How long can I use olive oil after expiration date?

Olive oil can be safe to consume for many months or even years after its expiration date. However, its quality and freshness will slowly decline over time. Here are quick answers to key questions about using olive oil past its date:

Can I use olive oil after expiration date?

Yes, you can safely use olive oil for up to 2 years past its printed expiration date, if it’s been stored properly in a cool, dark place. The expiration date is simply an indication of when the oil will start to slowly degrade.

How do I know if expired olive oil is still good?

Do a sensory test – check for changes in appearance, smell and taste. Good olive oil should be golden, greenish in color, smell fresh and fruity, and taste mellow. Rancid oil will smell and taste off or stale.

Is it safe to cook with expired olive oil?

Cooking with expired olive oil is likely safe, though overheating may accelerate its degradation. Stick to low-medium heat, monitor carefully, and discard if you detect staleness.

Can old olive oil make you sick?

Consuming rancid olive oil in small amounts is generally not harmful. At worst, it may cause minor digestive upset. But very spoiled olive oil contains free fatty acids and oxidized compounds that are unhealthy, so it’s best avoided.

How do you store olive oil to extend its shelf life?

Store unopened olive oil away from heat and light. Once opened, keep it tightly sealed in a cool, dark place like a cupboard. Refrigeration can extended shelf life but may cause clouding.

Now let’s explore these and other common questions about expired olive oil in more detail.

Checking Olive Oil for Freshness

The key to knowing whether expired olive oil is still usable is to evaluate its quality and freshness. Here are some tips:


Examine the oil in the bottle – it should look transparent and brilliant, with a bright, golden-green hue. Cloudiness, greyness or darkening are signs that undesirable changes have started.


A fresh olive oil should smell fruity, like olives, green grass or apples. An offensive, strong, or stale smell means it’s past its prime.


Good olive oil should taste mellow, not too bitter or pungent. Rancidity will come across as a unpleasant, harsh taste. You can tip a small amount onto a spoon to taste test.


Check how long it has been open. Oils start degrading within a few months of opening. Discard if it’s more than 2 years past the printed date.

How Long Does Unopened Olive Oil Last?

An unopened, properly stored bottle of extra virgin olive oil generally stays good for:

Printed Best By Date Actual Shelf Life
12-24 months from bottling 2 years past the date
Over 2 years from bottling 3-4 years from bottling

So olive oil can often last up to 4 years from the harvest and bottling date. The exception is if it was harvested from older olives or processed poorly – then it may go rancid quicker. Always do a freshness check on older oils.

Why Unopened Olive Oil Lasts So Long

Unopened olive oil has a remarkably long shelf life for a few reasons:

  • It lacks oxygen exposure – oxygen is what causes oxidative damage over time
  • The antioxidants (polyphenols) help prevent spoilage reactions
  • The natural plant acids help stabilize the oil
  • The bottle protects it from light exposure

As long as you store it properly in a cool, dark place, an unopened bottle will stay fresh for well past its date. Pantries, cupboards, and cellars are ideal storage locations.

Proper Storage Extends Shelf Life

To maximize an unopened olive oil’s shelf life:

  • Buy smaller bottles – less air inside once opened
  • Ensure the bottle is well sealed after purchase
  • Keep storage temperatures around 55-70°F
  • Avoid heat, direct sunlight and light exposure
  • Keep it in a pantry or cupboard, not next to the stove
  • Store olive oil away from other strong smells
  • Don’t let it get too cold – some clouding may occur

Olive oil stored this way in its original airtight bottle will stay freshest as long as possible.

How Long Does Opened Olive Oil Last?

Once opened, olive oil will slowly start to degrade and oxidize. But you still have quite a long window of time before it goes noticeably rancid. General guidelines:

If used/stored properly Lasts approx.
After opening 6-12 months past the date
After opening & refrigerated 2-3 years past the date

So even an already expired olive oil can often safely be used for up to a year after opening, if it’s been refrigerated and sealed properly.

Why Opened Olive Oil Goes Bad

After opening, olive oil is exposed to more oxygen and deterioration occurs through:

  • Oxidation – reactions with oxygen that break down compounds
  • Hydrolysis – chemical breakdown by moisture
  • Photooxidation – damage from light exposure
  • Free fatty acid formation – fats breaking down into acids

This results in a loss of healthy fats and development of undesirable flavors and smells.

