Does peanut butter go bad? It’s a reasonable question to ask, especially if you’ve been working on the same jar of peanut butter since you bought it at Costco a few months ago. At what point should you forgo your next PB&J sandwich over concerns about spoilage?
Well, that’s what this post is all about! You’ll find out how long you can expect peanut butter to last, what factors affect its shelf-life, and how to keep this beloved snack and pantry staple fresh. Peanut butter may not be one of the best best foods to store long term, but with the tips in this post, you can make sure it stays fresh for a good, long while!
Does Peanut Butter Go Bad?
In short, yes — peanut butter can indeed go bad, become rancid, spoil, or expire. Due to the high fat content of peanut butter, it can go rancid over time due to oxygen exposure, and even become susceptible to mold growth.
Luckily, it’s easy to tell if peanut butter has gone bad — you’ll likely be able to tell from the smell alone. In addition to a bitter or rancid smell, bad peanut butter may appear dark in color or dried out. In that case, it’s time to toss that jar of PB and replace it with a new one!
One easy way to keep peanut butter fresh for as long as possible? Use a clean knife every time you scoop some out of the jar! You’ll introduce less bacteria that way.
Does Peanut Butter Need To Be Refrigerated?
You don’t have to store peanut butter in the fridge unless you buy natural peanut butter. The average peanut butter has stabilizers and preservatives that help prevent oil separation and make the peanut butter last longer. Natural peanut butters, on the other hand, usually contain little more than peanuts and salt.
Because it lacks preservatives, natural peanut butter can go bad faster than the conventional stuff, but it will last longer if you store it in the fridge with the lid tightly sealed. (You can also keep conventional peanut butter fresh longer by keeping it in your refrigerator, but the presence of preservatives makes storage less of a concern.)
Freezing Peanut Butter
If you like to stock up on foods and freeze them, you’ll be happy to know that you can freeze peanut butter, too! You can freeze it in ice cube trays and store the cubes in a freezer bag, or you can spread it out on freezer paper and stack it in a freezer bag for a lighting-fast PB&J down the road. Sealing frozen peanut butter with a vacuum sealer will help prevent freezer burn.
Shelf Life Of Peanut Butter
Here’s a look at how long different types of peanut butter can last, depending on how you store them:
- Conventional peanut butter, unopened – 6-9 months at room temperature
- Conventional peanut butter, opened – 2-3 months at room temperature, 6-9 months in the fridge
- Natural peanut butter, opened and unopened – 6 months in the fridge
When storing peanut butter at room temperature, keep it in a cool, dark, dry place, like your pantry or inside a kitchen cabinet.
How Long Is Peanut Butter Good For After The Expiration Date?
Since peanut butter has relatively low moisture, it’s unlikely to spoil to the point where eating it would make you sick. However, the changes in flavor and odor would make it very unpleasant to consume!
Expiration dates are generally chosen by the manufacturer, so I would say that you peanut butter’s safe to eat as long as it looks fine, smells fine, and has been stored properly according to the recommendations I listed under “Shelf Life Of Peanut Butter” above.
What Peanut Butter Has The Longest Shelf Life?
If you’re stockpiling food to prepare for emergencies and you’re looking for a peanut butter with a long shelf-life, powdered peanut butter is a great option. Some powdered peanut butter is so shelf-stable that it lasts up to 15 years, making it a great addition to any stash of emergency essentials.
Peanut butter powder has been popular with body builders and diet-conscious folks for years, because it contains just 1.5 grams of fat and 6 grams of protein per serving, and has around 70% fewer calories than conventional peanut butter. It’s easy to use too — just add water until it reaches the right consistency!
Peanut Butter Recipes & Ideas
These are just a few of my favorite peanut butter treats. You and your family are sure to love them!
- No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars
- Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies
- Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
- Heaven-Sent Peanut Butter Cookies
- Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
- Homemade Gourmet Kit Kat Bars
And while you’re whipping up peanut butter treats, why not make a DIY acorn squash bird feeder for the birds in your area too? :-)
BONUS: Stir Natural Peanut Butter The Easy Way
Oil separation is common in natural peanut butters, and stirring the oil back into the peanut butter can be a tricky (not to mention messy) endeavor. Some people just pour out the separated oil and either save it for later or discard it, but that’s not a perfect solution, as it can make peanut butter at the bottom of the jar unpleasantly dry and hard to spread.
One way to reincorporate the separated oil is to scrape your new jar of natural peanut butter into your stand mixer, then use the paddle attachment to mix it until it recombines. And if you transfer your freshly stirred peanut butter into smaller jars or containers, they’ll be easier to stir again in the future!
Have you ever wondered if peanut butter goes bad?