Shelf Life of
Milk Alternatives

How Long Do Milk Alternatives Last?

Shelf Life of Milk Substitutes

Shelf Life of Milk Substitutes

How long do alternatives to milk last? How Long Does Soy Milk last? How Long Does Rice Milk Last? How Long Does Almond Milk Last? How Long Does Coconut Milk Last? Milk alternatives have seen an explosive growth in recent years as a result of the increasing awareness of lactose intolerance as well as the rise in veganism and general diet consciousness. Just like there are many different kinds of milk, milk alternatives come in a variety of types and flavors (vanilla, chocolate, etc.) and can even be found in the organic section of the grocery store.  This explosive growth is a great benefit a significant population of people who lack the sufficient enzymes to digest regular dairy products.  Although the question as to whether or not these milk alternatives are healthier or less healthy than regular milk is debated, the increased shelf life and relaxed storage requirements are enticing to many consumers.  However, milk alternatives are still perishable goods. The shelf life of milk alternatives is influenced by a variety of factors, such what was used as the substitute for milk, its exposure to light and heat, its packaging and how the milk alternatives are stored. So how long do popular milk substitutes such as soy milk, rice milk and almond milk last?

When properly stored at or below 40° F, containers of milk alternatives (soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk) last for the time periods indicated in the table below:

(Unopened) Pantry
Unrefrigerated Packaging Past Printed Date
Soy Milk lasts for 1 Month
Almond Milk lasts for 1 Month
Rice Milk lasts for 1 Month
Cocount Milk lasts for 1 Month
(Unopened) Refrigerator
Refrigerated Packaging Past Printed Date
Soy Milk lasts for 7-10 Days
Rice Milk lasts for 7-10 Days
Almond Milk lasts for 7-10 Days
Coconut Milk lasts for 7-10 Days
Hemp Milk lasts for 7-10 Days
(Opened) Refrigerator
All Open Packages Past Printed Date
All Milk Alternatives last for 5-7 Days

Of course, all types of milk alternatives last for a shorter period of time if they are not stored properly. But remember, milk substitutes, like a lot dairy products, usually have a sell by date which is the last date the product should remain on a store shelf. Because of this distinction, you may safely use milk alternatives such as almond milk, rice milk and soy milk to compliment your favorite meals even after their sell by dates have lapsed.

How to tell if a milk alternative are 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 milk alternative has gone bad. Similar to milk produced by mammals, some common traits of bad milk alternatives are discoloration, a thick lumpy texture and a rancid sour smell. 
There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled milk substitutes, so always remember to practice proper food safety and enjoy your milk substitutes prior to their expiration. If your milk alternative has gone bad, check our substitution page for even more ideas.

How to store milk alternatives to extend their shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of milk alternatives. Interestingly, milk substitutes typically come in two different types of packaging.  With one type, the product must be refrigerated both in the store and at home because it is not completely sealed.  The other type, the type with aseptic packaging, can be found unrefigerated on the store’s shelves and remain on a shelf until opened.  
Once opened, you can help milk alternatives keep fresh longer by keeping them away from light and by placing them back in your refrigerator immediately after use. Store milk substitutes on an interior refrigerator shelf rather than in the door, where the temperature fluctuates with frequent opening.  In addition, keep the opened milk alternatives stored tightly closed in their original container as the milk alternative containers are specifically designed for this purpose.
Unfortunately, freezing milk substitutes isn’t a great option as frozen-then-thawed milk substitutes are dramatically inferior in texture.
Some benefits of proper food storage for your soy milk, almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk include eating healthier, cutting food costs and helping the environment by avoiding waste.

Interesting facts about the shelf life of milk alternatives:

  • Milk alternatives come in two types of packaging: (1) the product must be refrigerated in the store and at home because it is not completely sealed; and (2)the product is contained in aseptic packaging that allows it to be sold in a store’s unrefrigerated section.
  • Freezing soy milk in particular is not advised as the water in the soy milk will separate and form ice at the top.
  • Soy milk, in particular, has enjoyed a sharp uptick in popularity and has become a significant presence in school lunch programs.
  • Whether or not soy milk is healthier or less healthy than regular milk is a hotly debated question.

How long are milk alternatives good for when prepared in a dish?

How long do milk substitutes such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk and coconut milk last? That depends. How long does cereal last? In general, milk alternatives last 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 DairyDrinksFruitsGrainsProteinsVegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or search below!

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What are our shelf life resources?

Our content on different kinds of milk 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 milk alternatives.

 *An important note about expiration dates …

Although the soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, hemp milk, coconut milk and other substitutes for milk shelf life information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, individual cases may vary and this advice is not intended to substitute for the advice of your qualified health care provider.  Please drink responsibly!