Does Mustard Have To Be Refrigerated? [A Complete Guide with Q&A] (2023)

Mustard – spicy, creamy sauce – forms a triad with ketchup and mayo, to make an ordinary burger taste wow.

Most of us have a half-used bottle of mustard lying around somewhere. For that day when you want to drizzle some on a hot dog or steak.

When you finally reach for it, something seems off. The liquid has separated leaving solids at the bottom.

While you play safe and make the most of your meal with other dressings and sauces, it sets you off on a journey of perplexing questions.

Is my mustard spoiled? If it does, how do I tell that mustard has gone bad? Could I have saved it by storing it in the refrigerator?

This guide is an attempt to clear all your doubts about storing mustard. An attempt to help you enjoy it down to the last bit in the jar.

The mustard we talk about in this article is the sauce or paste, and not its seed or powder form (which gets a special mention).


Can mustard remain fresh without being refrigerated?

Yes, mustard does stay fresh without refrigeration. How long your mustard remains fresh will depend on whether your bottle is opened or unopened.

The nature of mustard is acidic and it is uncommon for a quality mustard sauce to spoil easily. But you need other conditions working in its favor.

If you want to make your mustard last longer, then consider storing it in the fridge. This can extend the shelf life by a good six months to a year.

The shelf life will vary from product to product as some mustard types contain other ingredients that could affect their freshness. The way you store it matters as do the temperatures in your kitchen.

Before we learn about these mustard types, let’s find out

Does mustard go bad?

Like all perishable food, your favorite mustard (a simple mix of mustard powder, salt, seasonings, and vinegar) will eventually go bad. But it tends to last anywhere from two months to three years when stored well.

Unopened mustard lasts well beyond its printed “best by date” which is usually six months.

Manufacturers’ discretion and sometimes customer feedback dictates this printed label date. This time limit happens to be a conservative estimate regarding the product quality.

In other words, the producers or company is vouching for its quality and not food safety.

In short, the shelf life of mustard, ingredient list, and storage method will determine whether your mustard will last without refrigeration.

Check Outto know whether other dressing ingredients can be kept out.

Does Mustard Have To Be Refrigerated? [A Complete Guide with Q&A] (1)

Different Types Of Mustard

Mustard is a condiment prepared from the white/yellow seeds of mustard plants. Yellow seeds tend to have a milder heat quotient and pungent taste compared to black and brown seeds.

Mustard’s popularity is largely on account of that subtle hint of heat and the lack of sugar and fat. Commercial mustard (not seed or powder) does have quite a bit of sodium added in, mostly for extra flavor and as a natural preservative.

While American mustard is similar to the English variety, other versions abound. Just take a good look at the grocery section next time, and you’ll know what I am saying.

A simple mustard sauce is often nothing more than a cold or cooked mix of mustard powder, vinegar, and salt. But there are other types of mustard available and the taste ranges from spicy to sweet. Various spices, herbs, aromatics, sweeteners, and seasoning mixes get added in and this affects the flavor profile of your favorite condiment.

Despite the numerous offerings, some are more popular than others.

  • American Mustard – This mild and creamy version was specifically developed in 1904 by George French for Americans. It is also called Ballpark Mustard.

  • English Mustard – This is a thicker and spicier version compared to the American version. The bright yellow color often comes from the addition of turmeric powder.

  • Deli Style Mustard – A hotter and coarser mustard sauce popular in many parts of the US. The sauce is usually made with brown mustard seeds and served in delis that often add horseradish for extra heat.

  • Chinese Mustard – Another sharp-tasting condiment and deceptively easy to make. Simply add water to dry brown mustard powder or cook it in sesame or peanut oil for a creamier texture.

  • Dijon Mustard – This sharp mustard comes from the Dijon region in France, but is now prepared in other places as well. The use of white wine with brown or black mustard seeds is its defining characteristic. This tends to be robust flavored that lasts longer due to its low acidity liquid. Dijon is often mixed into other sauces for that heat punch.

  • Honey Mustard – A sweeter version made with the infusion of honey and other ingredients. This 1:1 blend of mustard and honey is less acidic, but the honey works as a preservative. It can be combined with olive oil or vinegar for salad dressings.

  • Dry Mustard (Powder) – This is yellow (white), brown or black mustard seeds that have been dry roasted and ground into a fine powder. Some commercial brands add flour and turmeric to it.

  • Homemade Mustard – Ingredients vary from one kitchen to another. Some make a cold paste with nothing but water and salt. Others cook it into a creamy sauce in a bid to reduce its bitter taste. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar is an important acid regulator and preservative used along with salt, flour, and spices.

