Considered a dairy product, peanut butter

Is Peanut Butter Going Bad?

Peanut butter is a very popular spread in a few countries. And it's tempting to believe that it will last forever. So is peanut butter going bad?

We anticipate that the shelf life of peanut butter will be quite long, and it certainly is. But can it get really bad?

Like most other foods, peanut butter can spoil, but it rarely happens. It can spoil if it is defiled in any way. If it doesn't, keep in mind that it will lose its flavor over time.

Keep in mind that the shelf life (when the quality is at its best) mainly depends on how you store the product. If you store it properly, you should be able to eat or use it before it even starts changing its taste.

(Source: Nirzar Pangarkar)

How to store peanut butter

Storage of peanut butter is easy. First of all, you should remember that the jar of peanut butter should always be closed with the lid when not in use. Peanuts (and therefore peanut butter) contain a lot of oils (fat), so oxygen can change the taste of the nut butter.

This process is known as going rancid - oxygen breaks down the structure of the fat, which changes the taste and smell of the product. The longer you expose peanut butter to air, the worse its taste becomes.

If it's unopened, store-bought peanut butter, keep them in a cool, dark place, preferably in the pantry.

Image licensed under Creative Commons by Bobbi Bowers is used

After opening the container, you can still store it in the pantry if you plan to use up the contents of the jar within a few months. For longer storage, keeping the opened peanut butter in the refrigerator is a better option.

Opened peanut butter at room temperature slowly loses its flavor. Putting them in the refrigerator will keep the process going, but it will slow it down significantly. The only downside to storing peanut butter in the refrigerator is that it will turn out to be a lot firmer. And that means that it can no longer spread quickly and easily.

If you make your peanut butter yourself and don't use stabilizers, it's best to keep it refrigerated.

How long does peanut butter last?

All peanut butter jars likely have a 'Best By', 'Use By' or similar label. This is only the information from the manufacturer that the product should be of the best quality for such a period of time.

That doesn't mean it'll go rancid or taste awful after that time. It rarely does. Unopened peanut butter can Keep for months or even years after the best-before date, depending on how much preservatives it contains.

Opened peanut butter, if stored in the refrigerator, can be used for at least a few months after the date on the packaging.

If you want to know how long peanut butter is good after the expiration date, there is no easy answer. It depends on its ingredients and how it is stored.

(Credit: Irene Kredenets)

The shelf life of homemade peanut butter depends on the recipe used. In most of the recipes, the authors mention how long it will keep.

Unless you add any perishable ingredients to your homemade peanut butter, it should keep for at least a month, probably much longer. If you're looking for a quick homemade peanut butter recipe, check out this one.




Peanut butter (unopened)

"Best By" + 6 - 12 months


Peanut butter (opened)

"Best through

"Best By" + 3 - 6 months

Homemade peanut butter


1 - 3 months

Please note that the data in the table are approximate. And the peanut butter often lasts longer.

How to tell if peanut butter is bad

Since peanut butter contains a lot of fat and little water, Bacteria and fungi in peanut butter have little opportunity to live and grow.

Oxygen seems to be the biggest factor that can affect peanut butter (if it's not somehow contaminated). And as mentioned earlier, it doesn't make peanut butter bad, it just changes its taste.

Please note that if peanut butter is stored for a long time, the oil can separate out and you will see it on the contents of the container. Exactly the same thing happens with almond butter. It is completely normal; You can stir the spread and the peanut butter will turn out fine again.

A word of caution here - if you notice that peanut butter has a strange (or unpleasant) smell, its taste is changed drastically, or you simply see that something is wrong with it (other than the oil separation), discard it. It is always better to be on the safe side.

(Credit: Corleto Peanut Butter)

If the peanut butter just doesn't taste as good as it used to, that doesn't mean it's spoiled. If you can't find specific signs of spoilage, it's probably safe to consume.

The food most likely won't harm you, but you might want to throw it away for its quality. It's up to you. Some people don't mind the fact that peanut butter tastes a little different than usual, some do.

(Credit: Monika Grabkowska)

Peanut Butter FAQ

What about natural peanut butter?

I'm not mentioning natural peanut butter in this article, and that's on purpose.

The term "natural" is not clearly definedso each brand of natural peanut butter has its own unique ingredients. Normally, natural PB contains at least 90% peanuts, but other than that, it is up to each brand what else is out. The healthiest PBs are the ones with one or two ingredients: peanuts and salt.

So how do you store natural peanut butter? Just like "normal" peanut butter is stored: in the pantry, tightly closed. There is no need to refrigerate natural peanut butter unless the manufacturer tells you to.

Do peanut butter and jelly spoil?

I think it's safe to say that everyone knows a peanut butter and jelly sandwich goes bad.

If neglected, it will likely take a day or two for it to start forming mold. If you toss it in the fridge, it can stay there for quite a long time (just think about the days) without going bad. And by "don't spoil" I mean that it will still be safe to eat.

The point here is that the quality of a PB and jelly sandwich degrades much faster. The Bread gets soaking wet or tastes stale, and you'd probably rather throw it away after a day in the refrigerator.

Of course, you can experiment with different types of bread and amounts of peanut butter and jelly, and maybe you can find a combination that will last a little longer.