Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad? How Long Does Balsamic Vinegar Last?

If you’re an occasional balsamic vinegar user, you could have a bottle of balsamic vinegar on your shelf for quite a while.  If that’s the case, you might find yourself wondering just how long that bottle will stay good.

Quick Answer

Balsamic vinegar can last for years without going bad.  It rarely becomes unsafe for consumption, but some things to note are:

  • If you find any mold in the bottle, throw it away.
  • If the balsamic vinegar tastes fine, it should be fine to consume.
  • There is little to no risk of balsamic vinegar going bad if you store it with the lid on.
  • Although it usually won’t go bad, balsamic vinegar can degrade in quality.


Even if it’s safe to consume, your balsamic only stays in peak quality for a specific period of time.  Use it within that time for the ideal experience.

Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad? How Long Does Balsamic Vinegar Last?

When you’re trying to decide if the balsamic vinegar on your shelf is still good, there are a few factors you should keep in mind.

Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?

Before we can establish how long balsamic vinegar lasts, we should answer one important question: does balsamic vinegar go bad?

Yes, technically, balsamic vinegar can go bad.  It doesn’t happen very often, but if your balsamic vinegar is improperly stored, it can go bad, especially if you leave the cap off.

It’s pretty rare for balsamic vinegar to go bad.  Most of the time, if you’re storing it the way you’re supposed to, your balsamic vinegar is not at risk of becoming unsafe for consumption.  Typically, properly stored balsamic vinegar will remain safe to use indefinitely.

It’s easy to tell if your balsamic vinegar is bad.  If you’re really worried about the balsamic vinegar on your shelf, you can find out pretty easily if it has gone bad (see below).

Cloudy vinegar is perfectly normal and safe to use.  It’s very common for vinegar to become cloudy.  This does not mean that it has gone bad; you can still use it safely.

Never store balsamic vinegar with the lid off.  The easiest way for balsamic vinegar to go bad is if it is stored improperly.  The biggest risk factor here is the lid.  You should never use balsamic vinegar that has been stored without its lid.

How Long Does Balsamic Vinegar Stay Good?

Although a bottle of balsamic vinegar can usually be used safely for months or years, the quality can degrade over time.  Therefore, you may want to consider how long it will stay in peak condition.

Best quality:  It’s generally agreed upon that balsamic vinegar has the best flavor when used within about three years.  This time can vary depending on various factors – where it’s stored, how often it’s opened, etc. – so you may want to taste it before using it.  You can also use the “best by”/”use by” date on the bottle as a frame of reference, although it’s important to note that it can still be used after this date.

Safe to use:  If you’re storing your balsamic vinegar properly, it should remain safe to use indefinitely.  It may become cloudy or go through changes in color or flavor, but it should still be safe as long as the bottle is sealed.

Change in color or flavor:  As noted already, it is normal for balsamic vinegar to go through changes in color or flavor.  If this happens, don’t worry – it should still be safe to use.  However, if the flavor has changed, you may want to consider replacing it anyway, as the quality has likely declined.

Should Balsamic Vinegar Be Refrigerated?

Some people store balsamic vinegar in the pantry, and others prefer it keep it refrigerated.  Here are some tips if you’re unsure where you should keep it:

  • Balsamic vinegar does not need to be refrigerated. As long as your pantry is reasonably cool (as the average pantry is), it should be a safe storage location.
  • Many people warn against refrigerating balsamic vinegar, as the cold and moisture may negatively affect the flavor.
  • Storing balsamic vinegar in a refrigerator with other foods may cause it to pick up flavors from the other foods.
  • If you prefer to have your balsamic vinegar refrigerated, go for it. Although the flavor may be impacted, it shouldn’t become unsafe, so use it however you like.
  • Generally speaking, your pantry is going to be the best place to store balsamic vinegar. Refrigerating it will not improve it, unless you just so happen to like it better that way.

Balsamic vinegar has a very long shelf life in most circumstances, and can last a very long time.  If it’s stored properly, you shouldn’t have any problems.

How to Store Balsamic Vinegar?

There has been a lot of talk about making sure balsamic vinegar is stored properly as a condition for long shelf life.  In case you’re not sure what exactly this means, here are some guidelines to follow:

Keep the lid on tight.  Possibly the most important part of keeping balsamic vinegar good is keeping the lid on tightly.  If the lid isn’t on, contaminants may get in, which may cause it to become unsafe for consumption.  Never store balsamic vinegar without a lid, and never use balsamic vinegar that has been stored without its lid.  The bottle most be properly sealed in order to stay safe.

Keep it cool.  One classic storage condition for balsamic vinegar is that it must be in a cool location.  Heat can chemically change balsamic vinegar, potentially ruining its flavor.  Note that cool does not necessarily mean cold, and a pantry should be sufficient.  Most experts do not recommend refrigeration.

Keep it dry.  The other tip you will often hear for storing balsamic vinegar is that it should be kept in a dry location.  The reason for this is that moisture – as condensation or otherwise – can dilute it, altering the flavor and negatively affecting the quality.

Can You Freeze Balsamic Vinegar?

Freezing balsamic vinegar will do very little to extend its lifespan, and can do a lot to negatively affect its flavor.  Freezing vinegar can introduce excess moisture and decrease its acidity.  However, if you really want to, you can freeze balsamic vinegar.  You can do this by putting it in a rigid, airtight plastic container, with extra room for your vinegar to expand.  Alternatively, you can put it in an ice cube tray, and then put the frozen balsamic vinegar cubes into a sealed, airtight plastic bag.

How to Tell if Balsamic Vinegar Is Bad

Balsamic vinegar will, in most instances, stay good indefinitely.  However, it is possible for it to go bad and become unsafe to use.  If you are worried that your balsamic vinegar has gone bad, here are some ways to check:

Look for mold.  The presence of mold in your balsamic vinegar is a dead giveaway that it has gone bad.  Look carefully inside the bottle and inside the lid.  If you see any mold at all, throw the bottle away immediately.

Make sure your bottle is sealed.  Check that your lid is on tightly, and make sure there are no holes, cracks, punctures, or anything else that could break the seal on your bottle.  If you find out that your bottle is not tightly sealed, your best bet is probably to throw it out, as harmful contaminants may have gotten inside.

Taste a little bit.  If there is no mold present and your bottle is, in fact, tightly sealed, you can taste your balsamic vinegar.  Try a small amount, and if the taste is unusually harsh or otherwise off, you should probably throw it away.

Smell it.  If all else fails and you’re not willing to taste it, you can always try smelling your balsamic vinegar.  If it doesn’t smell right, you should err on the side of caution and replace it with a new bottle.

Wrap Up

Most of the time, balsamic vinegar is not at risk of going bad.  While the flavor may change or degrade in quality, as long as it has been properly stored, it should remain safe to use indefinitely.

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