How Long Does Buttermilk Last

Buttermilk is a versatile product that is a little sour and tangy and is used in baking food like pancakes and some savory dishes. Now, the question is, how long does buttermilk last in the fridge? You can store it longer if you know the storing tips, shelf life, and spoilage symptoms.

This article will share what buttermilk is, some tips for storing it longer, and more. Start reading.

What Is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is only a fermented, low-fat, and sour milk product used in making bread and cakes. The making of buttermilk is a simple process. It is a leftover liquid extracted from the whole milk cream that is stirred until the milk and cream are separated, and the cream becomes white butter.

Its main ingredients are water, lactose, milk proteins, and fat. Buttermilk is now also used in making desserts like muffins, waffles, cookies, biscuits, pancakes, etc.

Shelf Life of Buttermilk

The shelf-life of the buttermilk usually depends on how it is stored and processed, the packet manufactured date and the direction of daylight or heat define its durability.

But many people need to learn how long it can last. Here is the answer to how long does buttermilk last after opening? It stays well if appropriately processed and kept below the 40°F temperature.

If the packet is open, consume it within three days; it may discharge a watery essence on top, and the rest of the butter deposits on the base of the container, leaving a fermented flavor.

How Long Does Buttermilk Last?

Buttermilk can stay up to 14 days if kept in an airtight box in a freezer below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to spare some space for air in the box to stabilize the buttermilk temperature quickly. To increase the buttermilk's durability safely and quickly, freeze it. 

Furthermore, to preserve buttermilk to drink at home, there are two conditions: 

Condition 1: The quality of buttermilk is purified enough when made through the naturally stirred process and cannot be stored open for a more extended period and leftover liquid for more than one day. Homemade buttermilk contains no preservatives or pasteurized compounds to maintain its quality. 

Condition 2: If you have bought buttermilk from the store, it can stay in the refrigerator for six months if it is sealed.

If the commercial buttermilk packet is open, use it within three days. Many people need to know how to tell if buttermilk is bad. To find it, shake the pack well, and if you notice the water and milk essence deposit, it is fine, but if the base of the buttermilk doesn't reach its natural form, it has gone bad.

The truth is buttermilk is already a spoiled product, so check the opened carton for mold texture. So, checking the container inside for its opening molds is better than tasting its fermented taste. If you notice mold formation, then discard it immediately.

How Long Does Buttermilk Last in the Fridge?

It depends upon the storage method of buttermilk. It can stay in a fridge for a month, and when opened, it can be stored for 7 or 14 days. If you want to boost the buttermilk shelf life, seal the carton and freeze it for 3 months.

Usually, homemade buttermilk holds its natural state in the fridge only for 2 or 3 days, as no artificial preservatives are added to the homemade buttermilk. Keep it in an airtight box to avoid the formation of bacteria.

If you find buttermilk is watery, not as much smoother, with thicker lumps visible, it may be spoiled. Throw it away immediately because bad buttermilk may lead to a food infection.

If you still find it creamy and off-white, it may be fine. Do not use it if the color turns pale yellow and the water floats up.

How to Keep Buttermilk Properly?

As stated above, buttermilk is a residual liquid extract from whole milk butter that tastes sour and is acidic. As it contains lactic acid, it should be kept in the refrigerator.

Hence, to store the refined buttermilk, keep it on the fridge's main counter where cooling is maximum. Use buttermilk within three days of cooking or baking. However, the refrigerated buttermilk can be used after two weeks.

To store buttermilk properly, follow these ways: 

  • Buttermilk cartons can be frozen for up to 3 months. For example, take an ice cube tray and pour buttermilk into each block. Freeze the cubes and then move these frozen cubes to an airtight freezer bag. When using the cube, remove it from the tray and leave it outside for some time. When buttermilk cubes melt and reach room temperature, they can be used for cooking.
  • Remember to cover the buttermilk carton lid closed in the fridge. Use tape to make it airtight to keep the buttermilk lasts longer. Sealed buttermilk cartons can be used for drinking for up to 7 days.

How to Check If Buttermilk Has Gone Bad?

If your buttermilk has become lumpy or its molds are visible, it's time to discard it. If the buttermilk smell turns to a strong sour odor, it is also a sign that it has gone bad. 

Today, buttermilk is made using an active culture of lactic acid that has been pasteurized, producing probiotic bacteria in dairy milk to kill off most other bacteria present in the milk. The lactic acid provides buttermilk with a tangy flavor, preventing any different molds and bacteria from reproducing.

These probiotic bacteria give it a buttery flavor, making it diacetyl. Throughout its time, buttermilk ferments in your refrigerator, which reduces the buttery flavor, and the lactic acid continues to grow, making it sour.


Buttermilk is a tasty, tangy drink that tastes wonderful and lends well in baking and cooking. Most buttermilk available in stores is refined and made differently than traditional buttermilk. However, both have a short shelf life and must be stored below 40°F (4.4°C) in the refrigerator.

If buttermilk is stored in the refrigerator for more than 48 hours, use it immediately or freeze it in an ice cube tray. Open buttermilk can stay up to 14 days in the refrigerator.

However, frozen, opened, or unopened buttermilk stored in an airtight container lasts up to 3 months. If you see any differences in the smell of your buttermilk, it's best to throw it away to avoid getting sick.


1. Can you freeze buttermilk?

Ans: Yes, buttermilk stays best when frozen. Before using, shake it well and check the texture or smell to see if it has gone bad. 

2. Can drinking expired buttermilk make you sick?

Ans: Yes, it can make you sick. So before using, check the buttermilk carton. If unopened, it may still be fine. If the buttermilk is opened and spoiled, do not use it, as it can cause food poisoning.

3. Can you leave buttermilk unrefrigerated?

Ans: Avoid keeping it at room temperature for over 2 hours; always store it in the refrigerator. If it is left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it's best to throw it away.

4. Does buttermilk go bad?

Ans: Yes, if you notice your buttermilk contains large lumps, becomes highly thick, and smells sour, it has gone bad. You can also see some molds floating on top. 

5. How can you fix separated buttermilk?

Ans: Like yogurt, buttermilk's fluid portion can separate from the cream. If there are no breakdown symptoms, shake the buttermilk container well and check if it brings it back to its natural state. 

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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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