Does Baileys go bad after opening if not refrigerated?

Quick Answer

Yes, Baileys Irish cream does go bad if left unrefrigerated after opening. According to the manufacturer, an unopened bottle of Baileys has a shelf life of 24 months. However, once opened it should be consumed within 6 months if refrigerated or within 2-3 months if left at room temperature. The high dairy and cream content in Baileys causes it to spoil quickly when exposed to heat and air. Keeping it refrigerated after opening helps extend its shelf life. Signs that Baileys has gone bad include changes in color, texture, taste and smell.

Does Baileys Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Baileys Irish cream is a liqueur made from Irish whiskey, cream, and cocoa. It has a high dairy content which means it needs to be stored properly after opening to prevent it from spoiling. Here is an overview of whether Baileys requires refrigeration or not:

  • Unopened Baileys: An unopened, sealed bottle of Baileys does not need to be refrigerated. It can be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to 24 months.
  • Opened Baileys (Refrigerated): If refrigerated after opening, the shelf life is extended to 6 months.
  • Opened Baileys (Not Refrigerated): If left unrefrigerated after opening, it will last for 2-3 months before going bad.

Therefore, while an unopened bottle can be kept at room temperature, it’s highly recommended to refrigerate Baileys after opening to maximize its shelf life. The lactose and dairy content can cause it to degrade faster when exposed to warmer temperatures.

Why Does Baileys Go Bad if Not Refrigerated After Opening?

There are a few reasons why Baileys Irish cream liqueur goes bad quickly if not stored in the fridge after opening:

  • Dairy content – Baileys contains a high amount of dairy ingredients like cream and milk. Dairy products are prone to spoilage by naturally present enzymes and bacteria when kept at room temperature for too long.
  • Oxidation – When exposed to air, the ethanol in Baileys oxidizes over time which causes changes in its flavor. Refrigeration slows this process down.
  • Microbial growth – The warmth encourages microbial growth in dairy products like Baileys. Refrigeration inhibits microbial growth by slowing it down.
  • Temperature fluctuations – Keeping Baileys stored at room temperature leads to temperature fluctuations that accelerate its deterioration.

Therefore, refrigerating opened Baileys helps address all these factors by lowering its temperature, limiting oxygen exposure, retarding microbial growth and minimizing temperature fluctuations – ultimately extending its shelf life.

How Long Does Baileys Last When Refrigerated After Opening?

When stored in the refrigerator after opening, Baileys Irish cream will generally stay fresh for:

  • 6 months – This is the standard shelf life recommended by the manufacturer when Baileys is refrigerated immediately after opening the bottle.
  • 3-6 months – If refrigerated within a few weeks of opening, it will stay good for at least 3 months and up to 6 months in the fridge.
  • 1-3 months – If refrigerated several months after opening, it may last only 1-3 months before expiring.

The sooner Baileys is refrigerated after opening, the longer it will stay fresh. Its high dairy content causes it to deteriorate quickly at room temperature. Proper refrigeration can prolong its shelf life significantly.

How Long Does Baileys Last Unrefrigerated After Opening?

If left unrefrigerated after opening, Baileys will generally last:

  • 2-3 months – This is the approximate shelf life if Baileys is left out at room temperature right after opening.
  • 1-2 months – If not refrigerated within the first few weeks of opening, it may last only 1-2 months before spoiling.
  • Less than 1 month – If left for several months at room temperature after opening, it can go bad in less than a month.

The shelf life declines rapidly if Baileys isn’t refrigerated promptly after opening. The warmer room temperature accelerates the spoilage process.

How to Tell if Baileys Has Gone Bad?

Here are some common signs that your opened Baileys Irish cream has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Change in color – Fresh Baileys is a uniform light brown color. Discoloration, darkening or curdling indicates spoilage.
  • Clumpy texture – Baileys turning into clumps, chunks or having a curdled look is a sign it has gone bad.
  • Sour odor and taste – Rancid, sour or buttermilk-like smell and taste means Baileys has turned bad due to dairy spoilage.
  • Mold growth – Formation of visible mold whether on the surface or bottom of the bottle is a clear sign of spoilage.
  • Ethanol smell – Strong smell of ethanol or alcohol is an indicator of oxidation.

Always inspect Baileys carefully before consumption and look for changes from its normal appearance, texture, smell and taste. If in doubt, it is better to be safe and discard of expired Baileys rather than risk foodborne illness.

