Do you have to put syrup in the fridge?

Syrup is a popular condiment used to add sweetness and flavor to foods like pancakes, waffles, French toast, and more. While syrup often comes in a glass bottle, many people wonder if it needs to be stored in the refrigerator after opening. Here is a look at whether or not syrup needs refrigeration.

Types of Syrup

There are a few main types of syrup to consider when determining proper storage:

  • Maple syrup
  • Pancake syrup
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Fruit syrups

The ingredients and production process varies for each type, which can impact the refrigeration requirements.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. The sap goes through a boiling process to evaporate water and concentrate the sugars. Maple syrup contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. It has a high sugar content and low water activity level, creating an environment that is not conducive to microbial growth.

Pancake Syrup

Pancake syrup, also known as table syrup, is a shelf-stable product made with corn syrup as the main sweetener. It contains preservatives like sodium benzoate to extend its shelf life. The ingredient profile allows it resist spoilage unrefrigerated.

Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate syrup is made with corn syrup, cocoa powder, water, preservatives, and stabilizers. The high sugar content and added preservatives allow it to be shelf-stable before and after opening.

Caramel Syrup

Caramel syrup contains sugar, corn syrup, water, salt, preservatives, and stabilizers. It has a long shelf life unrefrigerated due to the sugar and preservatives.

Fruit Syrups

Fruit syrups are made with fruit juice or fruit purees mixed with sugar and preservatives. The sugar and preservatives allow fruit syrups to be stored at room temperature before and after opening.

Refrigeration Recommendations by Type

Here are the refrigeration recommendations for each syrup type:

Syrup Type Refrigerate after Opening?
Maple syrup Not required
Pancake syrup Not required
Chocolate syrup Not required
Caramel syrup Not required
Fruit syrups Not required

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup does not need to be refrigerated after opening due to its high sugar content and low moisture level. The sugar acts as a natural preservative while the low water activity prevents microbial growth. Refrigeration can cause maple syrup to crystallize or get thick and hard to pour.

Pancake Syrup

Pancake syrup contains preservatives that allow it to be stored unrefrigerated. The shelf life is typically 1-2 years when sealed. After opening, it will stay fresh for several months stored in a cool, dry place. Refrigeration is not needed but can extend the shelf life after opening.

Chocolate Syrup

Chocolate syrup contains preservatives and can safely be stored at room temperature before and after opening. Refrigeration is not required for food safety reasons with chocolate syrup. It will typically last for 1-2 years unopened and for several months after opening.

Caramel Syrup

Caramel syrup contains preservatives that allow it to resist microbial growth at room temperature. Refrigeration is not needed before or after opening caramel syrup. It will maintain quality and safety for 1-2 years sealed and for several months after opening when stored properly.

Fruit Syrups

Fruit syrups do not require refrigeration due to their high sugar and preservative content. The sugar helps prevent spoilage while the preservatives inhibit microbial growth. Fruit syrups have a long shelf life of 1-2 years when unopened and several months once opened.

Factors that Impact Refrigeration Needs

While most syrups are shelf-stable, there are some factors to consider when deciding on refrigerated storage:

  • Ingredients – Syrups with natural preservatives or a high sugar content are less prone to spoilage.
  • pH level – Low pH syrups like maple syrup resist microbial growth.
  • Packaging – Shelf-stable syrups are heat sealed to prevent contamination.
  • Best by date – Syrup may need refrigeration after a certain date once opened.
  • Storage conditions – Cool, dry storage extends shelf life for opened syrups.

These factors determine the ability of the syrup to resist mold, yeast, and bacterial growth when stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Signs Your Syrup Has Spoiled

Although most syrups do not require refrigeration, it is still possible for them to spoil if left unrefrigerated for an extended period of time after opening. Here are signs your syrup has gone bad:

  • Mold growth – Visible mold spots or fuzz on the syrup.
  • Strange odor – Foul smelling or rotten odor.
  • Change in texture – Syrup may become thick or separated.
  • Change in color – Darkening color or unnatural hues.
  • Foaming/bubbling – Bubbles or froth on the top of the syrup.

If you notice any of these signs in your syrup, it is best to throw it out. Do not taste syrup if you suspect it may be spoiled.

Storing Syrup to Maintain Freshness

To get the most out of your syrup and maintain quality and safety, follow these storage tips:

  • Seal the container tightly after each use.
  • Keep syrup bottles away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
  • Wipe clean any drips or spills after pouring.
  • Store in a cool, dry place like a pantry or cupboard.
  • Refrigerate after opening if recommended on the label.
  • Use clean and dry utensils when dispensing syrup.
  • Discard if syrup exceeds best by date or shows signs of spoilage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does maple syrup need to be refrigerated?

No, maple syrup does not need to be refrigerated. Its high sugar content and low moisture level create an environment that resists microbial growth at room temperature. Refrigeration can cause it to crystallize.

Can you get sick from unrefrigerated syrup?

Most syrups are unlikely to make you sick if left unrefrigerated before or after opening. Shelf-stable syrups contain preservatives and have a low water activity that prevents dangerous microbial growth. However, syrup can spoil over time off the refrigerator.

What happens if pancake syrup goes bad?

Pancake syrup that has gone bad may have foul odors, mold, discoloration, separation, or texture changes. Consuming spoiled pancake syrup could potentially cause upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting in some cases.

Should caramel syrup be refrigerated after opening?

No, caramel syrup does not require refrigeration after opening due to its high sugar content and added preservatives. It will maintain quality and safety at room temperature for several months after opening.

How long does chocolate syrup last unrefrigerated?

Unopened chocolate syrup will stay fresh for 1-2 years stored in a cool, dry place. After opening, it lasts for several months without refrigeration. Always check for changes in color, texture, or smell before consuming.

Can you get botulism from syrup?

Botulism is unlikely to grow in syrup due to the high sugar and low moisture levels. Preservatives in shelf-stable syrups also prevent botulism. However, botulism could potentially grow in homemade syrups if handled improperly.


Syrups like maple, pancake, chocolate, caramel, and fruit syrup do not require refrigeration for safety and will maintain quality for a period of time at room temperature. Their high sugar content, preservatives, and low moisture levels prevent microbial growth. However, refrigeration can help extend shelf life after opening. Properly store syrups in cool, dry places and check for signs of spoilage before use. Discard if mold, foul smells, separation, or other changes occur. Following sound storage practices will keep syrup fresh and safe to enjoy on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and more.

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