Can you freeze peanut butter?

Peanut butter is a popular spread made from ground, dry roasted peanuts. It has a rich, nutty flavor and creamy texture that makes it a tasty addition to sandwiches, snacks, baked goods and more. Peanut butter contains oils that can separate when frozen, so many people wonder if it’s safe to freeze peanut butter or if freezing will ruin the texture. Here’s what you need to know about freezing peanut butter.

Quick answer: Yes, you can freeze peanut butter

Peanut butter can be frozen to extend its shelf life. The oils in peanut butter may separate when frozen, but you can stir the peanut butter after thawing to recombine it. Freezing is best for long-term storage of unopened jars. Once opened, peanut butter is best stored in the refrigerator and used within 3-4 months.

Does freezing change the texture of peanut butter?

Freezing peanut butter can cause the oils to separate from the peanut solids. This gives peanut butter a grainy, dry texture when thawed. However, the change in texture is temporary. After thawing frozen peanut butter, stir it vigorously with a spoon or spatula until smooth and creamy again.

Stirring thawed peanut butter re-emulsifies the oils throughout the peanut solids. This restores the smooth, uniform texture of fresh peanut butter. As long as frozen peanut butter is thoroughly stirred after thawing, the texture returns to normal.

Why does peanut butter separate when frozen?

Peanut butter contains both solid peanut particles and liquid oils. At normal temperatures, these components are combined evenly into an emulsion. However, freezing causes the oils in peanut butter to solidify and pull away from the solid peanut particles. This results in a separated mixture with pockets of solidified oil throughout the peanut solids.

When thawed, the solidified oils melt back to a liquid state. By stirring the thawed peanut butter, you essentially re-combine the oil and solids into a smooth emulsion again. So while freezing can cause temporary separation, it does not permanently damage the texture of peanut butter.

Does freezing affect the flavor of peanut butter?

Freezing has minimal effect on the flavor of peanut butter. Since there are no high-moisture ingredients like fruits or vegetables, frozen peanut butter does not suffer from freezing damage or texture changes. The primary flavor components of peanut butter come from roasted peanut solids, which are not significantly altered by freezing.

One thing to note is that freezing can mute flavors slightly. So thawed peanut butter may taste slightly less aromatic or complex. However, the underlying roasted peanut flavor remains intact. Again, any subtle flavor differences are temporary and largely disappear after the peanut butter returns to room temperature and the oils melt.

Ways to maintain peanut butter flavor when freezing

  • Store peanut butter in airtight packaging to prevent freezer burn.
  • Only freeze unopened jars of peanut butter so there is no extra air inside.
  • Use thawed peanut butter within a month or two for best quality.
  • Avoid repeated freeze-thaw cycles which can degrade flavor over time.

Can you freeze peanut butter with mix-ins?

Some peanut butters contain mix-in ingredients like chocolate chips, honey, or flax seeds. These mix-in peanut butters can also be frozen, but be aware of a couple risks:

  • The mix-in pieces may clump together when frozen.
  • Some mix-ins like chocolate may develop whitish freezer burn spots after long frozen storage.
  • Added liquids like honey may further separate from the peanut butter when frozen.

That said, these changes are all reversible by thoroughly stirring the thawed peanut butter. The chocolate chips can be broken up, and the honey or oils stirred back in evenly. So while freezing mixed peanut butter comes with some additional risks, it can still be done successfully.

Tips for freezing peanut butter with mix-ins

  • Stir or fold mix-ins evenly into peanut butter before freezing.
  • Use a shorter frozen storage time up to 2-3 months.
  • Carefully break apart any clumped mix-ins and stir well before serving.

Should you freeze opened or unopened peanut butter?

For best quality, only freeze unopened jars of peanut butter. Once opened, peanut butter is exposed to air each time the jar is used. This extra air can accelerate freezer burn and oxidation.

If you need to freeze an opened jar of peanut butter, fill the headspace to the top with peanut butter before sealing to minimize air pockets. But for long-term frozen storage, unopened jars are ideal.

Storing opened peanut butter

Once a jar of peanut butter is opened, it’s best kept refrigerated and used within 3-4 months. The refrigerator temperatures are cool enough to prevent oil separation but won’t freeze the peanut butter solid. Make sure to seal the lid tightly between uses.

Properly stored in the fridge, opened peanut butter retains its fresh taste and texture without needing to freeze it.

How long does peanut butter last in the freezer?

When stored continuously at 0°F, peanut butter can last 6-9 months in the freezer before quality starts to decline. Unopened jars frozen for less than 3 months will taste freshest.

Separation and dry texture will be more noticeable in peanut butter frozen over 6 months. Excessive freezer time also allows more opportunity for frozen portions and freezer burn to dull the flavor.

For best results, use frozen peanut butter within 6 months and thawed within 1-2 months. Discard any peanut butter that smells rancid or shows signs of mold after thawing.

