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How Long Can Butter Sit Out?

Posted in Food Safety on July 30, 2022

Unlike other dairy products, butter can generally sit out at room temperature for hours or even days without spoiling. Because it is low in carbohydrates and proteins, it is more challenging for mold and bacteria to grow. However, there are still some guidelines on how to keep butter safely.

If you or a loved one contracted any foodborne illness from consuming contaminated butter after purchasing from a store, contact a food safety attorney to explore your legal rights.

How to Safely Store Butter That Sits Out

Properly storing butter at room temperature is key to maintaining its quality and flavor.

The Right Type of Butter

Salted butter is the best type of butter to leave sitting out. It can last a longer period of time before spoiling since salt is a natural preservative and protects against bacterial growth.

The Right Container

Take butter out of its wax paper before storing it on the counter. Place it in a butter dish that prevents air and light from reaching it, or use a butter crock or butter bell.

The Right Temperature

The temperature of the room the butter sits in will determine how fast it will spoil outside the refrigerator. Butter should be left in an area that is regularly below 70 degrees F. If the room often rises above that, it is safer to store butter in the fridge.

How Long Until Butter Spoils

Butter can be left out on the counter for two days before it will spoil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After that, butter may get an off flavor, unpleasant texture, and possibly turn rancid. However, if it is stored according to the tips above, butter can last up to two weeks in a room below 70 degrees F.

How Do You Tell if Butter is Spoiled?

There are several ways to tell if butter has gone bad:


Any sign of mold, such as green or black spots or any type of organic growth, means the butter should be discarded.

Change in Texture

If the butter looks distorted or wet, it’s time to toss it.


When butter is fresh, it looks the same color inside out. If the inside looks brighter than the outside, it is a sign of oxidation. That means air has reached the butter, and it is no longer fresh.

Off Smell

If it smells off, sour or rancid, it is no good.

Sour or Off Taste

If the butter looks and smells ok, but you try it, and it doesn’t taste right, it should be thrown away.

What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Butter?

Eating butter that has gone bad will likely not make you sick. Since most people do not eat sticks of butter and only use a small portion oftentimes, the worst that will happen is a stomach ache. However, consuming rancid butter over a long period may also decrease your vitamin E and vitamin B stores.

Can You Freeze Butter?

Freezing butter can be an excellent way to preserve it since salted butter can last up to one year in the freezer and unsalted for six months. After that, its taste and quality will begin to deteriorate. When freezing butter, keep it in its original box or container, wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then place it inside a freezer bag. To defrost it, you can put it in the refrigerator overnight, thaw it in the microwave, or put it straight into a pan.