How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out Without Refrigeration – Not As Long As You Think!

If you’re like me, you throw out more spoiled yogurt in a week than you use it in recipes and dips. I would have bought much less yogurt in the past had I known how long can yogurt sit out for. So, fortunately, you don’t have to make the same mistakes as I did.

Yogurt is a delicate ingredient. It contains bacteria that will accelerate when kept for long. This could be in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

But having said that, I’m going to talk about the basics of preserving yogurt both inside and outside the refrigerator.

How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out?

If this question is all you need to know to avoid wasting yogurt, yogurt begins to spoil at room temperature after 2 hours. The optimal room temperature is around 90-degrees F or slightly higher. This is a dry, not too warm or cool, atmosphere. So it’s okay to keep yogurt out for up to 2 hours, but not any longer because the yogurt will start to rot.

Why Does Yogurt Spoil So Quickly?

Part of the solution to avoid throwing away yogurt is knowing the cause of spoilage.

Yogurt contains two types of bacteria – Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Strepto thermophiles. These are the most common bacterial strains present in yogurt. But some yogurts contain more.

What helps in determining why yogurts spoil so quickly is that these are live bacterial strains. This means they contain live microbes. This is considered a good bacteria which aids digestion, is a probiotic, and reduces inflammation.

Lots of dietary supplements, digestive-friendly foods contain live cultures like good bacteria.

According to studies, your average yogurt serving, about the portion of a serving of frozen yogurt, contains around 8 to 11 million of these live cultures or bacterias per gram.

So it’s only a wonder how yogurt won’t spoil sooner than 2 hours! They are meant to be consumed faster to keep up the nutritional benefits of the good bacteria.

Moving on, let’s look at how long can yogurt last in a refrigerator.

How Long Can Yogurt Stay Fresh In A Refrigerator?

The ideal temperature of a refrigerator should be 40 degrees or slightly lower. And this temperature, yogurt can stay fresh and edible for 7 to 14 days. After which, yogurt will develop mold, start to smell rancid and vinegar-y and the bacteria will multiply and spoil the yogurt beyond repair.

2 weeks is the maximum number of days that you can keep yogurt in the fridge. Even with added sugar or fruits or other ingredients, the slow-growing bacteria will spoil the texture, flavor, and smell after 14 days.

What’s The Difference Between Greek and Normal Yogurt?

Here’s something that not a lot of people about yogurt – NOT ALL YOGURT IS GREEK.

So what is greek yogurt? Greek yogurt contains more protein as it is made from skimmed milk. In fact, it’s creamier and denser than normal yogurt. You can make frozen yogurt, fruit salad, custard, and other sweet, nutritious, and gut-friendly meals with Greek yogurt.

Health-conscious buyers choose Greek yogurt more than traditional yogurt. Since it’s higher in proteins, contains more good bacteria, and can be added with dried fruits and nuts and muesli, it’s a creamier and tastier choice.

According to my research, a gram of Greek yogurt contains around 100 million live cultures. These are Active Cultures packed with more nutrients and vitamins than traditional yogurt.

Can You Heat Yogurt?

Some yogurts contain less live active bacteria so you can easily heat up. Lots of recipes include marinating meat with yogurt. While that is okay to do so because yogurt in marinates makes the recipe creamier, the heat does kill the probiotics in the yogurt.

So the yogurt will not spoil during cooking but you will not reap the probiotic benefits of it.

Here’s a tip I learned the hard way about cooking with yogurt:

Never add cold yogurt directly to a hot dish. Allow the yogurt to slowly warm up before adding. What I do is temper the yogurt in a warm dish. A heated mug or a bowl will also do.

This prevents the concentrated milk proteins in the yogurt from splitting when it comes in contact with a hot dish.

Another helpful tip is to use regular yogurt first for cooking and then switch to Greek. Greek yogurt is trickier to cook with but it’s easy when you have some experience.

How to Tell When Yogurt Is Rotten?

It’ll be very clear and visible to you when the yogurt is spoiled. But here’s what you need to keep an eye out for.


Have you ever seen mold on a block of cheese or a stale slice of bread? It looks greenish or grey in color. And it may not cover the entire surface of the food but it sure does multiply quickly once it starts to form.

Mold on yogurt looks much the same. It’s cloudy, off-white, or greenish in color. Mold on yogurt means it’s contaminated and definitely unsafe for consumption.


Spoiled yogurt smells like vinegar. And even if there’s a tight seal on the can, it will stink up the place. Do not consume yogurt, or any food, as a matter of fact, that smells so bad like it’s contaminated.

Floating Liquid

There will always be grey floating liquid or lumpy bits on top of the yogurt when it’s spoiled. Now there’s a difference between plain transparent water in yogurt and spoiled, contaminated liquid.

When you can whisk the water with yogurt without forming any lumps, then it’s not spoiled. But too much liquid on top of yogurt means mold and it won’t mix no matter how hard you try. So it’s best to throw out such yogurt to avoid getting food poisoning after eating it!


After reading this article, you have all the information you could possibly need about yogurt. Never eat yogurt that has been kept out for longer than 2 hours. Or yogurt whose lid wasn’t properly placed and sealed over the container. Chances are the yogurt has mold and is not fit for consumption anymore!

Leave a Comment