How to Tell if Chicken Broth is Bad: 7+ Signs and More

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How to tell if Chicken Broth is Bad

Can chicken broth go bad? How can you tell if the chicken broth is bad? Together we are going to explore how long chicken broth lasts, and how to tell if you have spoiled chicken broth. But first, let’s look at the two different kinds of chicken broth, including store-bought, and homemade. 

chicken broth in white bowl

What is Chicken Broth?

Essentially, chicken broth is the juice that you are left with when you have cooked chicken. This can be made from the juices produced during the natural cooking process of chicken, or when you simmer the carcass, skin, and meat together in a large pot. 

Chicken broth has a yellow or golden color to it, and it is a thin soupy substance. Usually, the chicken broth is used as the base of chicken noodle soup, or even served alone, especially if you are sick. Chicken broth can be used in many ways, but usually as the base of a soup, gravy, or sometimes even for a sauce. 

Chicken broth can be bought from the grocery store, made from scratch at home, or even made using a chicken bouillon cube.

Store-Bought Chicken Broth

You can pick up some chicken broth at your local grocery store. Usually, it comes in a can, or in a sealed box-like container. Store-bought chicken broth often has a fairly long shelf life. Because store-bought chicken broth is shelf stable, it can often be stored at room temperature, for a long time, sometimes even up to six months or a year-long shelf life, depending on the specific type of chicken broth and how it is packaged.

Although store-bought chicken broth will typically last for a long time, it can still turn into bad chicken broth, that you don’t want to eat. Usually, it takes a long time for this to happen if it is sealed and stored properly.

A couple of easy ways to tell if the store-bought chicken broth has turned bad is to check the expiration date, to make sure the sale-by date has not passed. You can also make sure that the package is sealed securely and has not been punctured. 

Before we jump into the other signs of spoilage that you can use to examine the chicken broth, let’s look at the homemade chicken broth, then dive into the details of how to tell exactly how to tell if your chicken broth is bad.

Homemade Chicken Broth

Chicken broth can also be made in a homemade version, rather than store-bought. Usually, homemade broth is prepared from meat or vegetables. Homemade chicken stock or homemade bone broth is made using the common ingredient of chicken bones, and water.

You might notice that homemade chicken broth has a layer of fat on the top after it has had a chance to cool off. This does not mean that the chicken broth has gone bad. You can simply scrape the layer of fat off of your homemade chicken broth and discard it. As long as there are no other signs of spoilage, your chicken broth is still safe to eat. 

On average, chicken broth that is stored properly will usually last between 3-4 days. This is a much shorter shelf life than store-bought chicken broth because homemade chicken broth is not usually shelf stable. However, it can be canned or frozen to last longer.

Chicken Boullion 

Chicken bouillon on the other hand is a small cube or powder substance, that comes from dehydrated chicken broth. This is a great ingredient to have on hand when you don’t want to risk chicken broth expiring too quickly.

Chicken bouillon is great when added to other dishes or used to create chicken broth. It comes in little cubes, or powder that you can add to water, to make chicken broth. This can then be added to your recipe, as a chicken broth alternative.

How long are bouillon cubes good for? Chicken bouillon cubes, on the other hand, have the longest shelf life. Typically, they last for up to two years when sealed securely and are stored in a dry environment. If you’re looking for a long-shelf stable option for chicken broth, then this is definitely the best one.

broth with chicken in it

Common Signs of Spoilage

Now that you know that chicken broth, no matter if it is homemade chicken broth, store-bought chicken broth, or chicken bouillon cubes, does not last forever.

How do you tell if your chicken broth is still safe to use, or if it has gone bad?

Let’s look at some common signs of spoilage, that you can use for each form of chicken broth to determine if it is safe to eat, or if it needs to be thrown away.

Expiration Date

First, check the printed date on the package of your store-bought broth. This applies to both store-bought chicken broth and bouillon cubes. The sell-by date on the sealed container will give you a good idea if the chicken broth is safe to eat or not. 

This is especially true if you are looking at unopened chicken broth. If the unopened package is still sealed securely and has been stored as instructed on the package, the unopened containers will likely last as long as the expiration date on the package states.

When the sealed container of store-bought chicken broth is opened, it must be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. The store-bought chicken broth will likely last two days after it has been opened, and beef bouillon cubes will likely last approximately five days after they have been mixed.

