extra virgin coconut oil

Last Updated on May 30, 2024

Does coconut oil go bad? Have you ever wondered if coconut oil can go bad or expire? Perhaps you are concerned about its shelf life. Learning to know the signs of spoilage and how to store your coconut oil properly is crucial for cooking! 

extra virgin coconut oil

Let’s get ready to explore the mysterious depths of this magical oil.

What is Coconut Oil?

It is a type of oil derived from coconut meat (coconut kernel).

It has a coconut flavor and is used as an ingredient in many dishes and is increasingly being added to skin care products for its range of benefits.

Generally, coconut oil is composed mainly of saturated fats (about 92%), with a significant amount of monounsaturated fats (6%) and some polyunsaturated fats (2%) as well as small amounts of other ingredients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids and phytochemicals.

Some types of coconut oil are processed with chemical solvents while others are extracted through mechanical pressing.

Similar to other oils, it can go bad over time.

Therefore, it’s critical to understand how to store coconut oil properly and to check the product’s label for expiration information. Depending on the variety and quality of coconut oil, it may be possible to extend the shelf life of an opened jar or pouch.

does extra virgin coconut oil expire

Signs of Bad Coconut Oil (Expired Coconut Oil)

The answer is, that coconut oil does go bad and expire.

Despite coconut oil’s healthy properties, however, it can still spoil if not handled and stored properly. Knowing the signs can help you determine when it may no longer be edible or safe to consume.

You can identify spoiled coconut oil by several characteristics, most of which are identified by the senses of sight and smell.

It typically has a light, nutty aroma; however, spoilt or rancid oil may have an acrid odor that smells like old cooking grease or crayons. Plus, the color of spoiled coconut oil may also change to light grey or yellow-green instead of its usual white or off-white hue.


Along with the unpleasant smell, the texture of expired coconut oil can be noticeably different from that of the oil when it was fresh; it may become thick, gloopy, and chunky.

If you come across this in your kitchen cupboard or refrigerator, chances are it’s time to replace the product. It should always keep its pleasant, sweet-smelling fragrance if properly stored – any changes in this regard warrant discarding the item.

coconut oil for skin

It’s important to note that despite going off, consuming spoiled oils can still do more harm than good. This is primarily because molds are found in the deteriorated acidity levels caused by spoilage, which causes nausea, vomiting, and stomach pains.

As much as possible it is recommended to discard any questionable oils immediately instead of taking the risk.

Different Types of Coconut Oil

There are several different types, each offering distinct characteristics and benefits. The type you choose will depend on what you’re planning to use it for.

can coconut oil expire

1. Refined coconut oil (Highly PROCESSED)

It is the most common type available in stores and has been processed to remove some of the coconut scent and flavor. Because it’s highly processed, it has a long shelf life and can be stored at room temperature for up to 20 months.

It has a light texture, making it useful for baking or sautéing at high temperatures since it won’t smoke or burn easily.

2. Unrefined coconut oil (Need To Be Refrigerated)

It offers similar health benefits, but it retains the naturally nutty flavor of coconut and often has a slightly yellowish hue. It needs to be refrigerated or in a cool place away from sunlight since heat can cause off flavors to develop over time.

Unrefined oils generally taste fresher than refined oils and may also have more antioxidants that help fight diseases due to exposure to less heat when they are processed.

3. Organic (Extra-Virgin or virgin) coconut oil ( Low Heat Cooking)

It is minimally processed with no added chemicals, preservatives, or hydrogenation (the process of hardening liquid fat). However, it is often slightly more expensive than regular unrefined oils but can still be found in many supermarkets and health food stores.

This type of oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated but should not be heated above 350°F as this can damage its beneficial compounds like lauric acid.

Organic oils tend to have stronger, purer flavors and offer higher concentrations of beneficial fats like medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).(Source: Healthline)

4. Coconut butter (Spread)

It is a spreadable form of coconut flesh made from grated raw coconuts that are pureed into a creamy paste.

Similar to nut butter such as almond butter or peanut butter – which gives it its rich smooth texture much like natural fruit jams rather than just pure liquid fat does with regular cooking oils.

