Some common foods don't need to be stored in the refrigerator—and some may even taste best at room temperature.
ketchup bottle on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Henrik Weis

Open your fridge and you'll probably find most, if not all, of these items chilling away inside. But for some of these foods, it's not the best storage solution—and for others, you're not doing them any flavor favors by using and eating them straight from the refrigerator. Read on to find out which ingredients are much better stored at room temperature, and which taste best when they have time to warm up a bit.

First, a reminder: Always note the expiration date and follow the storage instructions on packaging. And remember the appropriate way to store many foods changes after they are opened. When in doubt, keep in mind that your fridge has a more stable temperature than your pantry, which may fluctuate seasonally or even day to day.


What would a diner booth be without a bottle of ketchup at the table, ready for dipping fries and adorning burgers? The acidity of the vinegar and tomatoes in ketchup keeps it shelf-stable for up to a month. If you love ketchup enough to use it up quickly, you can leave it on the counter. For long-term storage, keep ketchup in the fridge and bring it out before you're ready to eat your burger.

Fresh mozzarella cheese

If you're lucky enough to have freshly made mozzarella cheese on hand, enjoy it at room temperature and don't let it languish in the refrigerator. The cold, dry air of the fridge can toughen the texture of delicate mozzarella and dull its flavor, so eat it fresh.


Henhouses don't have refrigerators. It's fine to keep farm-fresh eggs at room temperature as long as they're used within a week or two. Supermarket eggs should be refrigerated. It's easy to bring them to room temperature for baking. Leave them on the counter for a few hours or submerge the eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for 10 minutes.

One exception: It's easier to separate cold egg whites and yolks because a warm egg yolk is much more susceptible to breaking. If a baking recipe calls for room-temperature whites or yolks, separate them first and then let them warm up on the counter.


Hot toast, cold butter—everyone knows it's a recipe for disaster. If you love buttered toast as part of your breakfast routine, the USDA says it's fine to leave butter out overnight so it will be soft enough to spread the following morning. Or invest in a butter crock, a special type of butter dish that uses a water-filled base to create an airtight seal.


Cherry, grape, heirloom, Roma ... No matter the variety of your tomatoes, store them at room temperature for the best taste and texture. Tomatoes stored in cold temperatures, like that of a refrigerator, stop ripening and the flesh becomes grainy and unappealing.

Pico de gallo

If you're making this fresh tomato-and-onion salsa, do it at the last minute for ultimate freshness. Chilling the mixture can make it watery and not as flavorful.

Stone fruits

If your peaches and nectarines are still hard as a rock when you bring them home from the market, give them a few days on the counter and they'll ripen beautifully. Putting them straight in the fridge will leave you with a mushier, less flavorful fruit.


Though you might not notice it when schmearing a bit on a sandwich, mayonnaise isn't as rich and creamy straight from the fridge as it is at room temperature. Storing mayo in the refrigerator helps extend its shelf life and wards off potential contamination from utensils, but it will have a deeper, tangier flavor if it has time to warm a bit. If you prefer cold mayo, that's fine too!


Although storing chocolate treats in the fridge can help prevent melting in warm weather, you should always bring your chocolates and candies out of the refrigerator and back up to room temperature before serving. Cold dulls the flavors and creates a brittle "snap" to chocolate coatings.


Like commercially blended peanut butter, Nutella can stay in the pantry or the cupboard all the time. When refrigerated, the oils can separate and the texture can become chalky.

Baked egg dishes

Leftover frittatas, egg cups and other baked egg dishes have a delicate texture that can get rubbery when reheated too quickly in a microwave. Let them come to room temperature (they're really delicious this way) or gently reheat in a toaster oven.

Soft-rind cheeses

Brie, Camembert and all creamy cheeses with soft, edible rinds taste their best when they're warm. Though they might be in the refrigerated case in the cheese section, let these gooey rounds come to room temperature before serving them on your snacking board.

Steak and barbecue sauces

Your steak is sizzling and your brisket is steaming hot—don't dull the heat by slathering it with ice-cold sauce. Take your bottles of sauce out of the fridge before the meal is ready, so all the flavors can meld together.