How Long Do Spices Last?

Oregano flakes looking a bit ashy? Bought that cayenne for the chili you served at your housewarming party—two apartments ago? It may be time to do a little restocking.
178730878

178730878

Spices

Photo by: S847

S847

Spices

As herbs and spices age, their flavorful oils evaporate, rendering them dull and dusty. Though professional chefs will swear you need to replace seasonings every eight months (nice if you have the budget), the rest of us can get away with the following timetable:

Ground Spices: 2 years

Whole Spices (such as nutmeg and cinnamon): 3 years

Dried Herbs: 2 years

Seasoning Blends: 2 years

Pure Vanilla Extract: forever (just keep the lid on tight!)

And keep the following tips in mind:

Think small: Old herbs and spices are bland herbs and spices. So step away from that warehouse store quart container of oregano. It may last you through your infant daughter's high-school graduation brunch, but the results will be uninspiring. For rich, flavorful dishes, buy spices in small containers that you'll have to replace often enough to keep them fresh.  

Keep 'em covered: Sunlight, heat and moisture are the other enemies of dried herbs and spices, diminishing their flavor and color. To keep yours in peak condition, stow them in a dark, dry cabinet —not in an open shelf above the stove or near a window. (Paprika and chili powder can go in the fridge.)

Opt for whole over ground: Grated or ground just before cooking, whole nutmeg, coriander and cinnamon can be more potent and aromatic than anything you'll find in a jar. Plus, they last longer. 

Keep Reading

Next Up

How Long Food Lasts in Your Pantry

Consider this your essential guide to knowing what stays and what goes next time you clean out the pantry.

Guide to Spices

Pump up the flavor of any meal with these spices.

Guide to Spice Mixtures

Just a pinch of one of these aromatic spice mixtures will add depth and complexity to your next meal.

How to Use Spices

A guide to selecting, storing and using spices

How to Use Spice Mixes

Learn the basics and advanced cooking techniques from Food Network with how-to advice on everything from cooking or carving a turkey to grilling corn.

Indian Pantry 101: Aarti's Spice Essentials

Not sure where to start when it comes to cooking Indian food? We asked Aarti to share her top five spice-rack staples — plus how and when to use them.

7 Tips to Organize Your Spice Rack

Before you begin to organize your spices, go through what you have and discard any that are old and have no scent. Combine duplicates into one jar if possible.

How to Grind and Toast Spices and Herbs: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these simple steps to grinding and toasting spices and herbs, then watch our how-to video.

On TV

Get Cooking