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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Annabelle is an experienced food writer and editor. She focuses on common sense, easy to replicate recipes formulated
to help keep things fresh and exciting while fitting into her day to day life as a wife and mother.
Whether you enjoy small dabs of hot sauce in your meals or slathering it on everything, you know how a little heat can spice up your meal. Hot sauce can add varying levels of flavor, pizazz, and heat to any food, which is why they are a go-to among cooks and outdoor grilling enthusiasts.
These spicy sauces are a popular condiment, giving you plenty of brands and flavors to choose from to accommodate your taste buds. From large corporate brands to smaller-batch company selections, you’ll never run out of delicious options. But once you get them home, you may wonder whether your hot sauces will ever go bad.
1. Can My Favorite Hot Sauce Go Bad?
The short answer to the question, does hot sauce go bad, is yes. Eventually, all hot sauces go bad. How soon, however, depends on several factors, including ingredients and storage.
While many sauces contain the reliable preservative, vinegar, its inclusion can only do so much. Perishable ingredients, such as onions and tomatoes in the sauce, may go bad sooner, ruining the hot sauce.
2. What Are Those Dates on the Packaging?
Hot sauce packaging, whether plastic or glass, is usually stamped with one or two dates. These have different meanings and determine whether you keep it a little longer or discard the sauce right away without a sniff or taste.
Reading the food label where it says the “Sell by” or “Use by” dates alert you to the freshness but do not mean the sauce will spoil by that time. Instead, the overall taste may begin to dull. As long as you and family members are satisfied with the remaining flavor, add it to food and enjoy.
An expiration date, however, is the recommended last day the hot sauce is safe to consume. Now is the time to toss it out.
3. Which Ingredients Will Last Longest?
How quickly a hot sauce spoils often depends on the ingredients. A variety of these ingredients can be in your favorite sauce, or it may only be two or three.
Vinegar and peppers are the main ingredients in most hot sauces. These two serve as preserving agents. With vinegar’s high acid and the peppers’ capsaicin, a natural sterilizer, bacteria are kept at bay for as long as possible.
Any additional ingredients are what you need to monitor. The more ingredients, the higher the likelihood of spoiling in less time. The addition of vegetables, like onions and tomatoes, or sweet fruits, such as pineapple and peaches, can invite bacterial growth or mold that overwhelms the preserving agents, making them obsolete.
4. What are the Signs of Hot Sauce Gone Bad?
When it’s time to clean out your fridge, you may find a favorite jar of hot sauce hidden behind leftover spaghetti and a juice carton. This forgotten sauce may light up your taste buds and even send you outdoors to light up that grill. Before pouring it on your meal, look for signs it’s gone bad.
When in doubt, throw it out!
5. How Long Will Unopened Hot Sauce Last?
When asking does hot sauce go bad, a lot depends on whether it has already been opened. The highest quality hot sauce can sit on your pantry shelf for up to five years. This depends, however, on storage conditions. If kept in a cool, dry spot, the sauce will last the longest.
6. How Long Will Open Hot Sauce Last?
When it comes to an open bottle of hot sauce, its longevity will depend on how you store it. In most instances, it will last up to three years.
7. What Can I Do To Keep Hot Sauce Fresh Longer?
If you know that your favorite jar of hot sauce will sit for a while or prefer to keep the best on hand for family cookouts, here are a few things you can do to help it stay fresh.