Food preservation

Why Does My Mayo Smell Like Vinegar?

Mayonnaise (mayo) is a kitchen staple in most American households. Some people use mayo regularly, but others only use it occasionally.

If you are the kind of person that only uses mayo occasionally, you may wonder why your mayo smells like vinegar when you open the jar after an extended time.

There are three possible reasons why the smell of your mayo is similar to that of vinegar; you stored it in the pantry or refrigerator for too long, you mixed new mayo with old mayo, or the mayo has gone bad.

This article will discuss in detail the reasons why mayo has a vinegar-like smell. Additionally, we will discuss everything you need to know about mayo, including how to store mayo, its shelf life, and signs that it has gone bad. 

Why does it smell like vinegar?


Most people believe that mayo should smell like vinegar. However, this isn’t the case. Mayo should not have any acidic or sour notes.

Instead, it should have the fragrance of eggs. If your mayo has an acidic smell, i.e. smells like vinegar, something isn’t right.

So what makes mayo smell like vinegar? The first possibility is that you stored the mayo in your refrigerator or pantry for too long.

If you open a bottle of mayo and store it for months or until it is way past its best-by date, there may be changes in its aroma and flavor.

Does mayo go bad? How long does it last? Click here to Read.


Another explanation is that you may have mixed old mayonnaise with new mayonnaise. Freshly made mayonnaise has a somewhat sweet taste. However, if you store it for an extended time, it starts becoming somewhat acidic in terms of flavor and aroma.

The third explanation is that the mayo has gone bad. Although manufacturers use lemon or vinegar as an ingredient when making mayo, its smell should not be putrid or strongly acidic.

If it is the mayo is no longer safe to consume and you should discard it. Spoiled mayo can cause food poisoning.

Also, Check Out: Why does my raw chicken smell like fish?

Can you use mayo that smells like vinegar?


Regardless of whether the smell is because mayo is spoiled or the acid in commercial mayo, it is no longer pleasant to eat.

Additionally, the mayo may cause food poisoning that manifests in various symptoms including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach aches.

Therefore, I do not recommend using mayo that smells

Do you have to refrigerate rice vinegar? Click to Read.

What to do so that mayo doesn’t smell like vinegar

To ensure that your mayo doesn’t smell like vinegar, you should store it properly.

Like any other food item, mayo may get a bad odor if you don’t store it properly.

How to store mayo

If you have not opened your jar of mayo, you should store it in a cool and dry place. Ensure that the mayo is far away from any sources of heat.

Heat makes mayo’s quality deteriorate at a faster rate. The pantry or kitchen cabinet would be ideal storage places.

Unless the package on your mayo jar specifically indicates that you should refrigerate it, there is no need to refrigerate an unopened jar of mayo.

Once you open the jar, seal it tightly and store it in the refrigerator. Sealing the jar tightly ensures that contaminants don’t get into the mayo. Do not store an opened jar of mayo at room temperature because it will go bad if you do.

If you make mayo at home, you should keep it refrigerated at all times and use it within four days.

Mayo shelf life


The main ingredients manufacturers use to make mayo are vinegar or lemon juice, egg yolks, and oil. Save for yolks, the ingredients last for a long time.

Therefore, mayo generally has a long shelf life. If you store it properly, it may last for a year or longer.

Every jar of mayo comes with a best before date or best by date. The best by date does not necessarily mean that the mayo goes bad past the date.

The date estimates how long the mayo will retain its quality. Manufacturers usually add preservatives to mayo. Therefore, it can last several months past the expiry date if you have not opened the jar.


There is no exact answer to how long mayo lasts. The duration varies depending on the quality of ingredients used in the manufacturing process. If the mayo has no preservatives, it will last for a shorter period than mayo that has preservatives.

If your mayo is only a month or two past its best-by date, the chances are that it is not spoiled, and is safe to consume.

If the oil has separated from the mayo, you may have to discard it because its quality will not be good. Alternatively, you can try to reconstitute it by stirring.

If you store a jar of opened mayo in the refrigerator, it can last for 4-6 months. However, it would be best if you checked for any signs of spoilage before using the mayo.

Signs that your mayo has gone bad


Here are a few signs that mayo is no longer safe to consume.

  • Mold growth on the neck of the jar.

Mold is an obvious sign that your mayo has gone bad. Check the neck of the jar for any signs of mold growth. If there are spores or mold, throw it out.

  • Color change

Mayo is naturally white in color. If its color changes to yellow or brown, the chances are that there is bacterial overgrowth.

Your mayo can also change color if you fail to close the lid properly or leave the mayo at room temperature for an extended time.

  • Weird smell

Mayo should have little to no aroma. If it smells acidic or sour, the chances are that the mayo has gone bad. Throw it out.

  • Change in texture

Your mayo should have a creamy consistency. If you notice that the mayo has separated, and there is a layer of liquid at the top, the mayo has gone bad.

Mayo can also separate due to the overgrowth of bacteria. Discard it as it is no longer safe to use.

  • Sour taste

If your mayo does not have any of the signs above, but you are still unsure on whether or not it has gone bad, taste it. If it tastes pungent or sour, it has gone bad, and you should discard it.



Mayo is an amazing addition to various dishes. It not only makes them more flavorful but also makes them more appealing to the eye.

If you have stored mayo in your pantry or refrigerator and are unsure of whether it has gone bad or not, check for any signs of spoilage.

If the mayo has an overly acidic smell, the chances are that it has gone bad. Do not consume mayo that has an acidic smell.

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