Does Oat Milk Need To Be Refrigerated? It Depends…

There’s something about oat milk that works so much better with coffee compared to other plant-based milk. But since oat milk is new and a somewhat unfamiliar ingredient, we need to learn how to use it and where to store it. Let’s clear up the number one concern, does oat milk need to be refrigerated?

Topics Explored

  1. How Long Does Oat Milk Last?
  2. Does Oat Milk Need To Be Refrigerated?
  3. When To Refrigerate Oat Milk
  4. How To Tell If Oat Milk Has Gone Bad?
  5. More Questions

How Long Does Oat Milk Last?

Different types of oat milk will come with different shelf lives.

While it’s relatively easy to make oat milk at home, this version has a shorter  lifespan. When made at home, oat milk is good for 5 days.

Shelf-stable oat milk that you can get from the store has a longer shelf life of 7 to 10 days when opened. Unopened, it can last for up to 9 months.

Oat milk is made with water, oats, salt, and flavoring or sweetener such as vanilla extract or syrup. In most cases, it’s fortified with iron, calcium, and vitamins.

Homemade oat milk is simple and with no overwhelming ingredients. 

Pour Milk Into Cup

However, the store-bought variety includes preservatives that extend the milk’s shelf life, like potassium sorbate or xanthan gum.

So, Does Oat Milk Need To Be Refrigerated?

Whether or not it needs to be refrigerated will depend on how it’s packaged. 

Generally, oat milk purchased in stores from the non-refrigerated aisle doesn’t need refrigerating. Instead, keep it at room temp until opening.


Oat milk that comes pre-chilled and sold in refrigerated aisles needs to go in the fridge at home, even if unopened.

When To Refrigerate Oat Milk

Not all oat milk is the same; some brands will do well in your pantry, while others need immediate refrigeration.

Homemade oat milk is tricky as it doesn’t include any stabilizers or preservatives. Here’s how to store each type.

Oat Milk Carton

Scenario 1: Unsealed Shelf-Stable Oat Milk

You can store shelf-stable oat milk in your cupboard cabinets or pantry until you decide to open it.(1) Shelf-stable food is good as long as you keep it in an airtight container.

This type of oat milk has gone through a pasteurization and aseptic process. This helps typically unstable foods to last longer. It’s also in sterile packaging.

Scenario 2: Homemade Oat Milk

Homemade oat milk needs to be refrigerated as soon as it’s made. Unlike the factory processed oat milk, homemade oat milk is not produced in a sterile environment.

This milk doesn’t contain preservatives that could keep it stable. It goes bad within a few days, even when stored in the fridge.

Scenario 3: Refrigerated Oat Milk

Some storebought milk has to be refrigerated too. In short, it comes down to the packaging. Refrigerated oat milk comes in thinner packaging.

This packaging doesn’t protect the content as well as the shelf-stable tetra pack. If you’re having second thoughts, just read the instructions. If a refrigerator is required, it would be stated on the packaging.

How To Tell If Oat Milk Has Gone Bad?

Just like dairy milk, oat milk can spoil if improperly stored. And if you consume it, it can lead to food poisoning, which is not a pleasant experience. 

If you’re unsure if your oat milk has gone bad or not, look for some of the signs described below.

Frothed Oat Milk

Tastes & Smells Sour

You need to know how normal oat milk tastes and smells to recognize when it goes bad.

Spoiled oat milk has a strong sour smell. Once you open the container, you’ll sense the rancid, acidic odor.

Still have doubts? Take a small spoon and taste the oat milk if it smells good. Spoiled oat milk tastes sour, and you can’t drink it. Spit it out so you won’t get food poisoning.

Color Has Turned Yellow

Regular oat milk has a creamy white to slightly beige color. Take a good look and remember the shade if you’re buying a new brand. 

Once you notice the color going darker or yellow, the oat milk has spoiled. Avoid using it in any drinks or meals if you notice a slight discoloration.

Texture Is Clumpy

Oat milk is a smooth liquid without any residue or clumps. So if you notice an unusual texture while pouring the oat milk, it’s already gone bad. 

Spoiled oat milk has a thicker texture and is hard to pour from the package. It can even become slimy.

More Questions

Why does some oat milk need to be refrigerated?

Some oat milk brands use thin, unprotective packaging that doesn’t make the product resistant to outdoor conditions. It needs a dark and cold place, with consistent temperatures, like the fridge. 

On the other hand, sterilized tetra packaging is safe, thick, and airtight. So oat milk in this package is fine on the shelf at home and in the store.

Can you leave oat milk out overnight?

If oat milk is homemade or needs to be kept chilled, use the 2-hour rule(2). This rule by the USDA claims that bacteria reproduce faster at room temperature. 

So if you forget out a portion of food or drink that must be chilled, it’s okay for up to 2 hours. After that, there’s a danger that the bacteria has spread out too much and can cause food poisoning.

Does unopened oat milk need to be refrigerated?

Refrigerate unopened oat milk only if it’s not shelf-stable. Look at the label for the best storing method. Typically, shelf-stable milk is fine at room temperature before you open it and has contact with air. 

Every other packaging that’s not labeled as shelf-stable must be stored in the fridge.

Final Words

Can You Froth Oat Milk

So, does oat milk need to be refrigerated? There’s not a universal answer. If you bought the oat milk from an unrefrigerated aisle, store it in your pantry until you open it.

Store it in the fridge if you bought it from the refrigerated aisle. Homemade oat milk must be stored in the refrigerator and has a much shorter shelf life.

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Verified Sources

Wondering where your info comes from? We totally understand. Hey Joe only obtains our information from reputable sources. Contents from this article are sourced from the following publications:

  1. Wikipedia:
  2. USDA:
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