Does Margarine Go Bad? How Long Does Margarine Last?

Margarine is made from a variety of oils and water. It makes for a great butter substitute, but does it ever go bad? Keep reading to find out.

Quick Answer

Margarine will go bad over time. If left on the countertop, margarine will last between 2-3 days. If stored in the refrigerator, it can last for about 2 months once opened. If left unopened, margarine can last for up to 5 months. If you store margarine in the freezer, it can last for up to 8 months. Margarine can be stored in its original container, tin foil or cling wrap.


General timelines are great, but what are the factors that play into what makes these timelines what they are? Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Does Margarine Go Bad? How Long Does Margarine Last?

Nowadays manufacturers have come up with creative ways to preserve foods. Even so, eventually even margarine will go bad. Below we will observe the different ways to store margarine, as well as other related topics.

How Long Does Margarine Last Outside?

Margarine is typically structured in such a way that it can sit out on the counter for between 2-3 days. After this time, you will want to place it in the refrigerator. This will help keep it from going bad.

The molecular structure and ingredients within margarine allow it to be left out at room temperature for a few days without risking the harmful potential of bacterial overgrowth.

If you decide to let the margarine sit out for a few days, make sure to have a covering overtop of it. This will help prevent any dust or other debris from falling onto the margarine.

How Long Does Margarine Last in the Fridge?

Some types of margarine, such as soft margarine that comes in tubs, will go rancid quicker than margarine sticks. Many manufacturers recommend storing soft margarine the refrigerator right away to prevent it from going rancid.

Margarine stored in the refrigerator can last for up to 4-5 months, if unopened. Once opened, it can last for about 1-2 months in the refrigerator.

If you decide to store your margarine in the refrigerator, make sure it stays in its correct packaging. Or, you can wrap margarine bars well with plastic wrap to keep the air out. Be sure to refer to the sell-by date for any questions.

How Long Does Margarine Last in the Freezer?

The neat thing about margarine can be stored in the freezer for long-term use. Whether the margarine is opened or unopened, it can typically last for about 6-8 months in the freezer.

Margarine may change in texture and flavor if stored in the freezer for long periods of time. Keep this in mind when thinking of future recipes or dishes.

If you choose to store margarine in the freezer, be sure to keep it in its original tub or box. This will help preserve the margarine in its original shape. It may also hopefully minimize freezer burn, at least for a couple months.

Now that we have gone over the different storage methods for margarine, let’s look into other aspects of handling margarine.

How To Tell If Margarine Has Gone Bad / How To Know Margarine is Fresh

You’ve had your margarine for a week or so, and so far it’s been a great addition to your meals! After a while you may be wondering: how can you tell if your margarine has gone bad? There are three major factors that can help you determine whether you need to throw away your margarine:

  • Smell: Margarine that is starting to go bad, you will notice a rancid smell. Anything that smells sour or off needs to be discarded immediately.
  • Appearance: As your margarine starts to go bad, you many notice a waxy-look to it. Some areas may develop dark spots, and others areas may begin to harden.
  • Sell-By Date: Manufacturers should always include a set of numbers that indicate the “sell-by date”. This is a calendar date that ensures the best quality of the product if consumed before that time. If your margarine is well past this date, then it should be discarded.

Now, if you’re wondering whether your margarine is fresh upon purchase, consider the following: margarine is fresh it will have a smooth, golden appearance. It should be soft when trying to spread, and there shouldn’t be any lumps or discoloration. It will have a buttery taste as well.

How to Store Margarine?

Margarine is manufactured and sold in tubs or bars. When you bring it home from the store, you should do your best to keep the margarine in its original container. If you choose to let some sit out at room temperature for a couple of days, it is recommended that you only put out as much as you think you will use within that time span. This will help cut down on any potential bacteria or mold overgrowth. It will also help you save money because you won’t have to throw as much excess margarine away.

Can You Freeze Margarine? How?

If you don’t think you’re going to use up your margarine in time, or you buy in bulk and decide to save extra for later, you may be wondering if margarine can be stored in the freezer. The answer is yes, and there are a couple options for you:

  • Original Container: You can freeze your margarine in its original container. This may prove to the best method, if it’s possible for you to pull off.
  • Cling Wrap: If you no longer have the original container, one thing you can do is wrap the margarine in cling wrap. This will typically work better on margarine bars than margarine that usually goes in a tub.
  • Tin Foil: You can also wrap margarine in tin foil if this is your only option. It might be a challenge to make sure there is no way for air to enter, but it can be done.

How to Thaw Margarine?

Margarine can be thawed out after being in the freezer. It is always recommended to thaw margarine in the refrigerator, and not out on the countertop.

If you place frozen margarine on the counter to thaw, you run the risk of the composition changing too rapidly, which will change the consistency and texture of the margarine.

Frequently Asked Questions About Margarine

Is Margarine The Same Thing As Butter? You may have heard people use the terms “butter” and “margarine” interchangeably. While they do have a similar appearance and flavor, there are some core differences. Butter is made from animal fats, and margarine is usually made from the oils of plants or seeds. Both have pros and cons as far as health and storage goes.

Do Margarine Sticks Last Longer Than Tub Margarine? As a general rule of thumb, margarine will have the same shelf life no matter the form it takes. That being said, there are sometimes elements added to the margarine stick that help it keep its shape for longer periods of time.

Wrap Up

Margarine is a great substitute for butter if you’re trying to avoid it for health or other reasons. Margarine can last for 2-3 days at room temperature, 1-2 months in the fridge, and 6-8 months in the freezer. Always be sure to keep margarine in some type of storage packaging for optimal shelf life. Do you prefer margarine over butter? Let us know in the comments below.

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