This article covers storage, shelf life, and spoilage of avocado oil. Learn how long it lasts, what are the spoilage signs, and if you need to refrigerate it.
Got a half-open bottle of avocado oil that’s a bit past the printed date, and not sure if it’s still any good? Does avocado oil go bad, and how do you tell?
Or you’re a first-time avocado oil buyer, and you want to know how to store it and if you should refrigerate it or not.
Sounds like you?
If so, this article is for you. Read on.
Does Avocado Oil Go Bad?
Like all other oils, avocado oil certainly doesn’t last forever. While it won’t grow mold, it will slowly oxidize over time and eventually turn rancid. That’s when you get rid of it.
Like olive oil (which avocado oil is often compared to), it is quite low in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which helps it last quite a while. But that only slows down the rancidification process, which is responsible for turning oils rancid; it doesn’t prevent it from occurring.
Obviously, the process is slow-going, and it takes months for your avocado oil to turn fully rancid. And if you use that oil often, you’ll find it difficult to notice any changes in smell or taste. They’re only obvious when you compare an old bottle with a freshly opened one.
With that in mind, let’s say your avocado oil is nearing (or past) its date, and you want to check if the fat-based product is still useable. That’s when knowing the signs of spoilage comes in handy.
But before we can get to that, we need to talk about the types of avocado oil available on the market. That’s important because they look, smell, and taste different, and you need to know what to expect from yours.
Types of Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is still a relatively new product, and different types aren’t well standardized like it’s the case for sesame oil, where you have plain and toasted varieties, and it’s pretty clear which is which.
For avocado oils, you can divide them into two groups:
- Unrefined, most often labeled as “extra virgin” or “virgin.”
- Refined, where the label usually says it clearly that the oil was refined.
Unrefined avocado oil usually comes with a green hue and tastes a bit like avocados, and you might notice a slight buttery flavor or even some mushrooms. It depends on the oil, so if you recently switched brands, don’t be surprised that the new one tastes differently.
On the other hand, refined avocado oil is quite neutral both in terms of color and smell. The oil extracted from avocados is refined to be similar to vegetable oils, which work great in many settings because they don’t have a distinct taste.
Knowing that, let’s talk about how to tell if avocado oil is bad.
Signs of Spoilage
Throw out your avocado oil if:
- It smells bad. If the oil starts to give off a stale, chemical-like odor, it’s definitely rancid. Some people say that the oil smells like play-dough; others compare it to the smell of nail polish remover. If you’ve ever smelled an expired vegetable oil, you know what I mean. Also, keep in mind that there are two types of avocado oil and that they smell different.
- There are visual changes. If the oil changed color or its texture has drastically changed, chances are it’s spoiled. The only exception here is slight cloudiness or crystallization. If you store the oil in a cold spot (e.g., in the fridge), such changes are normal, and the oil will become clear again if you let it warm up to room temperature.
- It tastes bad. If the oil looks and smells good, it’s time to check its flavor. If it tastes harsh, acidic, or generally unpleasant, it has oxidized and it’s no good. Again, keep in mind that refined and unrefined avocado oil taste different.
If your avocado oil shows signs of being rancid, but you’d still like to use it, don’t do that for the reasons I outlined in my article on sesame oil. In short, eating rancid oil is not good for your overall health.
Finally, if you notice anything odd or concerning about your avocado oil that’s not listed above, err on the side of caution and discard the product.
How Long Does Avocado Oil Last?
|Avocado oil, unopened||Best-by|
|Unrefined avocado oil, open||4 – 6 months||6 – 9 months|
|Refined avocado oil, open||9 – 12 months|
Avocado oil typically has a shelf life of 1 to 2 years and usually lasts until the printed date. After opening the bottle, unrefined avocado oil retains quality for about 6 months, while the refined variety keeps for a few months longer.
The given periods are only rough estimates, and every brand has its own recommendations, so make sure to read the label.
That said, you should know that the avocado oil market is in a pretty messy state right now, and quite often, the oil is oxidized (rancid) even before the printed date. That’s what scientists from UC Davis have found in a study.
If your avocado oil is oxidized, it not only loses its flavor but most of the health benefits are gone too.
Because of that, you should always check if the oil is okay to use before you use it, even if it’s way before the printed date.
Now, what if your avocado oil is expired? Should you toss it right away?
Probably not. Let’s talk about how you should go about it.
Expired Avocado Oil
As you already know, avocado oil degrades in quality gradually, so it’s not like it was okay yesterday, but it’s all smelly and sour today. It’s an ongoing process, and the printed date is only a rough estimate of how long the oil should retain quality.
Therefore, it’s better to pay attention to the smell and flavor of your avocado oil than to its date.
If it’s fine quality-wise but a couple of weeks past its date, who cares – it’s most likely okay to eat.
The same principle works the other way around, too. If it smells like old paint, but it’s still a couple of months before the printed date, it has to go.
(Again, watch your avocado oil for spoilage closely because quite often, it goes rancid before the printed date, as the study I linked to found.)
Finally, let’s talk about storage practices.
How to Store Avocado Oil?
Keep your avocado oil in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and any sources of heat. A dark cabinet in the kitchen or pantry is a great choice.
If you bought a large bottle and are worried it will go rancid prematurely, you can store your avocado oil in the fridge. The only caveat here is that the oil will thicken and look cloudy when it’s cool, but things will get back to normal once it warms up to room temperature.
Using cloudy avocado oil for cooking is okay. If you need it for a salad, warm it up a bit before using it so that it’s clear.
Does Avocado Oil Need to be Refrigerated?
Avocado oil doesn’t require refrigeration, but it doesn’t hurt to keep it in the fridge if you want it to last as long as possible. Like canola oil, this oil is quite stable at room temperature due to a large amount of antioxidants and a relatively small amount of polyunsaturated fats.
That’s yet another way avocado oil is similar to EVOO – you don’t have to refrigerate olive oil either.
In other words, whether you keep it in the fridge or not is up to you and your needs. If you have a large bottle and don’t use it that often, it’s definitely something worth considering.
Avocado Oil Shelf Life and Storage Summary
Avocado oil doesn’t go bad immediately after it passes the printed date. It might retain quality for a couple of extra weeks or even months, but just as well it may be rancid well before the mentioned date. That’s what scientists from UC Davis have found in their study.
Because of that, it’s difficult to tell how long avocado oil lasts, and it’s better to watch its quality instead.
When it comes to storing avocado oil, you don’t have to refrigerate it, but it’s a good idea to do so, especially if it’s unrefined avocado oil and you expect to store it for more than a couple of months.