Is It Dangerous To Eat Expired Butter?

Butter has been a kitchen staple for as long as anyone can remember. It is handy for greasing up pots and pans, essential in many baking recipes, and is even a wonderful condiment for sandwiches and other simple bread rolls. As such, you probably have some butter in your fridge at this very moment — and maybe you have had it for quite some time. If you've gone to use butter and found it to be past its expiration date, don't fret. Odds are, this butter is probably safe to consume, provided you keep an eye out for signs of spoilage.

While many dairy products have a short shelf life, butter is an exception to this rule. This is because of its composition. It is both low in lactose, which spoils quickly, and high in fat, which spoils slowly — creating a one-two punch of longevity for the ingredient. The result is that butter can often remain edible past its printed expiration date provided you have checked it for any obvious evidence to the contrary. When using expired butter, first examine it for changes in color or texture, any funky or sour smells, or visible evidence of mold growth. If none of these are present, you are likely in the clear.

How to properly store butter

In order to keep your butter fresh and safe to eat both before and after its date of expiration, it is crucial that you store it correctly. Always store butter in an airtight container, as it can easily absorb smells and tastes from other foods if left exposed. It is debated how long butter can be stored on a counter at room temperature, but this method can keep the butter fresh for anywhere from a few days up to a week. Meanwhile, butter that is kept in the fridge can last for up to three months.

If you need to stretch your butter beyond this time frame, it is best to stash it away in the freezer. There, it will last for up to a year before declining in quality. If you choose to do so, however, be sure to keep in mind our key step that you shouldn't skip when freezing butter, which is to pre-portion it into smaller amounts prior to freezing. This way, you will be able to access just what you need without defrosting an entire stick.