Does Sesame Oil Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 29th, 2023

Navigating the intricacies of kitchen staples like sesame oil can be puzzling, even for seasoned cooks. Knowing how to properly store it and recognize when it goes bad is not just about food safety; it’s about preserving the exquisite flavor and nutritional benefits that make sesame oil a cherished ingredient. Dive in to gain a comprehensive understanding of sesame oil’s shelf life and how to get the most out of this versatile oil.

The Varieties of Sesame Oil

When you step into a grocery store, you’ll find a spectrum of sesame oil options. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so let’s break down the most common varieties:

sesame seeds in sack and bottle of oil on wooden rustic table
  • Light/White Sesame Oil: Produced from raw, untoasted sesame seeds, this oil is your go-to for light frying or roasting. Its high smoke point and neutral flavor make it a versatile component in numerous recipes.
  • Roasted/Dark Sesame Oil: With its origins in toasted sesame seeds, this oil brings a potent aroma and intense nutty flavor to dishes. Primarily used as a finishing oil, it’s the star in many Asian cuisines.
  • Cold-Pressed Sesame Oil: For those who prefer a more natural approach, cold-pressed sesame oil is extracted without the use of heat or chemicals. This traditional method offers an authentic taste and a cleaner product.
  • Blended Oils: These are combinations of sesame oil with other oils, like olive oil. Ideal for those who wish to merge the characteristics of multiple oils in their cooking.

Does Sesame Oil Have an Expiration Date?

Unlike wine, oils don’t improve with age, and sesame oil is no exception. Rich in unsaturated fats, it’s susceptible to rancidity. Once the bottle is opened, it is exposed to various factors such as air, moisture, and light that initiate the degradation process. While antioxidants like phenols can slow this down, they can’t halt it entirely.

Over time, you’ll notice the oil becoming darker, accompanied by an off-putting smell and bitter taste. It’s not an instantaneous change but rather a gradual decline that can span several months.

How to Decipher the Shelf Life of Sesame Oil

Determining the exact lifespan of sesame oil is tricky, as it’s influenced by multiple factors:

  • The quality of the initial sesame seeds
  • Post-processing storage duration
  • Storage conditions
  • Packaging quality
  • Transport time

Moreover, remember that the store-bought sesame oil may already be several months old, affecting its actual shelf life.

Pantry Storage Recommendations

Sesame oilUnopenedOpened
Pantry1-2 years6-8 months
Fridge2+ years1-2 years

You can safely store an unopened bottle in the pantry for up to two years. For an opened bottle, aim to use it within six to eight months.

Outdoor vs. Indoor Storage of Sesame Oil

One might assume that outdoor storage won’t impact sesame oil, but that’s far from the truth. Direct sunlight is a catalyst for oxidation, meaning your oil could spoil more quickly.

Inside, keeping your oil in a cool, dark place ensures the longest possible shelf life. Opt for smaller bottles to finish them more quickly, minimizing the time for potential degradation.

Refrigeration: A Cold Fact

Storing sesame oil in the fridge decelerates the oxidation process, thus prolonging its usability. It may become cloudy or even solidify, but that’s no cause for alarm. Allow it to reach room temperature, and it will return to its liquid state.

Freezing Sesame Oil: A Viable Option?

While the refrigerator is a good place for sesame oil, the freezer is not recommended. Freezing alters its texture and you would need to thaw it before use, which isn’t particularly convenient.

Toasted vs. Regular Sesame Oil: Is There a Difference in Shelf Life?

The prevailing opinion suggests that toasted sesame oil deteriorates faster than its regular counterpart. As a precaution, always consult the “best by” date and do a smell and taste test before use.

The Lowdown on Cold-Pressed Sesame Oil

Cold-pressed sesame oil, being free from preservatives, has a shorter pantry life—around six months. In the fridge, however, it can last up to a year.

Do You Really Need to Refrigerate Sesame Oil?

While it’s not mandatory, refrigeration can substantially extend the shelf life of sesame oil, particularly the toasted variety. If you’re a frequent user, room-temperature storage may suffice. But for longer storage, the refrigerator is your best bet.

Spotting a Spoiled Sesame Oil

Detecting a rancid oil involves sensory checks:

  • Color Changes: The shift from its natural color to a darker shade is a warning sign.
  • Unpleasant Smell: The loss of its characteristic nutty aroma and the onset of a stale, acrid smell indicates spoilage.
  • Unusual Taste: If you observe a bitter or sour flavor, it’s time to discard the oil.


Understanding the intricacies of sesame oil’s shelf life and storage can be crucial for both seasoned cooks and culinary novices. Not only does it assure food safety, but it also ensures you get the full benefits of this fantastic cooking oil. With this guide, you’re now well-equipped to make informed decisions about storing and using sesame oil. So go ahead, and add that extra zing to your meals without worrying about spoilage!


Editorial Staff

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