Kitchen Tips

How to Tell if Chicken Broth is Bad – 4 Signs

How to Tell if Chicken Broth is Bad

How to tell if chicken broth is bad? This is the ultimate guide to help you.

Whether you’ve made your own chicken broth or picked up a carton from the store, it’s crucial to know when it’s time to bid farewell to that savory liquid. Let’s explore the key signs of spoilage, shelf life guidelines, and a nifty trick for extending its usability through freezing.

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Does Chicken Broth Go Bad?

Chicken broth is susceptible to spoilage like any other perishable food. Due to its moisture content and nutrient-rich composition, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria and mold growth if not stored correctly. While properly prepared and stored broth can last for a considerable time, neglecting it or exposing it to unfavorable conditions can lead to rapid deterioration, making it unsafe for consumption.

How to Tell If Chicken Broth Is Bad


The aroma of chicken broth should be savory and appetizing. If it emits a sour or off odor, reminiscent of fermentation or decay, it’s likely gone bad. Trust your nose; foul smells are a clear indication of spoilage.


Fresh chicken broth typically exhibits a clear, golden hue. Any deviation from this, such as a darkening to yellowish or brownish tones, suggests chemical changes indicative of spoilage. Discoloration may result from microbial activity or oxidation processes, both of which compromise the broth’s quality and safety.


Visual cues are crucial in assessing broth quality. Mold growth, characterized by fuzzy patches or specks, is a definite red flag. Additionally, a curdled or slimy texture indicates bacterial contamination, rendering the broth unsuitable for consumption. Any visible signs of spoilage should prompt immediate disposal to prevent health risks.


While taste testing is not always recommended due to potential health hazards, sampling a small amount of broth can confirm suspicions of spoilage. If the broth tastes sour, rancid, or otherwise unpleasant, it’s best to discard it. Unpleasant flavors indicate chemical changes or bacterial activity that compromise safety and palatability.

How Long Does Chicken Broth Last?

Understanding the shelf life of chicken broth is essential for ensuring its freshness and safety:

  • Homemade Chicken Broth: When stored properly in airtight containers, homemade broth can retain its quality for up to five days in the refrigerator. To prolong its lifespan, consider freezing portions for later use. Freezing effectively halts bacterial growth, preserving the broth’s integrity for several months.
  • Canned Chicken Broth: Unopened cans of chicken broth boast an extended shelf life, lasting up to a year when stored in cool, dry environments. Once opened, consume the broth within 3-7 days to maintain optimal quality. While canned broth typically contains preservatives to prolong shelf life, refrigeration is necessary post-opening to prevent spoilage.
  • Boxed Chicken Broth: Similar to canned varieties, boxed broth maintains quality for up to a year in unopened packaging. Once opened, refrigerate promptly and use within 3-7 days to prevent bacterial proliferation. While boxed broth may lack preservatives found in canned versions, proper storage and handling mitigate spoilage risks.
  • Frozen Chicken Broth: Freezing is an excellent method for extending the shelf life of chicken broth. Properly packaged and stored in the freezer, broth can remain viable for up to six months. Freezing halts microbial activity, preserving the broth’s freshness and flavor until needed.

What Happens If You Use Bad Chicken Broth?

Consuming spoiled chicken broth poses significant health risks, including foodborne illnesses and gastrointestinal discomfort. Bacterial contamination, such as Salmonella or E. coli, can lead to severe symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Additionally, off flavors and odors imparted by spoilage compromise the sensory appeal and palatability of dishes, detracting from the dining experience.

How to Freeze Chicken Broth

Freezing chicken broth is a convenient strategy for extending its usability and minimizing waste:

  • Cooling: Allow the broth to cool completely to room temperature before freezing. Rapid temperature reduction prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and ensures optimal preservation.
  • Container Selection: Opt for freezer-safe containers or resealable bags designed for long-term storage. Ensure airtight seals to prevent freezer burn and maintain quality.
  • Portioning: Divide the broth into manageable portions for convenient use in recipes. Ice cube trays are ideal for creating small, uniform portions, facilitating portion control and minimizing thawing time.
  • Labeling: Clearly label containers with the date of freezing to track freshness and prevent freezer burn. Proper labeling enables easy identification and rotation of frozen broth, ensuring optimal quality upon thawing.
  • Thawing: Thaw frozen broth in the refrigerator overnight or immerse sealed containers in cold water for rapid defrosting. Avoid thawing at room temperature, as this promotes bacterial growth and compromises food safety.
Type of Chicken BrothUnopened Shelf LifeOpened Shelf Life (Refrigerated)Extended Shelf Life (Frozen)
HomemadeUp to 5 daysUp to 5 daysUp to 6 months
CannedUp to 1 yearUp to 7 daysUp to 6 months
BoxedUp to 1 yearUp to 7 daysUp to 6 months
How to Tell if Chicken Broth is Bad

Conclusion – How to Tell if Chicken Broth is Bad

By adhering to these guidelines, you can maximize the shelf life of chicken broth and enjoy its savory goodness in culinary creations without compromising taste or safety.