Storage Tips

Does Ketchup Belong in the Pantry or Fridge?

February  9, 2017

Here’s a quandary to get you thinking on a Thursday. There’s a new battle brewing on social media over whether ketchup, that pulverized mass of tomato solids, belongs in your fridge or your pantry. The debate's precise origins are murky and contested, but it reached a precipice on Tuesday when British grocer Asda began storing ketchup inside its frigid environments to appease those who insisted it belongs there.

There’s a key nuance here, of course: at what stage does your ketchup bottle belong where? Before opening, do you keep it in the pantry or the fridge? After opening, where does it go? So many questions! For what it's worth, ketchup manufacturer Heinz recommends, through some instructions printed on its bottles, that you put its product in the fridge after opening.

I’ve spent about thirty seconds considering this, and I can see benefits for both. Consider this: Ketchup is a condiment that’s notoriously bullish about escaping its container. With this in mind, there’s inherent appeal in keeping it at room temperature. Soupy and gloppy, it'll mosey right on out of that bottle keeping its contents captive. That doesn’t happen as easily with ketchup you keep shivering in the cold, does it? If you’d like to honor history, the advent of this condiment came well before fridges were even around, and our species has long subsisted on eating ketchup stored in cupboards.

If we're talking history, though, my habits have tended towards keeping my ketchup in the fridge. This is partly a byproduct of my profound anxiety: Due to ketchup’s acidity, the temperature won’t tinker with its safety for consumption, but I still get nervous that something will happen. But it’s also a matter of taste. Who wants their splodges to turn into soup? Why not keep your ketchup as chilled as a bottle of prosecco, or a nice jar of jam?

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The fridge is an environment that keeps ketchup as it was meant to be, its particles compact rather than runny. Once ketchup hits its intended target—a burger, a frank, a spot beside skinny fried potatoes—its temperature will probably rise anyway. There’s something wildly appealing, even sensual, about these divergent temperatures interacting in a single dish. Call me craven, but I believe that ketchup belongs in the fridge. It just tastes better.

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Top Comment:
“Hot fries plus cold ketchup is a childhood memory for me. I'm not opposed to room temp and sometimes forget and leave the bottle out overnight, though, and it's not a problem.”
— Candy

Where do you keep your ketchup? Please weigh in on this historic debate in the comments section.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Nataly H. February 22, 2017
I'm in the side of the fridge team ....
Whiteantlers February 11, 2017
Fridge. I echo Steven Williamson's sentiments.
Steven W. February 10, 2017
The people who make it PROBABLY know a thing or two. I do what they say. If cold ketchup is a worry, just squeeze some out a half hour before hand and use a spoon to put in your whatever.
Nikki February 9, 2017
Definitely in the pantry. If I want to dip my fries in something cold, I'll dip it in ice cream.
Candy February 9, 2017
Always kept it in the fridge. Hot fries plus cold ketchup is a childhood memory for me. I'm not opposed to room temp and sometimes forget and leave the bottle out overnight, though, and it's not a problem.
SDreamer February 9, 2017
Room temp just because I don't want my hot sizzling fries to be cold after dipping it into near freezing ketchup.
Negative N. February 9, 2017
I always keep mine in the pantry.
Austin B. February 9, 2017
Ketchup should never be anything other than room temperature.
Steven W. February 10, 2017
Um, not according to the people who MAKE it!