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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

How Long Does Butter Last in the Fridge?



How you store butter will determine how long it lasts in the fridge and out of the fridge.

Butter is a dairy product. It’s most often made out of milk from a cow but can be made out of milk from other animals, such as sheep or goats.

How Long Does Butter Last

The milk is churned until it reaches a thick, solid consistency and is finished with one of many methods. It can be salted, whipped, preserved, and cultured, just to name a few.

Being a dairy product, it needs to be refrigerated in order to last for any period of time.

In addition to the ways butter is stored, there are several variations of what is considered butter by many people.

How long does butter last in the refrigerator?

Butter can last up to anywhere between one to nine months inside your refrigerator. If it has an expiration date (which is usually actually a sell-by date), you can safely continue to use it for at least one month after the date listed on the package.

This all depends on proper food storage, including the temperature of your fridge.

To get into the details, let’s start with the different types of butter.

Types of butter

  1. Sticks of butter
  2. Whipped butter
  3. European butter
  4. Organic butter
  5. Plant-based butter
  6. Spreadable butter
  7. Light butter
  8. Nut butter
  9. Apple butter
  10. Homemade butter

1. Sticks of Butter (salted and unsalted)

Sticks of butter
4 pieces of stick butter on a serving plate

Both the salted and unsalted versions of butter can be used for cooking, buttering, or baking. They contain around 80% milk fat which is probably why it’s so tasty.

It’s probably why deep-fried butter is one of the most popular things in the Midwest at state fairs.

How long does a stick of butter last in the fridge?

When it comes to storing sticks of butter in the fridge, you should aim for them to be kept in the back of the fridge for a longer life span.

If you store them in the door or near the front, it will shorten their shelf life from the simple fact of them being more exposed to higher temperatures, even if they are just slightly higher.

You can expect your butter sticks to last 1 to 3 months past the sell-by date printed on the packaging.

2. Whipped Butter

Land O'lakes whipped butter
Land O’lakes whipped butter in round tub

Whipped butter is another form of normal butter. It’s also super-easy to make at home because you only have to whip the normal butter to get a creamy texture, which names it like this.

The purpose of whipping the normal butter to another level is to achieve a soft and creamier texture that becomes easier to spread on the bread or food.

Also, whipped butter gains more weight than normal butter.

How long does whipped butter last in the fridge?

Whipped butter can be stored both in the fridge and freezer. In the fridge, you can keep it for up to 10 days.

However, it’s better to store it in a plastic bag or airtight container because it has a foamy texture.

If you want to store it for a few months, you can keep the butter in the freezer. However, it’s better not to store it for too long because the whipped butter loses its soft texture for as long as it stays in the fridge or freezer.

3. European Butter

European butter
Plugra European style unsalted butter – source

Many people get confused between American and European butter and consider them the same, but the truth is, both of them are slightly different.

The American butter is churned to achieve a fat content of 80%. On the other hand, European butter is churned more to get a fat content of 82%.

While the percentage isn’t much diff, it does make a huge difference. That’s why European butter has a creamier and softer texture compared to American butter.

How long does European butter last in the fridge?

The European butter can last in the fridge for up to 10 days. However, you can increase its shelf-life by storing it in an airtight European-style crock.

4. Organic Butter

Organic Butter
Trader Joe’s organic unsalted butter in a package – source

As the name suggests, organic butter is the purest and best form of all the different kinds of butter available. The purity comes from the attention paid to the feed of the animals.

As this butter is made from pure and organic milk, the animals that provide this milk are taken proper care of.

The farmers make sure not to provide any artificial feed, growth hormones, or antibiotics to the animals, and they are dependent on natural methods of grazing. All this gives pure milk, which is then used to produce organic butter.

How long does Organic butter last in the fridge?

You can store organic butter in the fridge for up to 6 months.

However, if it’s open, you’ll notice changes in the texture of the butter after almost 3 months. The effects also depend on the storing conditions.

If you want to freeze it, you can expect a shelf-life of up to one year.

5. Plant-based Butter

Plant based butter
Country crock plant-based butter – source

Plant-based butter is an alternative made by combining different plant oils.

