how long is mayonnaise good after the expiration date

How Long Is Mayonnaise Good After the Expiration Date?

So you’ve found an old jar of mayonnaise in the back of your fridge, and you’re wondering, “How long is mayonnaise good after the expiration date?” It’s a common question, often met with conflicting answers.

This article delves into the factors affecting mayonnaise shelf life, signs of spoilage, and expert recommendations, helping you make an informed decision about whether that jar of mayonnaise is a keeper or destined for the trash bin.

Factors That Affect Mayonnaise Shelf Life

Shelf Life

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Various factors can significantly influence how long mayonnaise remains good to eat, whether before or after its expiration date.

  • Ingredients: Store-bought mayonnaise often contains preservatives that extend its shelf life, whereas homemade versions, made from raw eggs and without preservatives, will spoil much faster.
  • Packaging: The type of container, whether it’s glass, plastic, or a squeeze bottle, can impact the product’s longevity. Generally, airtight, well-sealed packaging is best.
  • Storage Conditions: Consistent temperature and minimal exposure to light and air can help extend shelf life. Storing the mayonnaise jar deep inside the fridge rather than the door can make a significant difference.
  • Hygiene Practices: The cleanliness of the utensils used to extract mayonnaise and the manner in which the jar is sealed and stored can substantially affect spoilage rates. Cross-contamination is a real risk that can reduce shelf life.
  • Manufacturing Process: The techniques and sanitation measures used during manufacturing can set the initial “clock” for the product’s shelf life. Trustworthy brands often have better quality control and thus, a longer-lasting product.
  • Opened vs. Unopened: An unopened jar of mayonnaise has a longer shelf life compared to an opened one. Once you break that seal, you introduce bacteria that can accelerate spoilage.

How to Tell If Mayonnaise Has Gone Bad

Gone Bad

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Understanding the signs that mayonnaise has spoiled is crucial for your safety. Here are some indicators to watch out for:

  • Color Changes: Fresh mayonnaise usually has a creamy white or off-white hue. If your mayonnaise turns yellow or develops a brownish tint, it’s likely spoiled.
  • Odor Changes: Good mayonnaise has a relatively neutral or mildly tangy smell. A sour, rancid, or otherwise unpleasant odor indicates spoilage.
  • Changes in Texture: Healthy mayonnaise maintains a smooth, consistent texture. When spoiled, it may become lumpy, too thick, or even watery. Any noticeable change in texture should raise a red flag.
  • Ingredient Separation: While some separation is natural over time, excessive separation of oil and other components is another sign of spoilage. This often indicates that the emulsification has broken down, which could mean bacterial growth.
  • Mold Growth: If you see mold, either on the surface or within the jar, throw it away immediately.
  • Taste Test: Though not advisable to rely solely on this method, a noticeably sour or off taste compared to fresh mayonnaise can be another sign of spoilage.

By recognizing these signs, you can ensure you’re not risking your health by consuming spoiled mayonnaise.

How Long Is Mayonnaise Good After the Expiration Date?

Expiration Date

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It’s natural to wonder how long mayonnaise is good after the expiration date. The longevity depends on several factors such as the type of mayonnaise and its storage conditions.

Store-Bought Mayonnaise

Commercial mayonnaise usually contains preservatives that extend its shelf life. Properly stored, it is generally good for 1–3 months after the expiration date. If stored in a very cold refrigerator, you might even extend that up to 6 months, but always adhere to the “when in doubt, throw it out” rule.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Since homemade mayonnaise lacks the preservatives found in commercial brands, it tends to spoil more quickly. It’s best consumed within 1–2 weeks after the suggested use-by date. Always store it in the fridge in an airtight container to minimize risks.

Unopened vs. Opened Containers

An unopened jar of mayonnaise can last much longer than an opened one because it has not been exposed to outside bacteria. An unopened jar properly stored in the refrigerator can last up to six months past the expiration date. Once opened, it’s advisable to consume it within a month, especially if it’s kept in a frequently-used or warmer-than-recommended fridge.

Best By, Sell By, Use By

Not all expiration dates are created equal. “Best By” is about quality, not safety, and foods may be safely edible for a period after this date. “Sell By” is an indicator for retailers. “Use By” is the closest to an expiration date, but even this can be extended under ideal storage conditions.

Following these guidelines can help you make an informed decision about the safety of consuming mayonnaise after its expiration date.

Is It Safe to Eat Mayonnaise After the Expiration Date?


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The question on everyone’s mind is: how long is mayonnaise good after the expiration date, and more importantly, is it safe to eat? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. While the expiration date generally indicates the period during which the product will maintain its intended taste and nutritional content, it’s not a strict “discard by” rule.

However, consuming expired mayonnaise carries the risk of food poisoning, especially since mayonnaise is an emulsion of raw eggs, oils, and other ingredients that can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria if it spoils. If you find that the mayonnaise exhibits any signs of spoilage, like a bad smell, change in color, or separation of ingredients, it’s safer to throw it out immediately.

