Do Pistachios Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

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When cleaning out the pantry last weekend, I found a bag of pistachios shoved in the back of the cupboard! Oops! I am sure I’m not the only person who has made this mistake. But it made me wonder,

Do Pistachios Go Bad?

The quick answer is yes, they do! They contain lots of oil and fat, which means they can become stale or rancid. But with proper storage, they will keep for 6 months at room temperature and one year in the refrigerator or freezer. Read on for more on how to tell if they are bad and the best ways to store them to maximize pistachio shelf life!

How Do I Know if my Pistachios are Bad?

Things to look for:

Mold – any mold on the nuts is a sign they should be thrown away.

Color – The pistachio nutmeat inside the shell should be yellow to green. If it is starting to turn dark brown or is an odd color, they are too old.

Bugs – Obviously!

Texture – If the nut inside the shell is withered and dried out, they are too old.

The expiration date – If they are still in the package, check the expiration date. This date is more of a “Best Before” date than a hard and fast expiration date. So if it was one month ago, they might be fine. But if it was two years ago, they are long past expired!

closeup of pistachos

How to Tell if Pistachios are Rancid

Unfortunately, pistachios can look fine but still be rancid. The best way to test this is to smell them. If they smell sour, like nail polish, they are rancid. If you aren’t sure, then there are two options.

  1. Throw them out. It is just a bag of nuts, and there is such a thing as being too frugal.
  2. Taste one. Rancid pistachios taste bitter and mealy. If you taste one and it doesn’t taste good, then spit it out and discard the rest of the bag. One rancid nut won’t hurt you; it will just taste bad.

I ended up tossing my overlooked bag of pistachios out because they looked old and shriveled! But I learned how to do a better job of storing them for next time.

holding an airtight jar of pistachios
Storing pistachios in an airtight container

How Long Do Pistachios Stay Good For?

Properly stored pistachios will keep at room temperature for about 5-6 months. This is quite a long time and should be sufficient for most home cooks.

Pistachios are best stored in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Oxygen and light cause them to go rancid more quickly. So putting them in an airtight container will increase their shelf life.

If you open a bag of pistachios and aren’t planning to eat them all within the next few weeks transfer them to a plastic or glass container with a tight-fitting lid. And store them in a cupboard where they won’t get a lot of light.

Should Pistachios be Refrigerated?

You can store them in the refrigerator or freezer if you want to keep them longer than 5-6 months or if you live in a warm and humid climate.

Even if they are stored in the refrigerator, they still need to be kept in an airtight container, or they might pick up smells from other foods. Storing pistachios in the freezer or refrigerator will keep them good for up to 1 year.

wooden bowl with pistachios

How to Buy Pistachios

Buying good, fresh pistachios in the first place is another way to make them last longer. You don’t want to buy old and stale ones. 

Here are buying tips:

  • Buying ones sitting out in a bin at the grocery store makes it challenging to know that they have been stored correctly.
  • Packaged ones will give you an expiration date, eliminating much guesswork.
  • Unshelled pistachios will last a little better than shelled ones.

Fun Facts About Pistachios

  • Pistachios are seeds, not nuts! They are the seeds of the pistachio tree.
  • The shell will split when they are ripe, so a closed pistachio was picked before it was ready.
  • They have lots of fiber, protein, minerals, and unsaturated fat. So they are healthy to eat, in moderation, of course.
cereal bars with cranberry and pistachios on a cutting board.
Cereal bars with cranberries and pistachios

How to Use Pistachios

Looking for ideas to use up your pistachios before they go bad? They are great just for snacking or sprinkled on salads to add a little crunch! And you can use them to add texture and flavor to any meal.

Try these suggestions:


Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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