How Long Does Pesto Really Last? (How To Store Properly)

Pesto is a crowd favorite, whether it’s slathered on top of pizza, baked on top of a chicken breast, or eaten with a bowl of warm, comforting pasta.

With pesto regularly being a part of most people’s “favorite food lists,” it’s no wonder why it’s created so often. 

While pesto fanatics might devour a container of pesto in no time, it doesn’t mean that there won’t come a time when they’re left with leftovers. In this daunting moment, they’ll ask themselves – how long does pesto last?

Unrefrigerated jarred store-bought pesto can last up to 3 months past the “best by” date but should be stored in the fridge upon opening for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 8 months. 

Unopened refrigerated store-bought pesto can last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator or 8 months in the freezer. Once opened, it can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge or 4 months in the freezer. 

Homemade pesto has a much shorter shelf life of 7 days in the refrigerator or 4 months in the freezer. 

Jarred, Store-bought, Unopened3 months past “best by” date6 months past “best by” date8 months past “best by” date
Jarred, Store-bought, OpenedNot recommended2 weeks8 months
Refrigerated, Store-bought, UnopenedNot recommended3 weeks8 months
Refrigerated, Store-bought, OpenedNot recommended2 weeks4 months
Homemade Not recommended7 days4 months

If pesto is one of your all-time favorite foods, you need to know how long it lasts. More importantly, you need to know how to store it correctly and know when it’s gone rancid.

And that’s precisely what this article is teaching today. By the end of this post, you will be a pesto-storing guru!

How Long Does Pesto Last?

How long pesto lasts depends on many factors, such as whether it was homemade or store-bought and whether the store-bought options are opened or unopened.

As a general rule of thumb, homemade pesto has a much shorter shelf life than store-bought options.

That is simply because homemade pesto does not contain the same preservatives as store-bought picks.

Here’s a breakdown of how long pesto lasts.

How Long Does Store-Bought Pesto Last?

There are two main kinds of pesto found in stores: those found on the shelves alongside other common condiments or sauces and those displayed in the refrigerator aisle.

As you may assume, each type of store-bought pesto has a different shelf life. The shelf life changes once more when the products are opened. 

Unopened, Jarred Store-Bought Pesto

If stored in a cool and dry area – such as the back of your kitchen cabinet or pantry – unopened and Jarred store-bought pesto can last up to 3 months past the “best by date.”

So, when you go to use it, double-check that it is within the recommended time frame.

Opened, Jarred Store-Bought Pesto

Once opened, you must move the store-bought pesto to the fridge. Once in the refrigerator, it will remain good for an additional 2 weeks or up to 8 months in the freezer. 

That said, store-bought pesto found in the aisles (rather than the refrigerator section) has the most extended lifespan. It may be the best option for those that prefer to bulk up on this kitchen favorite.

Unopened, Refrigerated Store-Bought Pesto

If you choose the refrigerated store-bought pesto instead, bring it home and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. You can also place this store-bought option in the freezer for up to 8 months.

Opened, Refrigerated Store-Bought Pesto

Once opened, this store-bought pesto will deteriorate quicker. It will remain suitable for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or 4 months in the freezer.

How Long Does Homemade Pesto Last?

Homemade pesto has a much shorter shelf life than store-bought options.

Homemade pesto must be stored in the fridge or the freezer.

When storing in the refrigerator, ensure it is in an airtight container for up to 7 days. If stored in the freezer, homemade pesto will remain safe to eat for up to 4 months.

If you notice your homemade pesto going rancid before this timeframe, the ingredients or storage may be an issue.

Make sure you’re using an airtight container. Double-check to ensure your ingredients – the oil, pine nuts, basil, etc. – are not expired. 

Pesto sauce
Homemade Pesto Sauce

Did you know that you can substitute basil leaves in pesto with spinach, kale, or arugula? If you want to find out more detail about basil leaves substitutes and the ratios to use, check out this article.

How Long Does Pesto Last at Room Temperature?

Opened containers of store-bought pesto and homemade pesto should not be left out for more than two hours.

How Long Does Pesto Last in the Fridge?

The best place to store any kind of pesto is in the fridge. Store-bought varieties will last up to two weeks, while homemade pesto will be good for 7 days.

How Long Does Pesto Last in the Freezer?

The ideal location for long-term pesto storage is in the freezer. Unopened, store-bought containers can last for up to 8 months.

Opened store-bought pesto and homemade pesto will be good for up to 4 months in the freezer. 

