How to Store Butter Long-Term

How to Store Butter Long-Term and Maximize Shelf Life

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Butter is one of the most useful cooking fats for the kitchen. It is healthy, a flavor enhancer, and versatile. We have previously discussed how to store gheebeef tallowlard (pork fat), and coconut oil, but today we will discuss how to store butter long-term.

If you want to make sure your family can benefit from all the uses of butter it is important to understand the different storage methods for butter as well as its shelf life. We found that the max shelf life of a stick of butter is 1 year in the freezer, but canned butter can last 3 years, and powdered butter can last over 5 years.

In this article, we will discuss how to store butter, its shelf life, and how to tell if it has gone rancid. But first, what is butter?

Scope of butter

What is Butter?

Butter is a dairy product made primarily from fat and protein. It is the churned milk of various types of animals, which can affect texture, taste, and usage. Butter has a high smoke point of 302°F (150°C), making it a great cooking fat for frying, sauteeing, baking, and other types of cooking. At room temperature, it can be used as a spread or as a condiment when melted.

Since butter is a saturated fat, it is solid at room temperature like beef tallow, duck fatgoose fat, lard (pork fat), and other animal-based fats. It has a melting point of 95°F (35°C). Saturated fats are known to have a long shelf life because their molecules are more stable than liquid fats.

Additionally, you should know butter is a broad term for many different types of butter. The taste, texture, smell, and shelf life of butter can be affected by the process that is used to make it as well as the type of animal providing the milk. Although cow milk is the most common way to make butter, milk from sheep, yaks, buffalo, and goats is also used to make butter. It is agreed that pasteurized and grass-fed mammals provide the highest quality butter.

There are many different varieties of butter, but here are some of the more common types.

  • Clarified butter (Ghee)
  • Unsalted butter
  • Salted butter
  • Light butter
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Cultured butter
  • Powdered butte

How to Store Butter?

Butter is a cooking fat, so to ensure it has a long shelf life, it should be protected from heat, light, and exposure to air. Fortunately, this is simple, and by storing the butter in the proper container and location, it can reach its maximum shelf life.

Storage Location

The storage location is one of the most important factors for storing butter because its temperature affects how well-preserved the fat is. Ideally, butter should be stored in the fridge or freezer. Butter at room temperature will only last 1 or 2 days. Below, we will discuss how to store butter in the fridge and freezer.


In the fridge, butter can be stored for 1-2 months. Storing it in the fridge is a good option because it will not only stay fresh and accessible but will also protect butter from heat and consistent light exposure. The main downside of storing it in the fridge is that you must use it within 2 months, meaning you will like to have to be using it regularly to use up your supply. However, if you do not intend to use it right away, we suggest storing the butter in the freezer.

Stack of Unsalted Butter


Freezing butter is the most effective way to store butter long-term. It can be stored for over 1 year following this storage method. The cold temperature hardens the butter but allows it to be preserved for a long time. When storing in the freezer, you should make sure it is well protected. Otherwise, the butter can absorb the odors of nearby food, affecting the flavor and smell of your frozen butter. Also, when you are ready to defrost, the best approach is to place it in the fridge overnight so it defrosts properly.

Wrap butter in paper

Storage Container

The proper packaging is just as important as the storage location. This is because the storage container will protect butter from rancid causing elements like light and exposure to air. Butter can be packaged in a glass jar, paper, aluminum foil, or in its original packaging.

Glass jar

When possible, you should store butter in an airtight container. Glass jars limit exposure to heat, air, and light exposure when stored in the fridge or freezer. Additionally, it prevents nearby odors from attaching to the butter. If you decide to use a glass jar, it’s best to use a freezer-safe mason jar. So

Original packaging

Typically, butter in its original packaging is not designed for long-term storage. If you are looking to preserve store-bought butter, you should consider butter in glass jars or canned containers.

Also, it’s a good practice to avoid butter in plastic containers. plastic containers are known to have microplastics leak into the contents of the container. Plus, plastic is more likely to warm up than glass when exposed to heat.

Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is an effective way to store butter, especially if you are looking to store sticks of butter. This is because aluminum foil prevents odors from attaching to the butter. Ideally, a stick of butter is wrapped in paper, then wrapped in aluminum foil, and finally placed in a freezer bag. This will ensure the butter is well preserved but is not directly exposed to microplastics.

Shelf Life of Butter

Shelf Life of Butter

A study from the Journal of Dairy Science found that the shelf life of butter was dependent on salt content and quantity, where greater salt content and larger quantity may affect the shelf life of butter.

Generally, a stick of butter can last 1-2 months in the fridge, or over 1 year in the freezer. When stored in the freezer, the quality of the butter will start to erode after 12 months. However, it is still consumable until you notice signs of rancidity.

Butter at room temperature will only last 1 to 2 days, so it should not be stored outside a fridge or freezer.

For awareness, there are two types of butter that can last longer than a regular stick of butter. And those are powdered butter and canned butter. Powdered butter can be stored for up to 5 years, and canned butter can be stored for over 3 years

Below is a helpful table to visualize the shelf life of butter.

 Stick of ButterCanned ButterPowdered Butter
Room TemperatureNot RecommendedNot Recommended5 Years
Refrigerator1-2 Months1-2 YearsNot Recommended
Freezer12 Months3 YearsNot Recommended


How to tell if Butter is Rancid?

If butter spoils before its expiration date, it is likely because of exposure to heat, light, or oxygen. If you suspect your butter of being rancid, there is a simple three-step approach to determine if it has gone bad. All you have to do is pay attention to your sense of sight, smell and taste.

  1. Sight: First, look for signs of discoloration, mold, or bacterial growth. Any drastic discoloration is an obvious indicator the butter has gone bad.
  2. Smell: Secondly, pay attention to your sense of smell. Rancid butter will smell sour, cheesy, or like spoiled milk. If you notice this, simply dispose of it as it is a sign the butter has gone bad.
  3. Taste: Lastly, if you have not noticed obvious signs of spoilage, you can take a small sample of the butter. Depending if it tastes sour or normal, you’ll have an answer if it’s gone bad.

Although you may not get sick from eating spoiled butter, much of the nutritional value is gone, plus it may cause stomach discomfort and ruin your home cooked meal. So, it is better to dispose of it than expose your family to it.

Nutrition of Butter

Since the 1950s, inexpensive margarine has been consumed more in the US and in the EU than butter, because it was perceived to be healthier. We now know this to be untrue as trans fats, like margarine, are linked to negative health effects. Whereas saturated fats are linked to improving heart health and providing more energy. Below is the breakdown of the types of fat nutrients in butter.

Type of FatGrams (g)
Saturated Fat43-48g
Monounsaturated Fat15-19g
Polyunsaturated Fat2-3g
Total Fat80-88g

Butter Spread

Wrapping Up

To wrap up, butter should almost always be stored in a fridge or freezer. Otherwise, it will spoil within 2 days at room temperature. When it comes to shelf life, butter in a fridge will last up to 2 months but can stay fresh for up to 1 year in the freezer. Afterward, it will still be edible but the quality would have deteriorated. Additionally, canned and powdered butter are available which claim longer preservation potential. Canned butter can last 3 years in storage, and powdered butter has a shelf life of over 5 years.

Related Article: Cooking Fats vs. Oils for Long-Term Storage

Related Article: How to Dispose of Cooking Oils – Environmentally

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