Does extra-virgin olive oil expire?

In this article, we will answer the question “Does extra-virgin olive oil expire?”, what is the shelf-life of olive oil, and how to store olive oil.

Does extra-virgin olive oil expire?

Yes, extra-virgin olive oil expires. Since the extra-virgin olive oil is minimally processed, it only lasts 12-18 months before going rancid. Highly refined olive oil stays good for about 18-24 months on average. This period is calculated from the time the olive oil is bottled for sale. 

Look for this date on the bottle of the extra-virgin olive oil. If you cannot find it, you can rely on the harvest or expiry date. You are good to go if the bottle says the oil is extracted from last year’s harvest. (1)

What are the signs of rancidity in olive oil?

Identifying whether your olive oil has turned rancid involves paying attention to specific indicators. 

The rancid flavor in olive oil is a result of oxidation, and there is a direct relationship between the intensity of this flavor and the degree of oxidation.

Additionally, photooxidation, which occurs due to exposure to light, leads to changes in color and the formation of undesirable odor and flavor compounds as a result of hydroperoxide decomposition. (2, 3)

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

The deterioration of olive oil’s quality is largely influenced by oxidation. The rate of oxidation is influenced by various factors, including the availability of oxygen, exposure to light, and temperature.

In the absence of light, auto-oxidation occurs through a free radical mechanism. Initially, when oxygen is absorbed, hydroperoxides are formed.

These unstable compounds undergo further decomposition, resulting in the production of a complex mixture of volatile compounds, such as aldehydes, ketones, hydrocarbons, alcohols, and esters. 

This mixture is responsible for the degradation of the flavor of olive oil, commonly referred to as “oxidative rancidity.”

Furthermore, when olive oils are exposed to light, photo-oxidation takes place. Therefore, it is essential to protect commercial edible oils, including olive oil, from direct light to prevent the occurrence of photo-oxidation. (3)

How to store olive oil?

To ensure the quality of your olive oil, it is advisable to store it in a cool, dark location such as a pantry with a door, a cabinet, or even a refrigerator.

Environmental factors play a significant role in maintaining the quality of olive oil both during processing and storage. Temperature, exposure to light, and contact with oxygen are the key factors to consider.

It is important to keep your olive oil away from direct sunlight and heat, as they can accelerate the process of oil becoming rancid or stale.

When olive oil comes into contact with air and sunlight, it begins to lose its characteristic flavor and aroma due to oxidation reactions. These reactions can eventually lead to the oil becoming rancid.

To preserve the quality of the oil for an extended period, it is recommended to promptly close the lid or cap of the oil bottle after pouring the desired amount. This helps reduce the exposure of the oil to air and minimizes the potential for oxidation. (1-4)

Does olive oil go in the fridge?

Olive oil can be stored in the fridge. When refrigerated, the oil will solidify and may appear cloudy, but this does not affect its nutritional value and health benefits. 

To restore the liquid texture and color of the olive oil, simply allow it to come to room temperature for a short period before use.

Once opened, refrigeration is not necessary for olive oil as long as it is stored properly. However, if you don’t plan to use an opened container for several weeks, refrigeration can help maintain the oil’s freshness.

In addition to packaging type, storage temperature plays a crucial role in maintaining the quality of olive oil. It has been observed that oil stored in dark-colored containers, kept in a dark environment at temperatures below 22°C, has an extended shelf life.(1, 5)

Can you freeze olive oil?

Yes,olive oil can be safely frozen. As the temperature drops, olive oil undergoes a transformation and forms a mixture of oils and waxes, resulting in the formation of needle-like crystals.

Freezing olive oil does not cause any harm; in fact, it can help preserve its nutritional benefits and flavor over a longer period. 

It is important to note that the freezing point of olive oil cannot be used as a reliable indicator of its purity, whether it is pure, virgin, or extra virgin. This is a common misconception.

Therefore, if you wish to freeze olive oil for storage purposes or to extend its shelf life, feel free to do so without worrying about any negative effects on its quality or authenticity. (5)

What happens if you consume rancid olive oil?

Rancid olive oil is not a health hazard. Instead, it is a quality problem.When olive oil turns rancid, it does experience a decrease in its potent antioxidant properties. 

Although consuming rancid olive oil generally won’t cause illness, it may not provide the same nutritional benefits as fresh oil. Therefore, to obtain the maximum amount of antioxidants, it is recommended to consume fresh olive oil.

The nutritional advantages of olive oil primarily stem from its fatty acid composition, particularly the high levels of oleic acid and the balanced ratio of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. 

Additionally, olive oil contains significant amounts of natural antioxidants, which are believed to play a crucial role in preventing various diseases. (3, 4) 

Other FAQs about Oil that you may be interested in.

Can I substitute peanut oil for vegetable oil?


In this article, we answered the question “Does extra-virgin olive oil expire?”, what is the shelf-life of olive oil, and 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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