Does Baileys Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Yes, Baileys Irish cream liqueur must be refrigerated after opening. According to the manufacturer Diageo, optimal storage conditions for an opened bottle of Baileys is in the refrigerator between 32°F-56°F (0°C-13°C).

Proper refrigeration is crucial for preserving the flavor and extending the shelf life once the original seal is broken. The reason Baileys requires fridge storage after opening is because of its dairy and cream content. Exposure to warm air and temperatures causes the dairy in Baileys to deteriorate through oxidation, microbial growth, separation of alcohol, and temperature fluctuations.

To get the most shelf life out of the Baileys bottle once opened, make sure to refrigerate it right away rather than leaving it out. Refrigeration can prolong the shelf life of opened Baileys to up to 6 months.

What Happens If You Don’t Refrigerate Baileys After Opening?

Here are the negative effects of not refrigerating Baileys after opening:

  • Shortened shelf life – Baileys will only last 2-3 months unrefrigerated compared to over 6 months when refrigerated.
  • Quick deterioration – The dairy content will degrade rapidly due to exposure to oxygen, light, microbial growth and temperature changes.
  • Separation – The whiskey may start to separate from the dairy components without refrigeration.
  • Off flavors – The taste will become progressively sour, rancid and unpleasant without cooling.
  • Safety issues – Spoiled Baileys can cause foodborne illness if consumed.

Not refrigerating Baileys after opening significantly reduces its shelf life. The ideal way to store opened Baileys is to immediately place it in the refrigerator after using and keep it refrigerated thereafter whenever possible. Proper refrigeration provides the cold temperatures needed to delay its deterioration.

Tips to Maintain Baileys Quality After Opening

Here are some useful tips to keep opened Baileys fresh for as long as possible:

  • Refrigerate immediately after opening and keep it refrigerated at all times until empty.
  • Ensure the cap is tightly sealed before storing to avoid air exposure and evaporation.
  • Use clean and dry utensils when dispensing Baileys to prevent contamination.
  • Keep the opened bottle away from light sources as exposure to light can oxidize Baileys.
  • Store Baileys towards the back of the refrigerator where temperatures are cooler.
  • Finish opened Baileys within 6 months for best quality and taste.
  • Keep leftover Baileys in smaller containers to minimize air exposure.
  • Avoid extreme shifts in temperature by not letting Baileys sit out for long periods.

Following refrigerated storage and avoiding contamination, light and temperature fluctuations will help retain Baileys’ iconic cream liqueur flavor and extend its lifespan after opening.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze Baileys after opening?

Yes, Baileys can be frozen after opening if you don’t plan to finish it within 6 months. Pour the Baileys into an airtight freezer-safe container leaving about 1⁄2 inch headspace. Make sure to seal it properly before freezing. Frozen Baileys will last 6-8 months in the freezer before quality deterioration. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

Can Baileys be stored with the bottle upside down?

It is not recommended. Storing Baileys upside down increases the surface area exposed to oxygen which can oxidize the alcohol. This shortens its shelf life. Keep the bottle upright, refrigerated with cap tightly sealed.

Is it safe to drink Baileys after it separates?

No, it is not safe to drink Baileys if it has separated into curdled clumps or layers as this indicates spoilage. Discard any Baileys that shows signs of separation even if refrigerated. Separation happens when dairy proteins and alcohol split up due to deterioration.

Can you remix separated Baileys?

It is not advisable to remix Baileys once it starts separating as the deteriorated proteins and alcohol cannot be fully re-emulsified. Separation indicates expired Baileys which should be discarded. Do not try to reverse the separation by remixing, shaking or blending.

Does Baileys need to be refrigerated before opening?

No, an unopened bottle of Baileys does not need to be refrigerated as the original seal keeps it protected. Unopened bottles can be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct heat or sunlight for up to 24 months. Refrigeration is only required after opening the bottle.


In summary, Baileys Irish cream is a perishable liqueur that requires refrigeration after opening. Once opened, it must be stored in the fridge between 32°F-56°F to maximize its shelf life up to 6 months. If left unrefrigerated, the dairy ingredients can deteriorate within 2-3 months causing curdling, separation, off-flavors and health risks. Refrigerate opened Baileys ASAP and keep refrigerated until empty to maintain its signature flavor and quality. Check bottles regularly and discard if any clumping, odor changes or other signs of spoilage develop. Follow proper refrigerated storage guidelines to safely enjoy Baileys’ creamy Irish flavor before its expiry date.

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