How long can a smoothie sit out at room temperature?

Smoothies make for a refreshing and nutritious on-the-go breakfast or snack. But like any perishable food, smoothies need to be consumed or refrigerated within a certain window of time to avoid spoilage and foodborne illness. So how long can you leave your smoothie sitting out before it goes bad?

Quick Answer

The general rule of thumb is that a smoothie is safe to drink for up to 4 hours if left out at room temperature, as long as it contains no dairy products. If dairy is added to the smoothie, it should only sit out for a maximum of 2 hours before being refrigerated or consumed. Leaving smoothies with dairy out for longer increases the risk of food poisoning.

Smoothie Ingredients and Their Shelf Lives

To understand how long a smoothie can safely sit out at room temperature, it helps to look at the shelf life of common smoothie ingredients:

  • Fruits like bananas, berries, pineapple, mango, etc. – 3 to 5 days refrigerated
  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale – 3 to 5 days refrigerated
  • Vegetables like carrots, beets – 5 to 7 days refrigerated
  • Nut milks like almond, oat, coconut – 7 days refrigerated, 6 months shelf stable
  • Greek yogurt – 7 to 10 days refrigerated
  • Milk – 5 to 7 days refrigerated
  • Protein powders – 9 months to 1 year in pantry

As you can see, most smoothie ingredients last about a week in the fridge. Dairy products like milk and yogurt tend to have shorter shelf lives of 5 to 10 days. The main concern with leaving smoothies out is dairy, which can spoil more rapidly at room temperature and harbor dangerous bacteria.

How Long Different Types of Smoothies Can Sit Out

Here is a breakdown of how long different types of smoothies can be left unrefrigerated:

  • Fruit and veggie smoothies without dairy – 4 hours
  • Fruit and veggie smoothies with nut milk – 4 hours
  • Green smoothies without dairy – 4 hours
  • Green smoothies with nut milk – 4 hours
  • Fruit smoothies with Greek yogurt – 2 hours max
  • Fruit and veggie smoothies with milk – 2 hours max

As you can see, smoothies without any dairy products have a 4 hour window before they become unsafe to consume. The natural acids in fruits and vegetables help inhibit bacterial growth. Once dairy is added, the window shortens to just 2 hours max. Milk and yogurt provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria when left unrefrigerated.

How to Tell if Your Smoothie has Gone Bad

If you left your smoothie out for longer than the recommended time, here are some signs that it has spoiled and should be thrown out:

  • Changes color or consistency – becomes watery, separates, appears curdled
  • Smells sour, rancid or unpleasant
  • Develops mold on the surface
  • Tastes off – bitter, sour, unpleasant flavors

If your smoothie remains thick and creamy, retains its bright color and smells and tastes normal, it may still be safe to consume if it has only been sitting out for an hour or two past the limits above. But when in doubt, remember it’s better to be safe than sorry and err on the side of caution by tossing it.

Factors that Shorten a Smoothie’s Safe Sitting Time

There are a few factors that can shorten the window for how long a smoothie can sit at room temperature:

  • Higher temperatures – Smoothies will spoil faster if your home or kitchen is very warm, above 90°F (32°C).
  • Dairy ingredients – As mentioned, dairy causes smoothies to spoil faster.
  • Produce ripeness – Smoothies made with overripe or bruised produce have shorter shelf lives.
  • Acidic fruits – Berries lengthen shelf life while melons may shorten it.
  • Blending style – Smoothies blended to a drinkable consistency spoil faster than thick ones.

To maximize a smoothie’s sitting time, make it with firm, unblemished ingredients and blend to a thick, chilled consistency. And of course, keep it refrigerated whenever possible.

How to Store Smoothies Safely for Later

If you don’t plan to drink your smoothie right after making it, here are some safe storage methods:

  • Refrigerate – Store smoothies in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze – For longer storage, freeze smoothies in individual portions for up to 6 months.
  • Insulated travel mugs – If taking your smoothie to-go, transport in an insulated container with ice packs.
  • Add ice – Ice helps keep blended smoothies cold for a few hours.