It is also called vegan butter and is quite similar to margarine because both of them aren’t organic. The only difference between both is that plant-based butter contains no animal products.

The thing with this kind of butter is that it isn’t organic, and that’s why it isn’t considered healthy as well. The different oils combine to give a buttery texture.

Plant-based butter also contains a lot of fats.

How long does plant-based butter last in the fridge?

The time the plant-based butter will survive in the fridge without spoiling depends on whether it’s opened or not. If you’ve opened it, you can keep the butter in the fridge for up to two weeks.

However, if unopened, you can store it in the fridge for up to a month. The time will also depend on the storage conditions.

To keep it fresh, we recommend keeping the butter in an airtight and sealed jar.

6. Spreadable Butter

Land o'lakes Spreadable butter
Land o’lakes Spreadable butter

Just as the name suggests, the quality of spreadable butter is that it spreads on butter and food real quick. This feature is obtained by making butter with some combination of oil.

This type of butter is quite similar to that of regular butter, but of course, the addition of vegetable oils makes it different at the same time. The liquid fats in the butter make it soft as soon as you take it out from the fridge, making it easier to spread.

How long does spreadable butter last in the fridge?

Like many other types of butter, an opened box of spreadable is most likely to last between 10 days and two weeks in the fridge. However, if it’s sealed or unopened, the shelf-life may extend to up to a month.

7. Light Butter

Light butter
Balade light butter with sea salt – source

Just as the name suggests, light butter contains less butterfat as compared to regular butter. While regular butter has up to 80% butterfat, light butter only contains 40% or less butterfat. Pasteurized milk is used to make light butter into a soft texture.

In this way, light butter contains half the amount of fats and cholesterol as regular butter.

Most people consider light butter to be good for baking. But, the higher air and water content in light butter makes it a good option as a spread.

How long does light butter last in the fridge?

As the basic contents of light butter are much similar to regular butter, they both follow the same refrigerating time.

You can keep it in the fridge for 10 days or two weeks if the box of butter is open. Also, make sure you store it in an airtight container.

If the box is unopened, you can store it for up to a month.

8. Nut Butter

three types of nut butters
Three types of nut butter.

Just as the name suggests, nut butter primarily contains nuts.

We get nut butter by mixing nuts along with nuts, and we add water to it to attain the desired consistency. The thing that sets it apart from other types of butter is that it has a crunchy taste.

Whether you use peanut butter or almond butter, both will have the taste of peanuts and almonds in them.

How long does peanut butter last in the fridge?

peanut butter
Peanut butter in a glass jar with a spoon on top and peanuts spread around

The best thing about peanut butter is that an opened jar can be stored outside for at least 3 months. However, after that, you’ll need to keep it in the fridge to avoid it from getting spoiled.

When put in the fridge, your peanut butter will stay fresh for 3 to 4 months. It’s better to avoid storing it beyond this time because even if it looks fresh, the taste will change.

How long does almond butter last in the fridge?

Organic almond butter
Organic almond butter in a bowl.

The time required for keeping almond butter in the fridge will vary for homemade and store-bought butter.

If you want to store homemade almond butter in the fridge, the maximum time would be 14 days (two weeks).

However, store-bought almond butter can be stored in the fridge for almost 9 months. Similarly, an opened jar will last for 3-4 months in the fridge.

9. Apple Butter

Apple butter in a glass jar
Apple butter in a glass jar with apples in the background

Many people consider apple butter the same as apple sauce. However, the concentrated form of apple sauce is apple butter. The process involves slowly cooking the pureed apples until the sugar in them caramelizes.

The other ingredients, like cinnamon, also give it a spicy flavor. However, apple butter does not contain real butter.

How long does apple butter last in the fridge?

Apple butter has an amazing shelf-life in the fridge. Even if you keep an opened jar in the fridge, the apple butter will last for almost one year.

10. Homemade Butter

fresh homeade butter in a bowl
Fresh homemade butter in a bowl sitting on a cutting board with a wooden spoon in front

Just as the name suggests, homemade butter is the one you make yourself at home. While it isn’t much different than the store-bought one, people who start to use homemade butter usually don’t prefer switching it.

