Can Nuts Go Bad or Expire? How Do They Last?


Did you know that nuts are one of the healthiest things you can snack on? (*)

Yes, they are! Aside from having good amounts of healthy fats, nuts are also convenient snacks that you can eat and enjoy anywhere.

That’s why we can’t blame you if you want to buy nuts in bulk.

But before you do, you may want to know the answer to this question first: do nuts go bad?

Simple Answer:

Yes, nuts go bad. Due to their high oil content, they become rancid when exposed to light, air, and heat.

With that said, how can you tell if nuts are no longer safe for consumption? You need to read this article to know the answer!

If you do, you’ll also discover the answers to the following questions:

Don’t go nuts just yet because we’re here to give you all the answers. Let’s get started!

image of Nuts in Jar

How Long Do Nuts Last?

How long nuts can last will depend on plenty of factors. These include:

  • Kind of nut (the one with the highest oil content gets bad faster)
  • Type of nut (homegrown, store-bought, or foraged)
  • In shell or not
  • Storage Method

To help you determine how long the nuts in your kitchen can last, here’s a simple table that you should check out:

Type of NutRoom TempRefrigeratorFreezer
Chestnuts1 week2 to 3 weeks3 to 6 months
Macadamia2 weeks4 to 6 months12 months
Walnuts1 to 2 months4 to 6 months24 months
Peanuts1 to 2 months4 to 6 months12 months
Hazelnuts4 to 6 months12 months12 months
Pistachios3 months4 to 6 months12 months
Pecans6 months12 months24 months
Cashews6 to 9 months12 months24 months
Brazil Nuts9 to 12 months12 months12 months
Almonds24 months12 months24 months
table of nuts shelf life


Packaged nuts come with a best by date. The best by date doesn’t indicate expiration. Instead, it indicates when to expect the nuts to retain their maximum freshness.

Because of this, you can still safely consume nuts beyond the best by date.

image of picking nuts

How To Tell If Nuts Are Rancid?

Yes, nuts can go bad. When exposed to heat, light, and air, the oil in nuts gets oxidized and causes them to become rancid. Once they become rancid, they will go bad.

So when should you stop eating the nuts in your pantry? Don’t eat nuts when they’re already showing signs of spoilage. These are as follows:

1. Plastic-like Smell

We usually store them either in airtight containers or in their boxes. When you open the box or the container, you’re welcome by a strong nutty smell.

If they have already gone stale, the smell will become different. The characteristic scent of rancid nuts is commonly referred to as a paint-like smell.

Others also claim that the smell is similar to that of nail polish. Finally, some think that the smell resembles that of old plastic containers.

Regardless of your description, a strong weird smell is a good sign that the peanuts have already gone rancid.

2. Mold Growth

When the nuts are exposed to humidity and moisture, mold will grow. Because of this, you should inspect the nuts before eating them. If they already have discoloration or white or green fuzzy growth, don’t eat them anymore and discard them immediately.

3. Taste

If the nuts have no weird smell, the next best thing that you can do is taste them. Perform a taste test by getting a small piece of the nut and then tasting it. If the nut tastes sour or bitter, throw the nuts right away.

Can Rancid Nuts Hurt You?

As long as there are no signs of staleness or rancidity, you can still eat nuts even if it’s beyond their best by date already.

On the other hand, you won’t experience any adverse side effects when consuming only small amounts of stale or rancid nuts. However, eating significant amounts of stale nuts is a big no-no as it may cause a digestive disturbance, and you may experience various symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Suppose you or anyone in your family has consumed stale nuts and is experiencing any of the abovementioned symptoms. In that case, you should bring them to the doctor right away so they can get treated right away to prevent dehydration. (*)

image of sharing

How To Store Nuts

No matter what you do, nuts will become stale at some point. The good news is you can extend the nuts’ freshness and shelf life with proper storage. Here are some food storage tips that you should try:

1. Don’t store the nuts in your pantry.

Here’s the storage secret that we want you to know. Most people think that the best way to store nuts is to put them in an airtight container in their pantry. It isn’t.

If you truly want to prolong the nuts’ freshness, store them in either the freezer or your fridge.

Why is that so?

Nuts have high amounts of unsaturated fatty acids, which will become rancid faster when exposed to heat.

To prevent this, placing them in a colder environment like your refrigerator and freezer is the way to go.

Pro Tip:

Storing nuts in the freezer or fridge can lower their risk of air and light exposure.

2. If you still decide to store at room temperature, keep them in a dark, cool, and dry place.

Ensure that the nuts will be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place like your kitchen pantry or cabinet. It must be located far from heat and light sources like a stove, oven, or kitchen windows.

3. Keep in airtight containers.

If you are storing them in the fridge, airtight containers are the way to go, while freezer-safe resealable bags are the best options for storing nuts in the freezer.

These storage containers effectively keep the air out and maintain the proper moisture level at the same time.

4. Label your containers.

Before putting them in their storage place, make sure that you label the containers with the date of storage so you can determine how

5. Don’t place near strong-smelling foods.

You need to understand that nuts can easily absorb the smell of other foods, especially when they are stored in the refrigerator for months. Because of this, you should avoid putting them near strong-smelling foods like onions.

The Bottom Line

Nut do go bad, and they will if you won’t store them right away. That’s why you must follow all our storage tips.

After all, they are pretty simple.

All you need to do is freeze or refrigerate nuts and keep them in an airtight container. Do this, and you can surely enjoy your favorite snack for longer!

image of nuts will spoil

Up Next: The Ideal Shelf Life of Flour, Grains, and Wheat

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