Can I drink oat milk after expiration date?

Oat milk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative in recent years. Made from soaked oats and water, it has a creamy, nutty flavor that makes it a tasty choice for everything from cereals to lattes. But like any perishable food, oat milk does have an expiration date. So can you still drink oat milk after the printed date has passed? Let’s take a closer look.

What is the shelf life of oat milk?

The exact shelf life of oat milk depends on the type and brand. Unopened, shelf-stable oat milk typically lasts 5-10 days after the printed expiration date. Meanwhile, unopened refrigerated oat milk lasts 7-10 days past its date. Once opened, oat milk will last:

  • Shelf-stable: 7-10 days
  • Refrigerated: 5-7 days

The shelf life of oat milk comes down to how it was processed and packaged. Shelf-stable varieties are ultra heat treated (UHT), which helps extend the shelf life. Refrigerated oat milk has a shorter life since it is pasteurized at lower temperatures.

How to tell if oat milk has gone bad

Oat milk that has spoiled will show noticeable signs that it has gone bad. Here’s what to look for:

Signs of Spoilage Appearance Smell Taste
Shelf-stable oat milk Thick, curdled texture Sour, spoiled smell Bitter, acidic, sour taste
Refrigerated oat milk Watery, separated liquid Sour smell Sour, spoiled taste

If your oat milk develops an off odor, flavor, or appearance, it is best to discard it. Bacteria that can cause foodborne illness are more likely to grow in spoiled milk.

Is it safe to drink oat milk past the expiration date?

Oat milk that has been properly stored and is consumed shortly after the expiration date is generally still safe. However, there are some risks to consider:

  • Taste and texture quality decline. Oat milk may taste more sour or have an odd texture.
  • Nutrient loss. Vitamins like A, D, B12 degrade over time.
  • Foodborne illness risk. Harmful bacteria can grow and multiply, increasing the chance of foodborne disease.

If your unopened oat milk is no more than 1-2 weeks past its date, it should be safe to consume as long as it does not show signs of spoilage. However, the risk increases the longer milk sits after the expiration date.

How long can you use oat milk after opening?

Once opened, oat milk has a shorter shelf life and greater safety risks. Follow these guidelines for storing opened containers:

  • Refrigerate after opening. Keep between 34–40°F.
  • Use within 5-7 days.
  • Do not return unused milk back to the original container.
  • Check for signs of spoilage before use, like odor, taste, and texture changes.

Drinking oat milk more than 7 days after opening is not recommended. The milk can harbor dangerous bacterial growth, sometimes without noticeable signs.

Can expired oat milk make you sick?

Consuming spoiled, contaminated oat milk can cause illness. Here are the risks of drinking bad oat milk:

  • Foodborne illness – Bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli can grow in spoiled milk, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
  • Toxic molds – Some molds like aflatoxin can produce toxins that cause illness.
  • Bacterial infectionsStaphylococcus aureus bacteria can cause infections when milk is contaminated.

Those at highest risk of illness from expired oat milk include pregnant women, children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy adults may just suffer short-term discomfort from drinking spoiled milk.

Tips for storing oat milk correctly

To get the longest shelf life out of your oat milk and avoid safety issues, follow these storage recommendations:

  • Check sell-by and use-by dates when purchasing.
  • Store unopened containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Once opened, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Use clean utensils when dispensing milk to avoid contamination.
  • Always screw lids on tightly.
  • Label containers with dates to track usage.

Proper cold storage at 40°F or below will help oat milk maintain quality and safety for a week after opening. Any longer, and consuming it could result in illness.

Signs oat milk has spoiled

Here are the most common signs that your oat milk has gone bad and should be discarded:

  • Change in texture – Thick and curdled milk indicates spoilage.
  • Sour smell – An off, unpleasant sour odor means the milk is no longer fresh.
  • Mold – Any fuzzy mold spots, even if isolated, signal the milk is contaminated.
  • Off flavors – Strange bitter, sour, or acidic tastes point to spoilage.
  • Gas buildup – Bulging containers or fizzing milk can be a result of fermentation.

Trust your senses – if something seems off about the appearance, aroma, or taste, err on the side of caution and throw the milk away.

What happens if you drink expired oat milk?

Drinking oat milk that is expired or spoiled could lead to:

  • Upset stomach symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Foodborne illness from bacteria like salmonella or E. coli
  • Unpleasant taste and texture
  • Degraded nutritional value

At best, expired oat milk may just taste unpleasant with some vitamin loss. But at worst, it can cause moderate illness lasting a few days. Those with compromised immunity should avoid drinking expired milk due to higher risks.

How to use up oat milk before it expires

If you want to finish oat milk while it’s still fresh, here are some delicious ways to use it up:

  • Cereals and oatmeal – Substitute for regular milk on hot or cold cereals.
  • Smoothies – Blend it into fruit and yogurt smoothies.
  • Overnight oats – Soak oats in oat milk overnight for breakfast.
  • Coffee drinks – Add frothed oat milk to coffees, lattes and cappuccinos.
  • Baked goods – Use in place of milk in recipes for cookies, cakes, breads.
  • Soups – Stir into creamy vegetable or potato soups.
  • Chia pudding – Mix with chia seeds for a creamy, protein-packed pudding.

Get creative with recipes to use up oat milk while it’s still within a safe consumption window. Adding it to both sweet and savory dishes can help prevent waste.

Can expired oat milk be frozen?

Freezing oat milk is one option for extending its shelf life past the expiration date. Here’s what to know:

  • Freeze in airtight containers leaving headspace to prevent bursting.
  • Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before use.
  • Use within 1 month for best quality.
  • Give frozen milk a taste and smell check before consuming.
  • Do not refreeze previously frozen milk.

Freezing can buy you an extra week or two with oat milk if you can’t use it up in time. But remember to label containers with dates and check for signs of spoilage after thawing.

How to store oat milk properly

Here are some tips for maximizing the shelf life of oat milk:

  • Purchase milk before the sell-by or use-by date.
  • Inspect containers for damage before buying.
  • Refrigerate promptly after purchasing.
  • Keep refrigerator at 40°F or below.
  • Store milk towards the back of the fridge.
  • Close lids tightly after each use.
  • Pour into a clean storage container after opening.

Proper refrigerated storage is key to keeping oat milk fresh for the recommended 5-7 days after opening. Always discard milk that is past the use-by date printed on the packaging.


Oat milk typically stays fresh for up to 10 days past its printed date if it has been stored properly and the container remains sealed. However, once opened, oat milk should be consumed within one week. Drinking spoiled milk poses health risks, especially for those with compromised immunity. Always inspect milk for signs of spoilage and be diligent about refrigeration and food safety practices to determine if expired oat milk can be safely consumed. Freezing can extend the shelf life for another 1-2 weeks if needed.

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