Does Ketchup Go Bad?


Condiments such as tomato sauce and ketchup are rarely used daily in many households, which is why at some point you might need to ask does ketchup go bad.

Therefore, a bottle, once opened, may last for several months. However, if you forget to regularly check the expiry date at the bottom of the bottle, you may find yourself with expired ketchup bottles.

It can be terrifying to realize that you have been eating expired ketchup for months or to experience food poisoning as a result of the same. But is it that dangerous? Should you discard ketchup that has expired? How long is the shelf-life of ketchup? How should you store ketchup? If you have asked yourself some of these questions, you should read on as we tackle all issues relating to the ketchup shelf life. 

does ketchup go bad

How Long Does Ketchup Last?

Key Point: An unopened bottle of ketchup has a pretty long shelf life. It can last between 1 to 2 years after the expiration date if properly stored and cared for. However, there are still things you need to consider when you are trying to figure out whether your ketchup has expired or not.

Firstly, you should notice that the shelf-life of ketchup is long because of the acidic conditions of the condiment. It is made up of vinegar, tomatoes, and sugar, making it hard to go bad. Therefore, the date you see at the bottom of an unopened ketchup bottle is not an expiration date but rather a best-by date. As a result, it is possible to use ketchup before or after the best by date, and it will be safe for you. 

Store-bought ketchup of the best quality from large producers such as Heinz has a best by date of 15 months from the date of production. On the other hand, homemade ketchup does not have any preservatives save for vinegar. This means that it is not pasteurized and will last for a shorter compared to store-bought ketchup. In the fridge, it will last for approximately two to three months. Therefore, it is advisable to make homemade ketchup that will last up to a week. In some cases, you may have to get rid of the remaining ketchup after a week. 

How to Know if You Have Spoiled Ketchup


Apart from “Does ketchup go bad,” and “how long does ketchup last,” another common issue is how to know if your ketchup is spoiled. 

It is crucial to have this information at hand as the state of your ketchup could be the difference between good and ill health. 

To ensure that your ketchup remains safe after the best by date, you should ensure that you practice safe, proper food storage. 

You should note that you will notice that there is a thicker liquid and more watery part in your ketchup bottle over time. Such ketchup is still good for consumption. However, the taste will be affected. As even more time passes, the ketchup will get thicker, and the color will change from bright red to a deeper maroon color. This is a pointer that the ketchup has been around for way too long, and you may need to consider finishing the bottle or eventually tossing it out as such ketchup is a health risk. 

Other signs that your ketchup may have gone bad or is unsafe to eat include

  • The presence of mold. It is unlikely for mold to grow in the presence of preservatives such as vinegar. However, if you notice any mold around the cap or on the bottle surface, you should probably not consume the ketchup. 
  • Popping sounds and bloated bottles. If you notice an unusual popping sound and bottle bloat when you open your ketchup bottle after a long time, the ketchup is likely going bad. 
  • Sour smell. Just like many other foods, a yeast-like or sour smell points to spoiled ketchup

Interestingly, there is a way to store Ketchup to extend its shelf life. In a household setup, you should store it in its original container. You can store it in a cool dark place or the pantry, in which case it will last approximately a month.

However, you can keep it in the refrigerator to help extend the shelf-life. While you may be tempted to keep your bottle of ketchup on the counter like burger joints, remember that these are commercial spaces in which multiple bottles of ketchup are used every day. 

Proper food storage not only keeps your food fresh but helps preserve your health and cut food costs as you avoid food wastage. 

Need something to serve with your ketchup? This copycat McDonald’s fries recipe is the ideal option (just make sure your ketchup is in date!)

Interesting Ketchup Information

does ketchup expire

Did you know that there is a reason why ketchup bottles are clear?

If you are alive at this point, it is safe to say that you have only known ketchup in clear plastic or glass bottles. While this is the norm, there is a reason why this condiment comes in a clear bottle. 

The history of clear ketchup bottles dates back to the mid-19th-century. At this point, commercial food production was on a steady rise. However, tomatoes were only available during the growing season, which was relatively short. At the same time, there were no foolproof methods of food preservation. This meant that the tomatoes used to prepare ketchup were months old. As a result, ketchup was never fresh when it was made. It was not uncommon to find mold and bacteria-infested ketchup. To make up for the lack of preservatives, some manufacturers added coal and tar to retain the color and freshness of ketchup, but this was still not the ideal solution. 

As Henry Heinz began to manufacture ketchup, it was still food that raised suspicion. Finally, however, he began to use clear bottles to prove that his ketchup was the best in the land and could be trusted as fresh and healthy. From then on, manufacturing companies have adopted the use of clear ketchup bottles as standard practice. 


  1. How to store your ketchup

    Keep ketchup in a cool place, ideally refrigerated for longest shelf life. You can get 6-12 months out of an opened bottle this way. Ensure the cap is cleaned and tightly sealed. It is also recommended to keep your sauce bottle upside down if possible to further prolong its shelf life.

  2. Can You Freeze Ketchup?

    You shouldn’t need to freeze ketchup since it has a long shelf life providing it is cool and sealed correctly. Technically yo can freeze ketchup and use when needed but this would only be recommended to do if you place it in ice cube holders so you only need to defrost when required.

  3. How Long Does Ketchup Last After It Expires

    Once your ketchup has expired, make sure you use it within 6 months. You can also do a taste test to see if it is spoiled.

  4. Does Ketchup Expire?

    Yes ketchup does expire, although you can eat ketchup after the expiration date, it may lose the quality taste you’re used to.

In a Nutshell

Ketchup is one of the most common condiments in a home. However, you may not use it often. As a result, you may end up staying with it for many months without even checking the best by date. Interestingly, the sell-by date is not an expiry date, and in many cases, you can use ketchup beyond this date. One of the keys to ensuring that your ketchup remains safe for consumption is storing it in a cool, dry place in its original container after opening. To further extend the shelf-life of this condiment, you can store it in the fridge. 

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