canola oil

Canola Oil Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Affordable and versatile, canola oil becomes one of the most widely used cooking oil in the world, particularly in North America and Europe.

Canola oil has a subtle flavor (if not neutral) and has a high smoke point. Hence, this vegetable oil serves so many purposes and is suitable for stir-fry, sauté, deep fry, and baking. Canola oil also tastes great for salad dressing and marinade.

A big sale means time to pile up your food supply! Last time canola oil got your attention. You bought some bottles, used one, and stored the rest.

When you open your cupboard, you find two forgotten packs in the back. The oils have passed the “best by” date. Is this expired oil still good to use? Does canola oil go bad?

Sounds cliché but relatable? Such a scenario above always puts you in a dilemmatic situation. You are trying to reduce food waste, but you don’t want to compromise your health either.

Don’t worry. In this article, you will discover some useful knowledge on canola oil’s shelf life, storage method, and how to know if canola oil goes bad. If this is something you’re looking for, read on!

How To Store Canola Oil

As with other foods that are high in fats or oil, canola oil tends to go rancid quickly. Exposure to air, light, and moisture is the main culprit. Thus, proper storage helps to slow down the rancidification process and extend the shelf life.

Storage guidelines for canola oil are similar to other cooking oils. A cool, dry, dark place is an ideal storage place. Avoid a spot that is close to a stove, oven, or microwave because of the heat.

Your pantry is the perfect spot, but your kitchen cabinet or cupboard is excellent as well, preferably if you use the oil frequently.

After opening, never leave the bottle open when not in use. Always close the seal tightly. If the cap is damaged, transfer the oil into a jar, bottle, or container.

If you’re wondering whether canola oil needs refrigeration or not, the answer is it’s not necessary. For some other oils such as sesame oil, refrigeration is advised to keep it fresh longer, but that’s not required for canola oil.

How To Tell If Canola Oil Is Bad

If you think that oil can be kept forever, unfortunately, that’s not true. As with any other foods, canola oil also deteriorates and will eventually go bad.

On the good side, oil is a natural food preservative. Hence, it is typically a long-lasting food item. However, proper storage is still required to maintain the quality and shelf life.

Unlike perishable foods (like meat products) that are prone to bacterial contamination, canola oil is more susceptible to exposure to air, heat, and sunlight. As with other fatty or oily foods, canola oil is vulnerable from going rancid.

Rancid smell is the first thing you need to check when observing oil going bad. Canola oil has a light flavor. If it smells rancid or unpleasant in any way, it’s time to toss it out.

Cooking with rancid oil will not give you food poisoning right away. But it will surely ruin your dishes.

Next, if you see any notable changes in color and texture or presence of molds, that’s an alarming sign. Canola oil is generally clear and transparent. If it darkens, it shouldn’t be used for cooking.

If you happen to have old or expired oil that still looks okay, make sure to give it a quick check, in case it’s rancid or spoiled.

How Long Does Canola Oil Last?

Canola oil has a “best-by” or “best before” date stamped on the package. With good storage conditions, you can expect that the oil will stay edible until this time and possibly longer.

Unopened bottles are likely consumable for the next several months to a year after the recommended date, provided that the package is not damaged. After opening, oil is exposed to the air, oxidation takes place, and degradation occurs slowly over time.

Therefore, don’t forget to close the bottle after use. Canola oil is generally suitable for cooking within 6 to 12 months after opening.

ClassificationCool, dark, dry area, away from sunlight and heat (pantry, cupboard, kitchen cabinet)
Canola oil (unopened)Best by date + 6 to 12 months
Canola oil (opened)6 to 12 months

This table is a rough estimate. The real shelf life generally depends on the brands and storage conditions.

Although canola oil lasts for a long time and doesn’t quickly spoil, checking it from time to time (especially for an old bottle) is suggested to make sure that the oil is still worth keeping.


Is canola oil gluten-free?

Canola oil is generally gluten-free. But, we always recommend checking the allergen information on the label. If the oil is processed in a facility that processes other products containing gluten, there’s still a possibility for cross-contamination. If you are in doubt, reach out to the manufacturer for further information.

Is canola oil made from corn?

Canola is a type of vegetable oil processed from crushed canola seeds. The plant is an edible variety of rapeseed plants. In some countries, canola oil is also known as rapeseed oil.

Canola plant is from the Brassicaceae family and is related to broccoli, mustard, brussels sprout, etc. Hence, canola oil is not made from corn or soybean.

What are substitutes for canola oil?

Other kinds of oil can be alternatives for canola oil, depending on how you want to use it. Canola oil is light in flavor. If you’re looking for a mild taste, sunflower oil is your best alternative.

If you are looking for healthier options, olive oil can be a great substitute. Other than that, safflower oil or avocado oil should do the job.

Does canola oil have trans-fat?

Canola oil and other vegetable oils contain a small percentage of trans-fats. These trans-fats are a consequence of the deodorization process during oil production. Deodorization is the last step of oil production that gives a bland, neutral taste of the oils. If you are strongly against trans-fats, consider shifting to “virgin”, “unrefined”, or “cold-pressed” oil (*).

Final Thoughts

Canola oil is one of the most common cooking oils in many households. Although oil is a shelf-stable and durable product, at some point, it will go bad.

As with other oils, the common trait of bad oil is rancidity. If it smells rancid or unpleasant in any way, it’s likely unsuitable for consumption.

Proper storage will slow down canola oil from going rancid. The ideal storage is to keep the oil in a cool, dry, dark place, away from heat and sunlight.

Finally, don’t forget to read our article elaborating on a bunch of alternatives to canola oil you can find easily from your kitchen.

canola oil shelf life

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