Yes, you can freeze peanut butter for up to a year. Freezing is a surprisingly easy way to prolong and increase the use of peanut butter.
Whether the goal is batch cooking, portion control, storing bulk purchases, or making delicious snacks, frozen peanut butter can be a great ingredient in the kitchen.
Frozen peanut butter can be used as a topping or for a range of recipes, including Paleo-friendly protein balls, premade celery with peanut butter, and the infamous peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Thawing is quick and effortless, making it easy to include previously prepared frozen peanut butter meals and treats in school lunches or on hiking and biking day trips.
What Ingredients Are in Peanut Butter?
The FDA only requires 90% of the contents in a peanut butter jar to be actual peanuts. The rest of the contents may include oils, fats, flavorings, spices, or preservatives, whether natural or artificial. Many companies add ingredients to prolong the shelf life of their product, and reading the label is the easiest way to adapt your method of freezing.
Related Article: recommended substitutes for peanut oil
How to Freeze Peanut Butter
There are several things to consider when preparing peanut butter for freezing, but taking the time to answer some easy questions will help ensure successful results. That said, the type of peanut butter, amount to freeze, intended purpose or need, and available resources all affect the time, method, and effort required.
Different types of peanut butter products on the market currently include a range of textures (creamy to crunchy) and often contents of more than just peanuts.
Slight differences, like the moisture content of that product, will vary the results for freezing time and effectiveness. Understanding the ingredients of any product used will improve the odds of getting the intended results.
What You Need
To freeze peanut butter, you will need:
- peanut butter
- a freezer
- storage/airtight container(s) or bag(s)
- clean utensils and workstations
- (Optional) plastic wrap to combat oxygen-based spoilage
1. Select the Right Container
To select the appropriate container, consider the intended use of the frozen peanut butter. For example, if the recipe calls for peanut butter to be frozen in a thin layer, a baking sheet may be the best choice for freezing. If portion control or meal prep is the intended purpose, placing the peanut butter into several airtight containers of relative size is a better idea.
It is possible to store peanut butter in the original container, but note that plastic and glass containers require different actions for safety. If the container is glass, remove the safety seal and lid to allow for expansion during freezing.
Once it has finished freezing, you can secure the lid back onto the container. Plastic containers do not produce the same expansion as glass jars, which means they can generally be put directly in the freezer without concerns for the build-up of pressure.
2. Run a Small Sample Test First
Test a small sample of your desired peanut butter to see how well it takes to freezing and to avoid wasting food. Follow the same process you intend for a larger batch but use a small amount in the container of your choice.
Remove the peanut butter from the freezer after the desired amount of time to confirm it is frozen. Thaw to check the sample’s color, texture, smell, and taste (do not eat the sample if you suspect something has spoiled).
Use clean utensils and surfaces when working with peanut butter to prevent bacteria or mold contamination. If the peanut butter has other foods stored with it, it may produce undesired growth during storage.
Follow the recipe closely if it calls for a specific method or length of time to leave things in the freezer. Variations on a recipe may cause different results than intended.
Add the desired amount of peanut butter to the selected container. Wrap peanut butter in cling wrap to prevent possible spoil and to also allow for easier freezing (multiple peanut butter pieces that are individually wrapped can freeze without becoming stuck together).
Remove as much air as possible during this process, even if the container is designed to keep air out (there may still be air inside it when it is closed).
Place the container with the peanut butter in the freezer until you have reached the desired frozen effect.
How Long Until It’s Frozen?
The type of peanut butter, storage container, and preparation have a lot of impact on how long it takes peanut butter to freeze.
Peanut butter freezes at 37 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius); if the peanut butter is in a large amount, it might take 6 hours or more for the peanut butter to fully freeze. Preparation for smaller amounts or thin layers may take as little as 10 minutes for freezing to complete.
A sample test will help determine the length of time to freeze the desired product.
