Does Crisco Shortening Go Bad? Storage, Shelf Life, Spoilage

Here’s all you need to know about Crisco shortening. In this article, you will learn if it ever goes bad, how long it lasts, and if you should refrigerate it.

Got an out-of-date Crisco can or half a Crisco stick in storage for months, and not sure what to do about it? Can you still use it? Does it even go bad?

Or perhaps you want to learn once and for all if you should refrigerate this vegetable shortening or not.

Sounds familiar?

If so, you’re in the right place. Read on.

Cubes of shortening
Image used under Creative Commons from Veganbaking.net

Does Crisco Shortening Go Bad?

While Crisco sticks and cans last for over a year, they can go bad or degrade in quality to the point the fat is no longer good enough to use. So while Crisco retains quality even longer than lard, it definitely doesn’t last forever.

In most cases, there won’t be any mold involved, but the product will gradually lose quality due to the rancidification process. And at some point, you’ll discard it for quality purposes.

So, let’s talk about how to tell if shortening is bad.

Note

Interested in learning more about lard? Read my article titled “Does lard go bad?“.

Signs of Spoilage

When checking if your Crisco is still good enough to use, look for:

  • Rancid smell. Rancid shortening typically smells like old paint, a detergent, or maybe nail polish remover. Different people describe it using different terms, so iff it smells off in any other way, it’s probably rancid too.
  • Color change. If your Crisco turns yellow or is a few shades darker than usual, that means it’s oxidated and probably rancid. You can probably do the same trick as you do with butter, that is, scrape off the yellowy surface (if it’s paper-thin), and use the rest. That color change most likely means the product wasn’t properly sealed.
  • Mold. While mold isn’t typical for fats, if you notice any, get rid of the product.
  • Taste is off. If your Crisco looks and smells okay, checking its flavor is the last thing to do. If it has developed an off taste, it’s time for it to go.

(Of course, all the above works just as well for other fat-based products, so if you’re wondering how to tell if bacon grease is bad, you already know the answer.)

Finally, if you’re not sure if the fat is okay and it’s out of date already, discard it. Better safe than sorry.

Now, besides knowing the characteristics of spoiled Crisco, it’s probably good to learn a bit about its shelf life. Let’s tackle that.

A sealed Crisco can.
(credit: Adam Engelhart)

How Long Does Crisco Last?

Both Crisco cans and sticks come with a shelf life of two years. Once you open them up, cans retain quality for about a year, while sticks for about six months. And neither type requires refrigeration.

Those are the official recommendations from Crisco, and chances are you can get at least an extra couple of weeks (if not months) out of each.

(I guess cans have a longer shelf life because they are always sealed tightly and well protected from the environment, which isn’t always the case for sticks.)

Now, let’s say your Crisco is open for a month or two after the printed date, and you’re wondering if you could still use the product. Let’s discuss that.

Crisco Shelf Life

 Pantry
Crisco (unopened or opened)Best-by + 3 months
Crisco stick (opened)6 months
Crisco can (opened)1 year
Crisco storage time. Periods are for best quality.

Expired Crisco

As you already know, Crisco shortening doesn’t expire, as in it’s not safe to use once it passes the date on the label.

Instead, if you store it properly, it should retain quality for at least a few weeks past the printed date, possibly even a couple of months. That means you can use Crisco after the “expiration” date.

As usual, it’s impossible to give an exact period, as the overall shelf life of Crisco depends heavily on how it was stored and handled.

The easiest way to go about that is first to check the printed date and take into account how long the vegetable shortening has been opened. If you’re okay with that period (e.g., it’s only a month or so off), the second step is to look for signs of spoilage (listed earlier) and assess the quality.

If the product isn’t spoiled, and the quality is a-okay, you’re most likely okay to use it.

(Again, instead of relying on dates, go with your gut feeling. If it tells you something seems a bit off, it’s a good enough reason to toss it.)

Having that out of the way, it’s time to talk about storage practices.

Vegan shortening
Image used under Creative Commons from Veganbaking.net

Does Crisco Need to be Refrigerated?

It’s not necessary to refrigerate Crisco shortening. The product stays safe at room temperature both before and after opening. Even the brand itself suggests you store their product on the pantry shelf.

That said, fat-based products (including vegetable shortening) benefit from cold temperatures, so if you want your Crisco to keep quality way past its date, refrigeration is a good idea. That’s why products like margarine and butter keep much longer in the fridge than on the counter.

(Want to learn more about margarine? Here’s an article on how long does margarine last.)

Now, if you live in the tropics and prefer to store oils (e.g., olive oil or coconut oil) in the fridge, you should refrigerate Crisco too.

There’s one caveat here – keeping Crisco in the fridge will make it firmer, and it’s going to be difficult to use to make that flaky pie crust.

Because of that, if you refrigerate Crisco, remember to take it out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour before you need it. This period will allow the product to return to room temperature and work the way it’s supposed to.

How to Store Crisco Shortening

Here’s a couple of things to remember about storing Crisco:

  • Store Crisco in a cool and dry place, away from smells, heat, and direct sunlight.
  • Keep the cans sealed and sticks well-wrapped when not in use. If you can’t wrap the stick properly, use a freezer bag.
  • Scoop with clean spoons. Never double-dip.

As you can tell, nothing revolutionary here.

Next, let’s talk about freezing Crisco.

Using Crisco for pie crust
(credit: Amy Stephenson)

Can You Freeze Crisco?

Yes, you can freeze both Crisco shortening sticks and cans.

While Crisco has a shelf life of two years and keeps for more than half a year of opening, you can freeze it to get even more time. All you need to do is place the stick or can in a freezer bag for protection and place it in the freezer.

(Freezing Crisco sticks is exactly like freezing butter.)

To avoid cutting frozen Crisco or defrosting and refreezing it, consider portioning it.

If you need only a bit at a time, an ice cube tray works great for that. For larger portions, separate freezer bags or airtight containers are the way to go.

But before you go all gung ho and freeze the product, consider if you actually need to do so.

As I already outlined, Crisco has an extensive shelf life and easily keeps past its date. That means freezing only makes sense if you have no idea when you’re going to use it but don’t want the vegetable shortening to go rancid.

Crisco Storage and Shelf Life Summary

Thanks for reading this article. Let’s recap what we’ve covered:

  • Does Crisco go bad? Crisco can go rancid, but it’s not like it goes bad right after the printed date. It typically lasts for an extra couple of months before it starts to give off a foul smell or its color changes.
  • How long is Crisco good for? An opened Crisco stick lasts for at least 6 months, while an opened can keeps about a year. If you decide to refrigerate the product, you can usually get an extra couple of months.
  • Do you need to refrigerate Crisco? While Crisco shortening can benefit from refrigeration, it’s not necessary. Letting it sit in the pantry is fine. If you decide to keep it in the fridge, remember that it’ll harden a bit, and you need to take it out at least 30 to 60 minutes before using for optimal texture.