Can Butter Go Bad In The Fridge?

Have you ever taken a stick of butter out of your fridge and wondered if it had gone bad? If you’ve ever been in this situation, you’re not alone! Butter is a staple in many kitchens, but not many people know how long it can be safely stored in the fridge.

Can butter go bad in the fridge?

Yes, butter can go bad in the fridge. It has a relatively short shelf life and can become rancid if stored for too long. To ensure the freshest butter, it is recommended to store it in the coldest part of the fridge and use it within a month of purchase.

In this guide, we’ll cover in detail why butter goes bad in the fridge and how to keep it fresh for a longer duration when refrigerated.

Can Butter Go Bad In The Fridge

Can Butter Go Bad In The Fridge?

Refrigerated butter is perishable and should be handled properly to ensure its freshness and quality. To understand why butter can go bad, it is important to understand how butter is made. Fresh cream is churned until the fat and liquid separate, leaving behind a semi-solid fat known as butter. 

This butter is mixed with a small amount of salt and other ingredients to flavor it. When refrigerated, butter can last for several weeks, but if not stored properly, bacteria can grow, and the butter can spoil.

An example of how refrigerated butter can go bad is when it is left out at room temperature for too long. The process of churning the cream creates an environment that is perfect for bacteria to grow.

If the butter is left out at room temperature, the bacteria will grow and multiply, leading to spoilage. The butter will start to smell, taste sour and even have visible mold or discoloration.

To ensure that your refrigerated butter stays fresh and doesn’t go bad, it is important to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks after opening.

Additionally, it is important to avoid leaving the butter at room temperature for too long, as this will increase the chances of it going bad.

Related: Should I Butter Parchment Paper

How Can You Tell If Refrigerated Butter Is Bad?

Refrigerated butter has a shelf life of up to four weeks if stored properly. So, how can you tell if your refrigerated butter has gone bad? 

The first and most obvious indication that your butter has gone bad is a visible change in appearance. If your butter has a slimy texture or has developed a sour smell, it is time to discard it and replace it with fresh butter.

Additionally, if your butter has developed an off-colored tint or has developed small mold patches, it is no longer safe to consume.

Another way to tell if your butter has gone bad is to taste it. If your butter has a sour, acidic, or bitter taste, it is likely spoiled and should be discarded. Additionally, butter that has a rancid smell should be discarded.

Lastly, you can also check the expiration date on the package to see if your butter has gone bad. If the expiration date has passed, it is time to discard the butter and replace it with fresh butter. 

In conclusion, the best way to tell if refrigerated butter has gone bad is to check for visible signs such as a slimy texture, off-colored tint, small patches of mold, and a rancid smell. 

Additionally, taste testing and checking the expiration date can also be used to determine if your butter has gone bad. If your butter has any of these signs, it is no longer safe to consume and should be discarded.

Related: Can You Use Margarine Instead Of Butter

Can Expired Butter Make You Sick?

Yes, expired butter can make you sick. Expired butter contains bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses. When butter is exposed to air, bacteria can form on the surface, and consuming it can make you sick.

For example, if butter is left at room temperature for several days, foodborne illness increases because the bacteria can multiply and cause food spoilage. When the butter is consumed, it can lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In some cases, the bacteria can even cause more severe symptoms, such as fever and severe abdominal pain.

It is important to note that expired butter may not always make you sick. The risk of foodborne illness will depend on how long the butter has expired and how it has been stored.

If you are still determining the expiration date, it is best to discard the butter and buy a new one. Additionally, it is important to store butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Overall, expired butter can make you sick if stored improperly or left out at room temperature for an extended period.

It is important to check the expiration date and discard any butter that may have been stored improperly. Proper storage and handling of butter can help to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Related: 11 Best Butter Substitutes For Cookies

Can Old Refrigerated Butter Make You Sick?

Yes, old refrigerated butter can make you sick. Bacteria grow rapidly on high-fat dairy products like butter, which can cause food poisoning if consumed.

