How long do fresh bay leaves last?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long do fresh bay leaves last?”, and how to use bay leaves?

How long do fresh bay leaves last?

Fresh bay leaves only last 2-3 weeks in the fresh and about a year in the freezer. An unopened package of dried bay leaves lasts about 3 months in the spice drawer. 

They will be less potent past this time but still safe to use. Dry bay leaves will keep their fragrance for over a year if stored in the freezer correctly.

Storing bay leaves 

In the fridge 

First, submerge the bay leaves in a bowl of cold water. Swirl the leaves in the water to remove the surface dust and dirt. 

Empty the bowl into a colander and spread the leaves onto a paper towel. Pat dry the upper surface of these delicate leaves using some more paper towels. 

Transfer the completely dried into a resealable bag or an air-tight container. Proceed to refrigeration. If the leaves are not dried properly, the residual moisture will trigger rot. Mold will grow and the leaves will become slimy.

In the spice drawer 

Dried bay leaves can be kept in the spice drawer like other dried herbs. The only condition is to keep the dried leaves away from moisture, light, and oxygen. 

This means you should keep the dried leaves in an air-tight jar If you plan to store them in the spice drawer or at room temperature.

The light or heat damages the chlorophyll of bay leaves, turning them brown whilst weakening their potency. Bay leaves often come in an air-tight glass jar packaging. 

If the packaging is not air-tight, as in the case of paper packaging, transfer the bay leaves into a freezer bag or jar.

In the freezer 

The leaves will lose their potency at a faster pace if stored at room temperature/spice drawer. Your best bet is to free the leaves to preserve the flavor.

Ice cube tray: In this method of freezing, you fill the ice cube tray with leaves and drizzle the leaves with some oil. 

Pre-freeze the leaves to solidify them. Then transfer the frozen leaves onto a ziplock bag, put a label on it and chuck it into the freezer.

Freezer bag: Fill a freezer bag with bay leaves and toss them with 2 tbsp of oil. Remove the excess oil and air from the bag. Label the bag and chuck it into the freezer.

What happens if you consume expired bay leaves?

Consuming expired bay leaves could result in mild food poisoning. You may feel nauseated or experience diarrhea, headache, stomach aches, and loss of appetite. 

These symptoms are usually mild and vanish in a couple of days. If these symptoms persist for more than 2 days, contact your health advisor. 

How to tell If the bay leaves have gone bad?

Wet leaves: Moisture does not belong in the bay leaves a package. If you notice any, get rid of the leaves immediately. The moisture harbors microbes and triggers rot. Slimy and moldy leaves are the result.

Too dry: If the dried bay leaves are too dry that they start to disintegrate when you press them, they are of no use. Too crumbly bay leaves are bad leaves.

Mold: Mold is not common in bay leaves unless exposed to moisture. Mold growth is very obvious and you will know when to discard the leaves.

Smell: If stored for too long in the spice drawer, bay leaves will simply lose their aroma. Such leaves are not bad ones but they won’t impart the same flavor to your dish. You can use more than one leaf in your dish for compensation. 

How to use bay leaves?

Bay leaves are great insect and pest repellants. It is best if you use unused bay leaves for this purpose since they have a strong fragrance. But the used bay leaves will also do. Place the bay leaves in the rice, pasta, or flour storage containers. 

Use the bay leaves in stock or tea to extract its nutrients into the concoction. Make a homemade aromatic gift by bundling the bay leaves with cinnamon sticks. You could add them in curries for a subtle flavor.


In this article, we answered the question “How long do fresh bay leaves last?”, and how to use bay leaves?


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.