How Long Does Mustard Last Before It Goes Bad?

mustard last before bad lg

Mustard is a popular condiment that’s used all over the world. But does it spoil? Should you refrigerate it after opening? How long does mustard last before it goes bad?

If left unopened in the pantry, mustard will last indefinitely and can be consumed past its best-before date. Once opened and kept in the refrigerator, it is best consumed within 1 year. However, it will generally not spoil, it will simply decrease in flavor.

Do you have an unopened jar of mustard you’ve left for a long time in the pantry?

Here, you’ll find out how to tell if mustard has gone bad and if it’s OK to eat expired mustard. But we’ll also find out if you should refrigerate every variety of mustard.

Read on for more.

How can you tell if mustard has gone bad?

The best way to tell if mustard has gone bad is to look at it and smell it. Mustard that has spoiled will give off a sour smell or have an off odor. Additionally, the flavor or appearance may be off, and in some cases, mold may be visible.

Lastly, if the liquid has separated from other ingredients it can be a sign of spoiling.

Wondering how to detect bad mustard or whether you should throw old mustard away? Easy-peasy. The good news is that you can simply check the following to tell if mustard has gone bad: color, texture, taste, aroma, and mold. Let’s go over each one.

  • Color – It’s natural that mustard would change color over time, but it’s probably gone bad if it’s turned a darker greenish-brown, very pale, or a sickly yellow.
  • Texture – A little drying around the surface or near the lid is okay. Mustard often dries out or separates over time, but if it is chunky such that it doesn’t mix well, or if it is runny, or if you find a dry lump at the bottom of an opened or unopened jar, it’s time to toss it out.
  • Taste – Does it have a burning, bitter, or overly acidic taste? Time to get a new one.
  • Aroma – The aroma of mustard is one of the potent signs to check. If mustard smells rotten or sour, that’s a sign that bacteria are probably growing in it. An unpleasant odor is always a sign that it’s no longer edible. Time to discard it.
  • Mold – If mold is growing on the surface or even just on the lid, it’s gone bad. Bin it.

After exploring the signs of spoilage, it helps to know the shelf life of the different types of mustard. That way, you can plan to get fresh bottles before the current ones expire.

We’ll get into this later in the article when we find out how long mustard lasts after it’s been opened. It stands to reason that unopened mustard will naturally last longer.

Is it okay to eat expired mustard?

It depends. If the mustard has been properly stored, and it does not exhibit any signs of spoilage, it is okay to eat it because mustard is usually safe to consume even after its best-by date.

Curious about the safety of leftover mustard? Mustard is a blend of spices and acid-based liquid such as vinegar and lemon juice.

This vinegar base is one of the reasons for its longer shelf life. So, it’s not easy for mustard to quickly go bad if it has been properly stored. But it does go bad, as we saw in an earlier section.

But just because it has “expired” does not mean that it can no longer be consumed.

Its best-by date is an estimate provided by the manufacturer regarding when its quality (flavor and freshness) would still be good. You can consume mustard in so many ways that you can even put it in hot sauce.

Now, the expiry date does not relate to the safety of the product. Strictly speaking, an expiry date indicates an estimated date by which a product is no longer safe to be consumed. And that’s not the case here.

Should mustard be refrigerated?

As a general rule, always refrigerate mustard after opening to preserve the freshness and flavor. While not refrigerating most types of mustard will not cause them to spoil, it will lessen the flavor over time.

So, some types of mustard should be refrigerated to maintain their flavor.

However, you don’t have to refrigerate others. If the mustard does not have fruits or vegetables added, it has enough acid which serves as a preservative.

So, it can be stored in a cool and dry place for a month or two at room temperature.

But what’s not to like about ensuring that your mustard’s distinct flavors last for a long time? So, it’s better to refrigerate it. Gulden’s Mustard says to “Refrigerate after opening.”

And French’s Mustard advises that “Dijon and Horseradish mustards will lose their distinct flavors if not refrigerated, so we encourage refrigerating both.” But it says it’s okay to serve regular yellow mustard at room temperature if that’s what you like.

