How Long Do Walnuts Last?

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Adding nuts to a healthy diet is always a great idea! One of the best nuts out there is walnuts, any day. Although, once you buy a pack, it may be around for a long time. Has that made you wonder how long walnuts last? Let’s explore that! 


A packet of whole or unshelled walnuts will last in the pantry for 12 months, whereas shelled walnuts will stay in the refrigerator for up to six months. This is regardless of whether the packet is opened or not. 

Walnuts are one of the most popular types of nuts out there. They are nutritionally dense, crunchy, and just plain delicious. Also, remember that walnuts are versatile and can be used for baking, making sauces, or on their own. 

The uses of walnuts are genuinely too many, but I am sure you get the essence! This makes walnuts a staple in many kitchens. But, since nuts are not precisely perishable, people often need clarification about how long they are suitable for. 

Moreover, there is also a misconception that walnuts don’t go wrong. Well, they very well can, if not stored properly! This article will discuss how long walnuts last, how to tell if they have gone wrong, and some storage tips to keep their quality top-notch! So, let’s begin! 

How Long Do Walnuts Last? 

Unshelled12 Months12 Months
Shelled3 Weeks6 Months
Chopped or Ground1 Day1 Month

One thing to remember with walnuts is that their shelf life will remain unchanged regardless of whether the packet is opened. It eventually all comes down to the type of walnuts in use. 

Unshelled walnuts tend to last much longer than shelled ones, as they have the outer shell saving them from bacteria and oxidation. However, whether you keep them in the pantry or the refrigerator, they will last about 12 months. 

They won’t expire after the 12-month mark, but their quality will not be the same as when you bought them. Similarly, shelled walnuts tend to have a much shorter shelf life, all because of the reaction to oxygen. 

If you want to store your shelled walnuts for longer than a month, keeping them in the refrigerator under proper conditions is best. On the other hand, ground and chopped walnuts are completely processed, and hence, they have a much shorter shelf life. 

Can Walnuts Be Frozen? 

Freezing is one of the best ways to preserve food for a long time. Most of us tend to do this with perishable foods, especially meat since they spoil quickly. Freezing nuts is not a widespread practice. However, can walnuts be frozen to improve their shelf life? 

Yes, walnuts can be frozen or kept in the freezer. This is optional since walnuts, in any case, have a longer shelf life. Moreover, freezing unshelled walnuts does nothing to their shelf-life.

If you want to freeze walnuts, it is best to do so with the unshelled, ground, or chopped walnuts, as that will increase the shelf life of walnuts by a few months. 

Do Walnuts Go Bad? 

walnut fruits

Unlike perishable foods, it can be difficult to tell if nuts and walnuts, in particular, go wrong. The signs could be clearer. Many people tend to have a misconception that walnuts never go wrong. Is that the case, though? 

Unfortunately, walnuts do go bad after a specific time. It is not just that their quality deteriorates, but they overall turn inedible after a point. This is because walnuts are packed with fats.

However, the chances of unshelled walnuts going bad are much lower than the other types. So, it is best to leave them in the shell until you are ready to use them. 

How To Tell If Walnuts Have Gone Bad? 

English Walnuts

Although there are fewer chances of an unshelled walnut going wrong, that doesn’t mean the possibility is completely unlikely. There are a few ways to tell if walnuts have gone wrong, even if they are still in the shell. 

1. Appearance 

This is the best way to determine whether the walnuts have gone wrong or not for shelled, unshelled, and ground ones. With shelled and ground walnuts, you must look for signs of discoloration, mold, or if the walnut has dried. 

If you see any of these three signs, it is best to throw them away. With an unshelled walnut, take a closer look at the shell itself. If the shell is shrunken, or deformed, don’t open it, as it has undoubtedly gone rancid. 

2. Smell

The original smell of walnuts is nutty and wonderful. This is a smell that can instantly be picked up. However, if you come across a walnut that smells rancid or like cooking oil, then the walnut has gone wrong and should be thrown away. 

3. Texture

This criterion works only for unshelled walnuts. An easy way to check if an unshelled walnut is okay or not is by shaking it. When you shake a walnut, you should not be able to hear the nut inside. But, if you do, the nut has dried out and gone bad and should not be consumed.

What Happens If You Consume Bad Walnuts? 

Eating food that has gone bad is never a pleasant experience. With perishables, the outcome of eating expired food is very prominent. It is less than with walnuts, but consuming rancid walnuts still needs improvement. 

Unlike perishable foods, consuming walnuts that have gone bad may not cause as much distress. However, that being said, for people who have sensitive stomachs, this, too, can be a disaster. 

Eating bad walnuts can cause bloating, heartburn, and some cases, diarrhea, and nausea. So, if one of the walnuts from a batch gives you discomfort, it is best to throw it all out!

Storage Tips To Make Sure Your Walnuts Stay Fresh


There are a few tips that can help you make sure that your walnuts stay fresh for longer. These tips depend on the type of walnuts you have at your disposal. So, we will be talking about all three types. 

1. Unshelled Walnuts

If you want your walnuts to last longer and all you have at home are unshelled, that’s probably the best thing ever. Leaving walnuts unshelled is one of the easiest ways to increase their shelf life. 

Shell your walnuts only when needed. Unshelled walnuts can be stored in the pantry for about a year if the temperature is not too high. You can also store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator if your climate is too humid and you have doubts about it. 

2. Shelled Walnuts

These walnuts are best stored in an airtight container. Since they don’t have the outer shell to protect the nut, there are more chances of oxidation and walnuts going bad. 

So, leaving them in an unsealed packet is not the best option. Moreover, if you want these walnuts to last longer, storing them in the refrigerator or even the freezer is best. 

3. Chopped and Ground Walnuts

Storing these walnuts properly is essential since they are the most prone to going bad. Since they have a concise shelf life, chopped and ground walnuts should only be stored at room temperature for a short time. 

Instead, storing them in either an airtight container or a zip-lock bag is best. Both of these will keep the moisture away and, as a result, keep the walnuts fresh for longer. Store the container or bag in either the refrigerator or the freezer. 


Walnuts are one of the most common and versatile nuts out there. Although there is a misconception around them that they don’t go bad, walnuts can very well go wrong. Moreover, how long they last entirely depends on the type of walnuts. 

As long as walnuts are stored properly, the chances of them going bad are minimal. However, keep shelled and ground walnuts in the refrigerator without moisture to make them last longer. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do shelled and unshelled walnuts last for the same amount of time? 

No, the shelf life of shelled and unshelled walnuts is very different. 

Do walnuts go bad? 

Yes, walnuts can very well go bad if not stored properly. 

Can walnuts be kept in the freezer? 

You can store walnuts in the freezer, significantly increasing their shelf life. 

Are there any adverse effects of eating rancid walnuts? 

Eating rancid walnuts can cause digestive problems, although they are not that adverse. 

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