Shelf Life of
Buttermilk

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

Shelf Life of ButtermilkHow long does buttermilk last? Buttermilk is a dairy product now produced by adding a culture of lactic acid producing bacteria into whole milk.  It usually comes in a variety of types, the most popular being (whole buttermilk and reduced fat buttermilk. Although there is no butter in buttermilk, it was originally the liquid remaining after churning butter and is now a cultured product. Besides the probiotic benefits, buttermilk provides potassium, calcium and phosphorous.

The shelf life of buttermilk is influenced by a variety of factors, such as the processing method and carton date, exposure to light and heat, and how the buttermilk is stored. 

So how long does buttermilk last? When properly stored at or below 40° F, containers last for the time periods indicated in the table below.

Shelf Life of Buttermilk

(Unopened) Refrigerator
Past Printed Date
Buttermilk lasts for 7-14 Days
Low-Fat Buttermilk lasts for 7-14 Days
(Opened) Refrigerator
Past Printed Date
All Buttermilk lasts for 7-10 Days




Freezing buttermilk is NOT recommended because freezing destabilizes the structure of the milk. If you do choose to freeze it, it will keep for about 3 Months in the freezer. When thawed, the texture and color will be altered, it will be lumpy and yellow but the product will remain safe to consume.

Of course, all types of food and drink products last for a shorter period of time if they are not stored properly. Your buttermilk may keep for longer than our tables suggest but the probiotic benefits will be decrease with time much the same as yogurt (see our blog page for more information). But remember, like a lot of other dairy products, it usually carries a sell by date  which is the last date by which a store should sell a product, not the date by which it should be consumed. Because of this distinction, you may safely use buttermilk to compliment your favorite meals even after its sell by date has lapsed.

How to tell if buttermilk is bad, rotten or spoiled?

Practicing proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help prevent food borne illness. Although not a perfect test, your senses are usually the most reliable instruments to tell if your buttermilk has gone bad.

Some common traits of bad buttermilk are a lumpy texture, a slight discoloration and a very distinctive unclean sour smell. If you notice any of these changes, your buttermilk has gone bad and should not be used. If you are unsure and questioning any of these qualities, do not consume the buttermilk unless you first cook the product.

There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled buttermilk, so always remember to practice proper food safety and enjoy your buttermilk prior to its expiration (eat by date).

How to store buttermilk to extend its shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of buttermilk. Keeping any type of milk cold is essential to extending it’s shelf life. You can help keep buttermilk fresh longer by keeping it away from light and by placing it back in your refrigerator immediately after use. Store it on an interior refrigerator shelf rather than in the door, where the temperature fluctuates with frequent opening. In addition, opened milk should be stored tightly in its original container as all milk containers were specifically designed for this purpose.

Unfortunately, freezing buttermilk isn’t a great option as it destabilizes its structure and may cause the formation of small clumps. So even though it is still safe to consume after freezing, it becomes less desirable.

Some benefits of proper food storage include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

What to do with too much buttermilk before your buttermilk goes bad?

What if you have extra buttermilk and don’t want it to spoil and go to waste? Here are a few simple suggestions to use up your buttermilk before it spoils:

  • Use buttermilk instead of the liquid called for (usually milk or water) in your recipe. It works great in cakes (especially coffeecakes, red velvet and chocolate), biscuits, and pancake mixes.

  • How long is buttermilk good for when prepared in a dish?

    How long does buttermilk last? That depends. How long do eggs last? In general, milk lasts only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient it is mixed with. To find out how long those other ingredients are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

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    What are our shelf life resources?

    Our how long does buttermilk last content incorporates research from multiple resources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. In addition, we scour the web for informative articles and reports related to food safety, food storage and the shelf life of buttermilk.

    *An important note about expiration dates …

    Although the whole, reduced fat and fat-free buttermilk shelf life information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, it is intended as an opinion and not a substitute for the advice of your qualified health care provider.  Please drink responsibly!