Foods That Must Be Refrigerated

Keep these foods refrigerated for optimal freshness and — most importantly — food safety.

Related To:

What (and When) to Chill

We are very lucky to have the means to preserve our food. The refrigerator was meant as a short-term way to keep food from spoiling. However, which foods must be refrigerated can get confusing. Here are some foods that must be stored at cooler temperatures.

Sliced Tomatoes

Although fresh tomatoes will taste mealy if stored in the fridge, once sliced they must be refrigerated.


A warm pie out of the oven can remain at room temperature for up to 2 hours. After that, bacteria can grow on the cooked fruit, veggie or nut filling in apple, blueberry, pumpkin or pecan pie, so be sure to refrigerate.

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob, with or without the husks, should be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Data reveals that after only 6 hours at room temperature the sugar content of corn decreases by 40 percent. It's the natural sugar in corn that gives it a sweet, delicious flavor.

Maple Syrup

Although you may think maple syrup is a condiment that can last forever, it actually has a relatively short shelf life of about 1 year. If your maple syrup has spent some time in the pantry, you may want to move it to the fridge, and you should definitely store in the fridge once it’s been opened. If you find any mold growth after opening or while refrigerated, be sure to discard the syrup immediately.


Some countries don't refrigerate eggs, but in the U.S. the FDA recommends refrigerating in order to reduce the risk of salmonella. You're better off safe than sorry.


Soft cheeses like Brie and mozzarella must be refrigerated, while hard cheeses don't necessarily need to be. Follow the package instructions or ask your cheesemonger's advice to make sure you’re storing your cheese properly.


That open jar of jam or jelly must be refrigerated in order to help prevent the growth of mold and yeast.


Although you may think that the high acid content of ketchup is enough to keep bacteria away, that isn't necessarily the case. Plus, refrigeration helps maintain the quality, including flavor and freshness.

Frosted Cupcakes

Frostings are made with all types of dairy goods, which must be refrigerated or they’ll become a haven for bacterial growth.

Sliced Melon

Melons tend to have lots of dirt on them, which harbors bacteria. Once a melon is sliced, the moisture and carbs make it a perfect place for these microscopic guys to grow. Any fruit, like melon, that is sliced must be refrigerated to help keep it safe to eat.


Read the package and you'll find that many manufacturers recommend refrigerating tortillas after opening. This is because some varieties tend to get moldy. The cold temperatures of the refrigerator help prevent mold growth.

Natural Peanut Butter

Some folks store natural peanut butter in the pantry to help increase its spreadability. Natural peanut butter, however, is made with only peanuts and a touch of salt. In warm temperatures, the oil can go rancid rather quickly. So if you don't tend to finish your natural peanut butter within a month, your best bet is to refrigerate it to prevent the oils from spoiling.


Do you keep the stick of butter on the kitchen counter? Butter is made from milk, which creates a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Store it in the back of the fridge — and not in the butter compartment in the door, as that's one of the warmer spots in the icebox.


Do you buy nuts in bulk? The oil found in nuts spoils rather quickly. If you're not eating all those nuts within a month, keep them cool in the fridge or even the freezer in an airtight container.