Does Olive Tapenade go bad in the fridge?

Olive tapenade is a delicious spread made from olives, capers, anchovies, olive oil, and herbs. It has a rich, intense flavor that makes it a favorite topping for bruschetta, crostini, sandwiches, meats, and more. But like many oil-based foods, olive tapenade has a relatively short shelf life once opened. So does tapenade go bad in the fridge after opening?

How long does opened olive tapenade last in the fridge?

An opened jar of olive tapenade will generally last about 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. The high oil content means it’s prone to going rancid quickly once exposed to air. Follow these tips for maximizing freshness:

  • Store tapenade in an airtight container in the fridge after opening.
  • Make sure it’s completely covered with a layer of oil to prevent air exposure.
  • Use a clean spoon each time to avoid introducing bacteria.
  • Keep refrigerated at 40°F or below.

Does refrigeration extend shelf life?

Yes, proper refrigeration is key to prolonging the shelf life of pre-opened tapenade. The cold temperature of the fridge slows down the oxidation process and bacteria growth. An unopened jar of tapenade can be stored in the pantry for up to a year. But once exposed to air, the refrigerator is the best place to keep it fresh for up to 2 weeks.

How to tell if tapenade has gone bad

Here are some signs that your olive tapenade has spoiled and should be discarded:

Change in texture

Fresh tapenade has a smooth, spreadable consistency. If it becomes excessively runny or separates, with oil pooling on top, this indicates it has gone bad.

Off odors

Rancid olive tapenade will have a noticeably unpleasant smell. It may give off a sour, bitter, or ammonia-like odor if it has spoiled.

Mold growth

You may see fuzzy mold growing on the surface of tapenade past its prime. This is a clear sign it should be thrown away.

Change in color

The color may darken or fade to an unnatural greenish-brown hue when tapenade has oxidized and spoiled.

How to store tapenade correctly

Here are some tips for maximizing the shelf life of your olive tapenade:

Use clean utensils

Always use a clean spoon each time you take tapenade from the jar to avoid introducing bacteria. Never double-dip with a dirty utensil.

Store in the fridge

Keep tapenade refrigerated in an airtight container after opening. The cold temperature keeps it fresher for longer.

Cover with oil

Make sure tapenade is completely covered by a layer of olive oil in the container. This prevents air exposure which can cause it to spoil faster.

Use quickly

Try to use up tapenade within 1-2 weeks of opening for best quality and flavor.

Don’t freeze

Freezing is not recommended for olive tapenades. The texture and flavor will degrade significantly after thawing.

How long does unopened tapenade last?

An unopened jar or container of olive tapenade will keep well in the pantry for up to 1 year. The sealed container protects it from air, light, and temperature fluctuations.
Follow the best-by date on the packaging, and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use. Once opened, it should be refrigerated and used within 1-2 weeks.

Signs of spoiled unopened tapenade

On very rare occasions, an unopened tapenade may show signs of spoilage. Here’s what to look for:

Bulging lid

If the lid on the unopened jar is bulging or domed, this indicates gas production and fermentation. The tapenade should be discarded.


Discard the product if you see any mold growing on the tapenade through the jar.


Tapenade oozing out through the lid or any breaks in the seal signals a serious problem. Throw it away.

Off odors

Though rare, spoiled tapenade may have a pungent rotten or ammonia-like smell before opening.

How to store unopened tapenade

To maximize shelf life of unopened jars of olive tapenade:

  • Store in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard.
  • Keep lid sealed tightly.
  • Ensure the product stays free of moisture and condensation.
  • Don’t keep near a heat source like the stove.
  • Refrigerate after opening to extend its shelf life.

What are signs of spoiled tapenade?

Here are the most common signs that your olive tapenade has spoiled and should be thrown out:


  • Mold growth
  • Separated oil
  • Unnatural dark or faded color
  • Runny, oozing consistency


  • Slimy
  • Grainy
  • Watery


  • Rancid
  • Sour
  • Ammonia-like

Trust your senses – if tapenade shows any of these signs of spoilage, it’s best to play it safe and throw it out. When in doubt, toss it.

