Hot Sauce’s Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad or Expire? How To Tell

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If you are one of those people who request extra hot sauce packs every time you order a pizza or fried chicken and hoard them, you might already have an overwhelming drawer full of them in your kitchen. Or maybe you have a whole cabinet of different types of hot sauces you collected over the years.

And now, you just realized that you have kept them there for a while and wonder, “Does hot sauce go bad?”

Short Answer: Hot sauce can go bad at some point, just like any other food. Depending on the type of hot sauce you have or the formulation and preparation methods used, it can last for up to several years as long as you have to keep them in their ideal storage condition.

If you have a concern about your hot sauce, this post can help you!

You will learn the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the shelf life of hot sauce?
  • Can it go bad?
  • How long does it last?
  • How to tell if the hot sauce has gone bad?
  • How to store hot sauce properly?

What Is Hot Sauce?

Hot sauce is one of the world’s most versatile spicy condiments or seasonings that is basically made with chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. This is your go-to sauce if you want to give your food a stronger kick of spiciness.

The process of hot sauce-making involves fermentation, which explains its funky flavors. And, it is the chemical called capsaicin that is responsible for the distinct hot and spicy taste of your condiment. (*)

Hot sauce typically comes in different varieties around the world. Let us mention a few of the most popular hot sauces:

  1. Tabasco or Frank’s RedHot
  2. Sriracha
  3. Nam Phrik
  4. Sambal
  5. Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce
  6. Erős Pista
  7. Peri-Peri
  8. Cajun Pepper Sauce
  9. Mexican Salsa/Hot Sauces
  10. Harissa
  11. Zhug / S’chug
  12. Shatta
  13. Cholula
  14. Ketchup

Many of us love hot and spicy foods, while many people cannot tolerate them. Except for most bird species, they can’t feel that spiciness!

Hot sauce is often used for egg dishes, chilis, Buffalo chicken wings, marinades, stir-fry dishes, and many to mention!

What Is the Shelf Life Of Hot Sauce?

Be aware that the shelf life of your hot sauce will depend on what kind you have. Generally, many hot sauces have a long shelf life since they mainly contain vinegar and chili peppers hot peppers.

You’ll find the date printed on the package or on the bottle of your hot sauce, the so-called “best-by date.” That will serve as an estimate on how long it can keep its prime quality. Expiration dates always have nothing to do with food safety. You’ll need to test your hot sauce if you are suspicious about spoilage.

Store-bought hot sauce

In most cases, an opened bottle of vinegar-based hot sauce can stay in your food storage for two years in the refrigerator. Thanks to the capsaicin in chili peppers, it helps keep bacteria from ruining your hot sauce, making it a shelf-stable condiment.

There are hot sauce bottles that can last three years unopened past the printed date and stay for at least 6 months at room temperature once opened. You can extend the shelf life up to one year if you keep it in the refrigerator.

If it contains other ingredients such as tomatoes or other fruits and vegetables, the shelf life of your hot sauce is shorter.

Homemade Hot Sauce

The shelf life of your homemade hot sauce will also depend on the potency of the acid and chilis.

If you have made some fresh hot sauce from scratch at the comfort of your home, the shelf life can last from 1 to 3 weeks in the fridge.

For homemade fermented hot sauce, it can stay in the fridge for 2 to 3 months.

How To Tell If Hot Sauce Has Gone Bad?

As long as you keep your hot sauce in its ideal storage condition, the less likely you’ll notice some signs of spoilage.

If you have doubts if your hot sauce is already spoiled or not, the best thing you should do is assess it using your senses.

Here’s how to tell if your hot sauce has gone bad:

1. Discoloration

If you notice if the color of your hot sauce has turned browned or darkened, that’s completely natural because of air and light exposure. Just so you know, the hot sauce actually darkens as they age. Furthermore, you might notice that the consistency may even separate at some point.

Hot sauce that has darkened and separated does not immediately mean that it is already spoiled. That’s only an indication that the quality has started to depreciate.

But if you’re honestly bothered by how it looks, there’s no harm if you choose to throw it away.

2. Mold growth

Mold colonies can grow on the surface of your hot sauce. Then, that’s the end of it. Dispose of that spoiled hot sauce bottle or package and never think about giving it a chance to use it. Molds can cause severe health problems because they release toxins.

3. Off odor

Any unpleasant sour or moldy smell signifies that your hot sauce is already spoiled. You should not consume it anymore for your safety, and it is best to throw it away immediately.

4. Off taste

If you think your hot sauce looks and smells fine, give it a taste to ensure it is still consumable. If it tastes terrible, discard it for your safety.

If the packaging is not damaged for hot sauce packets and the product does not smell or taste bad, you can still use it.

How To Store Hot Sauce Properly?

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Unopened bottles of hot sauce must be kept in a cool and dark place. You have to make sure that it should be away from any sources of heat and sunlight. The kitchen cabinet or the food pantry is the ideal storage place for an unopened bottle of soy sauce.
  2. Once opened, make sure to close the bottle tightly before putting it back in the kitchen cabinet or pantry. Or, you can just put it in the refrigerator instead. Keep your hot sauce chilled for longer shelf life.
  3. If you notice that a dried crust has formed in the mouth and cap of the bottle, clean it immediately, or else bacteria will settle there and breed further.
  4. Don’t dip your food directly into the bottle or container of your hot sauce. Doing that will quickly spoil your chili goodness before it reaches the expiration date.

For homemade hot sauces, they require refrigeration.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are hot sauces healthy?

Hot sauce is a low-calorie and carbs, fat, and protein-free condiment. It contains capsaicin, which is beneficial for pain relief, weight loss, and inflammation reduction.

2. Can I freeze hot sauce?

You can, if you wish. However, freezing hot sauce is not necessary at all. For whatever reason, you have to freeze it, keep them in Ziploc freezer bags, and make sure to remove the air pockets after filling them up. Make sure to seal it well before tossing it in the freezer.

3. Can hot sauce cause ulcers?

Not at all. Spicy food such as hot sauce does not directly cause ulcers. However, they may aggravate ulcer symptoms in some individuals. Note that majority of ulcer cases are caused by the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori.

Conclusion

The shelf life of your hot sauce depends on the type and ingredients it contains.

As long as you store your hot sauce properly, it can last in the refrigerator for at least one year after opening it.

For homemade hot sauces, you can keep them for a few weeks, and they should always be refrigerated and kept in a container with a tight seal.

Note that the color of your hot sauce naturally darkens over time. Make sure to check for signs of molds, changes of smell and taste, and the overall quality before you use it.

As the saying goes, “When in doubt, throw it out.” If you’re unsure if your hot sauce that has been sitting in the storage smells, looks, or tastes off, don’t take chances; discard it immediately. It’s better safe than sorry.

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