We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.

Is My Chicken Broth Expired? Simple Steps to Check

Norah Clark
Chicken broth on a table

Check the printed shelf-life expiration date on your chicken broth know how long you have to use it before it goes bad. However, after opening, you can extend the freshness by storing the unused broth in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

Let's explore some telltale signs of expired chicken broth and provide you with the knowledge to confidently answer that question yourself. This way, you'll never have to second guess your broth's freshness again.

Signs of Expired Chicken Broth

Spotting the signs of expired chicken will not only save your meal from spoilage, but quite possibly even your health. So, what exactly should you be on the lookout for?



Smell Test

A primal yet effective method to ascertain the freshness of your chicken broth is through your nose. Our sense of smell is incredible and is a natural first line of defense and alarm system in relation to off food.

When you first open the chicken broth, it's normal to find a warm, pleasant smell that welcomes your olfactory senses. Fresh chicken broth tends to have a mild, comforting fragrance indicative of its savory nature. However, when chicken broth has expired an off or sour smell will be the giveaway.

Sometimes the smell may not hit you between the eyes. If you're not immediately overwhelmed by a rank odor - don't take it as a green light just yet. Give it a minute or two. Off smells can often emerge after the broth has had some time to interact with the air.

Chicken broth that's expired won’t necessarily have a powerful pungency. The sour smell may be subtle but it's definitely distinctive. You may also notice a change in the smell after heating the broth. Heating up the product can intensify any hidden off-odors. Thus, you might want to be especially attentive while simmering the chicken broth.

Applying the smell test isn't foolproof, as it relies heavily on personal judgment and prior experience with fresh and expired foods. But don't worry - you're more capable than you think! And remember, when in doubt, it's better to err on the side of caution and discard any questionable chicken broth. After all, risking food poisoning is never worth it.

Visual Inspection

Moving away from the olfactory senses, another effective way to check the freshness of your chicken broth is through visual inspection. 

If you store your chicken broth in the fridge, it will likely form a layer of fat on top once cooled. Don't be alarmed when you see this; it's a normal occurrence for home-brewed broths and says nothing about its freshness.

What you should observe more warily are the colors and textures of the broth. Chicken broth is generally clear or lightly tinted with a robust golden hue. If your broth starts to take a murky or cloudy appearance, you've got a red flag.

A change in color might signal microbial growth taking place, potentially spoiling your broth.

In addition, keep an eye out for any floating particles or residues that weren't there when you initially stored the broth. If you spot any signs of mold, it's safe to say your chicken broth has passed its prime and is no longer fresh.

Another visual red flag is evidence of a slimy or jiggly texture. This isn't part of the standard chicken broth imagery and suggests spoilage.

While visual inspection is a straightforward and practical method for ensuring broth safety, it's crucial to be realistic. Recognize that visual clues will not be able to identify all forms of bacterial growth which may not cause a noticeable change in appearance. It's a valuable tool in your kit for discerning chicken broth freshness, but it's not a foolproof method on its own.

The key is integrating both methods we've looked at – using the smell test in tandem with your visual inspection will provide a comprehensive understanding. And remember, if you are uncertain about the freshness of the broth, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Check the Expiration Date

Having discussed the significance of visual inspection and olfactory tests, let's redirect our attention towards an essential, often overlooked aspect – the expiration date. This is straightforward and offers a clear cut-off point that aids in determining the freshness of your chicken broth.

The expiration date, sometimes labeled as 'best by' or 'use by' date, is usually stamped on the container's side or bottom label. It's the manufacturer's estimate of how long the broth will retain peak quality. This date is a prime player in your broth-checking choreography.

Bear in mind, however, that just like the visual and odor tests, the expiration date is not the be-all and end-all of spoilage detection. It's merely part of a bigger picture. For instance, an unopened can of chicken broth may remain safe to consume past its expiration date, provided it has been stored properly.

The 'use by' date generally indicates the recommended last date for optimal quality, whereas the 'best by' date is an indication of quality rather than safety.

A few points to remember if there's no expiration date on your chicken broth:

  • The broth is still likely safe for consumption for 1-2 years past the manufacturing date if unopened and stored properly.

  • Once opened, chicken broth should be used within 4-5 days, regardless of the packaging type.

The above points should help you determine the freshness of your chicken broth even in the absence of a clear expiration date.

Use your judgement and follow this guide to decipher the clues hidden in your broth.

Taste Test

Your taste buds may serve you as another trusty tool in identifying whether your chicken broth has gone sour or not. Now, how do you conduct a taste test safely? First things first, smell your broth.

If it's got a rancid or off-putting odor, you've got your answer without ever having to take a sip. It's simply not worth the risk. You can identify a lot about the safety of your food just by tuning into your senses of smell and touch.

Should the chicken broth smell fine though, you may want to proceed with a small sip. Please note- you're not enjoying a beverage here. The goal is to determine the freshness, not savor the flavor.

When you taste your broth, you're looking for off flavors like sourness, bitterness, or abnormal textural quality. These flavors are often a result of bacterial activity and should be taken as strong signals that your broth may no longer be safe to consume.

On the other hand, if you taste your chicken broth and it tastes just as chicken broth should—clear, light, and mildly salty—then you're likely in the clear.

Storage Conditions

Yet, the freshness isn't solely determined by the taste. The condition of where you've stored your chicken broth factors greatly as well. Storing it in a cool, dark place can extend its life past the expiration date on the packaging.

Safe Storage Conditions




This information may give you a better insight into how much you can rely on the expiration date indicated on the food packaging.

Markdown especially works well when you need to break down this data across these three parameters.

Remember: the accuracy of a taste test is greatly affected by the quality of the broth from the start, its packaging, and the conditions where it's been stored.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if my chicken broth has gone bad?

Firstly, smell it. If the broth has a rancid odor, it's likely gone bad. If it smells fine, you can proceed with a small taste test. Any off flavors such as sourness or bitterness could indicate bacterial activity, signaling that the broth isn't safe to consume.

Are there ways to extend the lifespan of chicken broth?

Storing the broth in a cool, dark place can help to extend its life past the expiration date. The key to preserving it longer is maintaining optimal storage conditions.

Does the quality and packaging of the broth influence its freshness?

Absolutely. The quality of the broth, its packaging, and the storage conditions all play a significant role in determining its freshness. Hence, choosing quality broth and storing it correctly ensures it stays fresh for longer.

Is the taste test an accurate way to check the freshness of the broth?

The accuracy of the taste test can be influenced by various factors such as the quality of the broth, its packaging, and the storage conditions. Therefore, while it can be an effective method, it's not always 100% accurate.

Do not forget! Consuming spoiled food is dangerous. If you have any doubts, it's better to err on the safe side.


Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

Back to Boyd Hampers Magazine

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 4