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Does Ketchup Go Bad? How Long Will It Last? The Ultimate Guide

Ketchup is one of the world’s favorite sauces.

It can be paired with a massive number of foods, and always makes for an effective dip for smaller foods like fries, chicken nuggets, and chicken tenders.

Most households have a bottle of ketchup somewhere in their kitchen closet, ready to break it out when needed.

However, many often find themselves wondering whether ketchup can ever go bad. How long does ketchup actually last?

Does Ketchup Go Bad? How Long Will It Last? The Ultimate Guide

Quick Answer: Does Ketchup Go Bad? The short answer is that, yes, ketchup can go bad, especially if it has been left for some time, or has been stored improperly. In general, ketchup can last up to a year, at most, when stored in an unopened bottle, and placed in a refrigerator. If a ketchup bottle has been opened and then placed in the refrigerator, it can then last for around six months at most. 

Want to know a little more about ketchup, such as how to make it last a little longer?

Well then make sure you read on down below to find out even more!

How Long Does Ketchup Last?

Let’s go into a little bit more detail now, and find out how long specific types of ketchup can last! 

Heinz Ketchup

Popular brands of ketchup such as Heinz tend to last much longer than other ketchup products, this is generally thanks to some of the specific ingredients and preservatives that are added to such products to help them to last much longer.

Generally, an unopened Heinz ketchup bottle will last for around a year when placed in a refrigerator.

An opened bottle, on the other hand, may only last around six months at most. 

Other Ketchup Brands

Other brands of ketchup can differ very slightly.

For example, store-brand ketchup is often much more affordable than Heinz ketchup, however, this comes at the cost of quality, as such ketchup products will often go bad a lot quicker, whether opened or not.

There will be fewer preservatives, and what preservatives there are will be of lesser quality. 

Generally, other ketchup brands can last for around a year in an unopened container, but it will need to be stored sufficiently, especially in a refrigerator.

When opened, such products may last up to 6 months at the longest, with most lasting slightly less.

Homemade Ketchup

Homemade ketchup, of course, will not last quite as well as other ketchup products, such as those produced by Heinz.

This is because they will, naturally, contain very few preservatives.

However, even homemade ketchup can last quite a large amount of time, especially if they are stored adequately in enclosed containers, and placed within the refrigerator. 

Homemade ketchup can last up to a month before finally going bad!

Luckily, if you are making homemade ketchup, it is likely that you will be consuming all of it well before that 1-month period has passed. 

Why Does Ketchup Last So Long?

Does Ketchup Go Bad? How Long Will It Last? The Ultimate Guide

Now that you know that certain ketchup products can last up to a year, you may find yourself wondering just how they are able to survive for so long, even once they have been opened.

One of the main reasons that ketchup is able to last so long is that it is full of acidic ingredients and preservatives that help to stave off the development of bacteria. 

Bacteria is what causes foods to go bad, when foods are exposed to open air, bacteria are able to latch onto the food and begin replicating.

This is much easier for the bacteria when the food is warm, hence why it is not advised to keep food outside of a container and exposed to room temperature.

However, bacteria cannot survive or procreate well in acidic environments, and ketchup is full of ingredients with acidic qualities, such as tomatoes, sugar, and most importantly, vinegar.

These three ingredients make it harder for bacteria to latch on, and thus allow it to last much longer, even once opened.

This effect can be even more potent when the bottle is placed within the refrigerator.

How Do You Tell If Ketchup Has Gone Bad?

Luckily, it can be quite easy to tell if a bottle of ketchup has gone bad.

If you ever suspect that a bottle of ketchup has gone past its prime, you can easily check for some of the following warning signs to make sure. 


This is one of the more obvious warning signs that you should be looking out for frequently, especially when an opened bottle of ketchup has passed its prime.

Check for mold in small areas of the bottle, such as around the cap.

Generally, it can take quite some time for mold to begin to develop in a bottle of ketchup, thanks to all of the preservatives, and especially the acidic ingredients like vinegar. 

Odd Smells

You will be able to tell if a bottle of ketchup has completely spoiled if it emits a strange smell.

Make sure to occasionally smell the ketchup within any bottle to see if there are any strong or sour smells.

Especially look out for smells that are rather similar to the smell of yeast, as such smells can be a sign of something far worse.

Changes In The Bottle

Most ketchup is stored in a plastic bottle, designed to be squeezed for easy access to the sauce.

However, because of the flexible nature of the bottle, you may notice that it is swelling or becoming bloated at certain times.

This may be a sign that the ketchup inside has gone bad. 

When foods go bad, they often release gasses, and in the case of ketchup, which is stored in an airtight squeezy bottle, these gasses will collect within the bottle and cause it to become bloated.

If your ketchup bottle feels unnaturally swollen, then it could be a sign that you need to throw it out. 

This goes in tandem with the smell test, as the gasses that might be released from the bottle may have a pungent odor. 

Bad Taste

We all know what ketchup tastes like, thus one of the strongest signs of bad ketchup is a bad taste.

If you are enjoying some food alongside a helping of ketchup, but you notice that the ketchup tastes off, and not at all what you expect, stop eating it, and try checking for other warning signs, such as the foul odor, or the presence of mold, if you spot those, make sure to throw the ketchup out.

However, if you suspect that your ketchup is off because of smell or because of mold build-up before tasting the ketchup, make sure not to taste the ketchup.

How Should You Store Ketchup?

Does Ketchup Go Bad? How Long Will It Last? The Ultimate Guide

Want to make a bottle of ketchup last much longer?

Of course, you do! It will save you a lot of money in the long run, and saves you the horror of accidentally eating bad ketchup!

When you first purchase a bottle of ketchup, and before you open it for first use, you should make sure to store it in a place that is cool, dry, and away from any direct sources of heat.

You could even place it in the refrigerator if you so wish.

Doing all of this helps to keep plenty of external factors from affecting the contents of the bottle before you have even opened it.

Once you have first opened any bottle of ketchup, you should make sure to then store it in a refrigerator.

Keeping it in a refrigerator will keep the ingredients from spoiling, and slows down the rate of bacterial growth within the bottle.

This is well worth doing, as keeping opened ketchup at room temperature will allow it to only last around a month, while a refrigerator will help it to last over six months!

If you are storing homemade ketchup, make sure to keep it in a clean and tightly sealed container, placed in the refrigerator.

Can You Freeze Ketchup?

Yes. Ketchup will freeze well, however, it is not entirely necessary.

Ketchup can already last for upwards of 6 months even in an opened bottle.

However, if you do require ketchup over a much longer period, you can very easily freeze it.

Try not to refreeze ketchup after it has thawed, as this can lead to a very significant negative impact on the texture of the ketchup that will spoil your experience of it, as well as of the flavor.

Jess Smith