Can Butter Go Bad?


Butter is a product used by many people on a daily basis. But there are also times when we don’t use as much butter as we usually do, or we go on a vacation for a week or two. Will the butter still be fine after another week or two in the fridge? Most likely it will. But can butter really go bad? It definitely can. Read along to learn how to store butter, how long can it be stored and how tell if butter has gone bad. After reading this article, you’ll know all the answers to those questions. Sound interesting? Read along!

What’s the shelf life of butter and how to store it?

When it comes to shelf life of butter, follow the date on the package. Those dates are pretty conservative, so even if you will eat butter a week or two after the date on the package, nothing bad should happen. Most likely the butter will be still fine. When stored properly, butter should be fine for about half a year after production date, so you have a lot of time to consume it.

As I mentioned, butter should be stored properly. The oils in butter will go rancid because of the oxidation process that’s ongoing. Heat and light accelerate the oxidation process, therefore butter should be stored in a cool and dark place, ideally in the fridge. The oxidation doesn’t stop when butter is stored in the fridge, but it’s relatively slow there. Because of the, it takes quite some time for the oils in butter to go rancid (and therefore the butter to go bad). If you would like the butter to stay fine for a couple of months, just make sure it’s in the fridge when not in use. That’s about it.

(credit: Robert S. Donovan)

If you would really need to store butter for an even longer period of time, consider freezing it. Cut it into few smaller portions, package each portion separately and two when needed. This will extend the life of butter for additional 6-8 months. One more thing worth knowing – salted butter will stay fine for a longer period of time that the typical unsalted butter. When you think about it, it’s pretty obvious – salt is a preservative, so of course salted butter will stay good longer.

How to tell if butter has gone bad?

As mentioned earlier, butter can go bad. If kept in room temperature for a longer period of time (like a few days), the oils will go rancid quite quickly. Fortunately enough, it’s easy to tell if butter is still fine, or not. You should look for the following things when checking if butter is still fine: discolorations, sour smell and sour taste. If you can spot any one of them, chances are your butter is bad and should be discarded. Don’t be afraid of tasting butter that might be bad – a small amount of it won’t affect your health in a negative way.


As you know by now, butter can go bad, but its shelf life is quite long, so in most cases the butter will be consumed long before its use-by date.