(By the way, French’s and Gulden’s were a tie at a taste test where 39 different types of mustard were tested).

Yellow mustard is mild mustard. Some folks believe that not refrigerating it makes it less tangy than it already is.

If you opt not to refrigerate, the best place to store mustard is away from heat and direct sunlight. But for the best quality, it’s ideal to refrigerate, after all, temperature changes affect mustard’s unique flavor.

In place of yellow mustard, you can use spicy brown mustards. It’s more textured and spicier.

How long does mustard last in the fridge after opening?

On average, after it’s been opened, mustard will last 12 to 18 months in the refrigerator. In general, the shelf life of mustard is a function of its printed expiration date, storage method, the presence of added ingredients such as horseradish, and whether it is packaged in plastic or glass.

How long mustard lasts depends on the kind of mustard.

Let’s check out the different types of mustard and how long they would last. We’ll consider open mustard and an unopened bottle of mustard.

  • Dry Mustard – It can last an indefinite time in the fridge and one to two years at room temperature.
  • Homemade Mustard – It can last a week to a year in the fridge, depending on the packaging and ingredients used. Lasts a day at room temperature! Its shelf life is essentially a function of the ingredients in it. Recipes made with a higher proportion of vinegar last a longer period of time.
  • Honey Mustard – One to two years in the fridge and two to three years if it’s unopened and left in the pantry.
  • Chinese Mustard – It can last a year in the fridge and one to two years if left unopened in the pantry.
  • Dijon Mustard – It can last a year in the fridge after it’s been opened, and because of its high vinegar base, two to three years at room temperature in the pantry.
  • American Mustard – It can last a year in the fridge after it’s been opened and one to two years after the best-by date if left unopened at room temperature in the pantry.

What’s the effect of packaging on the shelf life?

  • Glass Jar – Mustard stored in a glass jar can last for 2 years.
  • Plastic bottles – Mustard stored in plastic squeeze bottles can last for 18 months
  • Sachets – Mustard stored in sachets can last for about 6 months

It’s best to keep mustard in an airtight container where it’s not exposed to direct sunlight, such as in a kitchen cabinet.

And I suppose that the last thing you’ll like is bacterial growth, so use clean utensils such as a clean spoon when scooping from a mustard jar.

Curious about the difference between dry mustard and regular mustard? Unlike regular mustard, which you can spread, dry mustard is powdered mustard seeds, and it is purely mustard. There are no other ingredients added.

You’ll often find it next to other spices at the grocery stores. You can also buy the seeds. There are black mustard seeds. You can also find white and brown.

Does Dijon mustard go bad if not refrigerated?

No, Dijon mustard does not go bad if it is not refrigerated. It is not made with ingredients that go bad, and vinegar is employed in it to preserve it. But refrigerating it helps preserve its flavor. 

Once opened, it’s a good idea to store Dijon mustard in the fridge. If you do, it can last for a year past the best-before date (printed date.

But, if you prefer not to, you can keep it in a dry and cool place at room temperature in the pantry, where it can last two to three years past the best-before date. The flavor won’t be great, but it’s still safe to eat.


In this article, we learned some riveting facts about one of the common condiments: the highly versatile mustard. We learned how to keep it in good shape over time. We found out the conditions under which it’s okay to eat expired mustard.

Does it go bad?

Not really. But after about a year or two, it will lose some of the pungent flavor. But it could spoil if it has not been stored properly. We learned that the best option is to refrigerate it to retain the flavor of this ancient spicy condiment.

In all, it’s a wonderful condiment with health benefits, but you don’t want to consume too much mustard.

Photo which requires attribution:

Michigan Mustard by Jellaluna is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades. I worked in 9 stores in 4 states, not counting the hundred-plus stores I've assisted in other ways. I was a Global All-Star, a Gold Pen Winner, and won Top-10 Store (company-wide) 3 times in addition to Best New Store (company-wide).

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