Does Vegetable Broth Go Bad? How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last?

Vegetable broth can be used for many different dishes from being a base for a soup to being used to cook rice in for more flavor. It comes canned, in cardboard cartons, or you can make your own. No matter how you got it, you need to know whether or not it goes bad.

Quick Answer

Vegetable broth does go bad. Unopened vegetable broth that comes in a can is good for about 3 to 5 years when properly stored. Once opened, it needs to be used in about 5 days. Cartons of vegetable broth can maintain their quality for about 3 months past the best by date when unopened. Once opened, it is good in the fridge up to 5 days. Homemade vegetable broth is good for about 5 to 7 days in the fridge.


Regardless of how your broth came, and what you want to use it for, you need to know how to store it and how long it will last when stored there.

Does Vegetable Broth Go bad? How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last?

Depending on whether or not it has been opened, the shelf life of your vegetable broth can vary greatly depending on how it is stored.

How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last Outside?

Homemade vegetable broth should not be left out on the counter. If it is left out, it is not good past 2 hours. After 2 hours, harmful bacteria can grow rapidly.

Unopened canned vegetable broth does well when stored in the pantry. The canned vegetable broth will last up to 3 to 5 years in there. Once opened, it is only good for a couple of hours left out.

Cartons of vegetable broth also do well in the pantry when they are unopened. They can last up to 3 months. Once opened, it can’t be left out for more than a couple of hours.

How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last In The Fridge?

The refrigerator is not the best place to store unopened cans or cartons of vegetable broth. It does the best in a cool, dry place like the pantry.

Opened cans or cartons of vegetable broth do need to be stored in the refrigerator. If from a can, it needs to be transferred to an airtight container first.

All vegetable broth that has been opened or freshly made needs to be stored in the fridge. In the fridge, it will be good for up to 5 days.

How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last In The Freezer?

For longer preservation, vegetable broth can be stored in the freezer. Make sure you have an airtight container to store it in. This is great for leftover broth.

If you have a can of vegetable broth or make it homemade, you can freeze it. In the freezer, it will be at its best quality for about 6 months.

If you buy a carton of vegetable broth, you can place the carton directly in the freezer and it will last for up to 6 months. It will remain safe to eat indefinitely.

As you see, any vegetable broth that has been opened needs to be stored in the fridge or freezer. If unopened, it has a pretty long shelf life in the pantry.

How To Tell If Vegetable Broth Has Gone Bad/How To Know Vegetable Broth Is Fresh?

There are many brands of vegetable broth available on the market and you can also make your own. The flavor and color are going to vary greatly depending on the broth. Since there can be so many differences, let’s talk about how to tell if your vegetable broth has gone bad.

Check the best by date: Every can and carton of vegetable broth comes with a best by date stamped on it. Your first step should be to check it. This will be your best indicator of whether or not you should use it. If you have canned your own, it too should have a date on it and can help you determine if it is still good to use.

Container quality: If the container is unopened but is bulging or leaking, or if it’s in a jar and the lid is rusting, it would probably be best to throw it out.

Bad odor: If the vegetable broth smells in any way off, rotten, or sour, throw it out.

Mold: If it has been stored in the fridge for quite a while, check for the appearance of mold. If you see any signs, get rid of it.

Funny taste: If there are no other signs of it being bad, go ahead and give it a quick taste. If it doesn’t taste fresh or tastes off, it would be better to get rid of it.

How To Store Vegetable Broth?

How you store vegetable broth depends on the carton, if you made it yourself, and whether or not it has been opened.

Unopened cans: Unopened cans of vegetable broth should be stored in a cool dark place such as a pantry or cabinet.

Unopened carton: Unopened cartons should be stored in the pantry or the freezer if you want them to last longer.

Homemade broth: Homemade broth should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge or the freezer. Do not leave homemade broth out for more than 2 hours.

Opened can or carton: Cartons or cans that have been opened need to be refrigerated or frozen and stored in airtight containers. 

Can You Freeze Vegetable Broth? How?

Vegetable broth can be frozen to help extend the shelf life. Read on to find out how.

Unopened cartons of vegetable broth: If you have an unopened carton of vegetable broth, you can place it as is in the freezer.

Opened cartons or cans of vegetable broth: If the vegetable broth has been opened, it needs to be transferred to another container. You can use a plastic container, glass jar, or freezer bag. Only fill the container ¾ full to allow for expansion. If using a plastic container or glass jar, freeze without the lid to prevent cracking or shattering. Once it’s frozen, add the airtight lid.

How To Thaw Vegetable Broth?

There are a few options for thawing your broth. The ideal way is to place the frozen container in the fridge at least overnight.

Another option for thawing is to put it in a cold water bath. If you are going to be cooking with it, you can run it under warm water until it loosens from the container and can be moved into a saucepan where it can be heated on the stove.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vegetable Broth’s Shelf Life

My homemade vegetable stock is cloudy. Is it okay to use? Yes, it should be safe to eat. Taste is what matters so if the stock turns cloudy, it is okay. The cloudiness comes from impurities or particles in the broth, or from fat that emulsified in the liquid. It can also be cloudy if it wasn’t strained well enough or not strained at all.

I got a new vegetable broth and it is dark, is it okay to use? If the best by date has not passed and it has been properly stored, it should be fine to use. Vegetable broth can come in a wide range of colors depending on the brand, and what vegetables were used to make it. Kitchen Basics Vegetable Stock is brown while Swanson Vegetable Broth is almost clear.


Vegetable broth has many uses in the kitchen from making soups to flavoring rice. Now you know how long it lasts, the best way to store it, and how to tell if it has gone bad.

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