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How to Tell if Mayo is Bad

We love mayonnaise for so many dishes, so it is important to know how to tell if mayo has gone bad. From sandwiches to potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw, deviled eggs, dips, and more, we seem to be always reaching for our container.

If you’ve ever been suspicious that that jar of mayo in your fridge has gone bad, you’re not alone. If you’re like me, you probably have a couple of unopened mayo jars in your pantry at all times. Mayo is a great condiment to have on hand for sandwiches, salads, and burgers. But what do you do if you’re not sure whether the mayo is still good?

Homemade Mayonnaise Salad Dressing Food Safety

For best quality and best taste, always use homemade salad dressing the day it is made. If you have some leftover, the best place to store it is in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Proper storage and your mayo can last up to five days.

How to Tell if Mayo is Bad

Salad Dressing and Potlucks

Then there is the potluck and picnic where food is made with mayonnaise. The food might sit out for hours in a non-refrigerated state. Since mayonnaise is made using raw eggs, food safety guidelines tell us that it should not sit out for more than a couple of hours. So, we tend to stick with the food safety guidelines.

However, it is still important to tell if it is safe to eat since you will most likely have an open jar of mayonnaise in your refrigerator like us. To be truthful, sometimes, that mayo has been in the fridge after a few months of opening. When it has been a long time, it is best to be safe before using and look for signs of spoilage.

It can be tough to tell when mayo has gone bad, but with a few tips you’ll be able to avoid any nasty surprises.

What is Mayonnaise Made of?

Homemade mayonnaise is basically made from oil, raw egg yolks, and vinegar, or lemon juice. These ingredients can go bad quickly compared to commercially prepared mayonnaise.

Commercially made mayo has preservatives that can kill harmful bacteria like salmonella. In addition, the use of pasteurized eggs reduces the foodborne illness risk.

How to Tell if Mayo is Bad?

Color Change. Discoloration is one of the first signs of spoiled mayonnaise. Noticeable change of color, like darker shade of white or a brownish-yellow color.

Visible Molds. Look for signs of mold.  Any organic growths inside the neck of the jar, like mold or spores.

Texture Changes. The mayo should have a creamy consistency

Smell. Off, acidic, or putrid smell. Even though mayonnaise has vinegar, it should not smell overly sour or acidic.

Taste. If it tastes sour or just off, it is a red flag that it is spoiled.

Jarred Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise FAQ

Can mayonnaise be left out?

No, this one of those foods that should be tossed if left out unrefrigerated for more than two hours and definitely tossed, if left out overnight. The Food and Drug Administration  recommends tossing perishable foods, such as mayo, that have been left out at room temperature for two or more hours.

How long does mayonnaise last in the refrigerator?

The best way to make sure your mayonnaise is fresh and delicious. Store it in the fridge after making or opening a jar. It should be good for one week if you made at home, but two to four months when bought from store. Depending on the storage conditions. Make sure to store in an airtight container in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Only take out to use and replace back to the refrigerator when done.

Is expired mayo ok to eat?

Commercially prepared mayonnaise that is still sealed will stay fresh and edible for 3-4 months past the shelf life of mayonnaise expiry date. It is merely a suggestion.

Once open, if it has been stored properly in a dry place it will still be good for up to four months after the best before date.

Can bad mayonnaise make you sick?

Eating expired mayonnaise can give you stomach aches if the mayonnaise hasn’t been stored properly. However, it is probably not the mayonnaise itself making you sick, rather the bacteria growing on the mayo.  In the warmer temperatures bacteria can build up quickly and cause severe food poisoning.

Does mayo go bad if not refrigerated?

Commercially made mayonnaise with the seal still intact can sit out unrefrigerated. However, once opened it is best to refrigerate. The USDA recommends once mayonnaise is opened, it should be tossed if it reaches 50 degrees or higher for more than eight hours.

How long does Mayo last in fridge?

Homemade mayonnaise lasts from 3 days to two weeks in the refrigerator. Commercially prepared mayo can last up to four months in the refrigerator. Just make sure to look for signs of discoloration, molds, texture changes and an off smell before using. If it tastes sour and off, do not use.  

How long after eating bad Mayo do you get sick?

Since the more common food poisoning is salmonella, in general, you can start showing signs of food poisoning within two to six hours.

How long can you keep garlic mayonnaise in the fridge?

It will keep fresh for two to three days. However, the garlic will become sharper in the mayo the longer it stays in the refrigerator. Therefore, you might want to add it just before serving.

Is it safe to cook mayonnaise?

Yes, it is safe to cook with mayonnaise, especially jarred mayo. There are several dishes that use mayo as one of the ingredients in the recipe.

Can you microwave mayo?

Microwaving Mayo is safe; however, it might split where the oils separate from the other ingredients if heated too fast. Therefore, it will not be as creamy.

Picnic Food Made with Mayonnaise
Picnic Food Made with Mayonnaise

Can an unopened mayonnaise go bad in the heat?

Yes, actually it can go bad. In fact, an unopened jar of mustard will too. If you plan on going to a picnic, it is best to keep both the mustard and mayo salad dressing at a cold temperature away from sources of heat due to the perishable nature of mayonnaise. The same holds true for sandwiches made with mayo. It is a good idea to keep them dry and cold until you are ready to eat. However, ketchup and Barbeque Sauce is okay stored at room temperature.

Food Safety Is Important

Warm temperatures are a perfect time for a summer picnic, backyard BBQ, or potluck with a gathering of friends and family. It is important to know how to keep food safe to eat so everyone has fun, enjoys their food, and stays healthy.

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