Can you eat expired refrigerated mayo?

Quick answer

Eating expired mayonnaise that has been properly stored in the refrigerator is generally safe, as long as there are no signs of spoilage like an off smell, texture, or taste. The shelf life of mayo is usually 2-3 months past the “best by” date if unopened. Once opened, it’s best to use within 1-2 months. As mayo contains eggs, oil, and vinegar, it’s acidic and slow to develop bacteria. Small amounts of expired mayo are not likely to make you sick. However, it’s still best to use fresh mayo when possible.

Does mayonnaise expire?

Yes, mayonnaise does expire eventually. Mayo is an emulsion of egg yolks, oil, and an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Like all food products, it has a shelf life and will go bad at some point.

However, when stored properly in the refrigerator, mayonnaise can often stay safe to eat for some time past the expiration date printed on the jar. This date is usually a “best by” date, meaning it’s the last date that the manufacturer can guarantee peak quality but not necessarily when the product expires and is unsafe to eat.

So you have some leeway if you want to eat expired mayonnaise, as long as you inspect it and it appears and smells normal.

How long is mayonnaise good for after opening?

An unopened jar or bottle of mayonnaise stored in the refrigerator will generally stay at peak quality for 2-3 months after the “best by” date on the package.

Once you open the container, the shelf life is shortened. This is because new exposure to air and double-dipping introduces bacteria and contaminants.

An opened jar of mayo should be used within 1-2 months for best quality. Make sure to store it towards the back of the fridge, not in the door where the temperature fluctuates.

Does refrigerated mayonnaise go bad?

Yes, eventually refrigerated mayonnaise can go bad if stored for too long. Signs that refrigerated mayo has spoiled include:

– Changes in texture – becomes more watery, slimy, or separated
– Unnatural smell – rancid, sour, or rotten
– Mold growth – fuzzy or discolored spots
– Strange taste – bitter, sour, or unpleasant flavors
– Discoloration – unnatural darkening

If you see any of these signs in your mayo, it’s best to throw it out. As mayo contains raw egg, leaving it too long could allow bacteria like salmonella to grow to dangerous levels.

What are signs of spoiled mayonnaise?

Here are some of the main signs that refrigerated mayonnaise has spoiled and should be discarded:

Appearance: Watery texture, oil separation, sliminess, mold growth
Smell: Sour, rancid, rotten, or “off” odors
Taste: Not the creamy, tangy flavor you expect. Instead, unpleasant bitter or sour taste.
Color: Unnatural darkening from light yellow to grey or yellow-green hue.


Mayonnaise that has gone bad will often change in texture and develop a slimy appearance. It may become more watery, with a less creamy consistency. You may also see oil separation, where liquid oil pools on top. Mold growth in the form of white or green fuzzy spots can also occur.


Fresh mayo has a tangy, acidic smell. Spoiled mayo gives off unpleasant odors like sour milk, rotten eggs, rancid oil, or general “off” smells.



Over time, properly refrigerated mayo can start to darken from a light yellow to more grey or greenish yellow tones. This is a normal change but a sign it may be past its prime. Dramatic color changes are a red flag.

Is it OK to eat expired mayonnaise if refrigerated?

It can be OK to eat expired mayonnaise if it has been continuously refrigerated and shows no signs of spoilage. However, it’s generally best to use mayonnaise within 1-2 months after opening for optimum flavor and texture.

The key is checking for any changes in appearance, smell, and taste. As long as the mayo looks, smells, and tastes normal with a creamy texture and tangy flavor, eating small amounts is unlikely to cause illness.

However, if you see any mold, sliminess, or smell rancid odors, it’s safest to throw out expired mayonnaise. Food poisoning risks increase over time as bacteria grow. So while eating expired mayo won’t necessarily make you sick, fresher is better quality.

How long after sell by date is mayonnaise good?

Mayonnaise can typically last for 1-3 months past the “sell by” date if kept refrigerated at 40°F or below. The shelf life depends on when the product was initially made and how it was stored.

Here are some general guidelines for maximum refrigerated shelf life after the sell by date:

– Unopened mayo: 2-3 months
– Opened mayo: 1-2 months

As long as refrigerated mayonnaise looks and smells normal, it’s likely still safe to eat within these time frames. But quality degrades over time, so it’s ideal to stick closer to the original sell by date for the best texture and flavor.

Always inspect refrigerated mayonnaise and discard any that has mold, bad odors, or other signs of spoilage no matter what the date says. Trust your senses!

Can you eat mayo after the expiration date?

It’s generally safe to eat mayonnaise stored in the refrigerator for a short time after the expiration date, usually around 2-3 months. However, its texture and flavor will start to degrade. After opening, mayo only lasts 1-2 months past its expiration date in the fridge.

The key is that expired mayo must be kept refrigerated at 40°F or below. Make sure it still looks and smells normal and hasn’t developed any mold or discoloration.

While eating expired mayo likely won’t make you sick if it was properly stored, it’s not recommended. Its taste, texture, and quality are at their peak by the original expiration date. Whenever possible, throw out mayo once it’s expired for the best flavor in spreads and dressings.

Can expired mayonnaise make you sick?

Eating expired mayonnaise that was improperly stored could potentially make you sick. However, if stored continuously in the refrigerator, eating small amounts of expired mayonnaise is unlikely to cause illness for an otherwise healthy person. Still, it’s smart to discard it once it’s expired.

