Do bay leaves go bad

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “do bay leaves go bad?” We will also discuss what is the shelf life of bay leaves and how you should store them.

Do bay leaves go bad?

Yes, bay leaves do go bad. What happens when bay leaves have been stored for too long is that they lose their potency, causing them to have a mild flavor. However, when they are exposed to humidity, mold can also grow on their surface.

Can you imagine that bay leaves can last for up to 1 to 3 years? Of course, proper storage is needed to keep their features and quality, so keep reading to find out about the guidelines that will help you store your bay leaves for longer.

How long do bay leaves last?

Bay leaves come from the laurel tree and are widely used in the gastronomic field, they can be found in their dried and fresh presentation, and they can also be powdered. Whatever type you got, they can spoil if you do not store them properly.

If you purchase fresh bay leaves, you need to know they will go bad quickly, they can only last for up to 3 weeks. 

On the other hand, we have dried bay leaves that can last for up to 3 months, when the package has not been opened. 

If you do not plan to consume your bay leaves within 3 months, it is better to freeze bay leaves, this can enlarge their shelf life for up to a whole year! What a big difference, right?

In the chart below the average shelf life for each type of bay leaves will be listed.

Shelf life of bay leaves
TypeStored in the pantryStored in the fridgeStored in the freezer
Fresh bay leaves2 to 3 weeksAbout a year
Dry bay leaves2 to 3 yearsAbout a year

How can you tell when bay leaves have gone bad?

Both dry and fresh bay leaves will go bad after being stored for too long or when exposed to humidity or heat sources. Certain signs can help you notice when your bay leaves have expired, such as

  • Off smell. Bay leaves naturally possess a strong nearby odor, if you feel that its potency has lower, your leaves have likely expired. You can still consume them without any problem.
  • Mold growth. When bay leaves were in contact with moisture, mold could have grown on the container and leaves. If you notice mold, it is better to discard them.
  • Leaves break into pieces easily. When bay leaves have been stored for a long time, the leaves will lose their remaining moisture causing them to fall into pieces to the slightest contact.

You can easily check the quality of your bay leaves by rubbing them against your fingers. If they break easily, or the smell is not there anymore, it is time to throw them away.

How to store bay leaves?

If you have acquired fresh bay leaves, it is better to store them in the fridge, but make sure you wash and pat dry them before moving them to a sealable bag, where they will be stored in the fridge. 

However, certain guidelines also need to be attended to, such as

  • Avoid direct sunlight. Bay leaves can be severely damaged when exposed to direct sunlight, as this will damage their chlorophyll content, weakening the herbs.
  • Store them in an airtight container. When bay leaves are exposed to oxygen, they will oxidize, which will make them look brown.
  • Avoid humidity exposure. If bay leaves come in contact with moisture, they might become moldy in no time. Make sure there are no humidity sources near them.
  • Keep them at the ideal temperature. For fresh bay leaves, there is no other option than using the fridge for storing them. 

Make sure you click here to find out about what bay leaves have to offer you.

Can bay leaves be stored in the fridge?

Yes, totally! Especially when we are talking about fresh bay leaves, there is no better space to store them than the cold temperatures of the fridge. 

However, make sure you place them inside an airtight container to avoid them from absorbing any odors and being exposed to oxygen.

You can check the previous sections to know how you need to prep your bay leaves for the refrigerator.

Can you freeze bay leaves?

Freezing bay leaves can be useful to enlarge their shelf life considerably, they can last for up to a whole year! However, you need to attend to several recommendations to do it properly. You can check the Lucky Belly site to find different methods to freeze your bay leaves.

Other FAQs about Spices that you may be interested in.

What spice is similar to coriander?

Is garam masala the same as five-spice?

Does garam masala have turmeric?

What is a substitute for cardamom?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query, “do bay leaves go bad?” We have also discussed other queries related to the subject at hand. 

Hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions, please let us know.