Homemade butter is usually made by pouring heavy cream into a food processor and blending it for some minutes. In this way, the butter fats and buttermilk are separated.

How long does homemade butter last in the fridge?

In general, homemade butter stored in an airtight container will last 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge.

However, you need to make sure that the buttermilk is properly extracted from the butter. If it remains, the butter will get a sour taste after a few days or a week.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got any more questions about how long different types of butter might last in the fridge? Here are some answers to questions you might still have:

How long does unsalted butter last in the fridge?

We already know that unopened jars of butter can last longer in the fridge. Thus, a wrapped box of butter will last in the fridge for at least 2-3 months.

However, if you’ve opened the jar of unsalted butter, you can expect a shelf-life of at least two weeks.

How long does smart balance butter last in the fridge?

Smart Balance butter is famous for its rich taste and creamy texture.

The company suggests that you can keep the butter in the fridge for one year. However, they also recommend avoiding freezing the butter.

How long is butter good for after the expiration date?

While many people tend to believe that butter cannot be consumed after the “best before” date, the truth is that it won’t actually expire a few weeks after this date.

If you’ve not opened the packet of butter and the expiry date has passed, you can still consume it for at least 2-3 months.

However, if you’ve opened the package, don’t worry. Even after the expiry date, you can consume the butter for a month or two. Still, it’s better to check for any change in taste and texture to avoid consuming spoiled butter.

How long does butter last out of the fridge?

The general consensus is that butter is able to last up to two weeks while sitting at room temperature (you should keep it covered with a lidded butter dish. This is good news because it tells us that butter has a long and predictable shelf life.

How do you know if butter is spoiled?

Determining whether or not butter has reached the end of the road and needs to be tossed in the trash is pretty simple. Once butter goes bad, it will start to darken in color and develop a translucent quality to the outer edges.

It will also develop a faintly rancid odor and an off-putting taste. (But tasting things is not really a recommended way of deciding if something has gone bad.)

The good news is that it is not that difficult to prolong the life expectancy of a tub or a stick of butter. But first, I would like to start with a baseline of how long butter can last in its l

How to make butter last longer

Butter Bell - The Original Butter Bell Crock by L. Tremain, French Ceramic Butter Dish Keeper, Café Retro Collection, Sky Blue, Glossy Finish

Some people swear by the above pictured Butter Bell butter crock that extends their butter’s lifespan.

Much like any other perishable food, there are ways of getting butter to last longer. The most efficient way to do this is to store it in your refrigerator at or below 40º F.

This means you should keep your fridge colder than 40º F. For whatever reason, refrigerator manufacturers seem to love putting what they call “butter compartments” on the door. I know that it looks like it is just the perfect place for it to go, but please restrain yourself from doing so.

Instead, it is a good idea to keep your butter in the back of the fridge. There it will not get exposed to temperature fluctuations associated with opening and closing the refrigerator door.

LocknLock Easy Essentials Food Storage lids/Airtight containers, BPA Free, Butter-25 oz, Clear

Another good practice: keep your butter in an airtight container like the Lock+Lock butter dish pictured above. If you have ever used sticks of butter, then you have no doubt seen what happens to butter once it has been exposed to oxygen for too long. When that happens, the butter will begin to harden and become stale.

How long does butter last in the freezer?

Butter is just like anything else. If you freeze it, you can get up to 6 more months of shelf-life from it.

If you do decide to freeze your butter, just make sure to use a freezer wrap and/or that it is in an airtight container like the one above. You don’t want to get a freezer burn on your butter.

Wrap – Up

In most cases, you can refrigerate butter for at least two weeks. However, the exact time will depend on the type of butter and whether you’ve opened the packet or not.

Making your butter last the longest boils down to airtight containers, keeping moisture away, and cold temperatures. The less amount of moisture and oxygen, the better off your butter will be.

More butter stuff

Image credit via Flickr Creative Commons: Matthew and Jeffrey W.