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

Since vegetable oil is often sold in large containers, it is easy to find yourself with an old, opened container of vegetable oil in your cupboard.  You may be looking at it and wondering, has it gone bad?

Quick Answer

Although old vegetable oil will most likely not harm you, it will go bad eventually.

  • The expiration date on the bottle will provide a rough estimate of how long your oil will last.
  • Vegetable oil generally lasts about one year in the pantry, sometimes longer.
  • You can usually tell if vegetable oil has gone bad by its smell or taste.
  • Improper storage can shorten your oil’s shelf life.

Most people do not spend that much time thinking about their vegetable oil’s storage, but there is a surprising amount of information about it to learn.

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

There are a handful of factors that can determine how long vegetable oi lasts.  Storage location is one significant factor that can lengthen or reduce the shelf life of your oil.

How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last Outside

The best and most common place to store vegetable oil is in the pantry.  Vegetable oil stored at room temperature lasts for roughly one year, depending on when it was opened.

Unopened vegetable oil can stay good for several months past its expiration date, possibly longer.  Opened vegetable oil will stay good for about six months to a year, also sometimes longer.

Old vegetable oil is usually not harmful, so as long as the smell and flavor seem to be okay.  Just make sure that the oil has been stored properly, as improperly stored oil may become contaminated and unsafe to consume.

How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last in the Fridge

Typically, it is not necessary to refrigerate vegetable oil, as it will not significantly affect the shelf life.  Refrigerated vegetable oil will last roughly as long as unrefrigerated vegetable oil; it may lose its flavor a bit faster.

Vegetable oil needs to be stored in a cool, dark place.  In some areas, the pantry simply does not fit that description, so the fridge is an acceptable alternative, as long as the bottle is sealed tightly to prevent it from picking up odors or flavors from other foods.

Some people point out that if you use your vegetable oil often, the cooling and warming from taking it out and putting it back into the fridge may  cause the flavor to degrade more quickly, so it may be better to store it at room temperature.

How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last in the Freezer

If you really want to keep your vegetable oil good for an extra long time, you can freeze it to extend the shelf life by two years.  This is a good option for someone with extra vegetable oil you will not be using in the short term.

Vegetable oil will not truly freeze in that it will not become solid in your freezer, but it is preserved regardless.  Fortunately, freezing vegetable oil does not generally effect the quality once it is ready for use.

Frozen vegetable oil may become cloudy, thick, or separated.  Don’t worry; these are harmless and will not be a problem once it warms up to room temperature.

Vegetable oil has a relatively long shelf life, so you don’t need to worry too much about it going bad, especially since old vegetable oil is generally harmless.

How To Tell If Vegetable Oil Has Gone Bad / How To Know Vegetable Oil is Fresh

Although old vegetable oil will not typically make people sick, it is still not very pleasant, and should probably be avoided.  Here’s what to look for:

Smell.  The first thing you should do if you are wondering if your oil is rancid is to smell it.  If the scent is off, you should probably throw it out.  Some people describe the smell as soapy, bitter, or metallic.  Others compare it to crayons.  Either way, if it’s just not right, that’s a sign that it’s time for it to go.

Residue.  A trick for testing whether oil is rancid is to feel for residue just inside the bottle.  If you find a residue that is sticky or tacky, your vegetable oil has most likely gone bad.

Color.  Old oils tend to develop a dark color.  If you have a clear bottle, you can easily see whether the color is darker than it should be.  If not, you can pour a small amount out and take a look at it.

Age.  Consider how old your vegetable oil is.  If it is under two years old, it has a chance of still being good, but if it is older than that, it is likely way past its prime.

Taste.  When all else fails, taste a little bit.  If it tastes fine to you, you should be perfectly fine with using it.

How to Store Vegetable Oil?

Vegetable oil is easy to store, but here are some tips to help you out.

Keep it somewhere cool.  Heat can be damaging to vegetable oil, and can cause it to go bad faster.  Generally, room temperature is cool enough for vegetable oil, but may not be if you live somewhere particularly hot.

Keep it out of the light.  Just like heat, light can damage your vegetable oil.  Make sure it is out of direct sunlight especially.  If you have it stored in a dark bottle, that can help to extend its shelf life.

The pantry is probably best.  For the most part, the pantry is the most suitable place for vegetable oil.  The counter may be more convenient, but it also may be exposing it to heat and light.

Keep it sealed.  Always make sure that the bottle is sealed and undamaged to prevent any possible contaminants from getting in.

Can You Freeze Vegetable Oil? How?

While vegetable oil does not technically freeze, it can be stored in the freezer to extend its shelf life.  This process is very easy:

Use an airtight container (the original is probably fine).  You want the container you’re freezing your vegetable oil in to be airtight.  In most cases, you can keep it in its original bottle without issue.  However, if you can’t or don’t want to use the original, anything airtight should work.

Keep it sealed tightly.  Make sure the oil stays sealed tightly.  This is for two reasons.  For one thing, it will prevent contaminants from getting in and spoiling your oil.  The other is that since vegetable oil does not freeze solid, it may leak.

Store it upright.  As previously mentioned, there is a risk of leakage, or generally making a mess when freezing vegetable oil.  Keeping the container upright should prevent said mess.

Keep it in the freezer for up to two years (recommended time).  You can store your oil in the freezer just like that!  It is recommended that you use it within two years, as the quality may decline after that.

Ice cube trays will not work for this.  Sometimes when people freeze liquid  ingredients, they like to freeze them in ice cube trays for easy pre-portioning.  However, this will not work with vegetable oil because it does not freeze solid.

How to Thaw Vegetable Oil?

The best way to thaw frozen vegetable oil is to leave it at room temperature and wait a while for it to warm up.  This may take a few hours or longer.

If you are in a hurry, you can microwave it at low power to warm it quickly, or heat it on a stovetop at low heat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Vegetable Oil ‘s Shelf Life

Storing vegetable oil is generally straightforward, but there are a few questions that tend to come up regarding its shelf life.

Has cloudy vegetable oil gone bad?  Vegetable oil may become cloudy, especially if it has been stored at a cold temperature.  This does not mean it has gone bad, and is no cause for alarm.  The cloudiness is simply a result of condensation and/or separation of its components.  This will usually go away when it has warmed up to room temperature.

Can you save and reuse vegetable oil?  Some people like to reduce waste by saving and reusing their vegetable oil.  Yes, it is okay to do this, although it will greatly reduce the lifespan of the oil.  Used vegetable oil that is stored in an airtight container will usually last for about four months.

Wrap Up

Although it will eventually go rancid, vegetable oil stays good for a long time, and even rancid vegetable oil is still usually safe for consumption.  The proper storage conditions can help your oil maintain its flavor for as long as possible.

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