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Does Olive Oil Need to Be Refrigerated? | Storage Guide

It seems like everywhere I go, I get conflicting info on whether or not olive oil needs to be refrigerated. So, I asked some experts and did some extensive research, and this is what I found out.

Olive oil does not usually need to be refrigerated. This is because it should be kept at between 55 °F and 70 °F, and average room temperatures typically fall within that range. However, if your kitchen or pantry tends to be warmer than average, you should refrigerate your olive oil.

In this article, I will walk you through everything you need to know about storing olive oil. I will also cover whether it goes bad and how to tell if it should be thrown out and replaced.


How Do You Store Olive Oil After Opening?

The three things that are bad news for olive oil are heat, light, and oxygen. Any one of those things can make your olive oil go rancid more quickly. This is because they all speed up the oxidization process, which breaks down the olive oil molecules.

To keep out the oxygen, you need to make sure that your olive oil is stored in an airtight container. If you have bought a large bottle of olive oil, it may be better to decant it into smaller bottles so that you’re not introducing oxygen to the whole batch every time you open the lid.

Here is an airtight decanter found on Amazon that was designed for alcohol but works really well for olive oil. It looks classy and will be a great conversation piece for your next meal with friends.

Just make sure you don’t expose the oil to too much sun or bright light, as this can make it break down faster. To avoid too much light exposure, you should also avoid leaving your bottle out and, instead, keep it inside a dark cupboard.

Olive oil needs to be kept at a relatively cool temperature of between 57 °F and 70 °F. If you plan to keep your olive oil in a cupboard near the stove for convenience, don’t! Instead, please keep it in an area that will stay cool.

Should Olive Oil Be Refrigerated?

So since olive oil needs to be kept in a cool, dry, and reasonably airtight place, your immediate thought might be to put it in the fridge. If your kitchen regularly reaches temperatures above 70 °F, you really should do this.

Otherwise, it isn’t actually necessary. One thing to remember is that if olive oil is kept at a very cool temperature, such as that found in a fridge, it will start to form crystals and solidify. This isn’t a disaster since it won’t affect the flavor, but it does mean that you need to spend extra time slowly warming the olive oil up again before you can use it.

One option is to decant your olive oil into a smaller container (Amazon Link) that you keep in a cool, dry cupboard and keep the larger container in the fridge. That way, each time you decant into a smaller container, you can just leave it in the cupboard to warm up, and it will be ready to use next time you need to cook with it.

How Long Can Olive Oil Be Kept at Room Temperature?

Even though it does eventually go bad, olive oil can actually be stored for quite a long time.

An unopened bottle of olive oil can be kept for two years. Once it’s opened, it is recommended that you use it within three to six months for maximum flavor and nutrients, although up to a year is fine. Also, since it is less processed, extra virgin olive oil won’t keep for as long as other types.

However, it would be best if you still used extra virgin. It is much better for you, after all.

Kitchen pantry with italian food products including olive oil pasta whole tomatoes and various sauces
Many people store olive oil in their pantries.

Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

Olive oil is made by pressing olives, so you could technically call it a fruit juice. Any fruit juice will go bad over time, and olive oil is no exception. Bad, in this case, refers to a change in flavor so that the olive oil becomes rancid. This is due to rising acidic levels in olive oil and its degradation.

Heat and excessive light are the biggest enemies of olive oil. To keep out the light, it is best to store it in darkened or tinted glass bottles. Olive oil is usually sold in tinted bottles, and if you are decanting it at home, you need to make sure that you are putting it into tinted containers as well. While this is preferred, it actually isn’t necessary if you use up the oil relatively fast, as I do.

How to Tell if Olive Oil Has Gone Bad

You won’t be able to tell if your olive oil has gone bad just by looking at it. Really, the only way to tell is by doing a sniff and/or a taste test (as unpleasant as that may be).

  • The smell of olive oil that has gone bad will be sickly sweet, likely fruit that has started to rot or ferment.
  • If you do try a taste test, remember not to swallow any but just swill it around in your mouth. If your olive oil has gone bad, it will be tasteless and greasy or may taste obviously bad.

Can Expired Olive Oil Make You Sick?

If you do eat expired olive oil, there’s no need to panic. It isn’t going to make you sick. However, it won’t taste very nice and will probably ruin any dish that you put it in. It is also important to remember that once olive oil has expired, it tends to lose its antioxidant benefits. So it is still time to go out and get a new bottle.

Bottom Line

Using olive oil is an excellent choice for your health. In fact, it is a staple of the Mediterranean diet.

But you may only be using it a little bit at a time, so it is essential to know how to store it properly. Olive oil needs to be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place. This doesn’t have to be the fridge, but if your kitchen tends to be very warm, refrigerating it may be the best option for you (remember that it will solidify and need to be slowly warmed back up).

Olive oil will go bad eventually but can be kept for up to a year once opened. You can tell if your olive oil has gone bad by its smell and taste, but gone-off olive oil won’t make you ill.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

For more, don’t miss How Long Does Butter Last? | Proper Storage Guidelines.