Can Buttermilk Go Bad? How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

image of butter milk bad smell like

Buttermilk is a wonderfully rich and delicious dairy item used in marinades and baking. It is known for its sour flavor, which can make it hard to tell when it has gone bad. But, since it is a dairy item, can buttermilk go bad?

Buttermilk can last for 14 days in the fridge.

Since buttermilk tastes rather sour, it can be hard to tell if it has gone bad. It is essential to know, however, because tasting sour dairy is highly unpleasant.

In this article, we are going to figure out how long buttermilk lasts and how to tell if it has gone off. We will also give you some storage tips to keep it fresher for longer.

Let’s get into it.

What is the Difference Between Buttermilk and Regular Milk?

image of butter milk sits out

Butter milk is a fermented dairy product that can be made using cream or milk.[*]

Traditionally, it was the liquid left behind from when you churn cultured cream into butter. However, modern buttermilk is created by culturing skimmed milk.

Regular milk is the milk straight from the cow with part or all of the cream removed, depending on the type of milk.

The fermentation process is why it has a longer shelf life than regular milk.

The flavor is also a big difference between the two.

While regular milk is creamy in flavor and thin in consistency, buttermilk has a sour flavor and a thicker texture.

The sour flavor comes from the lactic acid that is created during fermentation.

Can Buttermilk Go Bad? How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

Buttermilk will eventually go bad, but it can last up to 14 days in the fridge. [*]

If unopened, buttermilk will last a few days past its expiration date.

Since it has a naturally sour flavor, it can be hard to tell if it is still fresh. This is why it is important to get to know the signs of fresh or bad buttermilk.

Fresh buttermilk will be will be:

1. Sour Scent

Is buttermilk sour? Since it is cultured, it will have a sour smell, but it will not be rancid.

It will be fresh and subtle.

2. Smooth Texture

Buttermilk has a similar texture to drinking yogurt or pouring cream.

This texture may thicken slightly and separate over time. Due to this, you should shake the container well before using it.

3. Tangy Flavor

Buttermilk is naturally sour in flavor from lactic acid.

It will be strong but pleasant and tangy.

How to Tell if Buttermilk Is Bad

So, if fresh buttermilk is sour and thick, what does buttermilk that has gone bad look like?

Bad buttermilk will be:

1. Rancid Scent

The first thing you will notice when you open the carton is the scent.

Instead of smelling sour but fresh, it will smell very strong and rancid.

2. Curdled Texture

Even after shaking, the texture of the butter-milk will be very thick and hard to pour.

The consistency will also be lumpy and uneven from curdling.

3. Mold May Be Present

A surefire way to tell that your butter-milk has gone off is the presence of mold.

The mold will start up at the top and around the sides where the buttermilk has smeared and dried.

It will be green in color and spread across the butter-milk over time.

4. Bad Flavor

The last resort to tell if your buttermilk is off is to taste it.

It will taste very sour but not in the fresh way it did when it was first opened. It will be rancid and very unpleasant.

Be sure to only taste a small portion for the sake of your taste buds and your stomach.

What is the Best Way to Store Buttermilk?

image of bake cake using butter milk

Buttermilk is best stored in its original container in the fridge.

The container buttermilk comes in is usually sturdy plastic with a tight fighting lid that will keep your buttermilk fresh for as long as possible.

To keep it fresh, make sure to wipe down the opening and tighten the lid well between uses.

Can You Freeze Buttermilk?

Freezing buttermilk is a great way to save butter milk that you may not use before it goes off.

Transfer to an airtight plastic container or a Ziploc bag and label and date the container before placing it in the freezer.

Buttermilk will last three months in the freezer.

Learn more:


Is expired buttermilk OK to use?

Buttermilk is good for a few days after expiration if it remains closed.

However, if it is open, use it within 14 days.

If you eat buttermilk that is a few days expired but doesn’t fit any of the criteria we outlined, then it will be safe to eat for a few days.

Can spoiled buttermilk make you sick?

However, eating the buttermilk will cause stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea once it has gone bad.

Can you bake with expired buttermilk?

While it is great to bake with for days, we do not recommend baking with it when it has visibly expired.

Expired buttermilk can make you sick, so it will ruin your entire batch of baking.

Interesting Facts:

Should you shake buttermilk?

Since it is so rich, it is important to shake it so the heavy cream doesn’t rise to the top.

When you pour it, your butter milk should be smooth and pourable.

Can you drink buttermilk?

Buttermilk has a very strong flavor, but if you enjoy it, you can drink it straight.

The texture is very thick, which makes it hard to drink too much of, but it is good in small amounts. It is recommended because it is low-fat and high in protein.


Buttermilk can be a tricky one when it comes to shelf life, but, as you can see, it will eventually go off.

  • Buttermilk will last for 14 days in the fridge.
  • If closed, the buttermilk will last a few days after expiration.
  • It can be frozen for three months.

We hope this has saved you from ever having to consume buttermilk ever again.

Up Next: What’s The Shelf life of Dairy Products such as Milk?

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