Does Olive Oil Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

Is it possible for olive oil to become bad? How can you tell if your olive oil has gone bad or has become rancid, and how should you store olive oil? Here are the solutions.

What exactly is olive oil?

According to the most basic description, olive oil is an oil derived from the fruit of the olive tree. Contrary to popular belief, olives are fruits. The scientific name for olives is Olea europaea, and like every other fruit on the planet, olives have a shelf life, as does olive oil.

woman in white long sleeve shirt holding bottle

Olive oil is the most often used vegetable oil, and for a good reason: its exquisite flavor and aromatic aroma boost almost any prepared dish or salad. But, if you’ve had a bottle for an infinite period, you might wonder if it goes bad.

The fact is that, while it does endure a long time, it, like other things we may eat, has the potential to expire.

Continue reading to learn how to determine if your olive oil has gone rancid and how to store it properly.

Olive Oil Varieties

There are various sorts of olive oils that we commonly find in stores – virgin, extra virgin, light, and so on. Each kind has a distinct profile and application. The distinction is due to the technique, acidity (or oleic acid), and flavor.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is an unprocessed and little processed oil. Among the several varieties, it is considered the highest quality. It is officially created with a powdered paste of olive fruits that is then pressed into the oil with the least heat. “Cold-pressed” or “first pressed” are two more marketing terms for extra virgin olive oil.

Virgin olive oil is also an unrefined oil produced similarly to EVOO. However, the chemical qualities are somewhat different, and it is of lesser quality than EVOO.

Light and extra light olive oil are refined oils with a mild flavor. These oils are a great baking replacement. Chemical and heat treatments are used throughout refining to eliminate undesirable qualities, resulting in a lighter flavor.

Olive oil, sometimes known as “pure olive oil,” is a combination of refined and virgin olive oils.

Is it possible for olive oil to go rancid or expire?

Olive oil, unlike wine, does not improve with age. Yes, olive oil ultimately goes bad or becomes rancid. This is because it is a perishable commodity. Because olive oil is squeezed from a fruit, think of it as fruit juice. Isn’t it true that fruit juice spoils?

Olive oil has a shelf life of 18 to 24 months from when it is bottled. That may seem like a long time, but keep in mind that some of it was spent on transportation, and by the time the bottle reaches your grocery store shelf, it has already begun to age. Check the best-by date before purchasing a bottle to ensure that you purchase the freshest oil.

And now for the best-by date: It’s more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast expiration date, and it’s used to determine the freshness of an unopened bottle. Once you’ve opened the bottle, aim to finish it within 30 to 60 days and no more than a year. That being said, if a bottle is 30 days old and appears to be in good condition, you don’t have to throw it away right away.

What is the shelf life of olive oil?

Olive oil has a shelf life of 2 to 4 years, depending on the brand and production procedure, and it usually lasts at least a few months longer.

Once opened, olive oil will keep for at least 6 to 8 months, potentially much longer. It greatly depends on the quality, the printed date, and how you preserve it.

That’s the gist of it. Let’s dig into additional specifics.

Olive oil typesPantry
Extra virgin olive oil12 to 18 months from production date or best by date + 3 to 6 months
Other types (unopened)18 to 24 months from production date, best by date + 3 to 6 months 
Any type (opened)3 to 6 months

Date of Harvest

Different manufacturers make varying recommendations when it comes to the shelf life of olive oil.

Some people, particularly those who value quality, choose relatively limited storage durations, such as 16 months. Others advocate for lengthier periods ranging from 24 months to four years.

And it’s not as though the higher the oil’s quality, the longer the printed shelf life. Most of the time, it’s the opposite.

In other words, the best-by date displayed on the label isn’t the most reliable predictor. The corporation selling the goods is free to include whatever they want as long as it is appropriate (so probably between a year and four years).

As a result, a reasonable heuristic is to utilize the olive oil within two years following harvesting. In this manner, you get the maximum nutrients and health advantages.

Unfortunately, many bottles do not have the harvest date put on the label, so you can’t tell if the olives are from last year’s crop or one that came before.

So we’re left with the “expiration” date. Let’s

If you buy a pricey bottle of extra virgin olive oil, be sure the harvest date is listed on the label and that it is from the previous year’s harvest. That is the simplest approach to ensure you get the most bang for your buck when purchasing EVOO.

Date of “Expiration” and Expired Olive Oil

The date on the label of the olive oil is a best-by (or best-if-used-by) date, not an expiration date. It is not about food safety but food quality.

In other words, the brand is assuring that if you store the bottle properly, the oil will retain its quality until the indicated date. It’s worth noting that nothing is said concerning whether or not the product will go bad.

As previously said, different brands recommend varying storage times, and the harvest date is a better predictor of how long the olive oil should stay. However, not every bottle has such information printed on it.

Reputable manufacturers generally always go with a fair 16- to 24-month storage time, so you shouldn’t be concerned. When it comes to inexpensive olive oil, things are a little different.

If there isn’t a harvest date, attempt to identify the date the oil was bottled — it should be good for around two years after that. You are left with the best-by date if that date is also unavailable.

As previously said, the date marked on olive oil is about quality. Thus the oil should be OK for some time beyond that date. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing how long.

The printed date is a mix of storage procedures (more on that later), the quality of the oil, and how long it has been between harvest and bottling.