How to Store Pesto

Proper storage will mean the difference between fresh and delicious-tasting pesto and a vile, foul ingredient. Follow these simple steps for success when storing store-bought and homemade pesto.

How to Store Store-Bought Pesto

Whether you opted for the Jarred or refrigerated store-bought pesto, storage remains the same.

Most store-bought pestos can remain in their original packaging. Since store-bought pesto almost always comes in an airtight jar or another container, it can be stored in the original packaging. Just make sure you are closing the lid tightly.

If there is an issue with the packaging – accidentally broke, became damaged, etc. – you can always transfer the store-bought pesto to an airtight container. 

The only key difference is where they are stored. Unopened, Jarred store-bought pesto can remain at room temperature for up to 3 months past the “best by” date, but it must be refrigerated upon opening.

Unopened and opened refrigerated store-bought pesto must be stored in the fridge or freezer. Placement isn’t critical, but the back of the fridge tends to be recommended as the temperature remains constant.

How to Store Homemade Pesto

Storing homemade pesto is slightly trickier as you will not have provided packaging.

That said, it is best to store homemade pesto in an airtight container. It is recommended to cover the pesto with a drizzle of olive oil to act as a “shield” or “barrier” to prolong the freshness (while also adding some additional flavor).

With that in mind, you might consider using a tall and lean jar or container, so you don’t have to use too much olive oil.

Regardless of the type of container you choose, it is essential to keep the lid tight at all times.

How to Freeze Pesto

The best way to store pesto is in a small, airtight container. Ensure that the lid is sealed entirely before storing. Otherwise, the texture and flavor will deteriorate rapidly.

Some people prefer to store the pesto in an ice cube container wrapped in a resealable freezer bag. That way, they can “pop” a good amount of pesto out when needed without thawing the entire batch.

Can You Use Pesto Past the Expiration Date?

Unopened, jarred, store-bought pesto can last a few months beyond the expiration date. The length of time will change depending on where it is stored.

Once opened, it must be consumed within 2 weeks if stored in the fridge or 8 months if stored in the freezer.

Refrigerated store-bought pesto should not be consumed past the expiration date.

Does Pesto Go Bad?

Whether you made homemade pesto or purchased it from the grocery store, pesto goes bad over time. The tell-tale signs that your pesto is rancid are an off-putting odor, brown discoloration, awful taste, or mold presence.


The first sign that your pesto is spoiled is discoloration. Pesto will turn an unappealing brown hue when it has gone bad.

So, if you’re noticing anything but the infamous bright green appearance, toss it.

Odd Smell

Pesto has a notoriously fresh smell that makes your stomach rumble. However, old pesto will have an off-putting smell that may make your stomach turn. If so, throw it in the garbage ASAP.

Bad Taste

Aside from a fresh scent, pesto also has an incredibly vibrant, fresh, and intricate flavor profile – which is why it is so highly regarded in a myriad of dishes.

That said, a taste that makes your face scrunch up is a significant indicator that your pesto has gone bad.


Last, but not least, the presence of mold is a sign your pesto is spoiled. Most of the time, the mold will appear as a white or off-white discoloration, although there can be other colors involved as well.

Spoiled pesto paste in a jar and white mold
Spoiled pesto with mold

Can Old Pesto Make You Sick?

Old pesto likely will not make you sick, although it won’t taste very good. However, that doesn’t mean you’re entirely out of the water.

An unlucky few may end up with a potentially fatal illness known as botulism

But why?

There are four main ingredients in pesto – basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and garlic. And while this combination makes for a delectable sauce, two components can potentially cause botulism: garlic and olive oil.

When garlic and olive oil are combined, they create the ideal environment for the growth of botulism spores.

That is because garlic is a C. botulinum carrier while oil is a food with no moisture or air, acting as an expressway for botulism spores to multiply.

With that in mind, it is best to throw out any spoiled pesto to avoid getting seriously ill. 

Not only that, but you should get rid of it, so it does not destroy your meal.

Final Words

Pesto is undeniably delicious, but it doesn’t last forever. In fact, it’s one sauce that has a relatively short shelf life – especially when homemade.

Keep in mind that store-bought and homemade varieties will need to be refrigerated or frozen. 

The only exception is buying jarred pesto found in the aisles rather than the refrigerated section in the grocery store.

This type of store-bought pesto can be left in a cool, dry, and dark area for three months beyond the “best by” date but should be refrigerated or frozen upon opening.

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