Maximizing Opened Oil Shelf Life

To optimize an opened olive oil’s shelf life:

  • Transfer to a smaller, airtight container
  • Ensure the lid is tightly sealed after each use
  • Refrigerate and use within 3-6 months
  • Freeze for longer storage of 6 months – 1 year
  • Keep in a cool, dark cupboard if not refrigerating
  • Watch for signs of staleness – discard at the first hint

With proper storage methods after opening, olive oil can stay usable for up to a year past its date.

Health Risks of Expired Olive Oil

Consuming expired olive oil is generally not dangerous. At worst, rancid olive oil may cause minor digestive irritation, like upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. Here are the main risks with bad olive oil:

Unpleasant Digestive Side Effects

As olive oil starts breaking down, it forms more free fatty acids and compounds that can irritate the digestive tract. It may cause gassiness, stomach ache or mild diarrhea.

Reduced Nutritional Value

Expired olive oil has lower levels of antioxidants like vitamin E and various phytochemicals. But it still retains its main fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Harmful Oxidized Compounds

Very old, spoiled olive oil forms oxidized aldehydes and lipid peroxides. Some studies link these compounds to increased inflammation, arterial damage, and other health issues.

Higher Rancidity Risk When Heated

Heating and cooking accelerates olive oil’s degradation. Older oils are more likely to form harmful compounds when exposed to high heat.

In general, as long as you keep consumption of expired olive oil minimal, it is unlikely to pose serious health risks for most people.

Taste, Smoke Points, Frying

As olive oil gets older, you’ll notice changes in some of its culinary attributes:

Declining Taste

The flavor balance starts shifting from predominantly fruity, bitter, pungent notes to more stale, cardboard, metallic notes.

Lower Smoke Points

The smoke point decreases slightly as free fatty acids form, meaning the oil can burn more easily during cooking.

Better For Low Heat

Avoid high-temperature frying with expired olive oil. The more degraded fats may release harmful compounds.

For best results, use older olive oil at low to medium heat or simply consume it cold in salad dressings, marinades, etc.

When to Toss Out Old Olive Oil

Here are some signs that indicate your olive oil has gone too rancid and needs to be discarded:

  • Smells stale, musty, vinegar-like
  • Noticeable change from green to gold/brown shades
  • Tastes metallic, soapy or very bitter
  • Causes throat irritation or coughing
  • Feels very thick and stickier in texture
  • Causes stomach pain after consuming

Trust your senses – rancidity will often come across when smelling and tasting the oil. Discard at the first sign your olive oil has spoiled.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can old olive oil make you sick?

Mild stomach upset may occur from consuming very spoiled olive oil. But in general, it is not dangerous or toxic beyond a certain point of rancidity. The taste and smell deter most people from eating significatly rancid oil.

How long can you use vegetable oil after expiration date?

Like olive oil, an unopened vegetable oil can often last 6-12 months past its printed date. Once opened, vegetable oils may start to degrade after 6-8 months. Proper refrigeration and sealing extends their shelf life as well.

Does olive oil need to be refrigerated after opening?

Refrigerating opened olive oil can help extend its shelf life from 6 months up to 2-3 years. But it isn’t strictly necessary if consumed within 2-3 months and stored properly in a cool, dark place.

Can old olive oil hurt your car’s engine?

Yes, using degraded olive oil in a car’s engine could clog fuel filters and injectors over time. Always use fresh, high-quality engine oil – not cooking oils.

What are the best olive oil brands?

Some top imported extra virgin olive oil brands include Brivio, Colavita, Corto Olive Co., California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate, Lucini. Look for a harvest date within the past 1-2 years.

The Bottom Line

Olive oil that’s up to 2 years past its expiration date is usually still safe to consume. Older oils retain most of their nutrients, though quality slowly declines. Rancidity increases after opening, so store properly and monitor scent, taste, appearance.

Do periodic freshness checks of older olive oils. Discard at the first hint of staleness. While not very harmful in limited amounts, rancid olive oil does lose its appealing flavor and health profile.

With optimal storage conditions, both unopened and opened olive oil can often last well beyond its printed date. Use common sense, trust your senses, and enjoy olive oil’s goodness for many months or years beyond its expiration!

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