What Happens If You Eat Expired Mayo? Can You Eat Expired Mayonnaise?

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If you love mayonnaise, you aren’t alone. But what happens if you eat expired mayo? Will it make you sick? You may be surprised to know the truth. Keep reading for answers to these questions and more as we attempt to take on all of your burning questions about expired mayo in today’s post.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Mayo? Can You Eat Expired Mayonnaise?

Table of Contents

How Long Does Mayo Last?

Type of MayoConditionShelf LifeNotes
Store-Bought MayoUnopenedUp to the best-by date + 3-4 monthsLonger shelf life due to preservatives
Store-Bought MayoOpened2-3 months after openingShould be kept refrigerated after opening
Homemade MayoN/A2 weeks refrigeratedNo preservatives, must be used relatively quickly

To answer the quesiton about the longevity of mayo, store-bought mayo often lasts 3-4 months past its due date while homemade mayo will last 2 weeks refrigerated–or less.

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Because store-bought mayo often contains preservatives to keep it fresh, it will likely last you much longer than if you were to make mayo on your own at home.

Having said that, homemade mayo is a simple and delicious way to top your sandwiches and salads, and as such, you may have no qualms whipping up a batch or two of this daily.

If that’s you, just be sure to refrigerate your homemade mayo for the entire two weeks it lasts, or at least until it is eaten up.

Any signs of spoilage such as an off taste, color, or smell, is an indication that your mayonnaise has gone rancid and should be thrown away immediately.

Open and Unopened Mayo Lifespan

There’s a big difference between an unopened jar and one that’s already been cracked open.

An unopened jar of store-bought mayo is like a fortress, protecting the creamy goodness inside from the elements. Those trusty preservatives and airtight seals work together to keep bacteria and other nasties at bay, allowing your mayo to stay fresh for months on end.

Once you break that seal and let the air in, the clock starts ticking on your mayo’s lifespan. When exposed to oxygen and any bacteria that might hitch a ride on your knife or spoon, the quality and safety of your mayo can start to deteriorate faster than you might expect.

To make the most of your mayo, keep your opened jars tightly sealed and refrigerated at all times. And when in doubt, give it a sniff before you spread. Your nose knows – if something smells off, it’s probably best to toss it and start fresh. 

Homemade vs. Commercial Mayo

When it comes to shelf life, commercial mayo reigns supreme over its homemade counterpart. Store-bought mayo can last for months in the fridge, thanks to added preservatives like calcium disodium EDTA or potassium sorbate that prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. Homemade mayo, made with simple, fresh ingredients, lacks these preservatives and typically stays fresh for only a week or two.

The production process also plays a role in the longevity of mayo. Commercial mayo is made in sterile environments with strict quality control, minimizing contamination risks. Homemade mayo, even when made with the freshest ingredients and cleanest tools, is more susceptible to bacterial growth.

Ultimately, store-bought mayo is the way to go for a long-lasting condiment. However, if you crave the unbeatable flavor of homemade mayo and don’t mind a shorter shelf life, feel free to whip up a batch. Just remember to keep it refrigerated and consume it within a week or two for optimal quality and safety.

Can You Eat Mayo After Expiration Date?

Yes, you can eat store-bought mayonnaise after the expiration date.

Generally speaking, the mayo will remain edible up to 3-4 months past its expiration date. Always check for signs of mold growth and note any changes in texture or taste. These are indicators that your mayo is starting to go downhill and that you may need to plan to purchase a new jar soon.

Remember, consuming anything past its printed best buy date is a risk. People often develop food poisoning from eating food that is old as expired food can be a breeding ground for bacteria.

If you are unsure about how your mayo looks, smells, or tastes, it may be best to forgo eating your expired mayo.

What Constitutes ‘Expired’

Let’s take a step closer to understanding the difference between “best by” and “use by” dates. Now, these labels might seem interchangeable, but they actually convey distinct messages.

Best By vs. Use By Dates

The “best by” date indicates the timeframe during which the mayonnaise will maintain its peak quality and flavor. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule about when the product becomes unsafe to consume. In fact, most commercially produced mayos can last several months past this date if stored properly.