How well do these mustards fare in the freshness game?

I‘ve created a chart showing their shelf life when stored in the pantry and in the fridge.





1-2 years

1 year


1-2 years

1 year


2-3 years

1 year


2-3 years

1-2 years


1-2 years

1 year

Does Unopened Mustard Remain Fresh Without Refrigeration?

First thing first. All branded flavors typically have the same shelf life.

You don’t have to keep pre-packaged mustard in the fridge when it remains unopened. These will keep fresh in a cool and dry place like your pantry for one to two years.

Do you want to store it for longer? Then the refrigerator is the place to go.

Can You Keep Opened Mustard Fresh In The Pantry?

Yes, your half-finished commercial jar will stay fresh in the pantry for one or two months, before a bacterial attack. If you’re a mustard fan, preserve the sauce for one or two years in the chilled interiors of your refrigerator.

What about your homemade mustard sauce?

In the spirit of eating clean and healthy, you make your own sauces and condiments. You even add natural preservatives like salt, honey, and vinegar to it.

The next step would be to preserve it properly –

How To Store Homemade Mustard?

Homemade mustard containing vinegar or salt will stay fresh at room temperature for 1-2 days at the most. Pack it in a clean, airtight container to prevent moisture and other contaminants from getting in.

Beyond that, you’ll have to dispose of it or place it in the fridge. At 40°F, it will taste great for 7-10 days before losing flavor and going spoiled.

Do dry mustard and whole seeds need refrigeration?

Mustard powder lasts in the pantry cabinet (dry and dark) for 1-2 years. Seeds remain fresh outside the fridge for a short while before turning rancid (due to the oil content). You can extend their shelf life by storing them in the refrigerator for a few more months.

Here is a table you can bookmark to know how long your regular mustard remains fresh.





1-2 years

1-2 years


1-2 months

6-12 months


1-3 days

7-10 days

Dry Powder

1-2 years

Not Applicable

Whole Seeds

2-4 months

3-6 months

So, coming back to your original query. The squeeze bag of mustard is still lying around in the kitchen and you’re not sure it’s safe to consume.

Interested in knowing more about food shelf life tips? Find out: How Long Does Apple Cider Last Opened?.

How To Tell If Your Mustard Has Gone Bad?

Smell the mustard! If it stinks or gives off a sour smell, avoid using it. Your sauce is already spoiled or in the process of spoiling.

Squeeze out some mustard and check it for visible signs of “gone bad”.

Is there white or green mold on the mustard? Has the smooth texture changed into an unappetizing lump sitting at the bottom of the jar?

These are clear indications that your condiment has seen better days. Discard it without a second glance.

Another reliable way to check (but slightly risky) is the taste test.

Has the flavor changed? Is it unpalatable?

Mustard loses its flavors over time and can be foul-tasting when it’s contaminated by bacteria.

Dump it!

You should make it a point to check through pantry and refrigerator storage regularly and throw away anything well past the use-by-date.

This would be 1-2 years in the case of our humble but enjoyable mustard.

Final Thoughts

Mustard is a tasty companion to many foods from burgers and hot dogs to crackers and raw vegetables.

Unopened mustard sauce will last beyond its best-by-date for a good 1-2 years. This remains fresh in the pantry for six months to a year, whereas an opened bottle has a short pantry stay of 1-2 months.

The refrigerator extends the shelf life of your mustard by 1-3 years depending on whether the jar is sealed, opened, or past its use-by-date.

Homemade mustard barely lasts for a couple of days at room temperature before it needs refrigeration.

Unfamiliar texture, sour smell, and bad taste are a few signs your mustard is no longer fresh and that you need to buy a new jar.

Do you store your mustard in the pantry or the fridge? Let us know in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does packaging affect mustard’s freshness?

According to food experts, a glass jar of mustard will last for 2 years in a glass jar. Your plastic squeeze bottle will keep the mustard fresh for 18 months. Sadly, single-use packets last around 6 months.

How long does a mustard dish last?

While mustard is said to last as long, it will remain as good as the fastest-expiring ingredient in your dish or recipe. If your dish stays good for 3-4 days, then you’ll have to chuck it after that whether it contains mustard or not.


Does mustard really need to be refrigerated? ›

While refrigeration will help maintain flavor, it's not necessary to refrigerate if you prefer to consume your mustard at room temperature. The recommended shelf life from the date of manufacture of French's Mustard is 18 months in a squeeze bottle, and 24 months in a glass jar.”

