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Does Hot Sauce Go Bad? BEST Storage, Tips & More

Hot sauce is like a best friend to those spicy food lovers; it can make a simple taco, burger, or pizza ultimately satisfying! But have you ever thought, does hot sauce go bad? Find out here.

When you walk into your favorite diner, you’ll likely notice a hot sauce bottle alongside the mayo, ketchup, mustard, cream, and sugar.

In recent years, Americans’ appetite for hot sauce has grown dramatically.

A hot sauce is a condiment often produced from chili peppers and is excellent for adding a little heat to various cuisines.

Typically, it is added to tacos, egg burritos, burgers, and marinades.

It contains capsaicin, a component that gives chili peppers their specific heat; hence it is frequently used in small amounts.

You can add a little spice to your vegetables, soups, salad dressings, hot dogs, and omelets.

Basically, in whatever dish you like!

But, with that bottle of hot sauce you presumably bought a few months ago, have you ever thought, does hot sauce go bad?

How to tell if hot sauce has gone bad?

How long does hot sauce last?

Should I refrigerate opened hot sauce?

Can I use expired hot sauce?

How to store hot sauce?

If you enjoy the “rush” from your favorite hot sauce, this article will be precious to you as we explore the true nature of this excellent condiment.

Continue reading while you chow down on that pizza you just topped with a little spicy kick.

Table Of Contents

Does hot sauce go bad?

Even though there are wide varieties of hot sauces, they all have one thing in common: they all include a mixture of peppers.

Its foundation comprises salt, vinegar, and chili peppers, although each is prepared differently.

Due to their strong acidity, hot sauces may be kept fresh for a long time.

However, the presence of preservatives alone is insufficient to guarantee that the sauce will not spoil.

It is still made using perishable ingredients, which means that it has the potential to get contaminated with germs if left out for too long.

So to answer whether your hot sauce goes bad or not, yes, it will go bad eventually.

The best way to ensure that your bottle of hot sauce lasts as long as possible is to store it correctly. 

Remember that the way you keep the sauce depends on the brand you’re using, as some manufacturers recommend refrigeration to extend the shelf life of their hot sauce.

How to tell if hot sauce has gone bad

Your bottle of hot sauce purchased in the last year or two has probably  not gone bad, but it’s always good to use your eyes to look for mold, your nose to smell for mold or a rancid “paint” smell, or a fingertip to taste it—all signs it may have gone bad—before slathering it over everything. Unless it’s a hot sauce that you fermented on purpose, if it smells sour or fermented, don’t eat it.

You’re probably here because that bottle of hot sauce in your refrigerator or pantry is one you haven’t used in a while and now you’re wondering if it’s still good to put on food.

It’s always best to make sure you check if the best-by date has already flown by and then start looking, sniffing, and then tasting.

Whether you enjoy the spicy kick that hot sauce provides or seldom use it as an ingredient, it is always vital to periodically check if it is still edible.

Because it also diminishes its quality, let’s review the key indicators of when the hot sauce has gone bad.

Check the container

If you have a bottle that hasn’t been opened, constantly look for the best-by date and any damage or leakage indications.

If any of the above mentioned indicators are present, throw it away and do not use it.

On the other hand, the opened bottle in your cupboard or fridge requires a careful assessment.

Changes in appearance

You might notice the sauce turning brown or darker red, but that often happens with pepper-based sauces.

However, you should discard it immediately if there are any changes in a color other than browning or darkening—like little black dots, for instance. 

Normal black dots could be peppers included in the sauce, but if you notice that they aren’t there before, they might be mold. 

So if you observe mold growth on the surface, we recommend throwing it out immediately as this can eventually lead to spoilage.

Changes in smell

Another way to spot whether your hot sauce turns rancid or not is by giving it a sniff test. 

Your favorite hot sauce is probably already past its prime if you notice some changes in its smell. 

We suggest throwing the sauce away if it smells foul, yeasty, or fermented.

If you’re in doubt, give it a sniff, then simply trust your instincts.

Changes in taste

Typically, hot sauce with a similar characteristic flavor or, say, the same taste means it’s still safe to consume. 

However, avoid those hot sauces that offer an acidic, sour, yeasty, moldy, fermented or “something’s not right, it doesn’t taste like what I’m used to” flavor, as these are obvious signs that it’s best to not eat them.

How long does hot sauce last?

Did you know that a bottle of hot sauce may survive for years?

Two to three years is a safe bet if you can’t find a best-by date on the bottle.

However, that estimate is based on how the manufacturer prepared the product.

The deciding factors are the ingredients and the preparation technique.

For bottles with a “best-by” date, you can use them and anticipate that they will still be edible six months to a year after the date.

Remember, a “best-by” date is not an expiration date; it simply indicates when a product will have its best flavor or quality or, in short—the best date by which the manufacturer recommends consumption.

One good example of a “best-by” date is 13 AUG 2023, which means the product would have its best quality before August 13th, 2023.

However, after that, you should anticipate subtle alterations to the flavor because the product has likely passed its optimal quality.

And if you don’t want to use it, the best thing to do is to get a new bottle.

In addition, an opened bottle of hot sauce typically maintains its freshness for 6 months when kept in a pantry and longer when kept in the refrigerator.

On the other hand, a hot sauce bottle that has not been opened can continue to be used up to a year after its best-by date.

Other hot sauces, especially those made without any preservatives—Truff, for instance—recommends that their products must be refrigerated to extend their shelf life. 

Meanwhile, Tapatio hot sauces don’t need refrigeration, even after opening, but ensure to consume them within 2 years of the purchase date for optimum flavor. 

