How long can ketchup sit out?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long can ketchup sit out” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of ketchup at room temperature. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to spot bad ketchup.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long can ketchup sit out?

Open ketchup lasts for about 1 month when allowed to sit out of the fridge in a cool, dry, and dark corner of the pantry. Care should be taken to never store the opened bottle of ketchup in a humid environment. Moreover, it should be kept away from direct sunlight.

As ketchup contains a high amount of vinegar in its formulation and has an acidic pH, therefore it retains its freshness for a long time and can stay good for quite a long time.

Shelf life of ketchup

An unopened bottle of the ketchup lasts for about 1-2 years if stored appropriately in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight. The shelf life of ketchup also varies depending upon the manufacturers and the ingredients of ketchup. 

On the other hand, an opened bottle of store-bought ketchup will last for about 6-12 months easily when stored in the fridge at5 or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Moreover, when it comes to homemade ketchup, as it does not have any added preservative apart from vinegar, therefore, it has a shorter shelf life than the processed ketchup and lasts for about 2-3 months in the fridge.

When it comes to freezing ketchup, we do not recommend you to do so as the frozen ketchup after thawing won’t have the same flavor and aroma to it. Moreover, the texture and consistency of the ketchup will also suffer after thawing. So it is better if you just refrigerate your open bottle of ketchup to preserve its flavor for a long time.

What is the optimum temperature to store ketchup?

You should always store your ketchup at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore it is always advised to store ketchup at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time.

Different ways to spot bad ketchup

There are a couple of indicators that point out bad ketchup. You should consider the appearance, color, smell, and taste of the ketchup along with the condition of the ketchup bottle to reach a  final verdict on whether or not they have gone bad.


The presence of off-colors or the presence of molds is the indication that your ketchup has gone bad. 


If you notice that the color of ketchup has darkened then that does not necessarily mean that your ketchup has gone bad, it is just the indication that your ketchup has gone past its prime time. 

You should keep in consideration the taste and the smell of the ketchup that has darkened to reach the final verdict about whether or not it has gone bad.


If you notice some off-smells (like a striking sour smell) or something that does not quite smell like ketchup itself while taking a sniff test of ketchup then it is the indication that your ketchup has gone bad.


If you feel some off-flavors or slightly bitter after-taste after tasting your ketchup, then it is an indication that your ketchup is past its prime age.

Bulging lid or bottle

In the case of the unopened bottle of ketchup that has been there for a long time, if you notice a bulging lid or a bloated bottle, it is an indication that your ketchup has gone bad. The reason behind the bulging is the gases that are formed as a result of microbial contamination. 

If microbes somehow found their way to your ketchup and have spoiled it then the best thing you should do is to discard it.

Is ketchup safe to use after the best-before date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the bottle of ketchup refers to the quality rather than safety so ketchup doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date. 

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of ketchup but you can still use ketchup that is past this date as long as it was stored properly, there is no leakage in the bottle and no signs of mold are present.

You can read how to make ketchup here.

Tips to properly store ketchup

  1. Ketchup loses its characteristic flavor and color when it comes in contact with the air owing to the oxidation reaction. Therefore to seal the freshness of ketchup for quite a long we recommend you store it in air-tight containers or bottles.
  1. Moreover, you should not leave the ketchup without closing its lid/cap, or else the bacteria or microbes will find their way in the open ketchup bottle.
  1. You should always keep the ketchup in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight to preserve its freshness for a long time.
  1. You can preserve the freshness of your opened bottle of tomato ketchup for a long time by refrigerating it properly.
  1. If your ketchup caps or lids are full of the solidified leftovers or crustings from your ketchup then there are chances that bacteria will grow on such caps as their air exposure is greater. So you should clean the caps of your ketchup bottle properly.
  1. You should never dip any food item like fries directly in the bottle of ketchup.

Other FAQs about Ketchup that you may be interested in.

How long are ketchup packets good for?

Does ketchup go bad?

What happens If you eat expired ketchup?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long can ketchup sit out” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of ketchup at room temperature. Moreover, we discussed different ways to spot bad ketchup.


Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.