If you’re reading this post then you’re more than aware that oat milk is a non-dairy, plant-based milk alternative that’s becoming increasingly popular in coffee shops around the country. In fact, back in late 2018, oat milk became so popular in New York City that there was a shortage in all the cafes around the city. Since then, things haven’t changed much, oat milk is still primarily utilized as a milk alternative in coffees and espresso-based drinks like lattes due to its naturally sweet taste and the fact that the creaminess of the product works well with coffee.
What is Oat Milk?
Made with oats and sometimes fortified with vitamins and minerals, oat milk is a vegan milk alternative that not only tastes great, but is a popular choice for vegans and for those that are lactose-intolerant or allergic to nuts.
That’s because oat milk is dairy-free and nut-free (those that are allergic to cashew or almond milks). The popularity of oat milk is booming so much so that grocery stores are suddenly stocking several brands. The most popular brands you’ll likely see are Oatly, Califa Farms and Minor Figures.
How Long Does Opened Oat Milk Last?
If you’re looking to buy a carton of oat milk, you should be aware of how long oat milk stays before and after opening.
As with other milk alternatives, oat milk is shelf-stable so it can be stored in a pantry, cupboard or in a cool, dry place. if stored properly, the unopened oat milk will be good until the best by date — which is usually several months out.
Like other milk alternatives, the oat milk is perishable and will spoil if it’s opened and not refrigerated. That said, once you open your carton of oat milk then you’re on the clock. After opening, many of the oat milk companies recommend refrigerating the oat milk and to use it within seven days. As of this post, that seems to be the industry standard for the major brands
|Oat Milk Brand||Product||Opened Carton|
|Califa Farms||Oatmilk||Use within 7-10 days|
|Elmhurst 1925||Milked Oats||Use within seven days|
|Minor Figures||Oat M*lk||Use within 7 days|
|Oatly||Oatmilk||Use within 7 days|
|Pacific Foods||Oat Beverage||N/A|
|Planet Oat||Oat Milk||N/A|
Even though the companies are quoted to consume the opened carton of oat milk within a week (0r 7-10 days) of opening, we’ve found that the oat milk stays for several days beyond that published range. From our experience, you won’t get sick from consuming oat milk a few days after the 7-10 days. The biggest difference is that oat milk begins to lose some of its taste, texture and flavor, but under normal storage conditions (refrigerated), usage, and circumstances, you can use the oat milk up to 10 to 12 to even two weeks after opening.
If you want your oat milk to stay longer, you can always freeze your oat milk too.
Is Oat Milk Still Good After the Expiration Date?
So you’ve had a carton of unopened oat milk in your cupboard and now it’s past it’s expiration date. What do you do now?
Though one shouldn’t dismiss what the company recommends in terms of disposing of expired product, our experience with almond milk and other unopened but expired food products is that they lose their flavor first before spoiling. So whether you should drink expired oat milk is a case by case.
For example, if it’s only been a week since the expiration of the unopened oat milk, you should be good. If it’s been two months past he expiration? We think that’s not worth the risk.
How to Tell If Oat Milk is Bad or Spoiled?
Like many other foods and liquids, the most-effective ways to tell whether oat milk is bad or spoiled is to check the expiration date and then see whether it passes the eye and nose test.
The best method is to look at the oat milk. has the color and the consistency of the oat milk has changed? If so, it may be spoiled. If it looks a bit funky and you’re still not sure, put it through the smell test next. If the oat milk has a mildly off smell, odds are the milk has spoiled.
Not to scare you off at all, I’ve used oat milk that I’ve refrigerated past the 10 day recommendation and it tasted just fine, but it all depends. For example, if you’ve refrigerated your oat milk latte, it’s common to see the oat milk and coffee separate. If it’s within a couple days of when it you (or the coffee shop) made the coffee, you should be good; just shake it up so that it blends together. Again, if you’re completely uncertain, give it the sniff test. Still not sure? Heat it up and take a small sip to see if the taste is off.
For lattes or oat milk mixed with espresso or coffee, oat milk properly-stored and refrigerated is good about 3-4 days before it starts getting funky.
Due to it’s natural sweet taste, thick texture, non-GMO nature, and it being environmentally friendly, we expect oat milk to continue its rise in popularity. The great news is that more and more brands are making their own oat milk, so that will drive the prices down, so we don’t have to cry over spoiled oat milk.