Your storage habits also play a crucial role; mayonnaise that has been consistently refrigerated and shows no signs of spoilage might be safer to consume than a jar left out in the heat. However, people with compromised immune systems, children, and the elderly should avoid consuming foods past their expiration date due to heightened risks.

What Does Expired Mayo Taste Like?


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The taste of mayonnaise can change significantly after its expiration date, but what exactly does expired mayo taste like?

The most common change is a shift towards a more sour or bitter taste. This is often a result of the oils going rancid or bacterial growth within the mayonnaise.

If mayonnaise tastes off, it’s often a reliable indicator of spoilage. Your tastebuds can be one of the best tools for determining the safety of food, but they should not be your only line of defense. Always use visual and olfactory cues in conjunction with taste.

Some people report not noticing a substantial difference in the taste of slightly expired mayonnaise, particularly if used as part of a larger dish like a sandwich or salad. However, the risks involved with consuming expired food items should always be taken into account.

While you might be tempted to “taste test” your questionable mayonnaise, it’s crucial to remember that bacterial spoilage doesn’t always result in a noticeably bad taste.

Precautions to Extend Shelf Life


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The longevity of your mayonnaise is significantly affected by the precautions you take both before and after you open the jar. Proper storage and handling can ensure you get the most out of your purchase.

1. Proper Storage

Refrigeration is the cornerstone of mayonnaise preservation. The lower temperature slows down bacterial growth and keeps the emulsion stable for a longer period. Be sure that your fridge is at or below 40°F (4°C). If you place the mayonnaise jar in a high-traffic area of your fridge, where the door is frequently opened, it could be exposed to fluctuating temperatures that may speed up spoilage.

2. Tight Lid

When we say make sure the lid is tightly sealed, it’s not just about ensuring that it’s closed. A tightly sealed lid keeps out both air and other potential contaminants like bacteria and mold spores. You might even consider placing plastic wrap under the lid for an extra layer of protection to keep air from entering the jar.

3. Clean Utensils

It might seem convenient to use the knife from your sandwich to get another scoop of mayo, but that’s a big no-no. Introducing crumbs or any food particles into the mayonnaise can serve as “food” for bacteria, promoting growth and spoilage. Always use a clean utensil to extract mayonnaise, and ensure that no foreign particles enter the jar.

4. Temperature Control

If you’re having a picnic or using mayonnaise in a setting where it’ll be outside the fridge for an extended period, consider placing the jar in a bowl of ice. Leaving mayonnaise at room temperature for too long can provide an opportunity for harmful bacteria to multiply, especially in hot weather. Try to limit the jar’s time outside of the fridge to less than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F (32°C).

5. Avoid Water Contamination

Water can introduce microorganisms and can also break the emulsion, affecting the texture and taste of the mayonnaise. If you’re using a spoon, shake off any excess water before dipping it into the jar. If you’ve used mayonnaise in a recipe, make sure any kitchen tools you might reinsert into the jar are completely dry.

6. Rotation

If you’re someone who stocks up on groceries and ends up with multiple jars of mayonnaise, rotation is key. Always use the oldest jar first, as it’s closer to its expiration date. This “first in, first out” practice prevents you from finding an ancient jar at the back of your fridge that’s long past the point of safe consumption.


1. Can mayonnaise be frozen?

Generally, freezing mayonnaise is not recommended. The emulsion tends to break when frozen and thawed, resulting in a separated and uneven texture.

2. How does one dispose of spoiled mayonnaise safely?

If you suspect the mayonnaise is spoiled, it’s best to seal the jar in a plastic bag to prevent spillage, and then dispose of it in your regular trash bin.

3. Is ‘light’ or ‘low-fat’ mayonnaise more prone to spoilage?

These types of mayonnaise often contain different ingredients and fewer preservatives, which may affect their shelf life. Always check for signs of spoilage before consuming.

4. Can I still use expired mayonnaise for skincare or hair treatment?

It’s not recommended to use expired mayonnaise for any purpose, including skincare or hair treatment, as it might contain harmful bacteria.

5. Does a ‘vinegar smell’ mean my mayonnaise has gone bad?

Not necessarily. Some mayonnaise recipes use vinegar, so a slight vinegar smell is normal. However, if the vinegar smell is overpowering or accompanied by other signs of spoilage, it’s best to discard the jar.


Knowing how long mayonnaise is good after the expiration date can save you both money and potential health issues. When in doubt, exercise caution and refer to this guide.

AboutCorinne Switzer

Corinne is an avid reader and takes a keen interest in conspiracy theories. When not busy with her day job, she likes to indulge the writer in her and pens columns on a wide range of topics that cover everything from entertainment, healthy living to healthcare and more.