Can mustard stay out of fridge? ›

Condiments such as ketchup and mustard

According to, yellow, Dijon, or even whole-grain mustard can be put away in the cabinet for up to two months and as mentioned before, ketchup can be kept outside the refrigerator for up to a month.

Does yellow mustard go bad if not refrigerated? ›

As long as the mustard doesn't contain fruits or vegetables, it has enough acid in it as a preservative. Yellow, Dijon, or even whole-grain can be put away in the cabinet for up to two months.

What condiments do not need refrigeration? ›

Common condiments that don't require refrigeration include soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, honey and hot sauce. Feingold says vinegars and olive oil (stored in a cool, dark place) are pantry-bound; coconut oil is actually best kept out of the fridge since it hardens below room temperature.

What's the best way to store mustard? ›

Storing mustard in the refrigerator will extend its shelf life, so once opened, be sure to stash your 'stard in the fridge, not the pantry. Keep it sealed tightly to minimize its exposure to light and air. Then, when it's time to eat, always use clean utensils if you're going to dip into the jar.

Do I need to refrigerate ketchup? ›

In terms of safety, there's no real need to refrigerate ketchup. Tomatoes and vinegar, the main components in ketchup, help preserve the condiment at room temperature due to their natural acidity.

Do you need to refrigerate mayonnaise? ›

Mayonnaise: You may buy mayonnaise off a non-refrigerated shelf, but the second you open it, you must keep it in the refrigerator. In fact, the USDA recommends opened mayo be tossed in the trash if its temperature reaches 50 degrees or higher for more than eight hours.

What makes mustard go bad? ›

All varieties of mustard are blends of spices and an acid-based liquid like vinegar or lemon juice, so technically, nothing in there goes bad, but mustard can lose its flavor over time. Because of its simple ingredient list, though, mustard will only lose its kick rather than turn rancid.

Can I eat mustard that was left out overnight? ›

Condiments like soy sauce, vinegar-based hot sauces and honey shouldn't be refrigerated at all, according to MSN. Meanwhile, ketchup and mustard can be kept in the fridge, but won't be harmful if they're left out overnight, even if they've been opened.

Does peanut butter need to be refrigerated? ›

An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it's recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don't refrigerate, oil separation can occur.

Does mayonnaise expire? ›

Before it's opened, a jar of mayo will last in the pantry for about three months. If you just opened a jar, know that it should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two months. However, if you make homemade mayonnaise, it will last only up to a week in the fridge—so make plans to use it all up before then.

Do eggs need to be refrigerated? ›

Do Fresh Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated? Freshly laid eggs need to be refrigerated immediately. Fresh eggs purchased from a farmers market need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. Per USDA guidelines, eggs should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to help minimize the risk of Salmonella.

Does Worcestershire sauce need to be refrigerated after opening? ›

According to food safety experts, once you open a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, it's best to store it in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage. The cold temperature slows down the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause the sauce to spoil.

Why does mayo need to be refrigerated? ›

The perishable nature of mayonnaise is also why you should throw out mayo that's been left out unrefrigerated overnight. It could be totally fine—until you get food poisoning. And, in general, the FDA recommends tossing perishable foods, including mayo, that have been left out at room temperature for two or more hours.

Does jelly need to be refrigerated? ›

Sealed jars of homemade preserves can also be stored at room temperature. Once the jam or jelly is opened, however, it is best to refrigerate them. Richard explains that this prevents mold and yeast from growing. If not refrigerated, opened jams and jellies are likely to spoil quicker.

Does apple cider vinegar need to be refrigerated? ›

The shelf life of apple cider vinegar is two years unopened, and one year once you've broken the seal on the bottle. You don't have to refrigerate apple cider vinegar once it's opened. Instead, store it in a pantry or cabinet, away from direct sunlight. Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic.

How many years does mustard last? ›

Mustard. Surprisingly, mustard goes hand in hand with ketchup, but it outlasts it in terms of shelf life. If it's in the pantry, mustard is good to use for one to two years after it was bought. If it's in the refrigerator, that gets cut down to one year since it's opened.

Does mustard ever go bad? ›

Mustard's longevity largely depends on its type, ingredients, and storage conditions. Typically, unopened bottles can last up to two years, while opened bottles can last up to one year in the refrigerator. However, homemade mustard or those with fewer preservatives may have a shorter shelf life.

Do you have to refrigerate butter? ›

Should You Leave Butter on the Counter? According to the USDA, butter is safe at room temperature. But if it's left out for several days at room temperature, it can turn rancid causing off flavors. The USDA does not recommend leaving it out more than one to two days.