How to Thaw Peanut Butter
The time it takes to thaw peanut butter depends on the amount in question and how long it was in the freezer. The temperature used for storage and the method also factor into how long the peanut butter needs to thaw.
Peanut butter is safe to store in the refrigerator, but refrigerators will not thaw peanut butter to a spreadable consistency. To use heat in the thawing process, use a hot water bath or oven on low and avoid direct heat. Since peanut butter contains oils, direct heat applications may burn the peanut butter. Do not freeze, thaw, and then refreeze foods, even for cooked foods.
How Long Does Peanut Butter Last in the Fridge/Freezer?
Storage conditions and additives both alter the length of time that peanut butter will last. Opened peanut butter can last up to a year in a cool, dry place. Unopened peanut butter in the refrigerator has lasted for up to ten years. The less oxygen that the peanut butter interacts with, the longer it will last.
Always check the “best by” or expiration date printed on the peanut butter container before use. Peanut butter can also spoil or go bad under the right conditions, so use the appropriate senses to determine its quality.
How to Tell if Peanut Butter is Bad?
Believe it or not, peanut butter can go bad. Failure to store food properly in the freezer can result in changes in color, texture, odor, taste or cause the food to spoil.
Peanut butter that tastes soapy, bitter, harsh, or unusual in any way may have gone bad. The presence of fat in peanut butter does mean it can become rancid. It is more commonly reported to experience a loss of flavor due to extended time on the shelf.
Mold or bacteria inside of the container will eventually be growth on the peanut butter. The mold found on peanut butter is a potential carcinogen, so practice caution if there is a concern or ask your doctor for more information.
Frozen Peanut Butter Recipe Ideas
There are a large number of recipes that include the use of frozen peanut butter. Many recipes allow for batch preparation and long-term storage.
Frozen Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches are a classic and can be batch prepared and individually stored in the freezer for quick lunches or snacks. It only takes about an hour for the sandwich to thaw and be ready to eat. Save time during preparation by using a thin layer of frozen peanut butter on each piece of bread to prevent the jelly from soaking in before freezing. Thawing the sandwich will spread the peanut butter onto the bread for you.
Frozen Peanut Butter Squares:
Frozen peanut butter squares are quick and easy. Combine peanut butter, chocolate, and other toppings before putting them in the freezer for easy snacks that feel like dessert.
Homemade Peanut Butter and Banana Dog Treats:
Use this recipe and peanut butter free from xylitol to give dogs cool, tasty, and healthy portions of peanut butter right out of the freezer. It is also edible and delicious by human standards, but make sure your ingredients are safe for everyone.
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls:
“Fat bombs” are a part of many dietary lifestyles and chocolate peanut butter balls are a great way to enjoy your diet while keeping energy levels strong.
How is it “you can freeze peanut butter for up to a year” when the same jar of peanut butter on the shelf is good for a year? Surely freezing will slow down the go-rancid process considerably, and therefore the PB can be stored (tastefully) much longer than a year?
Thanks for the interesting question, Geoffrey. The answer is a big “it depends” 🙂 Here are the reasons why. The freezing process has a tendency to do different things to foods. So, it’s a not a simple matter of lower temperature means longer life for your peanut butter. You’ll read articles that say that things start changing for peanut butter in the freezer after 6 months. Others will say that nothing will happen even after 12 months. What’s the deal and who’s right and who’s wrong? The reality is that peanut butter isn’t peanut butter. There are differences in oil content, consistency, if you stirred it well, chunky vs. smooth, etc. All of these things make a difference. So, the simple answer is that there is no simple answer, unfortunately. Final food for thought is that there are nut butters that don’t even need to be refrigerated as I enjoy a cashew butter that I simply keep in my pantry for months with no issues.
I just finished off a jar of peanut butter that had been sitting in my cupboard for just shy of two years. I mixed in some chocolate syrup and some cocoa. powder and stood at the counter, maowing it down with a teaspoon. LOL, that was three days ago and I’m still standing!
Ha, sounds fantastic, Anthony! 🙂