Does Canola Oil Go Bad?

If frying isn’t really your thing, a bottle of canola oil usually sits in your cupboard in the kitchen for a long time.

Now you’re about to fry some meat or make French fries, and you notice your half-open bottle of canola is past the date on the label. Does canola oil go bad?

You would prefer to avoid waste and use the rest of the oil, but at the same time, you don’t want to make anyone sick or waste the meat by frying it in rancid oil.

If you’re not sure what to do in such a situation, read on to learn more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of canola oil.

Bottle of  canola oil and repe flowers on a table
Bottle of canola oil and rape flowers on a table

How to Store Canola Oil

You should store canola oil (or rapeseed oil) similarly to other oils.

That means you should keep it in a cool and dark area. The pantry is the best choice, but a cupboard in the kitchen will work too. Just make sure it’s away from the oven and other sources of heat, as temperature fluctuations negatively affect the quality of the oil. The same thing goes for light exposure.

Once you open the bottle, make sure you always keep it sealed tightly when not in use. The rest of the storage guidelines outlined above stay true for opened canola.

If you don’t have a good place to store the oil at or slightly below room temperature, you can keep it in the fridge. Please note that canola oil will become cloudy when refrigerated.


Cloudiness in canola is not harmful, and the consistency will get back to normal once you warm up the oil to room temperature.

Rapeseed oil and flowers
Rapeseed oil and flowers

How Long Does Canola Oil Last

Similarly to pretty much all oils, like peanut oil or sesame oil, rapeseed oil comes with a best-by on the label. That date is a rough estimate of how long the oil should retain freshness.

Of course, the way you store the oil affects how well it keeps its quality. So if you keep it in the open, exposed to sunlight, it can easily go rancid before that date. That also works the other way around. The better you care for it, the longer it should last in good quality past the date on the label.

Once you open the bottle, oil gets access to fresh oxygen. That speeds up the oxidation process, which results in the oil going rancid. That process, however, is relatively slow, especially if you remember to keep the bottle sealed. So after opening the bottle, you should finish it up within about 6 to 12 months for the best quality.

Canola oil (unopened)Best by + 6 – 12 months
Canola oil (opened)6 – 12 months

Please note that the periods above are for the best quality. If you store the canola oil properly, it should last even longer without going rancid.

Canola oil and rapeseed
Canola oil and rapeseed

How to Tell if Canola Oil is Bad

Like other oils, canola doesn’t go bad in a way it’s unsafe to consume that easily.

However, if you ever notice any usual signs of spoilage, like mold, noticeable change of color, or off smell, discard the oil. As mentioned, that’s unlikely to happen, but keep an eye on that just to be safe.

What’s much more likely to happen is that the oil goes rancid. Rancidity is caused by prolonged exposure to air, light, moisture, or by bacterial action. That’s why I put so much emphasis on keeping the bottle sealed and away from sunlight.

Generally, rancid oil isn’t unsafe to consume, but it has that specific rancid smell and taste. So if you notice that your oil is rancid, you can continue using it or discard it. The former means you risk less than ideal results of your cooking. The latter seems to be a better choice, but it’s up to you really.

1 thought on “Does Canola Oil Go Bad?”

  1. I have an awesome steak marinade made with canola oil. Mine isn’t too old but, when i made it it tasted really bad. I was wondering if my oil went bad. Can’t imagine any other reason why the marinade tasted so nastyl.

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