Does vanilla extract expire? 

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Does vanilla extract expire?” methods to store and detect spoilage in the vanilla extract.

Does vanilla extract expire?

No, the vanilla extract does not expire. Vanilla extract also incorporates alcohol during the extraction process because of which it does not go bad easily.

It is also important to remember that if you have bought vanilla extract from the store it might not necessarily mean that it is pure vanilla extract and might even get spoilt quicker. It could be an imitation vanilla extract.

How to detect whether the vanilla extract has got spoilt?

  • Sniff the vanilla extract. If it has the same pleasant smell as before then you can still use it. If it does not give off a pleasant smell or lacks any smell then it is better to discard it.
  • Also, check the inside of the bottle cap of the vanilla extract. If you observe something inside the cap of the vanilla extract it is likely to be spoilt.

You can also check whether mold has developed in the vanilla extract. Usually, the vanilla extract does not contain mold but the alcohol present in the extract might attract mold.

  • If the vanilla extract does not give off an appropriate smell and flavor then it is likely to have lost its quality. If you do not mind using mildly flavored vanilla extract then you can use it.
  • If you see the extract contains any particles or contaminants floating on the surface of the extract, it is better to throw them away. 

If you do not wish to throw away the extract, then scoop out the impurities and check for signs of further degradation. If you did not observe much degradation in the extract then it is better to discard it.

How to store vanilla extract?

If the vanilla extract is not stored properly, it can quickly lose its flavor and quality. In such situations, it is better to store the extract properly to prolong its quality.

  • You can store vanilla extract at room temperature and it is better to store them at room temperature over the fridge or freezer. If you have bought imitation vanilla, the fridge or freezer can alter the texture and quality of it.
  • Keep the vanilla extract away from heat and light. If you prefer to store the extract in your pantry, store them in a cool and dry place away from moisture light, and heat. 

Avoid placing the extract near places that are likely to contain hot temperatures like near the oven or stove.

  • Place the vanilla extract in an airtight container. If the seal of the container is not tight, transfer the extract into a container that has a proper seal.
  • Avoid taking out the extract using your hands or any dirty vessels or spoons. You can pour out the extract directly from the container. This will help in preventing contamination. 

Avoid inserting any spoons containing food particles as well because the food particles can go bad which can result in the extract getting spoilt.

  • Avoid inserting anything that contains moisture inside the vanilla extract. This is because though the vanilla extract contains alcohol, water can attract microbes and mold growth. The mold is likely to grow on lids or the side of the container.

What is the shelf-life of vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract has an indefinite shelf-life if it is stored in proper condition away from moisture heat, or light.

However, if the vanilla extract is imitation type, it might only last for 2-3 years. The imitation vanilla extract would not spoil but instead, it would lose its flavor and aroma over time.

How to detect whether the vanilla extract is pure or imitation type?

If the vanilla extract is pure, the packaging of the extract would usually mention it as pure. It would also be pricey. You can also check the ingredient list of the package, it would contain vanillin as the main ingredient too.

The imitation type extract is likely to be very cheap. It might also contain vanillin but the vanillin used would be synthetic. It does not have a longer shelf-life either.

Other FAQs on the vanilla extract that you might be interested in.

Should vanilla extract be frozen?

No, there is no need to free vanilla extract. Keeping them at room temperature is important. Freezing the vanilla extract can spoil the quality of the extract. 

You can keep the vanilla extract at room temperature to preserve the quality of the extract and keep it in a dry place.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Does vanilla extract expire?” methods to store and detect spoilage in the vanilla extract.