Does Salsa Go Bad or Expire? How Long Can It Last?

We’ve got to love salsa night with lots of chips or to pour it all over our nachos! It’s got this zesty, tangy flavor that goes amazing with cheese, making it a must-have for many kitchens.

So when your next nacho night comes along, you might be wondering if you can still use the jar of salsa lying around in the kitchen. Does salsa go bad?

YES, it does!

We tackle the details of the salsa and its shelf lifestorage tips here, so read on.


How Long Does Salsa Last?

You probably have a jar of salsa at home, waiting to be devoured. You have great taste, then!

We LOVE salsa because of how well it goes on so many types of food. Whether you want it on nachos, seasoning to soups and stews, or even as a marinade, you can use (and eat) salsa in various ways.

We can purchase salsa store-bought, coming in an array of delicious flavors. Or, you can make homemade salsa with easy recipes to follow.

But the real question is: Does salsa go bad?

Yes, it does. As we all know, salsa consists of fresh ingredients like tomatoes. Because of this, it has a much shorter shelf life compared to other dips and sauces.

Homemade salsas last even shorter than store-bought salsa, as the former doesn’t contain any preservatives. As for store-bought refrigerated salsa, you can find the best by date, though it can last a bit longer than what it says on the label!


The Shelf Life of Salsa

Yes, salsa does go bad, but it doesn’t get spoiled as quickly as you’d expect. When you store it properly, salsa can last longer than its best by date.

  • Unopened store-bought jars of salsa can last for about 1-2 months past their best by date, whether stored in the pantry or refrigerator.
  • Opened store-bought refrigerated salsa lasts for 1-2 weeks past its best by date. It would help if you didn’t store this outside as it will spoil within days after opening it.
  • Unopened canned salsas can last for 12-18 months past their best by date. Opened salsa transferred to an airtight container can last for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. (*)
  • Homemade salsa will last for 5-7 days when stored in the refrigerator.

These dates are only based on salsa that’s appropriately stored. That said, it’s still essential to test the salsa before using it on your dish, especially if it’s past its expiration date.


How to Tell If Your Salsa is Bad

It’s pretty easy to tell if your salsa has gone bad. Here are the signs to watch out for:

Color and Texture

Salsa would have a bright red color, with the color-changing as the days go by. If the color of your salsa has turned maroon, dark red, or even brown, then it’s best to throw it away.

As for its texture, you may notice that it has a thicker surface than usual, with a thin and rubbery layer at the top. That means that you can’t use salsa anymore.

The Smell

Smell the salsa. If it smells different from before, having an unpleasant and sour odor, then throw it away. Sometimes, it can smell rotten and fishy, giving you more of a reason to chuck it out!

If there is no change in color, texture, or smell, we recommend testing a small portion first. If it tastes off, do not eat it anymore, as this has most likely spoiled.

Signs of Mold

When salsas go bad, you might see black and green fungus growth with a white, powdery layer. Throw this away rather than spooning away the fungus and white powder. Fungus and mold may spread to all parts of the salsa, even if it doesn’t look like it.

If you still have a pretty bad feeling despite its smell and flavor looking fine, it’s best to throw it away. As much as possible, you’ll want to throw it when it’s at least two weeks past its expiration date to prevent upset stomachs or foodborne illnesses.


How to Store Salsa

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Now that you know more about the shelf life of salsa, how can you store it properly? Here are excellent food storage tips to keep your salsa tasting fresh for a long time:

Storage Through Refrigeration or in the Pantry

If you purchased shelf-safe salsa jars, you could store them in a cool and dark area, typically in the pantry or kitchen cabinet. Do NOT store salsa near a heat source, as this shortens its shelf life, even when unopened.

Please keep it away from stoves, radiators, toasters, and the like. Ideally, place it on the bottom shelf of your pantry or a shelf near a window come winter season.

Once you have opened salsa, it’s best to keep it in the fridge to stay fresh.

Use airtight containers

Salsa from its original packaging can’t be closed airtight anymore. To stay fresh a bit longer, transfer salsa into an airtight container to seal it well, whether plastic or glass. Or, you can use self-adhesive foils in its original packaging, which prevents air from entering the jar, slowing bacteria growth.

Foil or an airtight jar is ideal as it prevents salsa from absorbing smells of other ingredients and food in the fridge. If you plan on transferring containers, label it with its best-by-date to track when you need to throw it out.

Don’t leave it open.

Even if you can store unopened canned salsa for over 18 months on the shelf, it spoils quickly right after opening it. Transfer it to an airtight jar or container and close it firmly. Do not leave opened salsa cans around, as they will likely spoil quicker since you can’t close them properly. (*)

The same goes for containers and jars of salsa. Please don’t leave any container of salsa open, as this has it spoil quicker.

Use clean utensils

No matter what ingredient you handle, make sure that you use clean utensils while doing so. Don’t double-dip as you eat, use dirty utensils, or leave scoops in the container. Use clean serving spoons every time you need to use the salsa to prevent any contamination and spoilage.


Frequently Asked Questions

Besides its shelf life and signs on how to tell if salsa has gone bad, here are other frequently asked questions to know about:


1. Does Homemade Salsa Last Longer?

No, homemade salsa doesn’t last long as it doesn’t have the preservatives store-bought salsa does. Store-bought salsa has preservative agents like citric acid and vinegar.

Homemade salsa will only last for 5-7 days after making and storing it, so make sure you use it by then. Preserve homemade salsa as you would store-bought varieties, also adding lime juice or citric acid as natural preservatives.

2. Should I Freeze Salsa?

It’s possible to freeze salsa, but we don’t recommend it. Its texture changes after defrosting. However, if it is only a minor ingredient and not the main dish, you can place it in the freezer.

So yes, you can place the salsa in the freezer, but make sure it is in a har or airtight container and never in an open can. It will lengthen its shelf life by a few weeks or months.


Wrapping It Up

Hopefully, we helped you learn all about salsa, if it’s going bad, and how to extend its shelf life. Follow the information above to help prevent salsa spoilage and continue enjoying it in your recipes.

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