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How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out?

How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out?

Yogurt is a staple in many people’s homes. Adults love it because it’s low in calories, a yummy little side dish, and a perfect addition to many recipes. Kids love it because it’s nutritional and tasty at the same time. So what happens when we leave it out of the fridge for a few hours? We’ve got the answer and more as to how long your yogurt can sit out.

How Can It Happen To Me?

You think it might not happen to you. Why would you ever let the yogurt sit out? It’s actually easy to do. You’re making a smoothie, throwing the kids’ lunches together, or marinating some chicken. You simply don’t put the bin back in the refrigerator. The worst thing would be to grab it a few hours later only to find out it’s spoiled. It might not be that simple. Yogurt might not go bad that fast. 

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How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out – A Small Window Of Time

At a normal indoor temperature, yogurt cannot sit out longer than two hours. That might seem like a small window of time to many people. In fact, if the temperature in the room is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it only takes one hour for yogurt to go bad. 

What about the people that bring yogurt as a snack and forget about it sitting on the desk? Is it gone forever? According to, yogurt has to go in the trash after two hours. Don’t think yogurt is alone in this two-hour window. This also includes all types of dairy like buttermilk, cream, and eggnog. 

Check out our article on does buttermilk go bad.

Why Such A Short Time

Yogurt is made with all sorts of bacteria. These include live and active bacteria. That’s why many people love the probiotics in it. These are called good bacteria great for your gut health. The bad news is that these microbes quickly jump into action when they’re brought down to room temperature. They decide it’s the perfect time to grow. 

How To Tell If Yogurt Is Spoiled

If you aren’t sure how long your yogurt has actually been out of the fridge, you can check for signs it’s spoiled. One of the easiest ways to check for spoiled yogurt is to check the expiration date. This doesn’t mean yogurt is going to suddenly go bad once the date hits, but it could be a close one. 

Most yogurt has a little bit of liquid on top called whey. It’s a batch of nutrients and proteins. Usually, you mix it before consuming the yogurt. When the top begins to curdle or this liquid increases, the yogurt is no longer okay to consume. Once it gets past this stage, it’s time to check for fur. It’s not actually fur, but it looks like it. Mold or fungus presents itself as lovely little fuzzy spots. They are either white, brown, or green. These little fur pieces will be floating around in your yogurt. 

What If You Eat It

There could be a time when you don’t smell the mold or see the gross stuff, and you still eat the yogurt. You might eat it in the third hour, but don’t worry, you might still be okay. Contaminated yogurt happens when the bad bacteria in the yogurt actually outnumber the good bacteria. These bad ones come from added ingredients in manufacturing. They include slow-growing microorganisms. These are the primary cause of most food poisonings. The risks of eating tainted yogurt can be severe. From illnesses like stomach cramps and vomiting to diarrhea and headaches, stale yogurt will leave most people hurting. This does not mean that every time you eat yogurt that’s been sitting out that you’ll get sick. It’s like gambling with your health when you eat sour yogurt. 

Storing Yogurt Properly

Yogurt should be stored in the refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is stored properly, the shelf life of yogurt is about two weeks. Even though it is two weeks, it is important to still watch it for any changes. Storing it for longer than two weeks can often lead to mold and fungus growth.

If you leave it out of the fridge, make sure to return it within two hours. Remember if this happens the life of the yogurt will probably be shorter than the usual two-week shelf life. If you want to extend it, make sure to take portions of the yogurt out of the fridge instead of the entire container each time you eat out of it. 

Freeze It

If you aren’t going to consume your yogurt, it’s okay to freeze it. This way you get to enjoy it up to three months later. The taste will still be there, and you won’t have to dig through the mold. The only difference with freezing is that the yogurt might seem a bit watery once it is done thawing. It’s great to use frozen yogurt when making smoothies. This way you don’t even notice the extra water.

Homemade Yogurt Information

If you make your own yogurt, you have a few separate guidelines. You must refrigerate it within two hours. Once it sets, gets it into the fridge. If it never sets, don’t even refrigerate it. Make sure it is firm or throw it away. If you are going to re-culture your yogurt, make sure you do it within seven days to make another round of it. If you need a longer break, you can preserve some of the active cultures by drying them out or freezing them. Note that neither of these ways is totally foolproof to preserve your yogurt. If you make homemade yogurt, you have authority over what all goes into it. You know the cultures, the fruit, the sugars, etc. There is no guessing. 

Yogurt is a nutritional, tasty treat for many people. It’s great when you don’t leave it out on the counter. Now that you know the basics, you’ll be able to prevent any issues with your yogurt consumption. If you’re ever in doubt of knowing if your yogurt is spoiled or good, throw it out!