How to revive or fix separated tapenade

If your olive tapenade has separated, with oil pooled on top, don’t despair – it can often be fixed. Here are some tips:

Stir well

Gently stir or fold the tapenade until well blended. The oil should emulsify back into the olive mixture.

Blend or puree

For a very separated tapenade, puree in a food processor or blender to reincorporate the ingredients.

Add olive oil

You can drizzle in a small amount of extra virgin olive oil while blending to help bind it back together.

Try lemon juice

The acidity of a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon juice can help emulsify a broken tapenade.

Don’t freeze

Freezing will damage the texture. Fridge temperature is best.

With some TLC and remixing, mildly separated tapenade can be revived. But if the smell or taste is off, it’s best to toss and start fresh.

Does tapenade need to be refrigerated after opening?

Short answer

Yes, olive tapenade must be refrigerated after opening to prevent spoilage and foodborne illness.

Detailed answer

Olive tapenade is a perishable food that contains ingredients prone to spoilage, like raw garlic, vegetables, capers, anchovies, and olive oil. Refrigeration is required after exposure to air to slow the growth of bacteria and extend its shelf life. An opened jar of tapenade will keep well for 1-2 weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Unopened tapenade can be stored in the pantry. But once opened, it requires continuous refrigeration for food safety.

Can you freeze and thaw olive tapenade?

Short answer

It’s not recommended to freeze tapenade. The texture and flavor decline significantly after thawing.

Detailed answer

Olive tapenade is traditionally not a good candidate for freezing. The olive oil has a low freeze point and will become solid and separate from the other ingredients when frozen. Upon thawing, the texture is often grainy and watery. The vibrant green color also fades. While it may still be edible, freezing alters the smooth, spreadable texture that makes tapenade enjoyable. Instead, focus on refrigerating leftovers in an airtight container. Add a layer of olive oil on top to help seal out air. Use within 5-7 days for best quality.

Can you eat expired olive tapenade?

Short answer

It’s not recommended to eat tapenade past its expiration or best-by date, due to safety and quality concerns.

Detailed answer

The expiration or “best by” date on olive tapenade is an indicator of peak freshness and flavor, not necessarily safety. However, after this date, the risk of spoilage increases. Olive tapenade contains ingredients like raw garlic, anchovies, capers, and olive oil that can harbor harmful bacteria when old. Eating expired tapenade could potentially cause food poisoning or illness. For best safety and quality, it’s advisable to discard tapenade past its expiration date, even if it looks or smells normal. Some signs of expired tapenade are rancid smell, unnatural color changes, slimy texture, or mold growth. Trust your senses – when in doubt, throw it out.

How long does tapenade last after best-by date?

The best-by date on olive tapenade is typically conservative to ensure quality. An unopened jar may last 2-4 weeks past this date, if stored properly in a cool pantry. However, opened tapenade should not be kept longer than 1-2 weeks past its printed expiration, even refrigerated.

The shelf life depends on storage conditions. If tapenade was constantly refrigerated, it may last a bit longer. But quality and safety degrade quickly after opening. For best flavor and freshness, it’s recommended to consume refrigerated tapenade within 5-7 days after its printed expiration date. Discard tapenade if you see any mold, off-colors, rancid smell, or other signs of spoilage.


Here are some key points on the shelf life and safety of olive tapenade:

  • Refrigerate after opening – lasts 1-2 weeks
  • Store unopened in pantry up to 1 year
  • Discard if moldy, slimy, Separated, or rancid smelling
  • Don’t rely on smell or taste alone past date
  • Freeze only for short term, texture declines
  • Best within 5-7 days after printed date

Be sure to practice proper storage, use clean utensils, and refrigerate after opening to get the most out of your olive tapenade. Discard promptly at any signs of spoilage.

Storage Method Shelf Life
Refrigerated after opening 1-2 weeks
Pantry, unopened Up to 1 year
Frozen 1-2 months (quality declines)

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