Sour Smell

The smell of chicken broth is another sure sign to determine if the chicken broth is good or if it has gone bad. Chicken broth that’s still good, should not have much of a smell at all. However, if the chicken broth smells bad, or has an off odor, then it is likely bad. 

The rotten chicken broth will have a very off smell, or bad odor to it. If the chicken broth smells bad at all, then it needs to be thrown away.

Chicken Broth Look

You can also examine the appearance of your chicken broth, no matter if it’s homemade, store-bought, or from a bouillon cube. The good chicken broth will have a mild yellow color to it, however, if the color changes, you begin to see additional colors in it, then it has likely spoiled. 

You can also examine the consistency or texture of the chicken broth. If the texture or consistency changes, it is no longer light and runny, then it could have spoiled. 

You can also examine the bottom of the container to see if there are any floaties in the bottom. While homemade chicken broth may have a few floaties, if it was not drained appropriately, other types of the chicken broth should not. 

Make sure to examine the appearance of your chicken broth thoroughly to determine if it is still good or has gone bad.

Signs of Mold

Mold growth, whether in the chicken broth or in the container of the chicken broth, is a sign that your broth has spoiled.

If you see any signs of mold growing in the chicken broth, it must be thrown away. You do not want to eat chicken broth that has mold growing in it.

Swollen or Broken Containers 

If you reach for your chicken broth container, and notice that the container is swollen, or even broken, then you should not eat the broth inside.

Chicken broth with a swollen container is another sign that it has spoiled and is growing unwanted bacteria.

Bacteria Bubbles 

You may also notice bacteria bubbles forming on the surface of your chicken broth. If you see these gas bubbles, it means that the chicken broth is growing unwanted bacteria and should not be consumed.

These gas bubbles are a sign that the chicken broth has started to decompose, and you do not want to eat it when it has reached this point.

Taste Test

The last way to tell if your chicken broth is bad is to taste it. If you notice any other signs of spoilage, before you taste it, then you do not want to risk consuming any of the broth. 

If any other signs of spoilage are present, do not taste the quality of the broth, but throw it away. However, if you happen to taste your chicken broth, and the taste is off, this is another sign that it could have spoiled. 

As chicken broth spoils and grows unwanted bacteria during the spoilage process, it will change its taste, and you will recognize that it tastes off or bad. If you happen to take a sip of the chicken broth and it tastes bad, do not continue eating it but throw it away instead. 

chicken broth in a pot

Warning Signs

When you notice one or more of these warning signs of spoilage listed above, you will know your chicken broth is bad. If one or more of these signs are present, you do not want to risk eating spoiled chicken broth. Instead, you want to discard it and find something else to use.

Why You Should Not Consume Bad Chicken Broth

You do not want to risk eating chicken broth that has spoiled, because it will have produced bacterial growth, which could be very harmful to your health. Spoilage bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses, ranging in severity. 

Essentially, if you eat chicken broth that has spoiled, you could end up with food poisoning, or even in the hospital, as a result of the food poisoning seriousness. 

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

If you accidentally eat chicken broth that has spoiled, you may experience some of the following symptoms of food poisoning. If you do, you will want to be sure to contact your doctor for instructions on how to proceed safely.

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever 

How to Store Chicken Broth

For your safety, it’s important to practice good food safety. Because of this, let’s look at how you should store chicken broth, for the best results.

At Room Temperature

Unopened chicken broth, purchased from the store, or as beef bouillon cubes, may be kept at room temperature, and in a cool place. You will also want to make sure that a storage location is a dry place and not humid.

However, once the chicken broth has been opened, or is homemade, it should be kept at room temperature for no more than two hours before it is bad. This rule of thumb applies when your room temperature is between 40°F and 90°F. If your room temperature is 90°F or above, then your chicken broth should be kept at room temperature for no more than one hour.

In the Fridge 

The best way to store chicken broth once it has been opened, or homemade, is in an airtight container in the fridge at 40°F or below. It’s best to use an airtight container so that the chicken broth is not exposed to too much air and does not result in excess bacteria exposure. 

Containers such as Tupperware with a lid, or even a mason jar with a lid, are ideal storage methods. You can also seal chicken broth in a plastic storage bag if needed, but you may want to set it inside another container when sealed in the storage bag so that it does not leak inside your fridge.

