Does Olive Oil Go Bad? How to Tell Olive Oil Is Rancid

Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022
Does Olive Oil Go Bad
Learn how to tell if your olive oil has gone rancid and how to store it safely

Olive oil can go bad over time, just as any other natural product with a shelf life. 

As soon as you open the bottle, olive oil starts to degrade due to oxygen exposure and oxidation. Initially, the quality and taste of oil will decline, but it may take years before the oil becomes unfit for consumption.

Learn how to tell if your olive oil has gone rancid and how to store it safely.

How to know if your olive oil has gone bad

There are a few ways you can tell if your olive oil has gone bad:

  • Taste: This is the best way to determine whether your oil has gone rancid. A small taste is fine and won’t cause you harm. Olive oil that has turned rancid may have the following characteristics:
    • May taste bitter, sour, or stale
    • May have a crayon-like taste
    • Leaves an unpleasant residue on your tongue
  • Smell: Fresh olive oil typically has a bright, fruity, and pleasant odor, whereas bad olive oil may smell like crayons, putty, or Elmer’s glue.

Rancid oil will not necessarily make you sick, but it can ruin a dish as well as lose some of its antioxidant properties. Therefore, in order to maximize the nutritional benefits of olive oil, it is best to consume it fresh.

Does olive oil have an expiration date?

Olive oil does not have an expiration date due to the following reasons:

  • If stored properly, olive oil can retain its properties for a long time
  • Most of the nutritional aspects of olive oil are not lost when stored correctly

Although olive oil does not have an expiration date, it should have a best-before date. The best-before date is usually between 9 -24 months from the date of manufacturing. Extra virgin olive oils are less processed and have a best-before date of 12-18 months from the time they are bottled.

Although consuming olive oil after the best-before date is completely safe, there is no guarantee that the product will retain the same organoleptic (taste, odor, and smell) properties it had at the time of bottling. Beyond these time frames, olive oils tend to develop an acrid or bitter taste.

What to look for when purchasing olive oil

Exposure to light and heat can turn olive oil rancid. Therefore, it is important to purchase olive oil that comes in dark glass bottles.

Avoid buying oil that has been sitting on the shelf for many months. Once you bring it home, store it in a cool, dark place and only open it before you are ready to use it.

How to store olive oil safely

Storing olive oil between 55-60 F can help prolong its shelf life. Here are some tips for storing olive oil properly:

  • Store it in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry with a door, a cabinet, or a refrigerator (if stored in a refrigerator, it may turn cloudy, which is quite normal)
  • Cap the bottle tightly after opening it
  • Transfer your oil to a dark glass or tin container if it comes packed in a plastic polyethylene container


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

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Medically Reviewed on 8/4/2022
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