Signs peanut butter has been frozen too long

  • Extreme oil separation and dry, grainy texture
  • White ice crystals or frozen chunks
  • Freezer burned areas of gray-brown discoloration
  • Stale, oxidized aroma and taste
  • Rancid odor
  • Mold growth

How to thaw frozen peanut butter

There are a few methods to safely thaw frozen peanut butter:

  • Refrigerator thawing: Thaw in the refrigerator over 12-24 hours. Keep peanut butter contained so oils don’t leak.
  • Cold water bath: Submerge sealed jar in cold tap water, changing water every 30 mins until thawed 1-2 hours.
  • Microwave: Microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring between each, until softened enough to stir. Avoid oily pockets.
  • Room temperature: Leave sealed jar at room temperature for 2-3 hours until thawed.

Once thawed, stir peanut butter vigorously until uniform. The stirring re-combines any separated oils and solids. Thawed peanut butter that is properly stirred can be used just like fresh peanut butter.

Tips for thawing peanut butter

  • Avoid hot water or high heat when thawing as this can increase oil separation.
  • Don’t let thawed peanut butter sit unstirred or the oil will re-separate.
  • Check for freezer burn or rancid smells before using.
  • Use thawed peanut butter within 1 week.

How to store thawed peanut butter

Once peanut butter is thawed, there are a few storage methods to maximize its shelf life:

  • Pantry: 1-2 months
  • Refrigerator: 3-4 months
  • Freezer: Avoid refreezing thawed peanut butter more than once.

Store thawed peanut butter in an airtight container with minimal air exposure. Refrigeration is best to maintain freshness for a few months. For longer storage, freeze unopened jars again, being aware of diminished quality over time.

Keeping thawed peanut butter fresh

  • Transfer to a clean airtight container.
  • Press plastic wrap on the surface before sealing to minimize air.
  • Refrigerate after opening.
  • Look for signs of mold or rancidity before eating.

Can you freeze homemade peanut butter?

Yes, homemade peanut butter made from roasted peanuts and oil can also be frozen. The freezing process and shelf life is similar to store-bought peanut butter:

  • Freeze unopened jars for up to 6 months.
  • Expect some oil separation after thawing.
  • Stir thoroughly until smooth before serving.

Check your specific recipe for any ingredients that may not freeze well, like honey or additional liquids. For best results, portion homemade peanut butter into jars leaving 1⁄2 inch headspace before freezing.

Tips for freezing homemade peanut butter

  • Only freeze peanut butter up to 1 week old for optimal freshness.
  • Cool freshly made peanut butter before freezing so no condensation forms.
  • Freeze in freezer-safe glass jars or rigid plastic containers.
  • Fill jars near the top to minimize air exposure.

Instructions for freezing peanut butter

Follow these simple steps for freezing peanut butter:

  1. Only freeze unopened, store-bought jars of peanut butter or freshly made peanut butter up to 1 week old. Peanut butter should not be expired or previously frozen.
  2. Ensure jars or containers are clean, sealed tightly and freezer-safe. Leave 1⁄2 inch headspace.
  3. Chill containers of fresh peanut butter before freezing so no condensation forms.
  4. Place jars in single layer in freezer. Freeze at 0°F or below.
  5. Label jars with name and freeze date. Store no more than 6-9 months for best quality.
  6. Thaw in refrigerator 12-24 hours before using. Thawed peanut butter must be stirred vigorously until uniform.
  7. Use thawed peanut butter within 1 week and don’t refreeze more than once.

Key tips

  • Only freeze unopened jars or fresh homemade peanut butter.
  • Leave headspace in containers to allow for expansion.
  • Thaw slowly in fridge before stirring smooth.
  • Use within 1 week and don’t refreeze thawed peanut butter.

Common questions about freezing peanut butter

Does natural peanut butter freeze differently than regular?

Natural style peanut butter containing no stabilizers can be more prone to oil separation when frozen compared to stabilized peanut butter. However, both can be successfully frozen by following proper thawing and stirring techniques.

Can you freeze peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

It’s not recommended. The bread will become soggy when frozen. Plus, the grape jelly can take on a grainy texture after thawing. Peanut butter itself freezes fine, but not assembled into sandwiches.

Can freezing kill bacteria in peanut butter?

Freezing alone does not make peanut butter safe if it’s already contaminated. Extended freezing at 0°F or below stops bacteria from multiplying further, but does not destroy toxins. Discard peanut butter if mold, odd smells or other signs of spoilage are present before freezing.

Can you freeze peanut butter with honey?

Yes, but the honey may separate out more when frozen. Quickly stir and fold the honey into the peanut butter again after thawing until uniform.

Is it better to refrigerate or freeze peanut butter after opening?

Refrigeration is best for opened peanut butter, maintaining quality for 3-4 months. Freezing is mainly useful for unopened jars intended for long-term storage of 6+ months.


Peanut butter is perfectly suitable for freezing, either store-bought jars or homemade versions. While the oils may separate after thawing frozen peanut butter, stirring vigorously restores the smooth texture. For best quality, only freeze unopened jars for under 6 months. Refrigeration is better for storing opened peanut butter. With proper freezer practices, peanut butter retains its nutritional value and iconic peanutty flavor after freezing.

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