When sealed in an airtight container, chicken broth that is store-bought will likely last two days after it has been opened or is homemade, for approximately 3 to 4 days, and bouillon cubes up to five days after they have been prepared, and stored in the fridge.

In the Freezer

If you opened chicken broth, and it’s kept in the fridge, but you’re afraid of losing it, you can always freeze it for longer storage. There are a few different ways you can freeze it, including in ice cube trays, or sealed in a plastic freezer bag. 

Essentially you will want to make sure that your frozen chicken broth is not exposed to too much air so that you avoid freezer burn. For the best results, chicken broth that’s frozen properly will likely last between two and three months in the freezer.

How to Freeze Chicken Broth

As mentioned above, you can freeze leftover chicken broth so that it does not spoil in the fridge. To do this you want to use ice cube trays or a plastic freezer bag. 

To freeze chicken broth in a freezer bag, simply label and date the bag, then measure your desired amount of chicken broth into the freezer bag. Seal the bag securely, then lay it flat in the freezer until frozen. Once it’s frozen, place it in your freezer as desired. 

Another great way to freeze your chicken broth is to use ice cube trays for smaller portions. To freeze the chicken broth and ice cube trays, pour your chicken broth into the ice cube trays, then set the ice cube trays flat in the freezer. Once the chicken broth freezes into cubes, transfer the frozen cubes to plastic freezer bags, and store them for up to three months. 

Shelf Life of Chicken Broth

In summary, let’s look at the average shelf life of chicken broth depending on what type of chicken broth it is.

How Long Does Chicken Broth Last?

Store-bought Chicken Broth

Unopened. This will likely last between 6 months to 1 year depending on how it is packaged. 

Opened. The store-bought chicken broth will likely last up to 2 days after it has been opened and stored in the fridge. 

Frozen. The store-bought chicken broth that has been frozen will likely last between 2 to 3 months in the freezer. 

Homemade Chicken Broth

Unopened. N/A

Opened. After the homemade chicken broth has been made, it should be sealed in an air-tight container or jar and placed in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. 

Frozen. Homemade chicken broth can also be frozen if desired. Once sealed securely, the frozen homemade chicken broth will likely last between 2-3 months in the freezer. 

Chicken Bouillon Cubes

Unopened. Chicken bouillon cubes, that are still sealed securely in their packaging will likely last between 1 to 2 years. Make sure to check the date on the package for details.  

Opened. After the chicken bouillon cubes have been prepared to make chicken broth, it should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

Frozen. Chicken broth made out of bouillon cubes can also be frozen. It should be transferred to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag, then frozen for up to 2 to 3 months. 

The Proper Way to Store Chicken Broth

The best way to store opened or homemade chicken broth is to keep it in an airtight container, or sealed in a jar in the fridge for up to three to four days.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can you keep chicken broth in the fridge?

When chicken broth is sealed securely in an airtight container, and kept in the fridge, it will likely last between three and four days in the fridge.

How long can homemade chicken stock be kept frozen?

For the best results, homemade chicken stock can be kept frozen for one to three months. The sooner you use it the better it will be, but it may last as long as three months.

How long does store-bought chicken broth stay fresh in the fridge?

Once store bought chicken broth is opened, it will also have a short time frame that it is safe to consume. For the best results, once your store-bought chicken broth is opened it will last for 3-4 days.

broth with chicken leg

How Can You Tell if Chicken Broth is Spoiled?

You can tell if the chicken broth has gone bad, by using your five senses. First examine the appearance of the chicken broth, if anything seems off, or discolored, then it has likely expired.

Second, spoiled chicken broth will have a nasty smell to it. 

Other ways to tell, or to look for floaties, mold, expiration date, and examine the container to see if it has popped open or is bulging. You can also tell if it has gone bad, by the taste of it, because it will taste bad. 

If there are any signs of spoilage present in your chicken broth, you do not want to risk eating It, because you could become very sick by consuming chicken broth that has gone bad. As the old saying goes, if in doubt throw it out. 

We hope that this has been very helpful to you and that you can now determine if your chicken broth is bad, and needs to be thrown away. 

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Faith
Faith Has been cooking and baking for many years! she loves to share her recipes with the world, and hopes you will enjoy them too!

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