Case Closed: Here’s Where You Should Store Your Ketchup

Does ketchup have to be refrigerated? We're answering one of the most hotly contested questions of our times.

Over 300 million Americans used ketchup last year according to a Simmons National Consumer Survey, but apparently, most of us have no idea how to properly store this tangy, sweet condiment, Does ketchup need to be refrigerated after opening or can it just hang out on your counter? It turns out that mostly depends on where in the product’s lifecycle you are.

The-Debate-Is-Over--Here's-Where-You-Should-Store-the-KetchupTatiana Ayazo/

Even though it’s one of the 16 condiments that are secret health bombs, you can still indulge in healthier ketchups like this one. When you do, remember the words of Nicole Kulwicki, director of brand building for Heinz Ketchup, who says the product doesn’t need refrigeration until after you open it. “Because of its natural acidity, Heinz Ketchup is shelf-stable. However, its stability after opening can be affected by storage conditions. We recommend that this product be refrigerated after opening to maintain the best product quality.”

If you’re wondering why restaurants and diners seem to keep open bottles of ketchup on their tables all day and night long, it’s basically just a facade—they’re dumping the bottle contents, whether they’re homemade ketchup or popular brands, into the trash each night. “We portion each order of ketchup that will be served that day,” explains chef Luke Venner of Elm Restaurant in New Canaan, Connecticut. “We always return the larger container immediately back to a refrigerator. Any unused portions are discarded at the end of the shift.”

Verdict: You need to store open ketchup containers in the fridge, no ifs, ands, or burgers about it. Next, end the debate about where you’re supposed to store your butter.

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.