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Does Crisco Go Bad? Shelf Life, Spoilage & Storage

Let’s talk about Crisco. Specifically, let’s talk about its shelf life and spoilage.

Say you have a Crisco can that’s been opened for the last couple of months, and you’re wondering if it’s still any good. Does Crisco go bad, and if so, how do you tell?

Or maybe you need to know how long Crisco lasts.

If that sounds familiar, this article is for you. Let’s jump right in.

While this article is specifically about Crisco shortening, all the information below applies to other products that fall under the “vegetable shortening” category, too.

Table of Contents

Does Crisco Go Bad?

Crisco doesn’t last forever. It typically lasts for a few months beyond the printed date before showing signs of rancidity. And you can tell your vegetable shortening is rancid if it tastes bitter or sharp, or smells bad.

So as long as your stick or can of Crisco seems okay quality-wise, it’s fine to use. Just make sure you smell and taste it before using to rule out rancidity.

Consuming a bit of rancid fat isn’t an immediate health concern, so there’s no need to worry after tasting rancid Crisco. You’re not going to spend the following couple of hours on the toilet or lying in bed with a stomachache.

That said, consuming even moderate amounts of rancid fats regularly has some potential negative long-term consequences. Because of that, you definitely shouldn’t use that rancid Crisco, even if you think you can “cover” the off flavor.

Next up, let’s take a look at what are the possible spoilage signs for Crisco.

How to Tell if Crisco Is Bad?

Discard Crisco if:

  • It’s rancid. Rancid Crisco will taste bitter or sharp instead of its usual pretty bland, oily flavor, and it might smell off. If either is the case, it’s time for it to go.
  • There are “nasties” on the surface. If there’s anything organic on the surface, it’s safest to get rid of the vegetable shortening. The only exception is if you know exactly what that “something” is (say, some crumbs or rice that accidentally ended up in there) and the fat around it hasn’t reacted to it. If that’s the case, it’s your call.
  • It tastes or smells “funny.” If your Crisco isn’t rancid, but there’s something off about its flavor or smell, it’s no good.
  • It has darkened. Color change for fat-based products usually means it has oxidized and gone rancid. The same is true for butter, for instance.

Those are the typical signs of spoilage for Crisco. But if you notice anything else suspicious about your stick or can of vegetable shortening, trust your gut and toss the product.

(As you might imagine, other shortening foods such as lard or bacon grease show similar spoilage signs.)

Knowing that, let’s talk about the shelf life.

How Long Does Crisco Last?

Unopened Crisco lasts for 2 years. After opening, a Crisco can keeps for about a year, while a stick retains quality for about 6 months.

Those are the official shelf life recommendations, but in reality, vegetable shortening often lasts months longer. Of course, that’s assuming you store it in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and heat sources. And that you keep the can sealed and the stick wrapped properly when not in use.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say how long beyond its date Crisco will last. It depends on storage conditions, when you first break the seal, and so on.

Instead, I suggest coming up with an “expiration” period you’re comfortable with. Six months seems a decent option, so feel free to adopt it. If that’s too long, shorten that to three months or whatever feels right.

Then, when checking the printed date or period after opening, check if the vegetable shortening is “expired” for longer than the period you came up with. If not, and it doesn’t show any spoilage signs, you use it. Otherwise, you let it go.

As simple as that.

Write the opening date on the can or stick. This way, you can calculate how long it’s been opened based on the actual date, not your vague memory of opening it.

Now, you might be wondering if you’re supposed to refrigerate Crisco. Let’s cover that.

Does Crisco Need to Be Refrigerated?

You don’t have to refrigerate Crisco. Both unopened and opened Crisco is shelf stable, and you can store it in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet.

Make sure your vegetable shortening sits properly sealed and in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. That’s all you need for it to last months without much change in overall quality.

If you decide to refrigerate Crisco, remember that it’s going to become firmer than it was, and that might not work that well for certain recipes. But it’s not a big deal, as you can easily reverse that effect by leaving the fat at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Can You Freeze Crisco?

You can freeze Crisco, and it’s as simple as it gets.

For Crisco shortening sticks, wrap them in their original paper and place them in a freezer bag for additional protection. For Crisco cans, seal the can. Once done, Crisco is ready to be frozen.

That said, the fact that you can easily freeze it doesn’t mean you should. Crisco has a long shelf life, even after opening the package, so freezing it to extend the storage time doesn’t make much sense.

(Unless you’ve just started a fresh stick and need it to last for the next 18 months. If that’s the case, I envy your planning skills. I can barely plan for the week ahead.)

What I’m trying to say is: ask yourself if you really need to freeze your Crisco. It doesn’t require refrigeration and lasts months, so in most cases, you’ll be fine if you chuck it in a cabinet in the pantry or kitchen.

But if you need to freeze it, go ahead. It’s going to freeze just fine, and you can defrost it by leaving it overnight in the fridge.

You can probably also leave it at room temperature to thaw, but most foods turn out better when defrosted slowly. And that’s why I’m suggesting the fridge.

Or, if you need melted Crisco for cooking, thaw it in a pan on the stove.

That’s all you need to know about freezing this vegetable shortening.

Crisco Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary

Thanks for reading this primer on Crisco. Here are the takeaways:

  • Crisco goes bad sooner or later. The main signs of spoilage are altered flavor (bitter, harsh, or otherwise off instead of neutral) and a foul smell.
  • Crisco’s official shelf life is 2 years unopened and 6 months or a year after opening for sticks and cans, respectively. But what’s more likely to happen is that your Crisco will keep quality for at least a couple of months longer than that.
  • You don’t have to refrigerate Crisco. Both before and after opening, Crisco can sit at room temperature. Make sure it sits in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and heat sources like the stove.
  • You can freeze Crisco after sealing the can or wrapping the stick and placing it in a freezer bag. But before you do so, consider if you need to freeze the fat. It lasts months after opening and doesn’t require refrigeration, so there’s usually no reason to go the freezing route.