Shelf Life of Spices & Dried Herbs: How to Know When Jarred Spices Have Expired by Margaret Steck

6 years ago

Some cooking professionals will tell you to throw out any spices and dried herbs after six months from the date of purchase. But not all spices and herbs are created equal, and some may last up to four years in your pantry. The best rule of thumb is to check each spice’s potency before using it. 

If ground spices don’t have any smell to them or they’ve lost their flavor, go ahead and toss them, and do the same with colorless, bland dried herbs, too. If you store your dried herbs and spices in a dark, dry location, they may last for a really long time! Still worried? Here's good rules of thumb from an article on

  • Ground spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric) – 2 to 3 years
  • Herbs (basil, oregano, parsley) – 1 to 3 years
  • Seasoning blends – 1 to 2 years
  • Whole spices (cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks) – 4 years
  • Seeds – 4 years (except for poppy and sesame seeds, which should be discarded after 2 years)
  • Extracts – 4 years (except for vanilla, which will last forever)

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Elisa Schmitz
Who knew? Thanks for the info, Margaret Steck !
Donna John
Great tips! When I cleaned out my spices, I couldn't even remember buying some of them. Tossed 'em! You can really tell the difference between fresh and old dried spices.

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