary substrate for the molds.

2. Smell:

If you’re someone who enjoys butter daily, you’ll be able to tell when it doesn’t smell fresh as usual. Moreover, if it has a distinct foul or sour smell, it should be no longer consumed.

3. Consistency:

Spoilt butter is either incredibly hard or very soft. Though this tip is quite vague, it might come in handy if you have good observation skills.

4. Discoloration:

Cut a small piece of butter and observe the colors of the outer and inner layers. If the outer layer is slightly darker comparatively, the butter has oxidized and might no longer taste good. You can, however, enjoy the rest of the butter once you remove the oxidized part.

5. Taste:

If none of these tips worked for you, but you still doubt that the butter has gone bad, your tastebud will do the work for you. Don’t hesitate to taste a small piece as it’s unlikely to bring any adverse health effects.

7 Tips to Store Butter

By now, you know that the butter can go bad even when refrigerated, if done so improperly. So, what is the proper way to store it?

Here, we’ve discussed 5 incredibly helpful tips for you such that you can enjoy fresh butter longer without having to rush to the store now and then.

1. Refrigerate it

First and foremost, if you’ve got plenty of butter, don’t leave it at room temperature. Always refrigerate it!

2. Use compartment dedicated to the dairy on refrigerator

You’ll be opening your refrigerator door many times throughout the day. Each time, there will be an unnoticeable temperature and surrounding fluctuation within the refrigerator, which might not favor the stored butter.

The dairy compartment will have its own mini-door and tolerates the fluctuation to some degree. Thus, dairy products, including butter, must be stored inside of it.

Moreover, leaving butter out with fruits and vegetables with strong order might cause the butter to be smelly.

3. Freeze it

Probably the best option to store butter is to freeze it. Wrap it with foil and pop it into the freezer. This way, the butter will last for months or even a year.

4. Use a butter bell

Keeping some smooth butter handy on the counter is always a smart choice. To do so, you can store a little amount of butter in a butter bell. An airtight condition is simulated within the bell that keeps the butter fresh for around 30 days.

5. Keep away from heat and light

If you don’t have a butter bell, you can store it in an airtight jar or dish. However, make sure to keep the dish in a dark and cold place. Doing so will reduce the chances of oxidation, thus keeping the butter fresh for a long.

6. Wrap it tightly

Wherever you store the butter, always remember to wrap the butter tightly. You can use foil, wraps, or the paper it typically comes in for this purpose.

7. Buy in small quantity

It is not a butter storage tip. But, if a store is easily accessible to you, you don’t have to stock too much butter. The fresher the butter, the tastier and healthier it is.

The Risk of Consuming Expired Butter

Consuming expired butter doesn’t kill you. Moreover, if it’s in a small amount, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any adverse effect. However, if you consume too much of expired butter, you might experience a few health issues.

USDA has stated that some molds cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and a few also produce a toxin called ‘mycotoxin’ that makes you sick. So, if you see molds on butter, it’s thoughtful to simply discard it.

An article published in 1983 suggests that eating rancid butter can not only make your stomach sick but can destroy your body’s Vitamin B and Vitamin E supply.

Thus, to avoid any health risk, you must make sure that the butter is fresh and not moldy before you consume it.

Can you freeze Butter?

Can you freeze Butter
Image: Lucky Belly

You can perfectly freeze both salted and unsalted butter without losing its flavor and freshness. If properly frozen, the butter can remain fresh for about a year. Below are a few tips and tricks you can consider while freezing the butter.

1. Make sure the container you use is freezer-safe

Some butter might come in containers that are not freezer-safe. Storing these containers directly in the freezer might cause it to crack. So, if that’s the case, transfer your butter to a freezer-safe container.

2. Cut the butter before freezing

Butter is often used in minimal amounts in recipes. So, if you cut butter into small cubes or slices before freezing, it will be convenient later as you won’t need to expose the entire butter block to room temperature for a longer time, which might not be the case if you cut the butter later.

3. Use a freezer-safe airtight resealable bag

If your butter comes in paper packaging, you must store it inside of an airtight zip-loc bag. This way, you’ll prevent it from unnecessary moisture and air exposure, which will ensure the butter’s freshness for a longer time.


There’s a ‘Use Before’ date on butter packaging for a reason, and it’s best to consume butter before it expires. However, you don’t need to trash expired butter if it is in excellent condition.

With these tips on how to store butter and how to know if it has gone bad, you’ll now to able to make the best choice regarding this matter.

Leave a Comment