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How to tell if yogurt is bad

Having spent 20 years in the realm of home cooking, I’ve discovered that keeping an eye on freshness is paramount, especially when it comes to dairy products.

So, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of how to tell if yogurt is bad. Spotting spoiled yogurt isn’t just about food safety, but also about making sure you’re getting the best taste from your ingredients.

Ways to tell if yogurt is bad


You can tell if yogurt is bad by checking its smell, appearance, and texture. Spoiled yogurt often has a strong, sour smell. It may have visible mold, a strange color, or an abnormal texture, such as being too watery or too thick. When in doubt, it’s safer to discard it.

Container of yogurt with a spoon on a blue placemat

If you have ever been unsure if your yogurt is still good to eat, look no further. It can be tricky to tell but I will share some simple signs to look for that will show you if your yogurt has gone bad.

With these handy tips, you’ll know for sure when it’s time to toss that tub. Let’s get started!


Your nose is a powerful tool when it comes to detecting spoiled foods. When you pop open a tub of yogurt, give it a good sniff. Fresh yogurt typically has a slightly sweet, tangy aroma that’s pretty distinctive.

However, when yogurt turns bad, it develops a much stronger smell. It could be pungently sour or just “off” compared to what you’re used to.

Trust your nose – if the yogurt smells off, it’s better to toss it out than risk an upset stomach.


Visual cues are often the first indicators of spoiled yogurt. Begin by checking for obvious signs of mold. Molds can come in various colors, from blue-green to pink or black.

Yogurt naturally separates a bit, resulting in a layer of clear liquid (whey) on top. This is normal and can be stirred back in.

However, if your yogurt has an excessive amount of this liquid, or it’s taken on a chunky or curdled appearance, these could be signs of spoilage.

Remember, it’s always safer to throw out questionable yogurt than to risk food poisoning.


The texture is another key factor in determining the freshness of yogurt. Fresh yogurt typically has a creamy and smooth consistency. Over time, as yogurt goes bad, it can become lumpy and thin, or oddly thick.

However, bear in mind that different types of yogurt naturally have different textures. Greek yogurt, for instance, is much thicker than traditional yogurt.

So, understand the usual texture of the yogurt you’re consuming to better gauge when it’s gone bad.


If you’ve checked the smell, appearance, and texture but are still unsure, the taste test can be your final judge. But please remember, this should be your absolute last resort.

Just a tiny bit on your tongue should be enough. Spoiled yogurt will taste extremely sour or just plain off compared to its usual tangy flavor.

However, never taste yogurt that has already failed the smell or appearance tests – it’s not worth the risk!

Also, learn more about how to tell if sour cream is bad or how to tell if almond milk is bad.

Indicator Description Action
Smell Fresh yogurt has a slightly sweet, tangy aroma. Spoiled yogurt smells pungently sour or off. If it smells off, discard it.
Appearance Fresh yogurt is creamy. Spoiled yogurt may have mold, an abnormal color, or appear excessively watery or thick. If it looks unusual, discard it.
Texture Fresh yogurt is smooth. Spoiled yogurt may become lumpy or oddly thick. If the texture is off, discard it.
Taste Fresh yogurt has a tangy flavor. Spoiled yogurt tastes extremely sour or off. If in doubt, discard it. Never taste if it failed the smell or appearance tests.

Risks of eating spoiled yogurt

Eating yogurt that has gone bad might not seem like a big deal, but it can actually lead to some unpleasant symptoms.

Your body doesn’t appreciate spoiled food, and it often lets you know through signs of food poisoning.

If you accidentally eat bad yogurt, you might experience symptoms like stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

These symptoms can show up a few hours after eating the spoiled yogurt, and while they’re usually mild and go away on their own in a day or two, they can be pretty uncomfortable.

However, if the symptoms persist or are severe, it’s best to see a doctor. Dehydration can be a risk, especially if vomiting or diarrhea is severe or long-lasting.

Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure whether your yogurt is still good or not, it’s best to discard it. Your health is worth more than a tub of yogurt!

I enjoy drizzling a little bit of honey on my yogurt, find out how to store honey so that you can ensure that you are storing it correctly and safely before your next yogurt bowl.

How long does open yogurt last in the fridge

After opening a container of yogurt, it generally stays good for about 1-2 weeks when properly stored in the fridge.

However, the exact time can vary depending on several factors including the sell-by date, how the yogurt was handled, and the temperature of your refrigerator. It is also important to know how long yogurt can sit out and still be safe to consume.

If you feel like you won’t be able to finish it before it goes bad you can also freeze your yogurt.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Always refrigerate yogurt promptly after opening.
  • Keep the temperature of your fridge at or below 40°F (4°C) to maximize its shelf life.
  • Use a clean spoon every time to prevent introducing bacteria into the container.

When in doubt, trust your senses. If the yogurt looks, smells, or tastes off, it’s better to be safe and throw it out.

Frequently asked questions for how to tell if yogurt is bad

Yogurt can sometimes be safe to eat a few days after the expiration date if it’s been stored properly and shows no signs of spoilage. However, it’s always safer to discard it if you’re unsure.

The clear liquid on top of yogurt is known as whey, a protein-rich component of milk. It’s normal and can be stirred back in. However, the excess liquid could be a sign of spoilage.

Yes, yogurt can mold when it’s spoiled. Mold on yogurt may appear in different colors, including green, black, or pink. If you see mold, it’s best to throw the yogurt out.


Being able to confidently discern how to tell if yogurt is bad is a vital skill for anyone, not just seasoned home cooks. It promotes food safety, enhances the flavor of your meals, and can even reduce food waste.

Remember, food safety first. When in doubt, throw it out!

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