Does Oat Milk Need to Be Refrigerated It Depends...

Let’s clear up the number one concern, does oat milk need to be refrigerated? Here is all the information you need to know about oat milk storage, shelf life, and spoilage. You will understand whether you need to keep it chilled and how to identify a bad one after reading this article.

No, oat milk doesn’t always need to be refrigerated. You can keep Willa’s Oat Milk in your pantry until you’re ready to use it because the packaging has an airtight seal, making it shelf-stable. After the milk has been opened, you can store it in the refrigerator and use it within seven to ten days.

Please read on for more detailed information.

Does Oat Milk Need to Be Refrigerated?

Depending on how it’s packaged, you may or may not need to refrigerate oat milk.

In general, oat milk from the non-refrigerated aisle in stores doesn’t require refrigeration. Instead, keep it at room temperature until opening.

Even if it hasn’t been opened, pre-chilled oat milk from the refrigerator is required to be kept in the refrigerator at home.

When to Refrigerate Oat Milk?

Not all oat milk is created equal; some varieties keep well in your pantry, while others require immediate refrigeration.

Oat milk made at home can be challenging because it lacks stabilizers and preservatives. To store each type, follow these steps.

Scenario 1: Unsealed Shelf-Stable Oat Milk

Before you decide to open it, you can keep shelf-stable oat milk in your pantry or cabinetry.(1) As long as it’s stored in an airtight container, shelf-stable food is fine.

Pasteurization and aseptic processing have been applied to this kind of oat milk. Foods that are normally unstable can last longer because of this. The packaging is sterile as well.

Scenario 2: Homemade Oat Milk

As soon as it is made, homemade oat milk needs to be chilled. Homemade oat milk is not made in an environment that is sterilized, unlike factory-processed oat milk.

There are no preservatives in this milk that could keep it stable. Even when kept in the refrigerator, it expires after a few days.

Scenario 3: Refrigerated Oat Milk

Some store-bought milk also needs to be chilled. In essence, the packaging determines the outcome. Oat milk that has been refrigerated comes in thinner packaging.

The shelf-stable tetra pack offers greater content protection than this packaging does. Just read the instructions if you’re having second thoughts. If a refrigerator is necessary, it would be noted on the packaging.

How Long Does Oat Milk Last?

Oat milk that is shelf-stable has a long shelf life and keeps for a few months after its best-by date. The shelf life of oat milk that has been refrigerated, on the other hand, is only about a week.

You should consume everything in a carton or bottle within seven to ten days of opening it, depending on the brand.

That’s the main idea.

Oat milk (shelf-stable)Best-by + 3 – 6 months
Oat milk (chilled carton)Sell-by + 5 – 7 days
Oat milk (opened)5 – 10 days

Expired Oat Milk

Oat milk comes in two varieties: one that is sold chilled and one that is shelf-stable, as you are already aware. In addition to how you should store each, the shelf life of the two is the most significant distinction.

Oat milk that is shelf-stable typically has a shelf life of 6 to 12 months and can easily be kept for a few months after its expiration date as long as it is unopened. The refrigerated variety has a use-by date that is only a few weeks after production and is only good for about a week after the printed date.

Accordingly, it depends on the type of oat milk in question whether it can still be used after it has expired.

If it is shelf-stable, there is a good chance that it will still be usable even if it is halfway through its expiration date. So unless you’re not comfortable with using “expired” oat milk, feel free to open it up, check for signs of spoilage (more on that later), and use it if there are none.

To be safe, I’d discard refrigerated oat milk that is more than 7 to 10 days past its expiration date. For most dairy products, you probably follow the same procedure.

After Opening

After opening the carton or bottle for the first time, oat milk typically lasts for 7 to 10 days. The guidelines differ slightly between brands, but if you finish yours within 4 to 5 days, you should be fine regardless of the brand you pick.

(The recommendation for 4 to 5 days of storage is consistent with the 4 to 5 days rule for perishable leftovers.)

While some manufacturers, such as Tats, recommend shorter storage periods (4 to 7 days in this case), others, such as Oatsome, opt for more lenient recommendations of 7 to 10 days to finish the carton.

