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How Long Yogurt Lasts (With USDA Storage Guidelines Chart)

Yogurt is commonly used as a snack or stuck in a kid’s lunch for school. I have often wondered how long the stuff will last since it sometimes sits in our fridge for several weeks and in a lunch bag for a few hours. I did some extensive research, and this is what I learned.

Refrigerated (40 ºF) unopened yogurt can last up to 2 weeks after its “sell by” date. At room temperature, it will usually last for about 2 hours. Once opened, yogurt can last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. It can be frozen (0 ºF) for up to 2 months, but the quality and texture may be altered.

TypeIn the Refrigerator (40 ºF)In the Freezer (0 ºF)At Room Temperature
Regular YogurtUp to 2 WeeksUp to 2 MonthsUp to 2 hours
Drinkable Yogurts or “Go-Gurts”Up to 2 WeeksNot recommendedUp to 2 hours
Greek YogurtUp to 2 WeeksUp to 2 monthsUp to 2 hours
Frozen YogurtN/AUp to 2 MonthsN/A
Info provided by the USDA

The rest of the article will cover the subject in greater detail so you can know everything you need to know about how long yogurt lasts.

Yogurt Parfait and Jelly Toast on a Plate on the Counter

How Long Does Yogurt Last Unopened?

Unopened yogurt can last for 2 weeks after its sell-by date, provided it is refrigerated for the majority of the time.

You can also freeze yogurt if you need it to last longer. Freezing yogurt is recommended for up to 2 months. After 2 months, the yogurt will still be safe to eat but will be of lower quality. After thawing your yogurt, you should use it immediately.

Related Can You Freeze Yogurt and Eat It Like Ice Cream?

How Long Does Yogurt Last Once Opened?

Once opened, yogurt will usually last for half the time it would if it had not been opened.

Refrigerated, opened yogurt can still be safe to eat for up to 1 week after the sell-by date on the packaging. However, it is always smart to check your opened yogurt for any signs of decay, such as mold, before consuming. Depending on the type of yogurt, it can sometimes go bad quicker than expected.

If you decide to keep yogurt once it is opened, I highly recommend using an airtight container. This will help ensure that it stays edible for as long as possible. Just make sure you get a quality one, like this type found on Amazon. It may take an extra minute or two to transfer it to the container, but it is well worth it. Especially if you buy yogurt in large packages.

How Long Will Yogurt Last in the Fridge?

Unopened yogurt will last for approximately 2 weeks after the sell-by date.

If it is stored in the fridge consistently, Opened yogurt will last for 1 week from the day it was opened if refrigerated consistently. It is important to note that the sell-by and use-by date on the packaging are different things. If your yogurt is past its “use by” or “expiration” date, it is not safe to eat and should be discarded.

How Long Does Yogurt Last Unrefrigerated?

It is generally agreed that yogurt should only be kept unrefrigerated for 2 hours or less. If stored in normal temperatures, the yogurt could start to grow bacteria after 2 hours. If the yogurt is stored in temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celcius), it should be consumed within the hour.

How Long Does Yogurt Last After Best by Date?

Unopened yogurt will last for up to 2 weeks after its best-by or sell-by date, providing it is refrigerated. Once you open a yogurt, the best-by date will no longer apply. Opened yogurt will last for 1 week from opening if refrigerated.

Can You Eat Yogurt After the Expiration Date?

If your yogurt has an expiration date, it is safest not to eat it once it has passed. However, if your yogurt only contains a sell-by date, you will have to open the yogurt to judge whether it is safe to eat or not.

If the yogurt looks watery, smells sour, or contains mold, it is not safe to eat, and you should throw the yogurt away.

How Do You Know If Yogurt Has Gone Bad?

Yogurt contains live bacteria. This means that, once the yogurt goes bad, it is not safe to ingest it. Luckily, several indicators can tell you if yogurt has gone bad;

  1. Texture- The yogurt looks watery or contains more liquid than you would expect it to.
  2. Smell- The yogurt smells sour or “off.”
  3. Mold- The yogurt contains mold or discoloration.
  4. Expiration Date- If the yogurt is more than a couple of weeks past its expiration date.

If your yogurt contains any of the 4 indicators, it has likely gone bad, and you should not eat it.

Keep in mind that the USDA recommends keeping yogurt in the fridge no longer than 2 weeks and the freezer no longer than 2 months. However, it is likely they are being overly conservative with these recommendations. Use good judgment before consuming any product. Following common sense indicators that it may have gone bad should be a matter of course.

Can Yogurt Make You Sick?

If you eat an expired yogurt, you could fall victim to food poisoning. This can cause stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. If this happens, be sure to drink plenty of water to help flush out the toxins and stay hydrated, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea.

If you are experiencing severe, persistent stomach cramps and/or vomiting, it is best to seek medical attention to ensure you can receive treatment if needed. FYI, the number of poison control is (800) 222-1222.

If you experience illness or sickness after eating yogurt, regardless of the expiration date, contact a medical professional as you may be suffering from lactose intolerance or allergy to a specific ingredient in the yogurt.

Related The 11 Best High-Protein Non-Dairy Yogurts.

How to Properly Store Yogurt

Yogurt can go bad very quickly if it is not stored. You must always keep yogurt refrigerated, as it can start to grow bacteria after 2 hours out of the fridge.

If you have opened the yogurt, make sure you seal it so that it is airtight before returning it to the fridge. It is advised that you keep yogurt at the back of the fridge and not in the door, as it is much colder at the back of the refrigerator, which will prevent unwanted bacteria.

How Can I Increase the Shelf Life of Yogurt?

The only true way to increase the shelf life of yogurt is to freeze it at home. Frozen yogurt will last for up to 2 months and can be thawed. After thawing, yogurt must be consumed immediately and cannot be refrozen. It is important to note that freezing yogurt will often cause a decline in the quality and texture of the yogurt and that many professionals only recommend freezing yogurt if it is to be used as part of a recipe such as a cake or a smoothie.

You definitely need to use a freezer-safe container specially designed for the purpose, like these that I recommend from Amazon. They also work well for the fridge, but definitely only freeze it if you plan to use the stuff in a recipe down the road.

How Long Does Homemade Yogurt Last?

There are many recipes for homemade yogurt, and it is often more comforting to know precisely what is inside of the food you are consuming. The shelf-life of homemade yogurt is very similar to the yogurt sold in stores. Homemade yogurt will last for up to 2 weeks, as long as it is refrigerated. It should be noted that the longer you leave your homemade yogurt, the stronger it will get. You may find that your homemade yogurt tastes much stronger than it originally did after a week.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, how long yogurt lasts comes down to proper storage. Make sure your fridge is on the right setting and make sure you avoid those annoying cold spots where food can become icy. Otherwise, you will end up with some weird tasting or “freezer-burn” tasting yogurt. Yum.

Also, if putting yogurt in your a kid’s lunch, make sure they aren’t going to be storing it in a really hot environment or eating it a lot later in the day. Not only is warm yogurt pretty nasty, but it’s also unsafe. In my humble opinion, it’s not worth the risk.

Thanks for stopping by!

For more, don’t miss Does Parmesan Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated?