Does Peanut Butter Go Bad?

When we think about peanut butter, we might get nostalgic about those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches our parents used to make for our school lunches. Some were served up on white bread with the crusts cut off because we were picky eaters.

Many of our tastes evolved over time. We eventually came to appreciate peanut butter as a versatile spread with countless applications beyond the classic PB&J. Some of those uses include putting peanut butter on pancakes or waffles, mixing it into a fruit dip for dunking apple wedges or celery slices, and baking homemade peanut butter cookies (via Real Simple).

Even with all of these potential ways to eat peanut butter, it can still take a while to finish off an entire jar. That being said, does peanut butter ever go bad? If so, what are the warning signs, and when should you cut your losses and throw it out?

Even peanut butter doesn't last forever

Peanut butter has a long shelf life, but it doesn't last forever. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can keep peanut butter in the pantry for six to nine months unopened. It is not necessary to refrigerate unopened peanut butter (per National Peanut Board).

There are also exceptions to the rule that can further extend the life of your peanut butter. Once you open peanut butter, you can store it in the refrigerator for six to nine months before it spoils. It may have another three months if you've opened it and decided to store it in a cool, dry place, such as the pantry (per National Peanut Board).

Like most foods, the way to tell if peanut butter has spoiled is by texture, sight, and smell. Peanut butter that has gone bad may no longer be smooth or creamy and might become hard and dry. Additionally, the coloration may change from tan to more of a dark brown hue. If it develops a sharp, soapy, or bitter odor, it's probably time to discard it and move on (via Healthline).