Does Mayonnaise Need To Be Refrigerated?

Mayonnaise is a summertime essential. Not only is it a great condiment for the best burger recipes, but it's also an integral ingredient in potato salad, broccoli salad and more classic barbecue sides. When going to the grocery store, you buy unrefrigerated mayonnaise off the shelf. So does it need to be refrigerated at all?

The Shelf Life of Rice, Flour and Other Pantry Staples

Mayonnaise is egg-based, which makes it a prime candidate for refrigeration, but it also contains lemon juice, which can help to keep foods from spoiling. So, what's the deal?

The first thing you should do when determining whether or not to refrigerate your mayo is to check your product label. Unilever, the company that makes Hellman's Mayonnaise, has different types of products available. The Real Mayonnaise Squeeze Bottle claims that it does not need to be refrigerated on the side and is possibly meant to sit on diner tables alongside ketchup and mustard. However, other containers of Hellman's may require refrigeration after opening. So be sure to read carefully.

Even if your mayonnaise doesn't say whether or not it needs to be put in the fridge, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommends you put perishable items in the fridge right away, and that would include mayo. 

Mayonnaise will last two months in your fridge once opened. And while you're checking those dates, make sure you know how long other condiments and food items will last in the fridge.

If you're using mayonnaise in pasta salad, macaroni salad, in a dressing or as a condiment for your backyard barbecue, make sure you're careful with it. The food "danger zone" is between 40 and 140 degrees, and that super tasty, zesty potato salad can hit that mark quickly if left out in the sun. 

It's recommended you do not leave foods outside of the refrigerator for more than two hours. Otherwise, bacteria will multiply quickly. That's why mayonnaise-based salads are actually among those foods you should never bring to a cookout.