On the other hand, the “use by” date is more stringent. It’s the last day the manufacturer recommends using the product for optimal safety and quality. While it doesn’t necessarily mean the mayo will instantly spoil after this date, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution and toss it out.

Reading Between the Lines

Here’s the catch: not all mayonnaise jars have both labels. Some might only display a “best by” date, while others opt for the “use by” terminology.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re unsure about how long your mayo has been sitting in the fridge, give it a quick sniff test. If it smells off or looks discolored, it’s probably time to bid it farewell.

Factors Affecting Mayo Longevity

How long your mayo lasts depends on a few important things.

The stuff used to make your mayo can change how long it stays good. Regular mayo is made with oil, egg yolks, vinegar or lemon juice, and spices. The kind and quality of these ingredients matter.

For example, using fresh, clean eggs is super important. Egg yolks can grow bacteria easily, so starting with good eggs kept in the fridge is key.

Store-bought mayo often has preservatives in it. These special ingredients, like calcium disodium EDTA or potassium sorbate, help keep the mayo from going bad too fast.

Preservatives work by stopping bacteria and fungus from growing in your mayo. So, if you want mayo that lasts longer, look for ones with preservatives on the label.

How your mayo is packaged also matters. Mayo in squeeze bottles or plastic jars with tight lids usually stays fresh longer than mayo in glass jars or containers with wide openings.

How to Tell If Mayo Has Gone Bad

Although mayonnaise is generally considered safe for 1-2 months after opening, the fact remains that your mayo can go bad before then. It’s important that you can spot the signs of bad mayo before it enters your stomach.

Mayonnaise can be considered bad when you spot signs of mold or note changes in the taste, texture, or smell.

Your nose knows best when it comes to detecting spoiled mayo. If you catch a whiff of anything sour, acidic, or just plain funky, it’s time to toss that jar. Another telltale sign is a change in texture – if your once-smooth mayo has become lumpy or watery, bid it farewell.

Keep an eye out for any discoloration, too. Mayo that’s taken on a yellowish or brownish hue is definitely past its prime. And if you spot any mold growth, whether on the surface of the mayo or around the jar’s lid, don’t even think about spreading that on your sandwich!

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety. If you’re unsure whether your mayo is still good to go, give it a quick smell and texture check before using it. And if you’ve had that jar lounging in your fridge for longer than you can remember, it’s probably best to replace it with a fresh one.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Mayo? Can You Eat Expired Mayonnaise?

Can I Use Expired Mayonnaise?

You can use expired mayonnaise in several ways including recipes, snacks, and more.

Beyond that, you can feel free to use your mayo on sandwiches and for whatever else you normally use your mayo for, just be sure to use your mayo up within two to three months or whenever your mayo shows signs of spoilage.

If you’re worried about how long your homemade batch of mayo might last before going bad, know that homemade mayo can be safely kept refrigerated for up to two weeks. Once your two weeks are up, go ahead and pitch your mayo, especially since mayo made at home is made with raw eggs.

What Can We Do With Expired Mayonnaise?

You may not have guessed it, but there are many things you can use expired foods for before you throw them out.

If your mayo isn’t quite ready to kick the bucket just yet but is getting close, we’d recommend throwing your mayonnaise in a quick potato salad or using it to make your next batch of alfredo sauce extra creamy.

If potato salad or alfredo sauce isn’t your thing, some have reported success with shining shoes with old mayo. The oils in the mayonnaise supposedly give shoes an impeccable shine.

There are many things you can do with mayo to use it up before it goes rancid…but you might have to get a little creative!

How to Properly Store Mayo

These tips should help you avoid the dreaded expired mayo situation.

Fridge vs. Pantry

When it comes to storing mayo, the fridge is your best friend. Even if the jar is unopened, keep your mayonnaise refrigerated at all times.

If you’re tempted to store your mayo in the pantry, resist the urge! The fluctuating temperatures and exposure to light can cause the mayo to spoil much faster than it would in the fridge.