At room temperature, store coconut butter in an airtight container. The product is shelf-stabilized and does not require refrigeration.

It also contains all healthy fibers present in the fresh coconuts, unlike its oils which only contain fatty lipids without any fibers present due to extraction techniques employed during the manufacturing process.

Coconut Oil Shelf Life

Coconut oil has become increasingly popular in recent years, it’s a staple in every vegan’s pantry. Whether you’re using it as cooking oil or in body care products, knowing the signs of expired coconut oil and when it isn’t safe to use is crucial.

This type of oil typically comes in jars or bottles, just like other cooking oils. It can also be found in solid form, sold in tubs like butter or margarine.

The solid form of coconut oil doesn’t need special handling after purchase; shelf-stable liquid coconut oil should still be kept airtight and away from light exposure to maximize its life span.

When stored properly, it can last for up to two years with minimal degradation of quality. But as a general rule of thumb, always smell and taste your coconut oil before cooking to ensure the highest quality.

How to Properly Store Coconut Oil

organic virgin coconut oil in a bottle

Here we’ve concluded: that refined coconut oil needs to be refrigerated. While unrefined, organic (virgin), and coconut butter are not required to be refrigerated.

Although this type of oil is a stable and resilient oil, it’s still susceptible to oxidation if exposed to too much heat and light.

In order to get the most out of it, choose an opaque container with a tight-fitting lid that will keep out any light or water and store it in a cool, dry place away from any direct sources of excessive heat like a windowsill or stovetop.

The ideal storage temperature range is 75°F (24°C) to 79°F (26°C).

Refrigerated oils may cloud over due to condensation, so if you decide to store coconut oil in the refrigerator try warming it up before use.

In addition, pay attention to the expiration date on your package. Depending on the type of packaging used, some jars can be stored for up to two years after purchase.

Using And Baking With Coconut Oil

Below you will find tips on how to use coconut oil and how to store it in order to maximize its shelf life.

does coconut oil expire
  • Cooking: Refined coconut oil is extremely stable due to its natural saturated fats and doesn’t oxidize when exposed to high temperatures or light. This makes it excellent for cooking at high temperatures or baking as the flavor remains true. It also has a high smoke point, meaning that when heated over 400°F the smoke will begin to damage the oils. When using, be sure not to heat over this temperature or else your food may take on an unpleasant taste.
  • Skin and hair applications: It is often used topically on skin and hair, diluted in essential oils for massage purposes, or simply taken orally as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Storage: Exposure to air and moisture breaks down the length of the saturated fatty acid chains which accelerates oxidation leading to bad smells and flavors. Coconut does not degrade much when stored at room temperature under dark conditions. Therefore, storing it in sealed containers away from direct sunlight, and refrigeration will extend shelf life further.
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Coconut Oil FAQ

Q: Is it OK to use expired oil?

No, it is not safe to use. 

This type of oil has a fairly short shelf life and should be used soon after opening the container for best results.

Using expired oil can cause unwanted bacteria to grow in the oil, creating a risk. Even if the oil still smells and looks fine, it should be discarded as soon as possible after the expiration date.

Q: What does it smell like when coconut oil goes bad?

When it turns bad, it develops a distinct, unmistakable odor. The aroma is usually rancid and sour, with a hint of a cheese-like scent and an unpleasant sourness. It may leave a metallic taste in your mouth after smelling or tasting it. 

What can I do when coconut oil has expired?

When it has expired, there are a couple of things you can do. First and foremost, you should dispose of it properly. After expiration, the oil can become rancid, leading it to create off-putting flavors and smells when used in cooking or baking. 

Here are some creative ways to use expired oil:
1. Rust-proof survival gears.
2. Remove rust.
3. Make emergency fuel (biodiesel).
4. Lubricate a chainsaw.
5. Lubricate squeaky joints.
6. Protect your gardening tools.
7. Create light.
8. Keep pests away.
(Reference: 10 Surprising Emergency Uses for Expired Cooking Oil)

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