Does Beef Broth Go Bad?

Here’s all about the shelf life, storage, and going bad of beef broth (both store-bought and homemade). Learn how long it lasts after opening the can, how to store the leftovers, and how to tell if it’s spoiled.

Got a beef broth can that’s well past the printed date? Does beef broth go bad?

Or maybe you’ve got some leftovers and you need to know by when you have to use them. How long does beef broth last in the fridge?

If either sounds familiar, or you’d like to learn a thing or two about beef broth, you’re in the right place. Read on.

Beef broth
Image used under Creative Commons from fishermansdaughter

How Long Does Beef Broth Last

When it comes to shelf life, pretty much all cans of beef broth come with a best-by or best-before date. That date is only an estimate of how long the product retains freshness. And since beef broth usually has some preservatives added, and canned products generally last quite a long time, store-bought beef broth stays safe for years past that date.

This doesn’t mean that in 3 years it will be as good as it is today, but it most likely will be perfectly safe to eat. Once you open the tin, the broth stays fine in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days.

When it comes to homemade beef broth, it’s more perishable since it lacks preservatives. That means it can sit in the fridge for only 3 to 4 days. If you’d like to store it longer, freeze it.

Canned beef broth (unopened)Best by + 1 – 2 years 
Canned beef broth (opened) 4 – 5 days
Homemade beef broth 3 – 4 days

Please note that the periods above are estimates.

Beef and barley soup
Beef and barley soup (credit: jeffreyw)

How To Tell if Beef Broth Is Bad?

Let’s start with an unopened can of beef broth. You should discard the broth if there’s anything wrong with the can. That means that if it’s leaking, bulging or there are any signs of rust, throw it out. If it’s perfectly intact, the broth inside should be safe to eat.

Beef broth has a pleasant, meaty aroma and a brown to deep brown color when it is fresh. To find if it’s spoiled, look for subtle changes in color or smell.

If the broth started developing a sour smell or the flavor is no longer the same, discard it. Same thing if you notice any signs of mold or greenish specks on the liquid.

Last but not least, if the broth sits in the fridge for quite a few days already, meaning 6 or more days for homemade, or more than a week for a store-bought one, throw it out. Better safe than sorry.

Beef broth noodle
Beef broth noodle (credit: LWYang)

How to Store Beef Broth

Storing beef broth is pretty much the same as storing chicken broth.

When it comes to store-bought unopened cans of beef broth, you should keep them in the pantry, where it’s cool and dry. If you don’t have access to one, a cupboard in the kitchen will do too.

Once you open the tin, you should keep the leftovers sealed tightly in the fridge. To seal it you can pour the broth into a mason jar or an airtight container. Or if you don’t have a good container on hand, a plastic wrap and a rubber band is a rough and ready solution.

When it comes to homemade beef broth, its place is in the refrigerator.

There are also companies that sell frozen broth. Brodo is one such company. If you buy one of these, follow the storage guidelines that the company provides. In the case of Brodo, you get the broth either cold or partially frozen, and you need to either refrigerate it or refreeze it.

Soup made with beef broth
Image used under Creative Commons from snowpea&bokchoi

Can You Freeze Beef Broth?

Freezing beef broth is a tried and tested way of preserving it for the long term. Since freezing an unopened can doesn’t make much sense, as the cans last ages, let’s focus on freezing broth leftovers.

Two practical ways to go about that is to freeze broth in small airtight containers or ice cube trays if you need only a little at a time. If you’re looking for something in between, a muffin tin can do the trick (freeze them using the ice cube tray method).

When it comes to thawing, the best choice is to thaw the broth in the refrigerator, so you can safely refreeze it if need be.