Can olive oil go bad?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, ‘Can olive oil go bad?’ and will discuss how to store olive oil?

Can olive oil go bad?

Yes, olive oil can go bad. From the moment they’re bottled, most olive oils may last between 18 and 24 months, while extra virgin olive oils can last between 12 and 18 months. It will deteriorate if it is left unchecked for too long. By tasting it, you can tell whether your olive oil is bad. It may have a sour or bitter taste and a resemblance to putty or crayons.(1)

What is the shelf life of olive oil?

The olive (Olea europaea) is botanically classified as a fruit. Olive oil, like fruits, has a shelf life, and so does the oil itself. When it reaches a certain extent of rancidity, it no longer tastes good.

After being bottled, most olive oils are good for 18–24 months. Extra virgin olive oils are less refined and tend to last for a shorter time, between 12 and 18 months after being bottled. Olive oils may acquire caustic or bitter flavors if they are stored for longer than these periods.

The best-by or bottling date is printed on the back of certain olive oil bottles. A smart option is to label your bottles with the date of purchase if you don’t see these labels. This will give you an idea of how long it has been in your pantry. (1)

What are the signs of rancidity in olive oil?

Detecting rancidity in your olive oil requires careful observation of certain signs. The presence of a rancid taste in olive oil is attributed to oxidation, and the intensity of this taste is directly linked to the extent of oxidation. 

Moreover, exposure to light, known as photooxidation, can cause alterations in color and the development of unpleasant odors and flavors due to the breakdown of hydroperoxides. (2, 3)

What is the major factor for the deterioration of olive oil?

The quality decline of olive oil primarily stems from oxidation, which is influenced by various factors including oxygen availability, light exposure, and temperature.

In the absence of light, oxidation occurs through a free radical mechanism. Upon oxygen absorption, unstable hydroperoxides are formed. 

These compounds undergo subsequent decomposition, giving rise to a complex mixture of volatile compounds like aldehydes, ketones, hydrocarbons, alcohols, and esters. 

This mixture is responsible for the deterioration of olive oil’s flavor, commonly known as “oxidative rancidity.”

Additionally, when olive oils are exposed to light, they undergo photo-oxidation. Therefore, it is crucial to shield commercial edible oils, including olive oil, from direct light to prevent photo-oxidation from occurring. (3)

How to store olive oil?

Olive oil should be kept in a cold, dark area, such as a pantry with a door or a cabinet. Remember that if you keep it in the fridge, it may get hazy. No, this is not an indication that your olive oil has gone rancid; it is just a typical response to the colder weather.

In general, a bottle constructed of a darker glass, such as dark green or amber, helps filter out light, which encourages oxidation. If you’re going to the supermarket, keep an eye out for this. 

When cells are exposed to oxygen, they begin to age. Fat molecules may be broken down more quickly in olive oil. Oxidation may occur when olive oil comes into contact with oxygen or is heated.

This is why it’s best to keep your olive oil in a cold, dark area, and to make sure it’s firmly sealed when you open it. 

It’s also a good idea to move your olive oil from a polyethylene container to a dark glass or tin container if you wish to preserve it for a long time. That is the best way to do it. 

Even if you don’t cook very frequently, it’s a good idea to buy smaller bottles of olive oil, particularly for more expensive varieties. (1-4)

Does olive oil go in the fridge?

Olive oil can be stored in the refrigerator if desired. When chilled, the oil will solidify and may appear cloudy, but rest assured, this does not impact its nutritional value or health benefits. 

To restore its liquid texture and color, simply allow the oil to reach room temperature for a short period before using.

Once a container of olive oil is opened, refrigeration is not essential as long as it is stored correctly. However, if you anticipate not using the opened container for several weeks, refrigeration can help preserve the oil’s freshness.

Apart from the type of packaging, the storage temperature is vital for maintaining the quality of olive oil. It has been observed that oil stored in dark-colored containers, in a dark environment, at temperatures below 22°C, tends to have a longer shelf life.(1, 5)

Can you freeze olive oil?

Yes,olive oil can be safely frozen without any adverse effects. When exposed to low temperatures, the oil undergoes a transformation and develops a mixture of oils and waxes, resulting in the formation of needle-like crystals.

Freezing olive oil is actually beneficial as it helps maintain its nutritional benefits and flavor for a longer duration. 

It is worth mentioning that the freezing point of olive oil should not be used as a reliable indicator of its purity, whether it is pure, virgin, or extra virgin. This is a common misconception that should be avoided.

Therefore, if you intend to freeze olive oil for storage purposes or to extend its shelf life, you can do so confidently, knowing that it will not have any negative impact on its quality or authenticity. (5)

What happens if you consume rancid olive oil?

You won’t get ill from consuming olive oil that has gone rancid. The problem is that it might destroy your food by imparting a peculiar taste to it. The many health advantages of olive oil are another common selling point. Olive oil that has gone rancid will lose part of its antioxidant power.

Oxidation, in which oxygen-containing molecules initiate a series of chemical events that destroy the oil’s antioxidants, is what causes this. 

Rancid olive oil, on the other hand, does not have the same health benefits as fresh olive oil. To get the most antioxidants out of it, it’s best to eat fresh olive oil. (3, 4)

Can you use expired olive oil in cooking?

It all depends on what you’re looking for. There is no danger in cooking with rancid olive oil; nevertheless, it is likely to have lost all of its nutritional content and antioxidants. Additionally, your meals will taste strange as a result. 

Is the scent of your olive oil bothersome? Is it just me, or does the color seem a little off? Don’t make it to the end of the line. Even though it smells and looks great, it may not taste as peppery or bright as when you got it. However, it is safe to use.(4)

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Does Neem Oil Go Bad

Does Oil Of Oregano Kill Good Bacteria

Can you bake with olive oil instead of vegetable oil?

Can I use vegetable oil instead of olive oil?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, ‘Can olive oil go bad?’ and discussed how to store olive oil?


  1. Sanmartin C, Venturi F, Sgherri C, Nari A, Macaluso M, Flamini G, Quartacci MF, Taglieri I, Andrich G, Zinnai A. The effects of packaging and storage temperature on the shelf-life of extra virgin olive oil. Heliyon. 2018
  2. Cayuela, J. A., Gómez-Coca, R. B., Moreda, W., & Pérez-Camino, M. C. Sensory defects of virgin olive oil from a microbiological perspective. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 43(2), 227–235. 2015.
  3. Gargouri B, Zribi A, Bouaziz M. Effect of containers on the quality of Chemlali olive oil during storage. J Food Sci Technol. 52(4):1948-59.2015.
  4. Natalie Butler, Lisa Wartenberg, Does Olive Oil Expire? Them. Healthline Media LLC. 2020
  5. Mallamace, D., Longo, S., & Corsaro, C. Proton NMR study of extra Virgin Olive Oil with temperature: Freezing and melting kinetics. Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications, 499, 20–27. 2018.

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