Butter Shelf Life: How Long Does Butter Last?

What is the average shelf life of butter? How long does butter last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store butter to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:

Shelf Life of Butter

Without Oil (Unopened)1-2 Months6-9 Months
Without Oil (Opened)3-4 Weeks6-9 Months
With Oil (Unopened)2-3 Weeks6-9 Months
With Oil (Opened)1-2 Weeks6-9 Months

Butter is mostly made from cow’s milk, and it is a dairy product that you can make by churning fresh cream or milk until it takes a solid form. You can also make butter from the milk of buffalos, sheep, yaks, and goats. There are different types of butter, including salted, whipped, cultured, and uncultured butter. It can last anywhere between 6 and 9 months in a freezer. If you buy butter that has a best-by date printed on the label, then it can last for at least a month in the refrigerator. You can also extend its life past the best-by date by storing it properly.

Purchasing Butter

As per the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), butter is food that is exclusively made from cream or milk and, by weight, contains approximately 85% milk-fat. Some brands of butter also contain salt, but it is not a mandatory ingredient. This means that, when you are considering buying butter, you should keep in mind that its ingredients should only include cream and salt. Cultured butter also contains some healthy bacteria, called microbial cultures, which enhance its taste. The USDA gives a grade of ‘AA’ to different types of butter that are of a superior quality; this is mentioned on the packaging, as well.

Storing Butter

Always ensure that you wrap the butter correctly before you store it. After being opened, if you keep the butter covered appropriately before using, both unsalted and salted butter can last for three weeks in the refrigerator. If you want to make it last longer, then make sure that you wrap it in plastic or aluminum foil. This way, the butter will keep its fresh taste for weeks. Usually, when you store butter in the freezer, it remains fresh for a few months. Don’t keep it out in the open, or it will lose its taste and will also become unhealthy.

Handling Butter

If you have homemade butter, then you need to wash it before consumption. The reason behind this is to remove all foreign matter and to maintain the aroma of the butter. When you draw buttermilk from the butter for churning, in it there remain some impurities, like cheesy matter and casein. If your butter is not homemade, then you need to thaw it before eating. You should leave frozen butter out for at least 30 minutes at room temperature. Thawing is the best technique for all types of packaged butter.

Cooking with Butter

The best method to use when cooking with butter is waiting for the foam to subside before sautéing with it. In this case, all the water from the butter is evaporated, and it is ready for cooking at about 212 degrees. However, if you leave the foam, the butter will continue to heat up and will evaporate at 250 to 300 degrees. You need to use clarified butter to cook at high temperatures. Always use hard/cold butter for biscuits and pastries. You can also add frozen butter to various pan sauces. Additionally, you can slip a few chunks of butter under the skins of chicken breasts. Always add butter before the dairy in mashed potatoes. You can even add some bits of butter into uncooked eggs when cooking an omelet.