How Long Does Coffee Creamer Last After Opening?

The longevity of your coffee creamer is directly linked to its ingredients and how it is handled and stored. Dairy coffee creamers have a short shelf life, while non-dairy creamers are a little more stable. Powdered versions can last 12 months and beyond.

June 19, 2024
Coffee creamers in a pot and a glass of coffee with creamer.

There is no shortage of options when it comes to the creamers available — in liquid or powder form. 

But not all creamers are the same, and their longevity depends on what they’re made of. 

Dairy creamers last approximately 7–14 days in the refrigerator, non-dairy creamers can last up to a month, and powdered creamers can last unopened for up to two years at room temperature.

In this article, we’ll look at the different types available and cut through the confusion about proper storage, expiration dates, how to tell if your coffee creamer has gone bad, and what you can do to prevent it.

What are Dairy Creamers & How Long Do They Last?

The clue is in the name, but dairy creamers are the most popular type and are found in the refrigerated section of the store with other dairy products. As these products contain milk, they spoil more easily than other creamers and have a best-before and use-by date on the packaging. 

A little creamer goes quite a long way, so unless you like milky coffee or many people use it, you may find you can’t get through your creamer before its expiration date. If you like to have creamer on hand as a staple and dislike the thought of food waste, you might prefer a powder or non-dairy option with a longer shelf life. 

If those don’t sound appealing, make your own coffee creamer. This way, you can make as little or as much as you want, save money, and control the ingredients added.

Although it is not recommended, dairy creamer can be left out at room temperature for up to two hours, but this shortens its life. Refrigerate it promptly after using it, and make sure the lid is tightly sealed to minimize the risk of bacteria growth and contamination. Dairy creamer should be consumed within a week once it has been opened

Related: Best Sweetened Condensed Milk

What are Non-Dairy Creamers, & How Long Do They Last?

Dairy cream products and mini creamer cups

Non-dairy creamers are usually plant-based and do not contain animal milk. Soy, oat, and all types of nut milk are non-dairy products. 

However, there is some discrepancy when it comes to what constitutes dairy and dairy-free creamers because food labeling can be confusing. Products can be 'dairy-free' and 'non-dairy,' but the two are not made equal. Non-dairy products can contain whey or casein, as well as milk derivatives. This is bad news for vegans and those with milk allergies, so make sure you check the list of ingredients to ensure your creamer qualifies as dairy-free. 

Checking the ingredients is also sensible from a health point of view. We know that dairy-free creamers don’t contain real cream, but they may contain ingredients that mimic the properties of milk and cream. Vegetable oil, coconut, or palm oil are often added to dairy-free creamers to replicate the texture. You may also find that sweeteners, flavorings, and colorings are used to make the product look and taste more like the real thing, so check the nutritional value and sugar and fat content if that’s important to you. 

Non-dairy and dairy-free creamers don’t mix with coffee as well as milk products, but they do tend to have a longer shelf life. Unopened, non-dairy creamer can last up to a month after the date specified but should be consumed within two weeks once opened.

Some non-dairy options require constant refrigeration, whereas others can be shelf-stable until they have been opened. Ensure your unopened creamer is stored in a cool, dark place away from light and heat exposure.

Related: Vegan Vietnamese Coffee Recipe

What are Powdered Creamers & How Long Do They Last?

Common powdered creamers together with a bowl full of it.

Much like non-dairy liquid creamers, powdered creamers are made with ingredients such as vegetable oils, sugar and sweeteners, and other flavor enhancers to give your coffee that all-important creaminess. 

Shelf-stable creamers are convenient because you can store them without the need for refrigeration — they don’t technically go bad in the same way that regular milk and cream do, and they are a useful standby when you’ve run out of milk.

Powdered creamers tend to absorb other smells around them. Keep them away from other foodstuffs and in a tightly sealed container to shield them from moisture, temperature fluctuations, and other contaminants. The ideal environment will be away from direct sunlight and humidity, which can cause condensation and clumping.

How Do I Know If My Creamer Has Gone Bad?

How can I tell if it’s time to throw my coffee creamer away?

1. Bad Smell

If you’ve ever smelled milk or cream that has gone bad, you’ll remember recoiling in horror at the stench. Thankfully, coffee creamers that have gone bad tend to develop a nasty acidic smell to deter you from using them. If you stick your nose in the creamer and it doesn’t smell fresh and sweet, that’s a telltale sign that it has expired and needs to be thrown away.

2. Sour Taste 

With a bit of luck, the smell of bad creamer will alert you before you have to taste it. If it isn’t clear, dip a spoon into it and have a little taste. It should be fresh, creamy, and sweet. If you taste anything different or unpleasant, it’s better to be safe than sorry and throw it away rather than make yourself sick.

Related: What Does Vietnamese Coffee Taste Like?

3. Chunky Texture

Liquid creamer should have a consistency of silky, smooth paint or heavy cream. One thing it should never be is lumpy. If you pour creamer out and notice any changes to the texture, it’s time to get rid of it

Although curdling doesn’t look very nice, it doesn’t always mean that the creamer has gone bad, but milk proteins sticking together is the precursor to it heading in that direction. It’s usually better to err on the side of caution and replace your coffee creamer at this point, even if it smells okay.

Likewise, if your powder creamer clumps up due to humidity, it may have been exposed to bacteria and is at risk of developing mold

4. Past Expiration Date

Consumer confusion can arise between best-before dates and expiration dates. The best-before date is an indication of when you should consume the creamer at its best. However, this date should only be used as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. 

Beyond the best-before date, the product's quality might start to deteriorate, and it can lose certain nutrients, but it is perfectly safe to consume. However, it's possible for products to go bad before this date due to improper storage.

The expiry date, or use-by date, is the one you should pay more attention to, as this is a reference to when you should stop using it. However, if the creamer still looks and tastes fine and has been stored correctly, there is no reason why it will not last a little longer.

Related: What is Robusta Coffee? Could it be Better Than Arabica?

FAQs: Coffee Creamers

Coffee creamer being poured to a fresh cup of coffee.

Still, have some questions? Check out our FAQs about coffee creamer below. 

1. What is the shelf-life of mini creamer cups?

Mini coffee creamer cups have gone through a canning process. They can be stored at room temperature and will last until you are ready to use them, provided they remain unopened and aren't exposed to high temperatures.

2. Can I make powdered creamer at home?

It’s surprisingly easy to make your own dairy powdered creamer at home. Simply combine 1 cup of powdered milk, ½ cup of powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil, then blend them in a food processor. Note that refined coconut oil is best since it doesn’t have a coconut taste. You can store it in an airtight container.

3. How long do plant-based creamers last?

Non-dairy creamers like oat, coconut, soy, and almond creamers will last about 3–6 months in an unopened state. Once you have broken the seal, they will last up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

4. What happens if I accidentally consume expired coffee creamer?

While it certainly won’t cause you any significant harm, a small amount of bad coffee creamer may cause bloating, stomach ache, gas, nausea, or diarrhea. If you accidentally consume a large amount or you experience more severe symptoms, it is important to see a doctor.