Does Margarine Go Bad? Signs To Look For

Quick summary: Yes, margarine will go bad, but it will last significantly longer than butter. Watch out for possible duration recommendations due to extra spices or ingredients in the margarine. 

Although they look very similar, margarine is not the same as butter, and mainly people are divided into consumers of one or the other. Some love margarine for their breakfast, and others wouldn’t give up butter under any circumstances. Although they look similar and even taste sometimes, these two foods have different characteristics.

As a rule, margarine contains added additives and preservatives that are not found in butter, so it is significantly longer lasting and more resistant to spoilage. But it will still deteriorate over time. Here’s how long you can count on the stability of margarine and how best to store it.

How Long Does Margarine Last?

The durability of margarine largely depends on the ingredients it contains. Nowadays, you have dozens of versions of margarine with various additives on the shelves. Some are intended for breakfast, some for the preparation of cakes. Some are with the addition of herbs, olives, and even ham. Generally, their shelf life is stated to be a few months from production.

Unopened margarine 

Although the manufacturers will indicate the best-before date on the packages, it does not necessarily mean that you have to throw the product in the trash as soon as the set date passes. Usually, margarine will be suitable for a few weeks after expiration. If we were to be specific, we would stick to a niche of about three to four weeks after the expiration date. Although the product will probably be good after that, we wouldn’t recommend stretching the dates too far.

Opened margarine

Opening the margarine package itself does not affect its durability much. The terms are more or less the same as for unopened margarine, provided, of course, that you keep it in the refrigerator and under favorable conditions. As long as you don’t notice any signs of spoilage, you can count on the aforementioned few weeks after the expiration date.

You might want to check these butter shelf life tips also. Storage recommendations and spoilage signs included. 

Can Margarine Go Bad?

Over time, margarine will go bad without exception. As it is made up mostly of oily ingredients, what will most likely happen is that it will go rancid. A change in texture also occurs over time, so while it’s not necessarily unsafe to eat, you’ll want to throw it away for quality reasons. Here’s how to know if something’s wrong. 

Sign 1: The smell and taste are off

The first signs will certainly be a foul smell and an unpleasant taste. By this, you will definitely recognize that the product is rancid. Be sure to throw such margarine in the trash because you will certainly not enjoy it.

Sign 2: The texture is different

Margarine is a smooth, easily spreadable product. This is why some people prefer it to slightly harder butter. So if the texture has become too hard, if the components have separated, it’s time for a fresh supply.

Sign 3: It does not look good visually

The change you can see at a glance is a darker color. If it is a slightly darker color only on the surface, you can scrape it off and use margarine underneath. But if the thicker layer is darker, the product has certainly come to an end. The appearance of mold can also be a sign of spoilage, but this will only happen if you have contaminated the margarine with some other organic substances. By itself, margarine is not prone to mold growth.

Which is the Best Way to Store Margarine?

Margarine is a super easy food to store, and it all boils down to two very simple rules that you should follow. Here they are.

Tip 1: Refrigerate without exception

Margarine should definitely be in the refrigerator all the time. This does not mean that you should throw it away if you forgot it for an hour on the kitchen counter, but don’t make it a habit. The refrigerator is the safest place where margarine can last to its full potential.

Tip 2: Use clean utensils

When spreading margarine on bread or using it another way, ensure that the knife is clean and that no other food gets into the container with margarine. This could contaminate it and create rapid spoilage or mold formation.


How long is margarine good for after the expiration date?

A general rule would be that margarine is still suitable for use three to four weeks after the expiration date written on the package. It can be a more extended period but keep the dates manageable.

Can margarine cause food poisoning?

Margarine will rarely cause health problems, even if it has expired. It will mainly become rancid, and its quality will be questionable. But indigestion can occur if the margarine has been contaminated with other foods, allowing mold to appear.

How can you tell if margarine has gone bad?

A strong stale smell will almost certainly signify rancidity but an equally lousy taste. Other signs are changes in the texture or darker color of the product.


Margarine is a widespread foodstuff around the world that comes in many versions and with different flavors. It is mainly a substitute for butter and has a slightly longer duration and resistance to spoilage than it. 

Without exception, margarine must be kept in the refrigerator both before and after opening. If everything is in order with the storage conditions, the margarine will be good for at least a few weeks after the expiration date indicated on the packaging.

*image by magone/depositphotos

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