Does Irish Cream Go Bad? How Long Does Irish Cream Last?

Irish Cream is a great addition to your liquor cabinet, but it’s also something you will likely have on hand for some time so you’re probably wondering if Irish Cream goes bad.  Let’s see.

Quick Answer

Irish Cream usually has a best-by date stamped on the bottle.  This date is typically two years after its production and is a good expiration guide if your Irish Cream is stored properly.  Unopened, Irish Cream should last up to two years if stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Once opened, Irish Cream can be refrigerated and is best consumed within six months.  Here’s a handy timeline:

UnopenedUp to two years after best-by date on bottleUp to two years after best-by date on bottleDo not freeze
OpenedRefrigerate upon openingUp to six monthsDo not freeze


Irish Cream is a liqueur so it contains alcohol but it also contains milk and cream.  While alcohol will keep most things from spoiling, that notion does not hold true with Irish Cream.

Does Irish Cream Go Bad? How Long Does Irish Cream Last?

Irish Cream can spoil so it’s important to know how to store it and what to look for if you’re concerned that your bottle has passed its peak.

How Long Does Irish Cream Last Outside

Irish Cream should ideally be kept unopened in a cool, dry, dark place away from fluctuations of heat and light.  An enclosed liquor cabinet is a great place to keep your Irish Cream.

Once opened and poured, the cap should be immediately replaced on the bottle and tightly secured.  This will prevent bacteria from getting into the bottle and spoiling the Irish Cream sooner than expected.  The bottle then should either be returned to the liquor cabinet or placed in the refrigerator.

Irish cream should never be left in a warm environment.  This will cause the cream and milk to separate from the alcohol, which could spoil the entire bottle.

How Long Does Irish Cream Last in the Fridge

Irish Cream should ideally be refrigerated upon opening, but this is not required.  Irish cream includes milk and cream and it is best enjoyed at a cooler temperature.

Irish cream, once opened, is best within six months, but should be good up to two years from production.  The production date is stamped on the bottle as shown as a best-by date.

For best results, Irish Cream should be stored in the coolest part of the refrigerator and away from fluctuating temperatures and light.  Best case, Irish Cream should be stored in the middle of the refrigerator and away from the door.

How Long Does Irish Cream Last in the Freezer

While it sounds like Irish Cream would be great frozen, it doesn’t hold up well to freezing on its own.  The milk, cream, and alcohol all tend to separate, with only the milk and cream freezing. The milk and cream will also likely freeze to the point where they are not pourable.

Freezing Irish Cream can also result in the formation of ice crystals, which is not something you want in your Irish Cream.  Irish Cream can be enjoyed cold, but freezing is not recommended.

Even though it doesn’t freeze well on its own, Irish Cream can be used in frozen desserts, such as ice cream, to great success.

Irish Cream is best stored in your liquor cabinet until opened and then promptly refrigerated.  Once refrigerated, your Irish Cream is best consumed within six months.

How To Tell If Irish Cream Has Gone Bad / How To Know Irish Cream is Fresh

Irish Cream, which contains milk and cream, will eventually go bad.  It’s important to know what to look for as spoiled milk and cream can make you sick and bad Irish Cream should just be thrown away instead of consumed.

Smell it:  If your Irish Cream has a musty smell or it smells like custard then it has probably gone bad and should be thrown away.  Good Irish Cream should smell like it’s full of cream.

Check the consistency:  Your Irish Cream should be smooth and free from lumps.  It should also be pourable.  If your Irish Cream has congealed and doesn’t have a smooth consistency, it has gone bad and should be replaced.

Look at the color:  Good Irish Cream should be pale and creamy in color.  If the color has changed or darkened, it should be thrown out.

If in doubt, taste it:  If you have any lingering doubts as to the freshness of your Irish Cream you should taste it.  If it tastes fine, then it’s fine.  If it tastes tangy or sour like sour cream or yogurt, then it has gone bad and shouldn’t be consumed.  If you have any doubts, just pour your Irish Cream out and start over.

How to Store Irish Cream?

Ideally, Irish Cream should be stored in your liquor cabinet until you open it, but then it can be refrigerated if you wish.  How you store it will determine how long it stays good.

Avoid light:  Liquor doesn’t like the light.  The bottle should be opaque for this reason, but keeping it away from light even if it is opaque will help.

Away from heat:  Irish Cream does not like fluctuating temperatures so you will want to keep it in a consistently cool area.

Seal the bottle:  After you have poured your Irish Cream, you will want to promptly put the cap tightly back on the bottle.  This will help to keep any bacteria out of the bottle and it will help to preserve the freshness of your Irish Cream.

Can You Freeze Irish Cream? How?

Straight Irish Cream doesn’t take well to freezing.  You can, however, mix Irish Cream with other things and then freeze it.  Irish Cream ice cream, for example, is a great way to freeze Irish Cream.

Freezing it straight won’t work:  The milk and cream will freeze solid, but the alcohol will not.  Once the liqueur has separated it will not be recombined.

Ice crystals will develop:  In the freezing process ice crystals will develop on the milk and cream portions of the Irish Cream.  This will completely change the consistency and taste of the Irish Cream once it’s thawed.  The changed consistency and taste will be much less desirable.

Make desserts and frozen drinks:  For best results, if you want to try freezing your Irish Cream, look for frozen dessert and drink recipes that include Irish Cream or other liqueurs where you can substitute Irish Cream.  Irish Cream pairs very well with chocolate so that’s a great place to start.

How to Thaw Irish Cream?

Irish Cream doesn’t take well to freezing and thawing leads to less than desirable results.

The Liqueur will separate:  The milk and cream in Irish Cream will freeze solid, but the alcohol will not leading to a breakdown in the liqueur.

Thawed Irish Cream will be different:  If you freeze and then thaw your Irish Cream the consistency and taste will be different and not ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Irish Cream’s Shelf Life

Irish Cream is an excellent liqueur but you probably have a few questions about how best to store and enjoy your Irish Cream.  Here are some of those questions and their answers:

If Irish Cream contains milk and cream does it have to be refrigerated?  No.  Your Irish Cream will taste best when it is cold, but it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.  As long as your Irish Cream hasn’t gone bad, the alcohol will keep the milk and cream from spoiling. Once it goes bad, however, it should be thrown away.

Should I store my Irish Cream in a glass decanter?  No.  Irish Cream is very sensitive to light and a clear glass decanter will let light in causing your Irish Cream to spoil faster.  The bottle Irish Cream comes in is usually opaque and this is enough to keep light away from the Irish Cream.

Wrap Up

Irish cream can be stored in the liquor cabinet for up to two years after the best-by date on the bottle.  Tell us in the comments if you keep yours in the refrigerator or the liquor cabinet.

Leave a Reply