Do Bay Leaves Go Bad?

Do bay leaves go bad or not? How should you store bay leaves to make them last as long as possible? Here's the ultimate guide.

This herb is perfect for adding extra flavor to any dish, including soups, stews, and sauces.

But if you’re prone to holding onto your bay leaves until you intend to use them, you may have wondered before: Have my bay leaves gone bad? How long do they last?

Here’s what you need to know about the shelf-life of bay leaves. If dried bay leaves are properly stored, they will stay at the best quality for 1-3 years.

Fresh bay leaves last up to 2 weeks but should be used for 2-3 days for the best quality.

Signs Bay Leaves Have Gone Bad

steak with onion and bay leaves

Bay leaves don’t spoil but rather lose their quality, flavor, and aroma as time goes on. If your bay leaves aren’t providing as much flavor to your dish, it has lost its quality. However, it is still safe to consume.

Look out for any signs of mold in your container of bay leaves. If you find any, get rid of your bay leaves.

Rub a leaf with your fingers and smell it. If the smell is weak, then it’s best to discard it for quality purposes.

Another way to determine if a bay leaf has gone bad is to press on the leaf lightly. If it crumbles into pieces, it has been stored for too long and should be replaced with a fresher leaf.

How To Store Bay Leaves

Let’s start with dried bay leaves. Keep your bay leaves away from light, moisture, and heat sources. It should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place like the pantry. Dried bay leaves can be stored at room temperature or in the freezer for a longer storage period.

When it comes to fresh bay leaves, wrap them in a slightly damp paper towel. Then place them inside a container and right into the fridge.

Can You Freeze Bay Leaves?

tea with cinnamon and bay leaves

The best place to store dried bay leaves is in the freezer, as it helps to preserve their flavor, smell, and oils.

Place your bay leaves in an airtight freezer-friendly container or freezer bag. You can extend the shelf-life of bay leaves by storing them in smaller bags or containers.  

The Shelf-Life Of Bay Leaves

Dried bay leaves can last 1-3 years at room temperature, as well as several years in the freezer.

Fresh bay leaves last up to 2 weeks in the fridge; however, for the best quality, they should be used within 2-3 days.

Leftover Uses For Bay Leaves

bay leaves in bowl

Bay leaves are great for getting rid of pests in your pantry. Simply add a few dried bay leaves into the containers where you store your rice, pasta, and flour.

Bundle dried bay leaves with cinnamon sticks to make a homemade aromatic gift. You can make bay leaf tea to absorb all the nutrients it has. Or use them to make stock for later use. 

The Verdict

Bay leaves have many health benefits and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. They can also help treat migraines and calm indigestion.

Since bay leaves don’t go bad but instead lose their quality and flavor over time, you can hold onto your batches of bay leaves for 1-3 years. However, they should be stored properly.

This means dried bay leaves should be kept at room temperature but away from light, heat, and moisture. Or to lengthen their shelf-life, freezing bay leaves is the best option.

Fresh bay leaves don’t last as long and should be refrigerated and used within 2-3 days.

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.