Does Chicken Broth Go Bad

Do you wonder if your homemade chicken broth is going to last? Or do you have canned chicken broth stocked in your cupboard and been curious if it is still okay to eat. This article will answer the following questions in your mind.

How Long Can Chicken Broth Go Bad?

The shelf life depends on how you prepared the chicken broth or where it came from. Maybe you prepared it from scratch at home and there were extra. Perhaps you bought from the supermarket a canned chicken broth but you haven’t used it up to now and there it is lying in the pantry.

If this question is in your mind right now, read through this article to know the answers on shelf life, best-by-dates, signs if the chicken broth has gone bad, tips on storage, and what can possibly happen if you have eaten a spoiled batch of chicken broth.

The shelf life of chicken broth depends on a variety of factors

Chicken Broth

Homemade chicken broth

The the best quality you may keep it in the refrigerator for three to four days and in the freezer for two to three months. It can also last for five to six days at refrigerator temperature when, after cooking it is allowed to cool until warm, not room temperature and it is immediately packed in appropriate containers and immediately refrigerated.

Canned chicken broth (unopened)

You may check the best-by date on the label for an unopened can of chicken broth. You will see that majority of it indicates that it lasts up to a year from the date it was manufactured. As long as the integrity of the can is maintained, no dents or perforations it would last that long.

Best before dates vs Use-by dates on the label

You usually read this often in food labels but what does this actually mean?

Best before date are indicated when the manufacturer want to relay “quality” and not safety. This means that you can still eat the product but there is a compromise already on the quality. The color may appear faded, the mouthfeel or the texture may not be as good as a freshly bought can.

Use-by dates on the other hand is an indication of the manufacturer to tell the consumers when they talk about “safety”. This means that you can no longer consume the product after the use-by date indicated. When you purchase a product that has this on the label, follow the storage instructions to maintain the product safety. For example, when it says to keep at the refrigerator at 5 degrees C or below, it must be strictly kept there.

When the use-by date is over, do not consume the chicken broth neither heat it. This would already be unsafe. Discard it immediately.

Canned chicken broth (opened)

Conditions of your opened chicken broth from the can will depend on how you store it after opening. When you store in the refrigerator after opening, covered it will have a longer shelf life compared to uncovered once. Covered ones will last for four to five days.

Signs Chicken Broth Has Gone Bad

So how will you determine if the chicken broth has gone bad? There are two conditions which you may have encountered. One is for an opened can and another is for unopened can. You have to remember that chicken broth is packed with so much nutrients that it is ideal for microorganisms to grow. Therefore, this will be the cause of its immediate spoilage.


In opened cans of chicken broth, if you notice that the odor has a rotten egg smell it is already an indication of spoilage. Another is, if there is a discoloration at the surface of the product. You may notice some films being formed in it or green patches, this can already be considered as mold growth. So you may want to dispose this immediately. Most especially if you stored this inside the refrigerator, mold growth can spread to other food items inside.

Unopened can

Maybe you also encountered some defects in the can’s integrity such as dents or cracks. How will you know if this is still good to consume or it should be disposed immediately? Externally you may want to check if the can is already swollen or has an irregular appearance, leaky or corroded, rusty. If it does this should be put into disposal because spoilage microorganisms are harboring in the product. It really has a bad smell when opened.

Homemade broth

How about for homemade broths? Actually this should inhibit the same spoilage indicators with the canned product. Although homemade broth is more susceptible to rot compared to canned ones. If you store it in a container in the refrigerator it is normal if there are sediments at the bottom, however you may want to check the smell of it to and the length of time when it is stored.

Tips on Chicken Broth Storage

Chicken Broth

Primarily chicken broth should be stored in a cool and dark place where there is no direct sunlight neither moisture especially when it is homemade. Place it immediately in a stored container and refrigerate. If you are not going to use it soon, you may want to consider freezing it.

Divide into portions

If there is a big batch of homemade chicken broth, you can store it in smaller containers or ziplock back depending on the amount you usually use it in cooking. For example, you made 2 liters of this stock, store it in individual Ziplock bages of 250 ml increments. This is practical so as not to thaw the broth in and out of the refrigerator.

Temperature changes can cause spoilage if frequently done. Another tip is to put it in 3-oz muffin cups, just line the holes with parchment paper or cupcake liners for ease of taking it out for future use and remember to keep it covered. However, if you have a limited freezer storage, you can choose to just put it in Ziploc bags.

Freezing is the best long-term option

For practical storage, freezing in portioned containers is the best option for the chicken broth whether homemade or canned. Remember to put labels on your containers or to write on the Ziploc bags as to when it was prepared so you can also track its shelf condition. It would also help not to make too much to avoid food wastes.

Can spoiled chicken broth make you sick?

The straight to the point answer for this is yes. As mentioned above, chicken broth is very rich in nutrients therefore bacterial growth is favorable to the product.


Chicken broth can last for as short as 3 days to a year depending on how it was made. For homemade refrigerated broth it is okay for as long as 5 to 7 days; for canned ones, consider if it is opened or unopened. Opened chicken broth cans can go for as long as four to five days if stored covered in the refrigerator.

For unopened chicken broth can, it can last up to a year from the date of manufacture. However, consider the cans condition if it is compromised. Furthermore, it is best to store chicken broth in the freezer, placed in portioned containers to maintain its best quality. Discard spoiled chicken broth is because it can harm you when consumed.

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