Some spices can last forever, but many common household spices start to lose their flavor after a number of years. The shelf life of spices varies on the type of spice though, and no set shelf life applies to all the herbs in your cupboard.

To test whether a spice or herb is still potent enough to be effective, rub or crush a small amount in your hand, then taste and smell it — if the aroma is weak and the flavor is not obvious, the herb or spice should be replaced.

1. Basil: Lasts 2-3 Years

juice, mint, spinach, herb, vegetable, basil
Carolyn Hsieh

Dried basil lasts about 2-3 years, while fresh basil only lasts about a few days. Some common traits of bad fresh basil are discoloration, moist texture, and rotten smell. Dried basil that is going bad will change color from dark green to brown as it loses its natural oils with age.

2. Black Pepper: It Depends.

Black pepper is one of the most commonly used spices for all dishes. Does it ever go bad? The shelf life of black pepper really depends on how it is stored.

To maximize the shelf life of ground black pepper store in a cool, dark cupboard, away from direct heat or sunlight. Black pepper could last forever if stored properly, but it can lose some of its flavor in a few years if not stored properly.

3. Chili Powder: Lasts 2-3 Years

herb, cilantro, turmeric, curry, cinnamon, condiment, chili powder, cumin, pepper, relish, chili
Sarina Raman

Chili powder is an essential staple in my dorm room because I love a good spicy kick in all my meals. Chili powder, along with paprika and cayenne pepper, can stay kicking for about 2-3 years. If yours is "expired", just use a bit more in your recipes. There's really no harm. 

4. Cinnamon: Lasts About 6 Months

cloves, condiment, relish, herb, cinnamon
Natalie Rodriguez

The Ohio State University Extension explains that ground cinnamon has a shelf life of six months. Alterations in color, flavor and taste are indicators of whether or not it is time to replace your ground cinnamon. Buying a whole cinnamon stick is also an option because these can last 2-3 years

It is best to use cinnamon by the "sell by" date. Using "expired" cinnamon will not harm you, but it won't have as much flavor. If you choose to use your cinnamon after the "sell by" date, you can just use a larger quantity to get more flavor. 

5. Cumin: Lasts 3-4 Years

caraway, herb, cumin
Isabel Burton

Cumin is a potent spice that's irresistible when added into guacamole. Cumin lasts a bit longer than many of the other spices that I've mentioned. Both ground cumin and cumin seed can last a good 3-4 years in your pantry. 

6. Garlic Powder: Lasts 3-4 Years

flour, dough, bread, cereal
Allison Wojtowecz

I use garlic powder in everything: pastas, salad dressings, and  even as a topping for fried eggs. It completely transforms your dishes but is not as overpowering as fresh garlic. The lovely garlicky flavor can last about 3-4 years.

7. Nutmeg: Lasts 4 Years

chocolate, sweet, candy, cocoa, nutmeg, truffle
Ryl Johann Dorado

Whole nutmeg is the way to go because it has a much more pronounced flavor than ground nutmeg. Fresh nutmeg can take many of your baked goods, sauces, and breakfast favorites to the next level. 

A whole nutmeg can last about four years without losing its flavor. Purchase them sparingly because a little can go a long way.

8. Oregano: Lasts 1-2 years

pizza, cheese, dough, sauce, mozzarella, meat, crust, tomato, pepperoni
Amy Yi

Oregano provides an authentic flavor to your pizza, Greek salad, and pasta dishes. Like fresh basil, fresh oregano doesn't last too long (about a few days). However, you can get good flavor from dried oregano for about 1-2 years. 

9. Rosemary: Lasts 1-2 Years

olive oil, herb, tea, oil, rosemary
Jessica Kelly

Rosemary is the herb used in many steakhouse favorites and pasta dishes. It can also be used to infuse extra-virgin olive oil or to brighten your skin.

Fresh rosemary, just like most herbs, stays fresh for about a few days. Freeze-dried rosemary keeps its strong and earthy flavor for about 1-2 years. 

10. Turmeric: Lasts 3-4+ Years

cinnamon, relish, condiment, sweet, coffee, turmeric, curry
Sarina Raman

Turmeric is not only great in smoothies and Indian dishes, but it can be used in face masks. Fresh turmeric will last 6-9 months in the freezer, but store the powder in a dark cupboard and it'll last you 3-4 years, maybe even a longer amount of time.

11. Salt: No Expiration Date

sweet, chocolate, condiment, salt
Angela Kerndl

Ok, salt is neither an herb nor a spice. It's technically a mineral. However, in cooking and baking, salt is often used alongside all of the other spices I've mentioned.If you buy salt at the store, it may have a "best before" date on it. Ignore that. As it turns out, table salt, kosher salt or sea salt, will stay as fresh as the day you bought it and remain so for years.

Spice doesn't always last forever, and some spices have longer shelf lives than others. Good flavor can start to fade if spices are left to sit for too long, so work on storing them properly and using them frequently.