Can Beef Broth Go Bad? Here’s The Truth!

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Do you spend your free time making good quality homemade beef broth? And then you don’t know what to do with the leftover broth? Or maybe you buy it at the store and are curious how long it will keep. Whether it is a homemade broth or store bought in a carton or can, you may start wondering; can beef broth go bad?

There are many questions that come to mind when considering the shelf life of beef broth.  How long does it last? Can you freeze it for later use? These are all valid concerns and ones I hope to answer through this article. Let’s start by discussing what exactly beef broth is, the many health benefits and the shelf life!

Two pots of beef broth. What do you do with the leftovers? Can if go bad?

What is Beef Broth?

Beef broth is a favorite in many cultures. It is a savory, salty fluid that is made by boiling beef bones and meat for hours on end until it creates this delicious liquid to enjoy as a soup or even drink straight up like tea.

The health benefits of beef broth are numerous! It is a great source of protein, amino acids, potassium, magnesium, zinc among others. It is also loaded with


Collagen is a protein that, when combined with other amino acids, is the main structural component of muscle tissue.

  • Collagen provides tensile strength to skin and helps avoid wrinkles on aging
  • Helps joint strength and protection

Glycine is an amino acid that is used by our bodies to synthesize proteins, form bile salts and facilitate the transport of other amino acids. It has anti-inflammatory effects on joints, muscles and skin.


Chondroitin is found in cartilage, which is a type of connective tissue. It helps with elasticity, strength, and water retention.


Proline is an amino acid that is found in many foods, such as meat and dairy. It can also be synthesized by the human body when other sources of proline are unavailable. Proline plays a key role in collagen production within the skin, which makes it important for maintaining healthy skin appearance and function.

Some of the health benefits of beef broth include:

  • Promotes healthy skin and hair.
  • Helps detoxify the body.
  • Can help lower blood pressure.
  • Supports a healthy immune system.

Beware of commercial canned versions as these may contain hidden MSG (monosodium glutamate) that can cause headaches along with other symptoms.

After making homemade beef broth, are you left wondering, can beef broth go bad?

How Long Does It Last?

Well the answer to that depends on whether you bought it at the store or it’s homemade!

Store bought

Unopened beef broth from the store has a shelf life of 3 to 5 years in your pantry. Store bought beef broth has preservatives added to combat bacteria and lengthen the shelf life.

Opened beef broth is exposed to air and will cause microbial growth and bacteria to get in and take control. That’s why it should be properly stored in the fridge and consumed within a few days or frozen for later use. It should be refrigerated no longer than 5 days.

The fridge temperature is best at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (or less) and freezer temperature at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius).

Keep the broth away from light and heat sources as these can cause destruction of nutrients over time.

The only thing that will change in flavor of unopened store bought is exposure to air which won’t affect taste but make thicker soup consistency when heated up on stove top or microwave oven.

The years of long term storage means you’ll always have some on hand when needed most!


If making homemade beef broth, the shelf life of the beef broth is similar to an opened carton. You can safely store it in the fridge for 3 to 5 days or 6 months in the freezer.

I wouldn’t recommend keeping it in your pantry unless you have the proper airtight equipment and preservatives, to avoid an addition of bacteria.

A chinese proverb saying that too many cooks spoil the broth. A little humor.

Is It Ok to Use Expired Beef Broth?

So, you took advantage of the long expiration date of beef broth and forgot about it until doing spring cleaning one day! Is it still ok to use?

That depends. Is it expired or it is spoiled?

Using beef broth past the expiration date can be safe, as long as the can or carton don’t have a sour smell, aren’t leaking fluid, and aren’t “swollen,” but do so with caution.

When I lived and worked in Antarctica, we survived off expired shelf foods. As long as it looked edible and no clear signs of spoiling, I deemed it safe. But that was me.

There is always a risk of possible health concerns that you should take into consideration for yourself.

Possible Health Concerns: There may be bacterial contamination in beef broth that has expired and could make you sick if it is not stored properly or cooked to a high enough temperature when consumed. It could cause headaches, nausea, diarrhea and other symptoms.

Is it ok to eat if expired?

You should definitely not use expired beef broth if there is a sour smell, the packaging looks “swollen,” or if there are visible signs of leakage. Then we’d probably be talking food poisoning. So can beef broth go bad? Yes, unfortunately it can.

Just go buy another one, or make you own if this happens!

Can beef broth go bad? After you finish off your serving, make sure to store it in the fridge and freezer!

What Happens if You Eat Bad Beef Broth?

If you do eat bad beef broth, you could be at risk for food poisoning. Other risks could include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain.

The healthiest thing would probably be to either make some more or pick some up at the store!

Storing Beef Broth

There are many ways to store beef broth. Some of the ways are in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. Proper storage is key.

In a fridge, beef broth can last up to three years if it is unopened. After opening, be sure to store your broth in an airtight container or zip lock bag for 3 to 5 days maximum.

The best way to keep your opened containers of beef soup fresh is by refrigerating them until they’re finished. Beef soup will generally stay good on the shelf between 3 and 5 years left in the original packaging, depending on what type you have and how much salt was used during preparation.

Freezing Beef Broth

Freezing beef broth is a perfectly safe way to preserve it.

Air tight containers or bags

Allow the broth to cool, if still hot. Transfer your beef broth to labelled freezer plastic bags or airtight containers. This will help prevent the entrance of bacteria.

Label with date, name of recipe, type of meat used (beef) and any other distinguishing characteristic!

Keep stored for up to 6 months!

Ice cube trays

A more creative method is to use ice cube trays, especially if you only want to use a little at a time.

Place in freezer until frozen solid before transferring them to another container for long term storage – either labeled and dated, or unlabeled if you plan on using as an ingredient later on without thawing first. Make sure they are all sealed tightly so no water can get inside!

Reheating Beef Broth

When it comes to reheating, always cook it on the stovetop instead of using a microwave. As the broth defrosts, any bacteria that may have gotten in will also be present. The high temperature of the stove or even oven will kill off those bacteria. What’s left is a perfectly safe consumable liquid!

After reheating, it’s best not to double freeze beef broth. Make sure you refrigerate the rest in an air tight container for up to 5 days, then discard the rest.

A big pot of savory beef broth

I hope you found this post useful and got exactly what you came here for! This is a savory liquid that has many health benefits, enjoyed by many cultures around the world! The high amino acid content helps keep the skin vital and alive, as well as promotes healthy joints and cartilage. If you’re looking to get more creative with your cooking, give making beef broth a try. Or stock up some in your pantry for when you need it. We encourage you to share this post if you found it useful!

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