Proper refrigeration at 40°F (4°C) or colder is key for inhibiting bacteria growth and extending the shelf life of smoothies. Follow the above guidelines and trust your senses – if it smells, looks or tastes off, play it safe and toss it out.

Can You Refreeze a Smoothie Once It Has Thawed?

It’s not recommended to refreeze a smoothie once it has fully thawed and warmed up to room temperature. Bacteria multiply rapidly as the smoothie thaws, making it unsafe to consume or refreeze. Partial thawing and reblending with extra frozen ingredients like fruit and ice may be safe if done quickly, but it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid refreezing once thawed.

Can You Put a Smoothie Back in the Fridge After Leaving it Out?

If your smoothie contains dairy and has been left out for longer than 2 hours, it is unsafe to put back into the refrigerator. The “danger zone” temperature range between 40°F and 140°F allows bacteria to multiply rapidly. Once a dairy-based smoothie sits out too long, simply refrigerating it again won’t make it safe to drink.

For non-dairy smoothies, it may be safe to refrigerate again if left out for just over the 4 hour limit. But bacteria still has time to multiply, so it’s generally not recommended. Play it safe and make a new smoothie instead.

Food Safety Tips for Smoothies

Here are some good food safety practices for handling smoothies:

  • Wash produce thoroughly before blending.
  • Keep dairy-based smoothies chilled at all times.
  • Don’t let smoothies sit at room temperature for more than 4 hours (2 hours if dairy added).
  • Blend and serve smoothies immediately for best quality and safety.
  • Discard smoothies if left out too long – when in doubt, throw it out!
  • Store smoothies in sealed containers in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
  • Freeze smoothies in individual portions to store for several months.

Following basic food safety principles helps minimize the risk of foodborne illness from smoothies. Keep blender parts and containers clean, serve smoothies cold, and avoid letting them linger at room temperature for too long.

Signs of Food Poisoning from a Bad Smoothie

If you consume a contaminated smoothie, food poisoning symptoms may appear within hours or days. Here are some common signs of foodborne illness:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Fatigue and muscle aches

Symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the pathogen, the amount ingested, and the person’s overall health. At-risk groups like pregnant women, children, older adults and those with weak immune systems are more susceptible to food poisoning.

See a doctor right away if you develop concerning symptoms after drinking a questionable smoothie. Foodborne illness can lead to dehydration and more serious complications if left untreated. Contact your local health department to report a suspected food poisoning outbreak.

How to Prevent Foodborne Illness from Smoothies

You can keep your homemade smoothies safe and prevent food poisoning by:

  • Always washing fruits and vegetables before use.
  • Using pasteurized dairy products.
  • Keeping dairy-based smoothies chilled at 40°F (4°C) or colder.
  • Only preparing what you can consume in one sitting.
  • Blending and drinking smoothies immediately after making them.
  • Not letting smoothies sit out for more than 4 hours (2 hours if containing dairy).
  • Being diligent about fridge/freezer temperature and food handling hygiene.

Healthy personal habits like handwashing, keeping cutting boards and blender parts clean, and avoiding cross-contamination can greatly reduce your risk of contracting an illness. Following proper food safety guidelines for smoothies gives you peace of mind that your homemade blends are safe and nutritious.


Smoothies provide a refreshing and healthy on-the-go meal or snack. But like any food product containing fresh produce and dairy, they must be handled properly to avoid spoilage and foodborne disease. Fruit/veggie smoothies without dairy may be safely left at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Once dairy is added, that sitting time is reduced to just 2 hours maximum.

Signs that a smoothie has spoiled include changes in appearance, smell, and taste. To store smoothies, refrigeration at 40°F or below is best. They can also be frozen for longer storage. Reputable food safety guidelines recommend against putting dairy-containing smoothies back in the fridge after sitting out too long. For optimal quality and safety, blend smoothies right before drinking and avoid letting them linger at room temperature.

By understanding how long smoothies can sit out unrefrigerated, as well as properly handling and storing your homemade blends, you can safely enjoy this nutritious beverage while minimizing the risk of foodborne illness.

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