For example, Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria found in butter that can cause severe food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning from old refrigerated butter can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

It can lead to dehydration, high fever, and confusion in severe cases. To prevent food poisoning, it’s important to always check the expiration date on butter and other dairy products and discard them if they are past their expiration date.

Also, always store butter in the refrigerator, and it should be used within a few days of opening.

Does Salted Butter Need to Be Refrigerated?

Salted butter needs to be refrigerated because it is especially vulnerable to bacterial growth due to its high-fat content, which makes it a breeding ground for bacteria.

Also, salted butter has a slightly lower water content and, therefore, a higher fat content than unsalted butter, making it even more prone to spoiling. Salting also increases the likelihood of rancidity, further reducing its shelf life.

For example, salted butter can quickly become contaminated with bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause food poisoning if left at room temperature.

Because of this, it’s best to store salted butter in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling. This will also help to prolong its shelf life and keep it from going rancid.

Related: 9 Best Salted Butter Substitute

How Long Does Unsalted Butter Last in the Fridge?

Unsalted butter lasts up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator. This is because the lack of salt in unsalted butter prevents the growth of bacteria or other microorganisms that can cause spoilage. 

As a result, unsalted butter can be kept longer than salted butter. An example of how long unsalted butter can last in the refrigerator is if you have opened a new stick of butter. You can store it in the fridge, which will stay fresh for up to 4 weeks. 

If the butter is properly sealed and stored in a refrigerator, it should remain safe for four weeks. After that, it is best to use it within a few days or discard it.

Does Butter Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

Yes, butter does go bad if not refrigerated. Without refrigeration, the butter will spoil due to the growth of bacteria and the breakdown of fat, which can cause the butter to become rancid.

If the butter is stored in a warm kitchen, it will spoil faster than if it is stored in the refrigerator. The warmer the temperature, the faster the butter will spoil.

The butter will spoil even faster if left out and exposed to light and air. Therefore, for optimal shelf life, butter should always be stored in the refrigerator.

Does Butter Go Bad After Expiration Date?

Butter does go bad after its expiration date. As butter is a dairy product, it is highly susceptible to bacterial growth, which can cause it to spoil.

When the expiration date passes, the butter becomes rancid and has a sour smell. It will also have a different texture, becoming sticky and harder to spread. 

After the butter’s expiration date, I noticed that it was slightly yellowish in color and had a sour smell. The texture was also grainy and much harder to spread than before. I threw it away as it had gone bad.

How Long Does Butter Last Out of the Fridge?

Butter can last outside the fridge for several hours, depending on the room’s temperature. Generally, butter can be left out of the fridge for up to two hours, although this time can be shorter in warm or humid climates. After two hours, the butter will start to spoil.

If you leave the butter out on the kitchen counter at room temperature (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit), it should last for about two hours before going bad.

But if you left the same butter out in a hot and humid climate (90-100 degrees Fahrenheit), it would only last about an hour before going bad.

Therefore, it’s best to store butter in the fridge and use it within a few days of purchase.

What to Do with Expired Butter?

Expired butter can still be used in many recipes, although it is important to note that expired butter should not be used in any recipe where the butter is used raw. Expired butter can be used to make dishes such as scrambled eggs, and casseroles and baked goods like muffins and cakes.

The key to using expired butter is to cook it for a longer period of time than fresh butter. For example, when making scrambled eggs, it is important to cook them for longer than normal to ensure they are cooked through.

This will help ensure that any bacteria that may be present in the expired butter are destroyed. It is also important to pay attention to the smell and taste of the expired butter when cooking to make sure that it is safe to eat.


No matter what your opinion may be on the subject, one thing is certain: butter is an integral ingredient in many recipes, and when stored and handled properly, it can last for a long time.

So the next time you need to make a delicious dish, you can be sure that your butter will be ready and waiting for you in the fridge!

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