Here’s why you need to take care with expired mayo:

– Bacteria growth – Salmonella, E. coli, and listeria can grow over time, especially if left at room temperature. Refrigeration helps prevent this.

– Foodborne illness – Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are possible if you eat mayo containing lots of harmful bacteria. Eggs in mayo can cause issues if very old.

– Toxin formation – Old mayo can contain tyramine, histamine, or putrescine buildup, which can cause side effects like headache, flushing, or sweating in sensitive people. But just a small amount is typically fine.

Overall, expired refrigerated mayo won’t necessarily make you sick if you consume a small amount. But it’s still advisable to throw it out after 1-2 months once opened or by the use by date.

How can you tell if refrigerated mayonnaise is bad?

Here are the best ways to tell if refrigerated mayonnaise has gone bad and needs to be discarded:

Check the appearance. Does it look abnormal – overly watery, separated oil, slimy texture, or mold spots? Fresh mayo should be creamy and uniform.

Smell the mayonnaise. Does it have a rancid, sour, or rotten odor? Good mayo has a tangy eggy/vinegary smell when fresh.

Take a small taste. Has the flavor changed significantly or have a bitter, unpleasant taste? The flavor should be tangy and creamy.

Observe the color. Is it darker with unnatural grey, green, or yellow tones? The color should remain a pale creamy yellow.

Note the storage time. Has it been opened for over 2 months, or unopened past the expiration date? Longer storage means higher risk.

Checking all your senses is the best way to determine if your refrigerated mayo has spoiled. When in doubt, throw it out.

Can you get food poisoning from expired mayonnaise?

It’s unlikely you’ll get food poisoning from eating expired mayonnaise alone if it has been continuously refrigerated. However, you can potentially get food poisoning from mayonnaise that has been left out at room temperature or poorly stored for long periods.

The biggest risk with expired mayo is bacteria like salmonella or E. coli growing over time to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Refrigeration and an airtight container helps prevent bacteria growth.

Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea that last 1-3 days. It’s more likely in those with weakened immune systems like the very young, elderly, or pregnant women.

To avoid food poisoning, inspect refrigerated mayo for signs of spoilage. Discard if moldy, slimy, oddly colored, or has a strange smell or taste. Play it safe and stick to fresh mayonnaise within 2 months of opening.

Can expired mayonnaise hurt dogs or cats?

Feeding expired mayonnaise to dogs or cats can potentially cause stomach upset or food poisoning. Dogs and cats can get sick from spoiled foods, so it’s best not to give them mayo that is past its expiration date.

Signs of illness in pets who ate bad mayonnaise include:

– Vomiting or diarrhea
– Loss of appetite
– Lethargy
– Dehydration

To avoid issues, don’t feed dogs or cats any mayonnaise that is expired, moldy, smells bad, or is separated. Stick to small amounts of plain fresh mayo if you want to treat your pet occasionally. Cats are especially sensitive to dietary changes.

Check with your veterinarian about any people foods you want to share with pets. Dogs and cats have different nutritional needs than humans and can’t safely eat everything we can.

Does expiration date matter with mayonnaise?

The expiration date does matter when it comes to mayonnaise. It’s best to use mayo before the “best by” or “use by” date on the jar for optimal freshness and flavor.

However, you typically don’t have to throw mayo out exactly on its expiration date either. Refrigerated mayo can often last 1-3 months past the printed expiration date as long as it was stored properly in the fridge at 40°F or below.

The key is evaluating the mayonnaise before eating it. Make sure it still looks, smells, and tastes normal. Any odor or texture changes are a sign it’s time to discard.

While eating expired mayo likely won’t make you sick if it’s been refrigerated, its quality and flavor decline over time. For the best taste and food safety, stick closest to the expiration date.

Can you freeze mayonnaise to extend its shelf life?

Freezing mayonnaise can extend its shelf life for 6-8 months past the printed expiration date. However, freezing and thawing mayonnaise can cause some texture and flavor changes.

Here are some tips for freezing mayonnaise:

– Freeze mayo at 0°F or colder for best preservation. Use the freezer, not the refrigerator’s freezer compartment.

– Put mayonnaise in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags before freezing. This prevents freezer burn.

– Thaw frozen mayo gradually in the fridge. Don’t thaw at room temp or quickly in the microwave.

– Expect some separation of liquids when thawed. Stir gently to re-emulsify the mayo before using.

– Use thawed frozen mayo within 1-2 weeks for best quality. Discard if it smells or looks abnormal.

Freezing can extend the shelf life for a while, but refrigerating and using fresh mayonnaise within 2-3 months is best for flavor and texture.


The shelf life of refrigerated mayonnaise typically extends 1-3 months past the “best by” or expiration date printed on the jar as long as it’s stored properly.

Unopened mayonnaise has a longer shelf life of around 2-3 additional months. But once you open the jar, you should use the contents within 1-2 months for best quality.

Evaluate refrigerated mayo before eating it to check for signs of spoilage like odor, texture, color, and taste changes. Discard mayo immediately if you see any mold or sliminess.

While eating expired mayo is unlikely to make you sick if you consume a small amount, it’s still best to use fresh mayonnaise within the recommended timeframe for optimal flavor and food safety. Freezing can extend the shelf life for 6-8 months but may affect texture.

When in doubt, remember the old adage “when in doubt, throw it out.” Following proper refrigerated storage times and using your senses to inspect quality is the best way to determine if your mayo is still good or needs to be thrown away.

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