Should you refrigerate honey? ›

Do not refrigerate honey. Keeping your honey in the refrigerator preserves it but the cool temperatures will cause your honey to form a semi-solid mass, so this method of storage is not recommended.

Should you refrigerate oranges? ›

Ripen fruit at room temperature. Once they are ripe, refrigerate. Apples, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, tangerines and watermelon are received ripe and should be refrigerated.

Does cheese need to be refrigerated? ›

The likes of cheddar, swiss, parmesan and other hard cheeses will be perfectly fine stored outside of the fridge. If you choose to store hard cheese in the fridge (which arguably many are in the habit of doing so) then we would recommend storing in the warmest part of the fridge, such as the vegetable drawer.

Why do restaurants not refrigerate mayo? ›

Commercially produced mayonnaise, as opposed to the homemade version, does not need to be refrigerated, according to the report. Food scientists find it's because mayo undergoes strict testing and "its acidic nature slows the growth of the bacteria associated with food-borne illnesses,'' according to NPD Group.

Can you eat a sandwich with mayo left out overnight? ›

To stay safe, sandwiches, salads, and other meals with perishable ingredients shouldn't be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours—max. Leftovers should also go back in the refrigerator within 2 hours.

Can you eat 2 year old expired mustard? ›

But, like many other products, mustard may have a best by date or use by date which is simply the last date by which a manufacturer will vouch for a product's quality, not its safety. Because of this distinction, you may safely use your mustard after the use by date has expired.

Can I eat mustard 2 years after expiration date? ›

An unopened jar of mustard lasts for up to 2 years beyond the printed expiration date when stored in a dry place such as a kitchen cabinet or pantry.

Does ketchup expire? ›

Yes, ketchup and other condiments do expire.

What foods last a long time without refrigeration? ›

Canned and jarred foods are great idea to keep on hand when you don't have refrigeration because of their long shelf life.
  • Canned Soups.
  • Canned Chili.
  • Canned Vegetables.
  • Canned Fruits.
  • Canned Olives.
  • Canned or Jarred Pasta Sauce.
Nov 23, 2021

Does mustard help cramps? ›

No evidence supports the notion that mustard is an effective remedy for leg cramps. However, recent findings suggest that certain molecules in mustard may trigger various effects that could prevent muscles from cramping.

Is peanut butter good 2 years after expiration date? ›

Past this date, if it's unopened it's still perfectly good. Opened, peanut butter will slowly develop off-flavors of rancid nuts over the next five or so years before it'll taste so bad not even the most peanut butter-obsessed child will go near it. But it's still very unlikely to make you sick.

Do you have to refrigerate peanut butter or jelly? ›

According to The National Peanut Board, an unopened jar of peanut butter can last six to nine months at room temperature. Once opened, they say that it can last two to three months in the pantry before you should move it to the fridge, where it can maintain quality for another three to four months.

Should you store peanut butter upside down? ›

Store your peanut butter container upside-down. Yes, it really is that simple. See, the liquids that separate from the solid body of peanut butter rise to the top. Storing it upside-down will force the oils at the top to travel back through the butter, mixing right in themselves.

How long does ketchup last in the fridge? ›

An opened bottle of ketchup can be stored in the refrigerator for one to six months without changes to color or texture. Obviously, if it smells or looks rancid or "off", it should be discarded. But because ketchup is so high in acidity, it keeps quite well. Unopened bottles may be kept in the pantry.

Is mayonnaise still good after 2 years? ›

An unopened jar of mayonnaise is shelf-stable for 3-4 months after its best by date. You can see the date written on the side of the mayonnaise jar. Three to four months is the shelf life when you decide to store it in the pantry. It can last for up to a year if left unopened and kept refrigerated throughout.

Can you eat mayonnaise 3 months out of date? ›

As long as the product has been stored properly, your mayonnaise should be good for three to four months after the best before date.

Should eggs float or sink? ›

Carefully lower your eggs into fresh cold water using a spoon (you can do this in the pan if you're about to boil them). If the eggs stay at the bottom they're fresh; if the eggs float, however, they're stale and best avoided.

Do hard-boiled eggs need to be refrigerated? ›

It is not safe to keep hard-boiled eggs at room temperature for long, and refrigeration is necessary if they will not be consumed within a few hours. If taking to a picnic or packing in a lunch, be sure to keep the eggs in a cool place.

Why are eggs in Europe not refrigerated? ›

In Europe, farms vaccinate chickens against salmonella. That means the cuticle is still intact when eggs are sold. Refrigerating eggs with the cuticle intact could actually cause mildew to grow. Which could cause… you guessed it salmonella contamination.