Sealed vs. Open

An unopened jar of mayo can last for quite a while in the fridge—we’re talking several months past the “best by” date. But once you crack that seal, the clock starts ticking a bit faster.

To keep your opened mayo fresh for as long as possible, make sure to always seal the jar tightly after each use. This helps to prevent air and other contaminants from getting in and spoiling the mayo.

If you’re a fan of squeezy mayo bottles, the same rules apply. Keep the cap closed when you’re not using it, and store the bottle in the fridge for maximum freshness.

Temperature Matters

The ideal temperature range for storing mayo is between 35°F and 40°F. Any colder, and the mayo might start to separate or develop an odd texture. Any warmer, and you run the risk of bacterial growth.

If you’re not sure how cold your fridge is, invest in a small thermometer to keep an eye on things. It’s a small step that can make a big difference in keeping your condiments (and all your food) fresh and safe to eat.

Extending Mayo’s Freshness

To keep your mayo fresh longer, store it in airtight containers, preferably glass jars with tight-fitting lids or BPA-free plastic containers. When transferring mayo, always use a clean utensil to avoid introducing bacteria. Label the container with the opening date to track freshness.

Minimize exposure to air by using only what you need and returning the jar to the fridge promptly. Consider buying smaller jars or single-serve packets for infrequent use.

Store mayo in the back of the fridge, where the temperature is coolest and most consistent. Avoid storing it in the door, where it’s exposed to warm air. If you have a large jar, transfer a smaller amount to a more manageable container for everyday use.

Always use clean utensils when scooping mayo to avoid contamination. For parties or barbecues, consider setting out a squeeze bottle instead of an open jar to minimize cross-contamination risk.

Can Expired Mayo Make You Sick?

Yes, it is possible that expired mayonnaise could make you sick.

Remember that eating anything that has gone past its expiration date can make you ill. The longer your food sits past expiration, the more time the food has to develop harmful bacteria that could hurt your health.

Having said that, if your mayo is only a week or two past expiration it is probably still okay to eat. As always, be sure to check the taste, smell, and consistency of your mayo before you use it.

Still, not sure? Take a look at the neck or the jar or bottle. Is there mold growing there? This is another sign that your mayo is going bad and may need to get tossed!

Can Expired Mayo Hurt You?

Any food that is expired can hurt you if the right bacteria grows in it, and mayonnaise is no different.

Still, mayonnaise that is store-bought likely won’t cause you many issues as long as it is within the 3-4 month range by which mayo typically remains safe after expiry.

Having said that, if your mayo develops mold or changes in any way, or if you begin to experience symptoms of food poisoning, be sure to discontinue your consumption of the expired mayo and see a doctor for treatment of your symptoms if they don’t go away on their own within 24 hours.

What Happens If You Eat Expired Mayo? Can You Eat Expired Mayonnaise?

Immediate Health Risks

Eating expired mayo can lead to some pretty unpleasant health issues – not just a matter of an upset stomach.

One of the biggest risks of eating expired mayo is the potential for bacterial growth. As mayo sits past its expiration date, it becomes more susceptible to the growth of bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli. These nasty little critters can cause some serious gastrointestinal distress. In severe cases, foodborne illness can even lead to hospitalization.

If you’ve eaten expired mayo and start experiencing symptoms of food poisoning, you’ll probably know it pretty quickly. Symptoms can start anywhere from a few hours to a few days after consuming the contaminated food, and they can range from mild to severe.

While most cases of food poisoning resolve on their own within a few days, it’s important to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

If your symptoms are severe or persist for more than a few days, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

How Long Does It Take to Get Sick After Eating Bad Mayonnaise?

According to Hopkins Medicine, foodborne illness symptoms can show anywhere from 30 minutes after consuming contaminated food to three weeks.

If you do notice that you become ill quickly after eating mayonnaise, be sure to check the expiration date. If your mayonnaise has expired, quickly throw it out. It could be that your mayo is harboring germs and bacteria that have the potential to make others sick as well.

