Vegetable oils are liquid fats that food manufacturers extract from the seeds and other parts of plants. Vegetable oils include canola oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil. Other vegetable oils are safflower, soybean, and other seed oils.
It’s unnecessary to keep cooking oils in a freezer or refrigerator because they’re shelf-stable at room temperature. You can put oil in a freezer for long-term storage, but does vegetable oil freeze?
Vegetable oil doesn’t technically freeze like an ice cube or other liquid, but cold temperatures can help preserve the oil for long-term storage. The freezing point of vegetable oil is low enough to keep it from freezing solid in a home freezer.
Let’s look at why you might want to freeze vegetable oil, how to freeze it for maximum storage, and how to use it after freezing.
Why Freeze Vegetable Oil?
Cooking oils are shelf-stable, but they don’t have an indefinite shelf life. An unopened bottle of vegetable oil will be usable for one to two years, though it could last longer in ideal conditions.
The temperature, humidity, and the amount of sunlight the oil’s exposed to will affect its shelf-life. Vegetable oil will degrade during a humid summer in a room without air conditioning faster than it will in a cool, dry place.
What’s the Shelf-Life of Open Vegetable Oil?
Most manufacturers recommend using oil within three months of opening. It can last six months to a year in ideal temperature conditions in an airtight container.
Some people buy in bulk and take advantage of sales, so the oil they don’t plan to use within the next six months to a year goes into the freezer for long-term storage. A lack of air conditioning and hot weather can cause oil to turn rancid faster, but freezing can prevent that.
Does vegetable oil freeze and stay good longer? Yes, frozen oil can last two to three years or more, especially if your freezer is humidity-controlled.
Does Freezing Vegetable Oil Change It?
Vegetable oil that has been in a freezer might appear cloudy at first. It might look like it contains particles or granules.
Frozen oil won’t be solid like ice, but it might be thicker and appear lumpy or textured-looking. You can remove the entire container and put it in the refrigerator or pantry to let it warm up slowly or pour some out to warm and use immediately.
Heating the oil melts the clumps and restores the oil’s consistency. The vegetable oil will work the same as it did before you put it in the freezer.
Should I Freeze Vegetable Oil?
You can freeze vegetable oil if you want to store it out of the light and heat in the freezer, but you don’t need to. The oil’s already long shelf life means it’s unlikely to go rancid in your pantry.
Open containers will last longer in a freezer than in a hot or humid pantry, but you can also put them in the refrigerator to achieve a longer shelf life. Freezer storage isn’t necessary.
How to Freeze Vegetable Oil
To freeze unopened vegetable oil, put the sealed container in the freezer as-is. Since the oil doesn’t freeze solid, it won’t expand the way other liquids like water or milk will when they freeze and risk splitting the container.
To freeze an open container, check to ensure the seal is tight before putting it in the freezer. You don’t need to decant the oil or use other storage containers. However, you might want to freeze it in smaller portions to make it easier to use.
Oil can thicken up enough in the freezer that you can’t pour it from its bottle. Unless you plan to thaw the entire container when you need some, freezing oil in small portions for cooking will let you remove what you need without waiting for the whole bottle to come to room temperature.
Are All Oils Vegetable Oils?
Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and peanut oil often get confused with vegetable oils. When people talk about vegetable oil, they usually do not include these oils.
Olives, coconuts, and avocados are technically fruits, not vegetables. Peanuts are vegetables, botanically speaking, and they’re also legumes like black beans or chickpeas.
The extraction process of these oils is different from vegetable oils. Olives, coconuts, avocados, and peanuts are typically cold-pressed for the highest quality oils. Vegetable oils require pressing and solvents to extract them.
How Can I Use Frozen Vegetable Oil?
You can use frozen vegetable oil the same way you’d use it from your pantry. If it’s creamy or solidified from the cold, allow it to warm to room temperature so you can pour it.
If the oil is in small portions or in a container that lets you remove a small amount, heat the oil on the stovetop to restore its consistency. You can use the oil to saute, fry, bake, or make sauces or salad dressings the same as you would with oil you didn’t freeze.
Some related questions include those about other oils and how to know when oil is unsafe for use.
How can I tell if vegetable oil is too old to use?
You can’t usually tell if the oil has gone rancid by its appearance. If the container is unopened or came from the freezer, it’s unlikely to be rancid unless it’s several years old. The only way to tell if oil is rancid is to smell it. The oil will have a sweet, sour smell like something fermented or spoiled.
What are the pros and cons of freezing vegetable oil?
Freezing vegetable oil extends its shelf life, and so does putting it in the refrigerator. The only cons are inconvenience if your container is too thick to pour from the freezer and you have to wait for it to warm.
Can I freeze other oils like coconut, avocado, peanut, and olive oil?
You can freeze olive, coconut, avocado, and peanut oils the same way you freeze vegetable oils to extend their shelf life. These oils may congeal faster and be more solid than vegetable oils. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and may freeze hard and crystallize. Once it thaws, you can use it as you would normally.
Does vegetable oil freeze? The bottom line is that when you keep vegetable oil in a freezer, it thickens but typically doesn’t freeze hard like it would in an industrial freezer with low temperatures at zero or below.
You can use oil after it’s frozen in the same way as oil from the pantry, so don’t hesitate to put vegetable oil in a refrigerator or freezer if you’re concerned about its shelf life.