Does fish sauce need to be refrigerated? ›

Shopping for and Storing Fish Sauce

Store it in a cool dark place, like the pantry, and away from any hot areas in your kitchen, like directly above the stove. You should avoid storing fish sauce in the fridge because cold temperatures will cause the salt to crystallize over time.

Does tomato sauce need to be refrigerated after opening? ›

"Once opened, tomato sauce is generally microbially stable due to its low pH, so unless stated on the pack, refrigeration is not required. "However, refrigeration does no harm and will slow chemical and colour changes that over extended periods of time may alter the sauces sensory properties."

Does Frank's Red Hot need to be refrigerated? ›

Refrigeration will help maintain its flavor; however, it is not necessary if you prefer your Frank's RedHot® to be room temperature. The recommended shelf life from the date of manufacture if unopened is 24 months.

What are 3 cold foods that don't require refrigeration? ›

They often come in smaller portions too, so you don't have to try to store your leftover camp meals with no fridge or cooler.
  • Pasta.
  • Rice.
  • Quinoa.
  • Couscous.
  • Instant Potatoes.
  • Tortellini.
  • Boxed Mac n' Cheese.
  • Cans of Corned Beef Hash.
Jul 12, 2021

What fruit does not need to be refrigerated? ›

Apricots, Asian pears, avocado, bananas, guava, kiwis, mangoes, melons, nectarines, papayas, passion fruit, pawpaw, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plantain, plums, starfruit, soursop, and quince will continue to ripen if left out on the counter.

How long does hard cheese last unrefrigerated? ›

How long can hard cheese sit out at room temperature? Hard cheeses can sit out for longer than the standard two hours without becoming unsafe, but quality and taste may differ - it is not recommended to leave hard cheese unrefrigerated for longer than 4 hours.

Is mustard safe to eat after being left out? ›

Condiments like soy sauce, vinegar-based hot sauces and honey shouldn't be refrigerated at all, according to MSN. Meanwhile, ketchup and mustard can be kept in the fridge, but won't be harmful if they're left out overnight, even if they've been opened.

How long can mustard sit out before it goes bad? ›

At room temperature, the mustard will keep its quality for about 1 to 2 months, while refrigerated it should stay in good shape for about a year. One last thing when it comes to storing and shelf life of mustard.

What happens if you don't refrigerate after opening? ›

At room temperature, mold and bacteria growth resumes almost immediately, and warmer temperatures can lead to an explosion of growth that rapidly degrades the food product.

Does mayonnaise have to be refrigerated after opening? ›

Mayonnaise: You may buy mayonnaise off a non-refrigerated shelf, but the second you open it, you must keep it in the refrigerator. In fact, the USDA recommends opened mayo be tossed in the trash if its temperature reaches 50 degrees or higher for more than eight hours.

Why you shouldn't refrigerate ketchup? ›

However, the experts say there's actually no need to keep ketchup in the fridge. Not only does it contain vinegar, but tomatoes are naturally acidic, and this helps to preserve the product in ambient (room temperature) conditions.

Should peanut butter be refrigerated? ›

An open jar of peanut butter stays fresh up to three months in the pantry. After that, it's recommended to store the peanut butter in the fridge (where it can maintain its quality for another 3-4 months). If you don't refrigerate, oil separation can occur.

Do you need to refrigerate eggs? ›

Do Fresh Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated? Freshly laid eggs need to be refrigerated immediately. Fresh eggs purchased from a farmers market need to be refrigerated as soon as you get home. Per USDA guidelines, eggs should be stored at 40 degrees F or below to help minimize the risk of Salmonella.

Which foods do not need to be refrigerated even when opened? ›

Read on to know when to skip the cool-down and stick with the counter and pantry.
  • Bananas. Bananas need room temperature for two reasons: The warm temperatures help the fruit finish ripening (in case you pick up any still-green pieces) and the light and air slow down decay.
  • Coffee. ...
  • Tomatoes. ...
  • Honey. ...
  • Fresh herbs.

Do pickles go bad if not refrigerated? ›

When canned and sealed properly, an unopened jar sitting on a pantry shelf, basement, dry place or anywhere at room temperature will last for 2 years or beyond.

Does soy sauce need to be refrigerated? ›

The Bottom Line. Storing soy sauce at room temperature is perfectly fine. However, if you don't plan on regularly using it in your cooking, storing the soy sauce in the refrigerator will keep it at peak quality for longer.


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