yogurt shelf life

Yogurt Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Yogurt is definitely a popular dairy product known for its creamy texture and health benefits. Many people enjoy this fermented milk regularly for healthy breakfast, smoothies, and even cooking.

If you use yogurt on a daily basis, buying a few packs while on sale is a smart way to delay your trip to the grocery store. You just realize that you still have a few tubs of unopened yogurt in the fridge. Does yogurt go bad? How long can you keep yogurt?

Or maybe you just found a half-full yogurt in the back of your fridge. As much as you want to make it into smoothies, you need to make sure if yogurt won’t make you sick. How do you tell if yogurt goes bad?

Yogurt has been around and enjoyed for many years. Still, its shelf life, storage, and common spoilage signs remain unclear for many people. If you can relate to the situations above, keep reading! You’re about to find the answers in this article.

How To Store Yogurt

You’ve probably guessed that yogurt should be stored the same way as other dairy products, such as buttermilk, crème Fraiche, sour cream. You got it right!

No matter if it’s Greek yogurt, fruit yogurt, low fat, all need to go in the refrigerator. Yogurt is perishable and needs to be chilled at 40ºF or below at all times.

A little tip for your groceries shopping, pick up yogurt, and other perishable items just before you walk to the cashier. This way, you can minimize these products to stay at room temperature, which brings no good.

As soon as you’re home, toss yogurt in the fridge right away. Don’t let it sit in your car, especially during summertime, or leave it out too long on the counter.

The golden rule of keeping your food safe and lasts longer is practicing good hygiene. Once opened, cover it adequately to prevent from drying out and keeping contaminants at bay.

If you happen to have leftover of single-serving yogurt, this one is probably not resealable. At least cover it with an aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Next to that, always use a clean spoon or cutlery to scoop out the yogurt. Avoid using your finger, especially if it’s dirty. Otherwise, you’ll introduce bacteria into the yogurt, and spoilage is just waiting for its time.

How Do You Tell If Yogurt Has Gone Bad?

Most times, you can trust your instinct to determine if food has spoiled. Spotting spoiled yogurt is no different from other dairy products going off, such as sour cream or buttermilk.

When yogurt starts to spoil, it develops a rancid and sour smell, like milk going bad. The presence of molds and yellowish color are also signs that yogurt needs to be chucked out.

Sometimes, you see a separating liquid on top. This is probably whey and not a sign of spoilage. Try to give it a stir. If it turns back to its normal consistency and everything else seems fine, feel free to eat it.

If you’re still in doubt after giving a tub of yogurt a thorough check, maybe best to say goodbye. The same goes if you have kept yogurt for too long.

How Long Does Yogurt Last?

The durability of yogurt depends on many factors, such as the ingredients, preparation methods, and storage conditions. Its shelf life is indicated by a “use by” or “best by” date stamped on the package.

This date is a rough estimate and not a precise number. When stored under ideal conditions, yogurt should stay in its peak quality at least until this time.

If you happen to have expired yogurt, don’t rush tossing it out. Unopened yogurt usually stays edible for one or two weeks past its best by date. Check for spoilage signs, and if everything is like usual, feel free to use it.

Yogurt with fruit typically lasts shorter than other varieties, such as plain or Greek yogurt. The addition of fruits limits its shelf life.

Once opened, it’s best to consume it within a few days or a maximum of a week.

As mentioned earlier, storage conditions determine the fate of your yogurt supply.

If yogurt is mishandled somewhere along its way from the producer or maybe at home. Perhaps you forgot leaving it out overnight on the counter or using a dirty spoon, yogurt can go bad even before it’s recommended date.

With homemade yogurt, if it’s made from pasteurized milk, it should stay up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Yogurt typesRefrigerator
Yogurt (plain, low-fat, Greek, yogurt drink) (unopened)Best-by or use-by date + 1 to 2 weeks
Yogurt (plain, low-fat, Greek, yogurt drink) (opened)7 days
Yogurt with fruit (unopened)Best-by or use-by date + 1 week
Yogurt with fruit (opened)7 days
Homemade yogurt (from pasteurized milk)2 weeks

This table is a general estimate for the best quality. The actual shelf life can be shorter or longer. It’s worth giving it a thorough checking before using or discarding it.

See more: Substitute for Greek yogurt


Does yogurt go bad if not refrigerated?

Yogurt and most dairy products are perishable products that spoil quickly at room temperature. It needs continuous refrigeration at 40ºF or below.

When left out for too long at room temperature, yogurt starts to spoil and becomes unsafe for consumption. USDA suggests not to leave perishable foods at room temperature longer than 2 hours. (*)

Can old yogurt make you sick?

It is spoiled food that gives you food poisoning. Expired yogurt may stay safe to eat within 1 or 2 weeks past its date subject to proper storage. Longer than that, it’s maybe best to discard it.

The nasty thing about food-borne pathogens is that these bacteria don’t always cause an off-smell or unpleasant taste. So, better safe than sorry.

Can you freeze yogurt?

Most producers are against the idea of freezing yogurt, fearing an unpleasant change in texture. Yogurt tends to separate after thawing, making it less inviting for direct use. But, if you’re tight in time and freezing is your only option to salvage your supply. You can still use it for baking or cooking. Better yet, try it for yourself and see if freezing yogurt is worth doing!

Final Thoughts

Yogurt is a perishable food that needs constant refrigeration. As with other dairy products, it spoils quickly at room temperature.

If you give it proper storage, it should stay safe and edible until its “use by” date, and possibly longer. Otherwise, forget this date if you spot any of spoilage signs, such as foul smell, discoloration, or presence of molds.

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*Photo by magone/depositphotos

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