Sure, it’s possible to consume your hot sauces past their “best by” date. 

However, you might consider checking the instructions on the bottle first, as some hot sauce creators, like Louisiana, advise discarding any product that has passed its “best by” date

The company stated that they couldn’t guarantee the product’s taste or performance once the date passed.

Therefore, the shelf life of spicy sauce is determined by its storage conditions and how the manufacturer prepared the product.

Should I refrigerate opened hot sauce?

There are only two directions a hot sauce bottle can go once opened—in the kitchen pantry or the refrigerator.

If you use hot sauce often, keep it on the table or in the cupboard, readily at hand so that you can eat it sooner rather than later.

However, storing the hot sauce in the fridge is recommended if you are the kind of person who only uses it occasionally as an ingredient. 

Or if the package label says so. 

It is recommended to store it in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness.

Though some hot sauces require refrigeration, like Truff; as per Louisiana, they mentioned that refrigerating their products is simply a personal preference

Furthermore, leaving the sauce at room temperature may promote bacteria and mold growth, as these organisms thrive in moist and warm environments.

Can I use expired hot sauce?

Usually, yes, depending how long past the label’s best-before date you are. Before using, make sure you don’t see mold around the lid or on the sauce itself, then give the hot sauce container a few shakes (lid closed, of course) to blend any ingredients that may have separated as it sat.

Given that the expiration date has passed, you’re wondering if your bottle of hot sauce is still safe to use. 

You should start by searching for signs of deterioration.

If you don’t notice anything unusual, feel free to taste and smell it. 

Unless it’s been sitting in your basement for years, it should be ok. It’s more likely to dry out than go bad at that point.

However, consuming an expired hot sauce exposes you to potentially hazardous mold or yeast, which might be an unpleasant eating experience at best, and cause stomach upset or a trip to the hospital at worst.

Because taking precautions is always the safest course of action when it comes to food, the best thing to do is get a brand-new bottle.

But for some brands with no definite expiration date on the label, consuming it within 2 years from the purchase date is recommended to enjoy its optimum quality

And if you are making your own homemade hot sauce, keep it covered tightly up to a month and chilled the whole time.

Why you should not freeze hot sauce

Although it is technically feasible to freeze hot sauce, it is not necessary, and it can thaw as a soupy, thinner product than when it went in.

The approach is exclusively relevant to homemade hot sauce.

However, bottles of hot sauce purchased from a store cannot be frozen because the bottle could shatter.

Cleaning up shattered glass or plastic from your freezer isn’t something you want to deal with.

Additionally, when you defrost frozen hot sauce, the quality suffers.

It may result in a more watery liquid product after thawing.

And there’s a chance that, in the end, you’ll end up dumping it anyway, so just avoid the freezer and keep it in the fridge.

How to store hot sauce

Like any other condiment, any hot sauce needs proper storage to maintain its quality. Here are some storage standards you can adhere to:

Ensure your hot sauce bottle is kept in a cool, dry place away from heat sources and sunlight.

The kitchen cupboard or pantry is the ideal place to keep the unopened bottle of hot sauce.

And once the bottle is open, keep it in the refrigerator.

Before and after each use, make sure the cap is tightly closed to keep air out.

Additionally, always clean the bottle’s top after use because that’s where the hot sauce crust layer develops and where mold and bacteria could flourish.

Also, DO NOT dip food in the hot sauce bottle; instead, scoop a sufficient quantity into a bowl for dipping, or pour it directly on food.

On the other hand, store your homemade sauce in the refrigerator in a closed container with a tight-fitting lid.

Tools needed:

  • Homemade sauce
  • Airtight container
  • Refrigerator

Instructions for storing homemade sauce in the refrigerator:

  1. Place your homemade sauce in an airtight container. 
  2. Put it in the fridge and keep it for weeks or a month.

Final tips on keeping hot sauce fresh

Here are a few more tips for keeping your bottle of hot sauce fresh and edible for a longer time.

First and foremost, store it in the fridge to maintain its appearance, especially when opened.

Because if you don’t, the sauce will darken due to oxidation.

You wouldn’t want your bright red hot sauce to turn dark maroon.

However, the idea that chilling hot sauce might change its flavor has no basis.

Alongside considering storage conditions, you should also observe cap hygiene

Because hot sauce bottles are frequently shaken, crusty gunk of hot sauce may stick to the caps, so clean them often.

And since it is more exposed to air, that crusty gunk is more prone to bacterial and mold growth.

The solution is to rinse the cap with warm water and dry well.

Avoid washing it with soap since you don’t want your spicy sauce to smell like detergent.

Furthermore, avoid licking the excess drip from the bottle, as this transfers mouth germs to the bottle, allowing molds and germs to grow. 

Plus that stuff gets passed from person to person.

The bottom line

Wanting something spicy is the same as liking something sweet and salty.

Though some of us dislike hot sauce, others consider it the most excellent condiment ever invented.

And just like other condiments, they must be carefully stored to prevent spoilage before expiration.

A hot sauce’s spicy kick and layered flavor has lots of fans around the world.  

What’s your favorite hot sauce?

How To Store Homemade Hot Sauce

How To Store Homemade Hot Sauce

Learn how to store your homemade hot sauce in your refrigerator so that you can enjoy the condiment for a few weeks or even a month!

Ingredients

  • Homemade sauce
  • Airtight container
  • Refrigerator

Instructions

  1. Place your homemade sauce in an airtight container. 
  2. Keep it cold in the refrigerator and use it for up to a month. 
  3. Discard at any signs of mold or fermentation.

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