Does peanut butter go bad? Yes. Peanut butter has a long shelf life but it can go bad. Find out how long peanut butter can last and the signs of spoiled peanut butter.

Peanut Butter

Let’s face it. We all love peanut butter. It’s the spread of all spreads! It can be combined with jelly, jam, bananas, apples and so many others. You can even enjoy peanut butter as is, all you need is a spoon. There’s no doubt about the love we have for peanut butter. Mouth-watering peanut butter and jelly recipe like these will surely bring back childhood memories.

We spend almost $800 million on peanut butter each year. According to the National Peanut Board, 94% of Americans have at least one jar of peanut butter at home.

Peanut butter comes in different varieties– regular smooth and creamy, the regular crunchy variety, natural peanut butter and of course the homemade ones. Natural peanut butter is made with at least 90% peanuts with no artificial sweeteners, coloring, and preservatives while regular peanut butter contains hydrogenated oils, sugar, salt, stabilizers and other ingredients.

You probably have your own jar sitting in your pantry or planning to store an additional jar or two. Unfortunately, like many food products out there, peanut butter can go bad too. To fully enjoy peanut butter, it’s important to know how long your jar can last and how you can properly store your peanut butter.

Shelf Life of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has best before or best by dates on its label. This does not indicate the expiration of it. Your peanut butter will still be good and safe past the printed date, provided it is stored properly and consumed within its shelf life. Due to its high fat and oil content, peanut butter has a relatively long shelf life. How long is the shelf life of peanut butter?

Shelf Life of Regular Peanut Butter

An unopened jar of regular peanut butter can last for six to nine months in the pantry and does not need to be refrigerated. Unopened crunchy peanut butter will last for a year in the pantry or in the fridge.

If opened, a jar of regular peanut butter will last for three months in the pantry and four months in the refrigerator. An opened jar of crunchy peanut butter will last for four months in the pantry and six to eight months if refrigerated.

Peanut Butter

Shelf Life of Natural and Homemade Peanut Butter

Natural peanut butter will last for up to three months if unopened and kept in the pantry. If refrigerated, unopened natural peanut butter will last up to six months.

Once opened, natural peanut butter must be stored in the fridge where it can last up to six months. Likewise, homemade peanut butter must be refrigerated. Refrigerated homemade peanut butter can last for three to six months.

Past its shelf life, peanut butter will start to go bad and show signs of rancidity.

Signs of Spoiled Peanut Butter

You can easily distinguish bad peanut butter from a good jar. Fresh peanut butter is creamy or crunchy depending on the variety with a pleasant and rich nutty flavor and aroma. Your peanut butter will show the following five signs if it has already gone bad.

  1. The texture and consistency change from soft and creamy to hard and dry. Peanut butter can dry out from oil separation. You can stir and bring back its creaminess or follow the bonus tip below to avoid oil separation. Completely dry and hard peanut butter, with the oil being gone, is already spoiled.
  2. The color becomes dark brown from the usual light tan.
  3. The pleasant aroma disappears. The peanut butter smells rancid, sour or rotten.
  4. It has a sour taste instead of the natural nutty taste.
  5. The peanut butter has mold. Spoilage and contamination from unclean utensils can cause the formation of mold.

It is important to take note of these signs to avoid consumption of bad peanut butter. If accidentally consumed, spoiled peanut butter can cause food poisoning.

How to Properly Store Peanut Butter

We all want to enjoy your peanut butter as long as you can. Knowing how to properly store your peanut butter will help maximize its shelf life. Here are some tips on how to store your peanut butter.

  • Store your peanut butter in a cool, dark, place, preferably in the pantry. It helps maintain its consistency and keeps it spreadable.
  • Always close the jar of peanut butter with its lid to avoid exposure to air. Oxygen is the number one instigator of spoilage.
  • For a longer shelf life, keep your peanut butter in the fridge. This will make the peanut butter hard to spread but it will help prevent flavor loss and slow down oil separation.
  • For natural and homemade peanut butter which don’t use stabilizers or hydrogenated oil, you should keep it in the fridge to maximize its shelf life.
  • Bonus tip for peanut butter lovers – Store your peanut butter upside down. You must have already noticed, the oil has a tendency to settle on the top when the jar is stored upright. And you’ll end up stirring your peanut butter each time you uncap. By storing it upside down, the oils will evenly distribute all the way through, no stirring needed every single time. 🙂 

Aside from the classic PB&J, there are a lot of recipes you can try with your peanut butter. Here are a few recipes for you to try. 

Does peanut butter go bad? Yes. Peanut butter has a long shelf life but it can go bad. Find out how long peanut butter can last and the signs of spoiled peanut butter.

About the Author

Sharon Chen, StreetSmart Kitchen

Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of the Complete Sous Vide Cookbook. She believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she aims to make meal prep easier than ever and help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.