Virtually anyone who loves to cook has a bottle of beautiful and maybe expensive olive oil. If you are saving this oil for special occasions, you may not be keeping up with its condition. But the question is: Can Olive Oil Go Bad?  Here’s what you need to know.

Can My Oil Go Bad? 

The quick answer is “yes”.  But it is usually easy to know if it si “bad” or rancid.  Several factors can affect your storage time (or “shelf life” as it is called in the industry) which we will cover later.  Olives are a fruit, and like all fruits, an olive will eventually spoil. Extra virgin olive oil, also called EVOO, goes through little processing compared with  standard olive oil, so its shelf life is usually about 12-24 months. Standard olive oils that are more highly processed (heated) usually last an average of 24 – 36 months. This timeline is measured from time of bottling.

The first thing to do is check the expiration – or Best By date on the bottle.  All good manufacturers put a bottling date on the bottle or the label to help consumers easily see if their oil is fresh. You can also contact your manufacturer with a an email or call to determine when the lot was harvested or bottled.  If you don’t see either and expiration date – or a Best By date, you may want to reconsider your source for your next bottle.

How Do I Know if it is Bad?

Like white wine that has soured or spoiled – you will know.  Try a small amount poured out into a glass.  Look for:

  • Muddy sediment
  • Musty smell
  • Might smell like crayons or Elmers glue
  • Tastes like wine or vinegar
  • Acidic or sour taste
  • Tastes like wet wood

One thing I like to do is taste my olive oil when I first buy it so I know what it tastes like when it is fresh.  Some olive oils are very “grassy” in taste while others are a little fruity and very peppery based on their polyphenol content.  But using your olive oil regularly and quickly is usually a good habit to follow.

But even if you have expired olive oil because it is old – as long as it is not rancid you can still use it.  I have tasted our olive oil even several months after the Best By date – and it still tastes very good.  However, you should know that the polyphenols and natural hydroxytyrosol levels posted on the bottle might have diminished.  Look on the label for polyphenol or hydroxytyrosol levels on the labels.  Your best and most polyphenol-rich EVOO makers will have this information on the label.


Does Olive Oil Expire 

How Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

Several factors can cause your olive oil to go bad.  The big four are easily remembered by “SHOT”:

  • S – Sunlight :  Look for bottles that are dark green or smoke color, or even cans that keep the sunlight off of your oil.
  • H – Heat :  Keep your oil back from the stove and not directly above it when possible.  On the counter, a couple of feet away from the burners is perfect. 
  • O – Oxygen / Air : Keep your bottle cap tightly sealed when not in use.  Be careful with special or decorative bottles that are clear and do not seal well.
  • T – Time : Most good EVOOs have a 12-24 month shelf life or Best By life.  Good storage conditions will keep your oil from going rancid but time will eventually deplete the good polyphenols in your olive oil. If they don’t have a date – buy a better olive oil!

What Can I Do with old or rancid oil?

You can still use expired olive oil that hasn’t turned rancid. Numerous sources indicate it can be used for skin, hair and nail care.  Some people give a teaspoon a day to their dogs who don’t seem to mind the oil – even when rancid!  Others use it to oil their garden tools, or even leather items around the house.  Send us your ideas to our pages on social media!

And by the way, buy some really healthy, fresh, enriched extra virgin olive oil here!


9 Effective Uses of Expired Olive Oil“: