Can you think of a time when the picnic, reunion, or other celebration you attended didn’t have several types of food with mayonnaise as part of the recipe? Yeah, we couldn’t either, and for a good reason.
Mayonnaise is the Number 1 store-bought condiment in the United States used on sandwiches with catsup coming in second. But does mayonnaise go bad?
While the popular history of this spread spans over 200 years, the product is heat-sensitive. Simply put, it can spoil quickly and probably won’t last as long as you’d like.
We searched for experts in safe food handling, the U.S.D.A, for more insights to answer the question: how long does mayonnaise last?
- Bacteria grow quickly at temperatures between 40 degrees F – 140 degrees F. even with proper storage.
- Using that range, never leave a jar-bought mayonnaise out for more than 8 hours, open, at room temperature.
- If you store mayonnaise refrigerated, the mayo will last up to 3 months without losing quality.
- Unopened, it remains good for a relatively long time, up to 3 months-4 months past the expiration date when stored in the pantry.
- By comparison, yellow mustard has no ingredients that spoil, catsup can remain out for months, but both suffer in flavor over time.
- Homemade mayonnaise will last only 5 days, compared to commercial, which will last longer.
But one thing is for sure. You want to avoid anything that makes your mayo go rancid to avoid risk and protect your health.
Let’s look a little closer.
What Is Mayonnaise?
Mayonnaise is a smooth spread used in food like sandwiches and salad. It also plays a role as an ingredient for other sauces, including remoulade and tartar sauce.
The essential ingredients include:
- Egg Yolks
- Lemon Juice
Mayo has a sour or fermented-type smell because of the vinegar. However, it has a rather neutral, tangy taste.
Factors Affecting Mayonnaise Shelf Life
We discovered some things that could decrease the shelf life of mayo, and as a result, contamination may set in, making the mayo go bad.
- First is the ingredients’ quality and form (example: raw egg yolks, frozen eggs, powdered eggs).
- Then there’s water hardness and mixing methods (emulsification). (*)
- Finally, the way people use mayonnaise matters. Double-dipping is an illustration as it increases the chance of bacteria growth no matter how you store it.
Does Mayonnaise Go Bad if not Stored in the refrigerator?
How long does refrigerated mayonnaise last? Some people assume raw egg yolks or storage are what makes store-bought or homemade mayonnaise go bad. That’s not true.
The main culprit causing mayonnaise to go bad is harmful bacteria growing in it.
But here’s the thing.
Besides that, we believe there is another contributor to spoilage for food made with mayo. It’s improperly treated vegetables or eggs. The experts agree. (*) When considering how long does mayonnaise last, you can look to the other items with which it’s mixed.
Learn more: How Long Can Mayo Sit Out? Does It Go Bad If Left Out?
How Do I Store my Mayo for the Longest Time?
Want to make your Mayo last longer? Here’s the skinny on tips for Mayonnaise shelf life and storage:
- Unopened mayo: A closed jar lasts 3 months-6 months. (*)
- Opened mayo at Room Temperature: Eight hours
- Open in Fridge: 3 months, sometimes 4
- Homemade refrigerated mayo: Five days
Can you freeze mayo?
We don’t recommend freezing opened mayonnaise.
While you can freeze your mayo but you might not like the results. Freezing typically decreases the quality and causes separation, which isn’t pleasant for food. (*)
The inside scoop about squeeze bottles:
If the product comes in a squeeze bottle, make sure to clean it off each time before storing it back in the refrigerator using a dry towel.
The mayo won’t last any longer in the pantry or fridge, but the container won’t break and offers the advantage of greater application control.
Putting together homemade mayonnaise allows you to choose personally favored flavors
However, your processing for homemade mayo is different than commercial brands. It lasts safely in the refrigerator for 2-4 days.
Do not leave homemade mayo at room temperature for more than 6 hours.
How long is mayonnaise good after the expiration date?
If you find sell-by dates for mayo confusing, you are not alone.
Sell-by dates, expiration dates, and the best-by date on a jar are guidelines. The food may be safe for longer, but the overall quality may suffer.
One of the best tips is if the product is beyond the best by date, and you think it’s gone bad, throw it out.
How To Tell if Mayonnaise Is Bad/Spoiled?
Keep it or toss it?
You left a jar of mayo out on the counter and forgot about it. Then, you start to worry if it’s ok to eat.
If you know approximately when you left it out of the fridge, you have a good guideline that will help you avoid food poisoning.
Here are some tips to tell if mayo is bad:
- Texture: The opened mayonnaise begins separating
- Discoloration: It doesn’t have a bright, fresh hue
- Taste (sour): When you take a bite, it’s tart
- Smell: The mayo aroma will curl your nose. It’s acidic or putrid.
- Timing: How long did you leave the mayo out at room temperature?
A word of caution. When the opened mayonnaise contains visible mold, it means the mayonnaise is bad, and the whole jar needs to go!
Throw it out.
Can You Eat Expired Mayonnaise?
There is always the risk that you might consume expired mayonnaise.
If the mayo was left out of the fridge for too long or spoiled from poor storage, there are some signs for which to watch: (*).
We cannot stress this point enough.
When you think your issue may be food poisoning, call your healthcare professional for their guidelines on treatment.
Is Mayonnaise Gluten-Free? Kosher?
The ingredients in mayo are naturally gluten-free. Some companies go through testing to receive a gluten-free label use, indicating the product is safe for people with gluten sensitivity. (*)
Tip: Search the label. If the product you’re looking at doesn’t have that label, check the other ingredients before purchasing.
Mayonnaise is also Kosher and appears in many traditional Jewish recipes.
If my open mayonnaise is watery, is it still safe to eat?
Potentially. Separation in an opened mayonnaise jar is one way you can tell if mayonnaise has gone bad because of harmful bacteria. Look to see if there are other signs of spoilage.
What can I do with Leftover or Expired Mayo?
Imagine for a moment reaching for your hair conditioner, and it’s filled with mayonnaise. Yes, it’s true. It’s good for your hair, making it soft and healthier. (*)
Other interesting uses for mayo include:
- Removing crayon marks and stuck-on gum
- Killing lice
- Nail care
- Polishing silver
- Oiling door hinges
- Sunburn relief
Does organic mayonnaise have a longer shelf life than regular?
The recommendations for organic mayo are the same as those for all such products. Follow those, and you can’t go wrong.
You now have an answer to, “does mayo go bad?” and “how long is mayo go for?”
The next time you take out your mayonnaise for a sandwich or for blending into a salad, you know all the steps to take to make sure it’s safe to eat. If you’ve had it for a while, those steps are important so you, or your guests, don’t get sick.
Stay safe and enjoy!