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 can maintain their quality for approximately 2 weeks when stored correctly. 

To maximize their longevity, store them in an air-tight container or a resealable plastic zipper bag in the refrigerator, ensuring the temperature remains at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, for the best flavor and taste experience, it is advisable to use fresh bay leaves within 2-3 days. This ensures you enjoy them at their optimum quality.

If you prefer to dry bay leaves, various methods are available. Traditionally, bay leaves are air-dried, a process that typically takes 10-12 days. (1)

How to store 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.(1, 2)

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. (1, 2)

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 freeze 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. (2)

What happens if you consume expired bay leaves?

Eating expired bay leaves does not generally cause illness, as long as they were stored appropriately and show no signs of mold growth. Bay leaves do not spoil in a conventional sense, but their aroma, color, flavor, and overall quality diminish over time.

While consuming old bay leaves won’t make you sick, they won’t deliver the same vibrant taste and aroma as fresh ones.

It’s recommended to discard bay leaves that have expired and lost a significant amount of their aroma and flavor. However, if you still choose to use them, their consumption should not pose any health risks. (1-3)

How to tell If the bay leaves have gone bad?

Signs of bay leaf quality deterioration include browning, yellowing, mold growth, and wilted appearance. To preserve their natural color and prevent the loss of essential oil content, bay leaves are commonly dried.

Another indication that bay leaves have passed their prime is the absence or a weak aroma. Additionally, the flavor of bay leaves may become weak as they age. (3)

How to use bay leaves?

The fresh dark-green leaves are used in tea preparation and culinary dishes to enhance the flavor.

The leaves are most often used whole in many culinary preparations and removed before serving. 

Sometimes bay leaves are crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more fragrant than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove, and thus they are often used in a muslin bag or tea infuser. (4)


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


  1. Batool S, Khera RA, Hanif MA, Ayub MA. Bay Leaf. Medicinal Plants of South Asia. 2020:63–74.
  2. Green, Aliza  Field Guide to Herbs & Spices. Philadelphia: Quirk Books. ISBN 978-1-59474-082-4. 2006.
  3. Aktaş, M., Şevik, S., Özdemir, M. B., & Gönen, E. Performance analysis and modeling of a closed-loop heat pump dryer for bay leaves using artificial neural network. Applied Thermal Engineering, 87, 714–723. 2015.
  4. Aparna, Kuna.  Health Benefits of Bay Leaf, Health Action, 31 (7), 24 – 26. 2018.