Let’s talk about the shelf life, spoilage, and storing avocado oil.
Say you’ve found an old bottle that’s been “expired” for a couple of months, and you’re wondering if it’s any good. Does avocado oil go bad?
Or you’ve just opened a bottle and need to know how long it will stay good for, or whether you should refrigerate it.
If either sounds like you, you’re in the right place. Let’s jump right in.
Table of Contents
- Does Avocado Oil Go Bad?
- How to Tell if Avocado Oil Is Bad?
- How Long Does Avocado Oil Last?
- How to Store Avocado Oil
- Avocado Oil Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Does Avocado Oil Go Bad?
Avocado oil goes bad if stored for too long or in poor conditions. The most common way the oil spoils is by going rancid.
You can tell that your avocado oil is rancid if it tastes sharp or bitter, or has an off-putting aroma that might remind you of old paint or nail polish remover.
Of course, rancidification is gradual, so it’s not like the oil will be perfectly fine one day and become smelly and sharp overnight. The process takes weeks, if not months, depending on how you store it.
(The same thing happens to canola oil, sesame oil, and pretty much every other oil out there.)
Fortunately, eating a bit of rancid oil won’t make you sick, so there’s no need to worry if you tasted yours and it turned out spoiled. That said, eating even moderate amounts of rancid oil regularly can have detrimental effects on your long-term health, so I suggest tossing any oils the moment you realize they’re rancid.
Having covered that, let’s get into the spoilage signs, where we’ll cover things in a bit more detail.
How to Tell if Avocado Oil Is Bad?
Discard avocado oil if:
- Its smell has changed. Refined avocado oil has a pretty neutral aroma (like other cooking oils), while virgin avocado oil should have a pleasant fresh smell. If your avocado oil smells like nail polish remover or the overall aroma is unpleasant, it’s bad.
- It tastes sharp or bitter. Refined avocado oil has a bland, oily taste, while virgin avocado oil should taste somewhat buttery and grassy. If that’s not the case for your oil, and it has a sharp, unpleasant taste, it’s obvious it’s rancid, and you should toss it.
- There are “nasties” in the bottle. If you reuse your refined avocado oil or leave the bottle without its cap for longer than necessary, it might get contaminated. So when you notice anything foreign in the oil, and you’re not sure what it is (i.e., it’s not breading from your last deep-frying session), toss the oil.
Those are the typical signs of spoiled avocado oil.
But before I wrap this section, a few more things I’d like to add:
- Cloudy avocado oil is safe. Like other oils, avocado oil becomes cloudy when refrigerated, which is okay. Leave it on the counter for an hour or two, and it should return to its usual consistency.
- It’s not uncommon for avocado oil to go rancid before the printed date. A study on avocado oil by UC Davis found that many oil samples were oxidized well before the date printed on the label. Furthermore, some of the samples of store-bought avocado oil turned out to be mixed with large amounts of other oils, i.e., it wasn’t pure avocado oil. Buy avocado oil only from reputable brands.
With that in mind, let’s talk about the shelf life of avocado oil.
How Long Does Avocado Oil Last?
Avocado oil lasts about 2 years unopened and between 4 to 6 months after opening the bottle. That’s assuming you store it in a cool and dark place away from heat sources and keep the bottle sealed when not in use.
As you might imagine, the mentioned periods are already reflected in the dates printed on the label.
As I already mentioned, virgin (unrefined) and refined avocado oil are available on the market, and the latter lasts a bit longer. The differences aren’t huge, though.
One thing about avocado oil that’s a bit concerning is that the oil often goes rancid even before the printed date. So assuming that your bottle will last who-knows-how-long isn’t a good idea.
As with other oils, I suggest you pay more attention to the oil’s quality than to the date printed on the label. And to use it as long as the oil doesn’t show any spoilage signs.
Next, when the flavor or smell starts to change, you discard the product no matter the printed date.
In other words, you treat the date on the label only as a rough guide on what to expect quality-wise, nothing else.
How to Store Avocado Oil
Store avocado oil in a cool, dark, and dry place away from heat sources and sunlight. And make sure it’s always tightly sealed when not in use.
You can store avocado oil at room temperature, so there’s no need to refrigerate it. But if you’d like the oil to retain quality for a slightly longer period, placing it in the fridge is an option.
If you’re thinking about storing the oil in the refrigerator, remember that it may become cloudy or form something that might look like sediment near the bottom of the bottle. That’s normal and doesn’t affect the oil’s quality.
You can reverse that process by warming up the oil to room temperature, for example, by leaving it on the counter for a few hours.
If you want to use refrigerated avocado oil in a salad dressing or pour it over roasted veggies, warm it up first.
Storing avocado oil is all about slowing down rancidification, which is accelerated by air, light, and heat.
That’s why we:
- store the bottle sealed tightly to limit access to fresh air
- keep it in a closed cabinet to avoid sunlight exposure, and
- store it away from the stove and any other heat sources so that it doesn’t heat up
If you follow these simple rules, your avocado oil should last quite some time.
Avocado Oil Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Thanks for reading this primer on avocado oil. Here are the takeaways:
- Avocado oil goes rancid if stored for too long or in poor conditions. You can tell yours is rancid if it tastes sharp or bitter, or smells like crayons.
- Avocado oil typically comes with a shelf life of 2 years unopened and 6 months after opening. Please note that avocado oil going rancid before the printed date isn’t unusual, so the sooner you get to it, the better.
- Store avocado oil in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and heat sources. And make sure it’s tightly sealed when not in use.
- Refrigerating avocado oil is optional. If you refrigerate it, it’ll become cloudy, but you can reverse that by bringing it to room temperature.