How Long Does Butter Actually Last In The Fridge?

Though butter is a staple ingredient in a lot of cooking and baking, all the details about this one ingredient might be a little more complicated than you think. For example, you might need to decide between salted butter and unsalted butter. But butter can also make incredible dishes. If you want to show off your knowledge of flavor, there are some amazing flavored butters you should make, and you can also use butter to make a creamy garlic sauce for pasta.

It's clear that keeping butter on hand can make your cooking shine, but it's also important to know that butter doesn't last forever, even when you keep it in the fridge. While you might keep butter on the counter, you shouldn't leave it there for too long. The USDA doesn't recommend leaving butter at room temperature for more than one or two days — "the flavor can turn rancid," says the agency.

Butter has a longer shelf life in the fridge, and The Spruce Eats writes that according to the USDA, you can keep butter in the fridge for one to three months, and butter stays good for up to one year when it's in the freezer.

How to freeze butter

If you've decided to buy butter in bulk, you can preserve it and extend its shelf life by freezing sticks of butter. All you need to do is pop the butter into the freezer in its original packaging, according to Good Housekeeping, and if you don't have the package, just wrap the butter in plastic and put it into a freezer-safe bag or container. It's important to have a couple of layers around the butter to make sure it doesn't pick up odors from other food in addition to staving off freezer burn.

Once you're ready to use the butter, you can thaw it in the fridge, leave it on the fridge or somewhere warm, or just microwave it. But you can also use it straight out of the freezer – frozen butter is great for flaky pastries.

Good Housekeeping says unsalted butter will keep in the freezer for four to six months, while salted butter keeps for a year. On the other hand, US Dairy says unsalted butter stays good for five months and salted butter stays fresh for nine months. You can also check the best-by dates on the package, and The Spruce Eats says you throw away your butter if it has a strange smell, color, or flavor. By freezing butter, you're able to stock up on it.