What to do After Eating Expired Mayo

If you’ve eaten expired mayo and you suspect you might have gotten food poisoning, there are a few things you can do:

  • Wait it Out: Food poisoning symptoms often subside within as little as 1-3 days. If, however, you notice that your symptoms are starting to grow worse or aren’t showing any signs of stopping, you may want to reach out to your local physician for help.
  • Drink Up: There are countless teas and beverages you can drink to help you stay hydrated while also giving you the nutrients you need while you wait to feel better.
  • Rest: It’s best to sit any extraneous activities out. Do your best to clear your schedule during this time. Nourish yourself with drinks and bland food– that is, if you can keep everything down!
  • Try OTC Medications: If nothing else works, you can always try over-the-counter medications to help you get back to normal. Medicines like Pepto-Bismol, Tylenol, and Advil can be used to nix your symptoms and the pain associated with them. Just be sure to ask your doctor about which medications to take as some drugs may interact negatively with others.
  • See a Doctor: If your symptoms persist or you feel they are getting worse, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Alternatives to Mayo

If you’re looking for healthier or safer alternatives to mayonnaise, there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

Yogurt-Based Spreads

Yogurt is a fantastic substitute for mayo in many recipes. It’s packed with protein and probiotics, making it a nutritious choice. Greek yogurt, in particular, has a thick, creamy texture that mimics the consistency of mayo. Try mixing plain Greek yogurt with herbs, spices, or a squeeze of lemon juice for a tangy, flavorful spread.

Avocado Mash

Avocado is a nutrient-dense fruit that makes an excellent mayo alternative. Simply mash ripe avocados with a fork and add a pinch of salt, pepper, and a splash of lime juice. The result is a creamy, heart-healthy spread that’s perfect for sandwiches, wraps, or as a dip for veggies. Plus, avocados are loaded with fiber, potassium, and healthy fats.


This Middle Eastern dip is made from chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, and garlic. It’s a protein-rich, vegan-friendly option that works well as a mayo substitute. Spread hummus on bread, use it as a base for potato salad, or enjoy it as a dip alongside crudités. You can find hummus in a variety of flavors, from classic to roasted red pepper or garlic.

Other tasty mayo alternatives include:

  • Pesto: A blend of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese
  • Mustard: Dijon, honey, or whole-grain varieties add a zingy kick
  • Cashew cream: Blend soaked cashews with water, lemon juice, and salt for a velvety spread
  • Olive tapenade: A savory mixture of olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil
What Happens If You Eat Expired Mayo? Can You Eat Expired Mayonnaise?

Eating Expired Mayo May Cause Issues After a While…

We all know the feeling of not knowing how long our beloved shelf staples will last. From Can You Eat Expired Bread?” to “Does Granola Go Bad?” – these questions often swirl in our minds as we ponder the negative impact that eating old food could have on our health.

Eating expired mayo may cause you issues, but it might take a while, especially if the mayo was store-bought. Once opened, be sure to store your mayo in the fridge for up to 2-3 months past expiry.

For homemade varieties, the mayo will generally stay good for up to two weeks. Once you begin to notice an odd taste, texture, smell, or mold growth, be sure to throw your mayo out. This helps prevent the risks of foodborne illness.

What Happens if You Eat Expired Mayo: FAQs

What Does Expired Mayo Taste Like?

Expired mayonnaise will typically taste sour once it has gone bad. That’s because mayo tends to become acidic after it’s gone rancid so “sour” is the best way to describe the taste. If, however, your mayo has expired but still tastes, smells, and looks fresh, it is probably safe to consume provided that you do so within the recommended time frame of two to three months past expiration for store-bought mayo and two weeks stored in the refrigerator for homemade mayo.

Does Mayo Need to Be Refrigerated?

Yes, mayo should be refrigerated to maintain its freshness and quality. This is because mayo contains eggs and other perishable ingredients that can spoil if left at room temperature for an extended period.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind CooksDream.com, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

1 comment

  1. I made coleslaw with 2 years expired unopened jar of mayo not refrigerated. Unfortunately, I lost my sense of smell or taste, so it’s hard to tell (Since I used vinegar in my coleslaw it’s very vinegary which I can taste. I haven’t got any signs of sickness. Should I continue eating my coleslaw?

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