If it’s 16 months, like with Bertolli olive oil, you should be able to acquire another 8 to 12 months of high quality. However, if it’s a cheap EVOO with a lengthy stated storage period, it might already be terrible when it’s getting close to its expiration date.

When it is opened

Once opened, olive oil should keep its optimum quality for at least 6 to 8 months, if not much longer. It all relies on the product’s quality and how it’s stored.

(Some authors on the subject recommend shorter intervals, such as 3 to 6 months.)

Of course, the age of your olive oil significantly affects how long it retains its quality after opening. If it’s a new bottle, it may easily last a year or more. However, if it is already reaching its expiration date, you may only expect 3 to 4 months of high quality.

It’s worth mentioning that many manufacturers don’t specify anything about how long their olive oil may be kept open. Instead, many of them advise referring to the printed date, regardless of when the bottle is opened. That’s also a good method, especially if you’re fine with olive oil that isn’t top-notch in terms of quality (I am).

Finally, you may use your open EVOO until the flavor is no longer acceptable, which in most situations means until it gets rancid.

Is it necessary to keep olive oil refrigerated?

Although it is feasible to store olive oil in the refrigerator, there is no advantage. According to studies, olive oil spoils at the same pace whether refrigerated or stored properly in a closet.

If you refrigerate the oil, keep in mind that it may thicken. If the oil becomes thick, bring it to room temperature before using it. ​

The ideal storage temperature for olive oil is between 60 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Heats exceeding this will hasten spoilage, as would exposure to light and air.

What’s the deal with my hazy olive oil?

Cold temperatures solidify oil and cause it to seem hazy. This might occur during storage or transportation. This is typical and has no bearing on the flavor or taste.

How can you tell whether olive oil is rancid?

You can determine whether olive oil has gone rancid with a whiff and a taste test. But first, you must understand what smell and flavor traits distinguish a good olive oil from a rancid olive oil.

A fresh, high-quality olive oil’s taste can range from smooth and buttery to vibrant and delicious. After swallowing the olive oil, you should feel a peppery kick or a faint burning feeling in the back of your throat—it may even cause you to cough!

The strong polyphenol antioxidant levels in fresh olive oil cause this spicy sting in your throat.

Bitterness in olive oil is NOT an indication of rancidity; rather, it indicates the presence of polyphenols. So if you detect bitterness in your oil, it is a good thing.

Fresh, high-quality olive oil may have the following flavors or aromas:

  • Grass just cut
  • tangy (green apple, peach)
  • Vegetable (tomato leaf)
  • Herbaceous plants (fresh green herbs)
  • Floral, buttery, nutty, green olive
  • Olives that have matured

On the other hand, stale, rotten olive oil will have a flat quality and a noticeable rancid flavor. Toss it if any of these descriptions spring to mind!

Is it okay to use old olive oil?

It is conditional. Cooking with rancid olive oil will not make you sick in the same way that eating bad meat will, but it will have lost any nutritional value or antioxidants. It will also make your meals taste strange.

Is the odor of your olive oil off-putting? Is the color off-kilter? Do not let go. It’s safe to use if it smells and looks OK, although it might not taste as spicy or sharp as it did when you initially got it.

How Should I Store Olive Oil?

When keeping olive oil, consider that oxidation causes it to age (and not well, sadly). Exposure to light, heat and oxygen all promote oxidation, so carefully closing the lid and storing your olive oil in a cool, dark spot, such as your pantry or a cupboard, is best.

Want to know what the best part is? If you buy olive oil in a darker-colored bottle, it will provide further protection against light sources.

Also, keeping it in a glass container is always preferable to plastic because it not only reduces plastic waste but also ensures that your olive oil lasts longer. If you buy olive oil in a plastic container, you can always move it to a glass bottle you already have and recycle the old plastic.

It is usually best to keep your olive oil in a cabinet or pantry, but if you decide to refrigerate it, don’t be alarmed if it becomes hazy; this is to be anticipated when stored in cooler temperatures. A hazy appearance does not indicate rotting and will still taste delicious!

How to get rid of or reuse rancid olive oil.

So you bought a huge bottle of olive oil and couldn’t finish it before it went rancid and musty? That’s a huge letdown. However, if you must dispose of it, do not be negligent and pour it down the sink drain. This has the potential to block your water lines.

Furthermore, any fat you pour down the drain contributes to the infamous “fatbergs,” which are large globs of frying fat and debris that block city sewage lines and damaged rivers. Isn’t that disgusting?

Instead, pour your rancid olive oil into an empty can or takeaway container, place it in the fridge to harden, and then discard it in the garbage on trash day. Many municipalities offer cooking oil recycling programs, which allow you to submit your used oil to be converted into biofuel. Contact your local sanitation agency or recycling facility for further information.

However, you do not have to discard rancid olive oil! There are various options for reusing it:

  • It may be used to soften and preserve leather items (boots, saddles, belts, furniture)
  • It may be used to cure and polish wood furniture or cutting boards.
  • It may be used to remove paint from your skin.
  • Make a quick DIY scrub for dry, cracked hands by combining it with a little sugar.
  • Use it to lubricate tools or squeaky hinges.


Overall, olive oil has a long shelf life, and because it is used so frequently for cooking or to flavor salads, it will most likely be utilized before you need to worry about it turning rancid.


Editorial Staff

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