The reality is that it largely depends on the product’s quality, and probably all of the different kinds of oat milk that are currently available should taste fine after about 7 days.


To remember when you first cracked open the carton, mark the bottle with the date.

Last but not least, even if yours hasn’t shown any signs of spoilage after being open for around two weeks, throw it away. Safer is preferable to sorry.

Does Oat Milk Need to Be Refrigerated It Depends...
Does Oat Milk Need to Be Refrigerated? It Depends…

How Long Can Oat Milk Sit Out?

According to the USDA, you should throw away any half-opened oat milk that was exposed to room temperature for more than two hours. That is the recommended practice for open, unrefrigerated perishable foods, such as oat milk.

Naturally, if you leave it out for longer than that, it should be fine, but you never really know.

Be wise if you ever choose to deviate slightly from that rule. You can probably get away with leaving that oat milk out on the counter for three hours, but if you leave it out overnight, you have to throw it away.

I’d rather be safe than sorry.

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How to Tell If Oat Milk is Bad?

Here’s how you check if your oat milk is okay:

  1. See how long it has been open.No matter what, throw it away if it’s been more than two weeks.
  2. Open the container and take a whiff.Throw it away if it has a musty, off, or sour smell.
  3. Then, pour some into a glass after giving it a shake.
  4. Examine the hue and consistency.There might be a few minor adjustments, but nothing major. It must be removed if it is slimy, completely separated, or anything else similar. Same goes for any signs of microbial growth or anything else that shouldn’t be there.
  5. Get a taste of the liquid.Now that everything appears to be in order, it’s time to assess the flavor. A hint of oats and a nuttier flavor than cow’s milk are supposed to characterize oat milk. Even without the addition of sugar or artificial sweeteners, many brands also taste quite sweet. It should be discarded if it is sour.

You can probably use your oat milk if it has passed each and every one of the tests listed above.

As always, don’t drink anything if you’re not positive it’s safe. Open a new one instead and err on the side of caution.


Different brands of oat milk have distinctive tastes. Don’t be surprised if the flavor isn’t exactly the same if you purchased a different brand than what you’re used to. Or that you’ve suddenly grown to dislike it in your coffee.

Does Oatly Milk Go Off If Not Refrigerated?

You should drink your oat milk within 7 to 10 days if you bought it from Oatly and kept it in the refrigerator.

If you haven’t eaten it yet, you can still enjoy it by eating it straight from the carton before it goes bad.


Why Does Some Oat Milk Need to Be Refrigerated?

Some oat milk brands use flimsy, weak packaging that doesn’t protect the product from the elements. It requires a location with consistent temperature, like the refrigerator, that is dark and cold.

Tetra packaging that has been sterilized, on the other hand, is secure, heavy, and airtight. Therefore, oat milk in this package is safe to use both at home and in a store.

Can You Leave Oat Milk Out Overnight?

Use the 2-hour rule when making homemade oat milk or when it needs to be kept cold. Bacteria supposedly multiply more quickly at room temperature, according to this USDA regulation.

So, if you accidentally leave out some food or drink that needs to be chilled, it’s fine for up to two hours. After that, there’s a chance that the bacteria has spread too far and could result in food poisoning.

Does Unopened Oat Milk Need to Be Refrigerated?

If the oat milk isn’t shelf-stable, only refrigerate the unopened bottles. The best method of storage is indicated on the label. Shelf-stable milk is usually fine at room temperature before being opened and coming into contact with air.

The refrigerator is required to house all other packagings that is not designated as shelf-stable.

Can You Drink Expired Oat Milk?

I wouldn’t drink expired because it won’t taste very good. Generally speaking, you should consume oat milk immediately after opening the container. You may want to consume it quickly if you’ve kept it in the refrigerator.

Final Words

Do you have to refrigerate oat milk then? No one size fits all solution exists. Store the oat milk in your pantry until you’re ready to use it if you purchased it from an unrefrigerated aisle.

If you bought it from the refrigerated section, keep it in the refrigerator. Oat milk made at home has a much shorter shelf life and needs to be kept in the refrigerator.

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