mct oil shelf life

MCT Oil Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Since a few years ago, MCT oil has gained popularity among people who try to lose weight or follow a ketogenic diet.

You only need one tablespoon or two for each serving. Therefore, it may take a while to empty a bottle. As usual, this begs the question: does MCT oil go bad? How long can you keep MCT oil?

Perhaps, you’ve just jumped on the keto diet. You’ve heard about the benefits of this alternative oil. Before getting one, you want to know more about its shelf life and storage.

If you can relate to either of the scenarios, this article is for you. In this article, we walk you through MCT oil shelf life, proper storage, and how to tell if it has already gone south. So, keep reading!  

What Is Exactly MCT Oil?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. As the name suggests, MCT oil contains medium-length chains of fatty acids, namely caprylic acid, capric acid, or a combination of the two.

Primary sources of MCTs are dairy products, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil. However, most commercial MCT oil is extracted from coconut oil.

In our body, MCTs are more easily digested and absorbed than longer-chain fatty acids. As a result, MCTs are turned into energy sources more quickly and less likely to be stored as fat.

It is believed that moderate consumption of MCT oil as part of a balanced diet may have potential health benefits, such as promoting weight loss, lowering cholesterol, and lowering blood sugar levels.

No wonder this alternative oil has been a popular supplement for those pursuing weight loss as well as for athletes and bodybuilders.

Just a side note, it is suggested to talk to your dietitian or physician before including MCT oil in your regular diet.

How To Store MCT Oil

Fortunately, MCT oil is easy to handle—both before and after opening. The storage guideline is more or less similar to coconut oil.

Similar to other kinds of oil, this oil is also sensitive to air, light, and moisture. That being said, don’t place it anywhere near a window or stove.

Simply keep it at room temperature in a cool, dry, dark place, ideally your pantry or cupboard. If you use it daily, it is handy to keep it somewhere within your arm’s reach.

After opening, the oxidation starts to occur. Therefore, make sure to close the bottle tightly after each use. Otherwise, the oil will begin to go rancid quickly.

If you only use it occasionally, consider getting a small jar. If you’ve purchased a big one, transfer some amount into a smaller container.

Use oil from the smaller container and keep the original bottle for a refill. This little trick reduces the exposure to air and subsequently slows down the oil from getting rancid.

Does MCT oil need to be refrigerated?

No. Unless you live in an extremely hot climate, it doesn’t need refrigeration.

If you have kept it in the fridge for a while now, don’t worry. Refrigeration doesn’t necessarily affect the quality. Unlike coconut oil, good quality MCT oil doesn’t solidify at a chilling temperature.

How To Tell If MCT Oil Is Bad

When it comes to spotting signs of MCT oil going bad, the symptoms are pretty much similar to other kinds of oil, like coconut oil, canola oil, or olive oil. Rancidity is the real enemy.

Rancid oil won’t kill you right away, but it is just gross and does nothing good but ruining your food. So, whenever in doubt, better stay on the safe side.

If you find any of these symptoms, it’s time to throw the oil out.

  • 1. Color and appearance

MCT oil is typically transparent and colorless. When it’s old and rancid, you might see the color is getting yellowish.

If you see dark spots in the oil, that’s also a clear sign that bacteria or molds have contaminated the oil.

  • 2. Smell and taste

MCT oil should be odorless and tasteless. Give it a good sniff. 

If the oil smells off, metallic, soapy, or somewhat unpleasant, it might have gone rancid.

  • 3. Consistency

MCT oil has a smooth, thin consistency. Toss it out if it gets thicker or lumpy.

How Long Does MCT Oil Last?

MCT oil typically has two years of shelf life. Check its “best-by” date for this information.

With proper storage, the oil should preserve its quality until this date and possibly longer. It is always best to use it before this date.

But, what if you have an expired MCT oil?

Don’t rush throwing it away. Give it a thorough inspection and look for signs of spoilage or rancidity.

If you have stored it under instructed conditions and nothing suspicious is spotted, it should be fine to use. Otherwise, discard it whenever in doubt.

In contrast, if the oil is not stored properly, it may have gone bad earlier than its best-by date.

MCT OilPantry or cupboard
MCT oil (unopened)Best-by date + 1 year
MCT oil (opened)Best- by date

This table provides a general estimate only. The actual shelf life depends on the quality, brands, and storage conditions.


Is MCT oil similar to coconut oil?

No. Although MCT oil is typically extracted from coconut oil, these two are different products. MCT oil contains only medium-chain triglycerides. Meanwhile, coconut oil contains both medium- and long-chain triglycerides. Both MCT and coconut oil may promote health benefits but with different uses and mechanisms.

What does MCT oil taste like?

It is virtually odorless and tasteless. You can consume it right away from the container or mixed with food and drinks.

How do you use MCT oil?

You can simply add it to your food or drinks, such as your smoothies, protein shakes, salad dressings, cereals, soups, even in your coffee and tea. It has a low smoking point and is not suitable for cooking.

Are there negative effects of MCT oil?

When consumed in large amounts, it may increase hunger and cause stomach discomforts, including stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, vomiting, etc. On the extreme side, overconsumption may lead to fatty liver deposits. Consult a dietitian to find the right dose to take in your regular diet.

Does MCT powder expire?

MCT powder is essentially MCT oil that’s been dried into a fine powder. The powder may contain added ingredients and consequently lasts shorter than the oil. MCT powder usually has a one-year shelf life.

Final Thoughts

MCT oil is an increasingly popular choice for health supplements. When it comes to storage, refrigeration is unnecessary—before or after opening.

Simply keep it at room temperatures in a cool, dry, dark spot. Your pantry or cupboard should do the job.

Practice food hygiene and always close the cap tightly after each use. Don’t use the oil if it smells, looks, and tastes off.

See more: Does coconut oil go bad?

mct oil goes bad

*image by anaumenko/depositphotos

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