Shelf Life of

How Long Does Butter Last?

How Long Does Butter Last?

Butter Expiration Date

How long does butter last? The shelf life of butter depends on a variety of factors, such as the production method, its Best By Date and how it is stored. Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh cream or milk until it reaches a solid form. It is most frequently made with cows milk but can also be manufactured from sheep, goats, buffalo and yaks. Butter comes in numerous types such cultured, uncultured, salted, preserved and whipped butter. In addition to its use as a cooking tool and being used as a tasty compliment to items such as bread or potatoes, butter does have some nutritional benefits which include a high dose of vitamin A.

So, how long does butter last? When properly stored at or below 40° F, the shelf life of butter beyond it’s best before date is approximately…

Past Printed Date Past Printed Date
Butter lasts for1 Month6-9 Months
Butter with oil lasts for2 Months6-9 Months
Butter lasts for2 Weeks6-9 Months
Butter with oil lasts for2-3 Weeks6-9 Months

Of course, dairy products may be purchased, stored and prepared in many different ways, each of which can result in a different expiration date. All foods last for a shorter period of time if it is not stored properly. But remember, many food products carry a best by date which is simply the last date the manufacturer will guaranty the quality, not the safety of their product. Because of this distinction, you may safely use butter to compliment your favorite meals even after its best by date has lapsed (see above table).

How to tell if butter 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 it has gone bad.
Spoiled butter will begin to appear pale, may possibly grow mold and will be either too soft or too hard and difficult to spread. In addition, spoiled butter can smell stale, cheesy or decomposed.
If your product has gone bad and you need a quick substitute, then check our page on butter substitutes.

There are, of course, certain health risks associated with spoiled foods, so always remember to practice food safety and enjoy your foods prior to their expiration.

How to store butter to extend its shelf life?

Proper food storage is the key to extending the shelf life of butter.
You can help keep yours fresh longer by storing it in your refrigerator immediately after purchase and after each use. Proper refrigeration –at 40° F or below– is vital.  Store butter on an interior refrigerator shelf rather than in the door, where the temperature fluctuates with frequent opening.  
Although salted varieties may last longer, we do recommend that you follow the same storage methods discussed above.  

For a long-term option, you can freeze it for about 6 months while preserving its taste if you replace the wax rapper with foil or another freezer friendly product.

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

Can You Store Butter on the Counter?

Commercially prepared butter can safely be stored on the counter, however, it is not recommended if your intent is to extend its shelf life and freshness. Butter is like a sponge, it absorbs the odors from surrounding foods quite easily and this will affect its taste.
If you are storing butter on the counter we recommend keeping it in a tightly sealed container to block odors and bacteria. The butter will last for several days at a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Interesting facts about the shelf life of butter:

  • An unopened containers should last for 1-3 months at 40° F or less in the refrigerator, but some companies guarantee their product for up to 6 months.
  • If left in its partially-open original paper wrap, the exposed area stick butter will begin to harden and smell stale after about a week, as oxygen sets in.
  • Commercial processing of butter removes dangerous bacteria.
  • View Margarine for a comparison of Margarine vs Butter.

  • How to use extra before your butter goes bad?

  • To use extra butter that is nearing it’s expiration date, the sweetest thing to do is make cookies.
  • But there are hundreds of ways to use butter, just ask an expert like Paula Deen!

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

    How long does butter last? That depends. How long does bread last? In general, all foods last only as long as the quickest expiring ingredient that they are 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?

    In determining how long butter lasts, our 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 butter.

     *An important note about expiration dates …

    Although the butter shelf life information provided by Eat By Date is generally reliable, it is in no way intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified health care provider.  Please eat responsibly!