You are all set for your big cake baking project for your loved one’s birthday or anniversary, so you are checking all the ingredients in your list to ensure you have everything on hand. You open the cupboard and find a half-finished bottle of vanilla extract sitting there for god knows how long. 

And you start to question yourself immediately, how long does vanilla extract last?

So, if you think about whether it is cool to use the vanilla extract which has been placed in the cupboard, then before that, you need to understand all the factors, which include ingredients in vanilla, preservation, and many more things. 

Does Vanilla Extract Go Bad?

Well, if you have bought an expensive bottle of pure vanilla extract and want to finish each and drop of it, then you will have to follow some storage guidelines.

We have covered everything just for our dear readers. So if you want to know more details about pure vanilla extract, imitation vanilla, their shelf life, and much more, then read on.

Does vanilla extract expire?

Every food product has an expiry day. If it lasts forever, then it is either fake or made up of chemicals. If you close the lid of the vanilla extract bottle carefully, then it will help you to preserve both imitations as well as a pure vanilla extract for few more years.

However, there comes a time when you notice that it smells weird, or something is growing inside the lid, then don’t think too much, and just throw it away. You cannot add the expired vanilla extract or recreate it once it loses its purity. 

It happens on very rare occasions, but if you haven’t used it in a long time, then it is good to check the pure vanilla extract before using it. But if we talk about the imitation vanilla, you will realize it has expired when you find changes in the flavor and the quality. 

So, either pure or imitation, don’t waste your time, toss it away, and get a new vanilla bottle. As simple as that!

How long can you keep vanilla extract?

Vanilla extract is priceless when you are using in cakes or other food, but when you are shopping for pure vanilla extract comes with a real price tag. If you want to know how long is vanilla extract good for, then it does not matter whether it is a pure vanilla extract or artificial vanilla.

how long does vanilla extract last
How long does vanilla extract last?

Well, firstly, it depends on how vanilla extract is stored. It comes in brown bottles, which protects it from light. If you want to preserve the extract for a longer period, then you should keep one thing in mind. Store it away from any place which has heat or direct sunlight. 

So basically, it needs zero percent of daylight. 

If you don’t have any dark place, then you can store it in a pantry. However, avoid putting it in a refrigerator or cold place. 

If you follow our remedies, then the quality of the vanilla extract will remain good for several years. And if you are lucky enough, then you will be able to bake your favorite vanilla cake every year.

Does vanilla extract need to be refrigerated?

As we discussed above, vanilla extract will give the best aroma and flavor, if it is stored properly. Professionals say that if you follow the instructions, then you can consume it for 4 to 5 years. But avoid freezing or refrigerating it, ever!

If you think that after opening the cap, it might lose its flavor, then you are wrong. Everything depends on how well it is stored. Cap it tightly and store it in a cupboard away from the stove. Small things make a big impact on our lives, and the same thing applies to vanilla extract. If you take all the precautions, then it will increase its life span.

How long does homemade vanilla extract last?

The shelf life of any product depends on the quality of any product, be it pure or artificial. But when it comes to vanilla extract, the pure extract always wins over the imitation one because it tastes better.

One day, you get tired of purchasing the fake product, and the pure vanilla extract is too pricey. So you decide to create a homemade vanilla extract, but one question pops into your head. If you produce 2 or 3 bottles at home, then how long do extracts last?

You have used all the right materials, without any chemicals, and created pure vanilla extract at your home then, there are zero chances of it getting ruined. Just like the expensive vanilla extract, it won’t go bad and have an indefinite shelf life.

But as the years go by, you might notice the flavor of the extract getting more intense. Don’t get scared and think that the quality has become stale. The homemade vanilla extract made with natural ingredients can last up to ten years. And even if it has passed the date, it can be used in food, if you have taken good care of it.

expired vanilla extract.
Expired vanilla extract

Shelf life of vanilla extract

As we discussed earlier, pure vanilla extract has a long shelf life. But if you don’t take care of it, then it may lose its flavouring and aroma over time. 

So if you store in a proper place and away from any sort of light, then it will maintain its high quality and stay fresh up to ten years. And if not, then it will last up to 2 to 4 years only. 

If you want to enjoy the best aroma and flavor then we suggest you use it within five years. 

So it is completely up to you whether you want your hard work to go to waste or want to preserve the extract for a longer period.

Is vanilla extract bad for you?

Vanilla is completely safe if you add it in small amounts to your food. However, if you skip the instructions and decide to add a few more drops of the extract, then there will be some side effects. 

The quote ‘Haste makes waste!’ can be applied here.

If you hurry and try to do things your way, then unknowingly, a few drops of vanilla extract will get spilled on your skin. If this happens, then let us tell you that there are chances of skin swelling (inflammation) or irritation when it comes in contact with your skin. Further health issues include sleep problems (insomnia) and headaches.

Besides, if you are breastfeeding or pregnant and are planning to create vanilla extract at home, we want to stop you from doing so! But it is completely safe if taken by mouth in food amounts. Avoid taking big portions of medicines if you consume it or contact your doctor before adding vanilla to your diet.

Is imitation vanilla bad for you?

With advantages, there are some disadvantages of imitation vanilla. It is mostly used in baked foods to add rich flavor. It contains a bit of fat and a high number of calories, but it does not cause any harm to your health. So you can rest easy because 31 calories won’t make you put on weight.

does vanilla extract expire?
Does vanilla extract expire?

However, it does contain other harmful ingredients such as manganese and riboflavin. But if you consume it in small quantity, then will not harm your organs or bones. Also, some imitation vanilla can contain alcohol, and one tablespoon might have 4.3 grams of alcohol in the imitation vanilla.

While baking the good, most of the alcohol gets burnt, but in a few cases, if a person drinks the imitation vanilla might suffer from intoxication. Additionally, it contains other chemicals like lignin vanillin, which mimics the natural flavor of vanillin. 

Lignin vanillin gets created from wastes from the paper manufacturing industry. So avoid buying it from fake brands that add glycol or glycerine base in the imitation vanilla.


Vanilla extract is the key ingredient to add flavor to baked foods, isn’t it? One teaspoon of it is enough to change the entire dessert from an okay dish to a mouth-watering dish. Now, you can make a few staple recipes like vanilla buttercream, vanilla cupcakes, vanilla cake, and what not! Also, not forget to follow our methods to preserve it for a longer period. Cheers!


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