With so many delicious uses, almost every kitchen keeps chicken broth on hand. Most of us will find a dusty can of it that is already past its “best by” date and wonder, does chicken broth ever really go bad?
Unopened store-bought chicken broth can stay fresh in a pantry for at least 1 year after the best-by date has passed. Store-bought and unopened, or properly frozen homemade chicken broth can technically stay safe to consume indefinitely, but it will degrade in taste over time. Opened and refrigerated, including homemade broth or leftovers, can only last for up to 5 days.
Chicken broth can maintain flavor and texture for a long time if it is stored properly. Being cautious never hurts, as spoiled chicken broth can cause symptoms of food poisoning.
Does Chicken Broth Go Bad? How Long Does Chicken Broth Last?
If you don’t use an entire container, or you make your own at home, you may be wondering how long your chicken broth will last.
How Long Does Chicken Broth Last On The Shelf?
Until you open it, commercial chicken broth will stay good at room temperature for up to a year past the best-by date printed on the package. Canned chicken broth can last an extra year if it has not been damaged, but it will take on a metallic flavor.
Chicken broth sold in stores is typically made to last a long time in your pantry or cupboard. Unless you found it in the refrigerated section. Cans – and the aseptic packages that look like boxes – of chicken broth are made with preservatives.
Your homemade chicken broth will lack preservatives. As a result, it will go bad very fast if you try to keep it in the pantry with the cans.
How Long Does Chicken Broth Last in the Fridge?
Canned and packaged chicken broth should both be refrigerated after opening. They begin to grow bacteria as soon as they are exposed to air. They only last 4-5 days in the fridge, opened.
Homemade broth will last up to 10 days in the fridge if you leave the fat. If you strain the fat, it won’t be able to form a protective seal over the broth, and the broth will go bad faster.
Transfer any leftover canned broth to an airtight container before storing in the fridge. Cans do not seal once opened, but you do not want your broth exposed to fridge air.
How Long Does Chicken Broth Last in the Freezer?
Freezing chicken broth is an efficient way to preserve it for at least six months. Homemade or commercially packaged, transfer the broth to an airtight container, and it will stay good.
Technically, chicken broth doesn’t go bad when frozen. Meaning it can be five years old and you can still eat it without getting sick, but it will take on strange and unpleasant flavors.
Do not store unopened cans in the freezer. It is simply not necessary since cans will keep for years at room temperature, but the freezer can also compromise cans, and you could end up with a leak and a mess.
While there are limitations on your chicken broth, there are also ways to preserve it for quite a long time. Always be sure to check the quality before consuming.
How To Tell If Chicken Broth Has Gone Bad / How To Know Chicken Broth is Fresh
Using chicken broth that has gone bad can cause some severe food poisoning symptoms. With chicken, you need to be aware of botulism contamination, and avoid it. There are some ways you can tell if your chicken broth has gone bad, but always use your own caution and judgment, even if there are no obvious signs of spoilage.
Mold: Homemade broth is especially likely to grow mold, since there is often more solid material in it. If you see any white or greenish-blue spots on the top of your broth, it is gone.
Odor: Chicken broth should smell delicious if it is fresh. When it goes bad, it smells sour and rancid. Throw it away.
Cloudy: Commercial broth should be yellow and clear, so if it appears cloudy, it has likely gone bad. Homemade broth may be a bit cloudy to begin with, so keep an eye on it, and if it you made it clear and it becomes cloudy, it has spoiled.
Swelling: Inspect the container for any swelling or bulging; this indicates there is bacteria growing and emitting a gas that is expanding the container from the inside. You may not want to even open it.
Temperature: If you have opened or cooked some broth and left it on the counter at room temperature for more than two hours, it is likely already growing bacteria that can make you sick. Refrigerate it immediately.
Dents: Particularly in cans, if you see any large or sharp dents, the broth could be exposed to botulism. The toxins, in this case, must be boiled out for thirty minutes before you can throw it away.
How to Store Chicken Broth?
Proper storage is imperative with chicken broth, to keep it for as long as possible and get the most out of it.
Unopened cans or boxes can be stored in the pantry: Keep commercially packaged chicken broth in a cool, dry place such as a pantry, cupboard, or cabinet.
Opened cans or boxes must be refrigerated: Once you have opened a can or box of chicken broth, you must refrigerate it in an airtight container to keep it from growing bacteria.
Homemade should always be refrigerated: Let your homemade broth cool completely, but make sure you store it in an airtight container in the fridge within two hours.
Freeze it to make it last longer: Storing chicken broth in an airtight container in the freezer is an effective way to keep it fresh for at least six more months, homemade or not.
Can You Freeze Chicken Broth? How?
Putting chicken broth in the freezer is a brilliant way to preserve it or use it on your own schedule. There are a couple ways to do it right and get the most out of your chicken broth.
Separate in an ice cube tray: After freezing them solid, transfer the cubes into an airtight container or freezer safe bag and seal it tight. Making chicken broth cubes can be a convenient way to add a little chicken flavor to many different recipes without spoiling the rest.
Freeze all at once: If you intend to use it all at once, just at a later time, it may be prudent to pour all the chicken broth into one airtight container or freezer-safe bag. Remember to write the date on it!
Portion with a muffin tin: Similar to the ice cube tray, you can use a muffin tin to create larger portions of broth. This comes in handy when you just want to make soup for one.
How to Thaw Chicken Broth?
Of course, if you freeze your chicken broth, you are eventually going to want to use it. You can thaw it slow or fast, depending on how quickly you want to use it.
In the fridge overnight: Pull the chicken broth out of the freezer the night before you intend to use it, at least. It can stay fresh in the fridge up to 4 days if thawed this way.
Straight into the pot: Add your ingredients once the frozen block has completely melted. This is an easy way to start cooking with it right away.
Frequently Asked Questions About Chicken Broth’s Shelf Life
How long do you need your chicken broth to last? If you make it yourself or buy it at the store, reduce waste by knowing as much as you can about storing chicken broth and be prepared.
Can you freeze chicken broth in mason jars? Yes, and some people prefer to use jar. Just make sure you use tightly sealing metal lids to prevent leaks. It is also recommended you only fill the jar about two thirds full and leave room for the liquid to expand. Some have experienced the jars cracking when they are pushed to the back of the freezer and buried under other things, so keep an eye on your broth and you should be fine.
Can bacteria be boiled out of chicken broth? You can kill some bacteria in chicken broth if you boil it to 150 degrees or higher. This is not a fool-proof method of reviving spoiled chicken broth, however. It is a last-ditch effort to use the broth a day or two after it has “gone bad”. Merely heating it to serving temperature will not kill bacteria at all, and consuming it will still make you sick.
Chicken broth can be delicious for months under the right conditions. It can be finicky too, so make sure you choose the storage method that’s right for your household, and throw away chicken broth you aren’t entirely confident in.