Does Hot Sauce Go Bad? How Long Does Hot Sauce Last?

Hot sauce is one of those things you either love or hate, but we all seem to buy it and tuck it in the pantry.  Now you have come across the latest bottle and you’re wondering if it is still good.  Let’s see.

Quick Answer

Hot sauce can go bad, but due to the vinegar and chilies found in hot sauce, it takes a long time. Unopened hot sauce will be good for at least a few years past the best-by date stamped on the bottle.  Once opened, considering refrigerating your hot sauce to keep it fresh for as long as possible, but it can be returned to the pantry.  Opened and refrigerated hot sauce will last two years, or longer, in the refrigerator or three to six months in the pantry.


Depending on how quickly you use your bottle of hot sauce you may or may not need to worry about the storage of your sauce, but safe storage is always a good idea.

Does Hot Sauce Go Bad? How Long Does Hot Sauce Last?

Hot sauce can last for a long time unopened, but once you open the bottle you need to think about whether you want to refrigerate or not.  Always check the label for manufacturer recommendations.

How Long Does Hot Sauce Last Outside

Unopened hot sauce can be stored on your pantry shelf for at least two years.  Once opened, if you don’t want to refrigerate your sauce, it should last three to six months on the pantry shelf.

If you prefer to keep your hot sauce on the table with other condiments, it will last a shorter amount of time as exposure to heat and sunlight will cause your hot sauce to spoil more quickly.

Regardless of where you store your hot sauce, be sure the cap is clean and it is returned to the bottle and tightly sealed when you’re done with it.  This will help keep your hot sauce fresh for as long as possible.

How Long Does Hot Sauce Last in the Fridge

If you want to refrigerate your sauce it should be good for up to two years or maybe longer.  Some don’t like refrigerated hot sauce, and that is okay too, just read the manufacturer’s recommendations before you decide.

The ingredients in your hot sauce are a consideration when deciding to refrigerate or not.  Some hot sauces have more vegetables than others or include fruit and those sauces would benefit more from refrigeration than hot sauces without.

Be sure the cap on your hot sauce is clean and free from any substances.  You will also want to tightly reseal the bottle before putting your hot sauce in the refrigerator.

How Long Does Hot Sauce Last in the Freezer

Hot sauce can be frozen, but it lasts so long in the refrigerator it may not be worth it to freeze it.  If you decide to freeze it, your hot sauce should be good for about a year.

Freezing your hot sauce may change the consistency of the sauce a bit.  You should be able to recombine it by stirring, but the end product will ultimately depend on the ingredients and consistency of your hot sauce.

If you freeze hot sauce you will want to transfer it from the glass bottle it probably came in to a freezer-friendly food storage bag or container.  Be sure to allow room for expansion and remove as much air as possible from the container.

Hot sauce is one of those things that lasts for a very long time.  Your hardest decision should be whether to refrigerate it or not once you open it.

How To Tell If Hot Sauce Has Gone Bad? / How To Know if Hot Sauce is Fresh?

Hot sauce lasts for a long time, whether you store it in the pantry or the refrigerator, but eventually, all things can go bad.  It’s important to know what to look for when you’re concerned.

Things get dark:  As peppers and garlic, two popular ingredients in hot sauce, age they darken.  If your hot sauce is noticeably darker than it was when you bought it you may want to consider getting a new bottle.

Spots aren’t good:  Hot sauce may have pepper in it, which could look like dark spots, but those would have been there from the beginning.  If your hot sauce develops black spots, however, that could be mold and mold isn’t good.  If your hot sauce develops mold be sure to pour it out and dispose of the bottle otherwise gas could build up and cause the bottle to explode.

Smell it: If your hot sauce just doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t good.  Just pour it out or throw it away.

You can always taste it:  You can always taste a sampling of your hot sauce if you’re really in doubt.  Peppers can get spicier as they age so you would be looking for a taste that is off rather than how spicy your hot sauce is.

How to Store Hot Sauce?

Unopened hot sauce should be stored on the pantry shelf or in a cool, dark place.  Ultimately you want to keep it away from sunlight and heat.

Refrigerate after opening…maybe:  Check the bottle for instructions, but refrigerating your hot sauce will help to keep it fresh for as long as possible.  If you’d rather not, that’s fine too.

Clean the top:  You’ll want to be sure the top of your hot sauce is clean every time you screw it back on.  If you have any dried sauce on the cap it could contaminate the remaining hot sauce.

Tightly seal:  Tightly seal the cap on the bottle.  No matter where you store your hot sauce this will ensure other nearby odors don’t infiltrate your hot sauce.

Can You Freeze Hot Sauce? How?

Hot sauce can be frozen, but it will only be good for up to a year so freezing it may not be worthwhile.

Transfer containers:  Your hot sauce probably came in a glass bottle, which is not ideal for freezing.  You will want to transfer your hot sauce to a freezer-friendly food storage bag or container.

Think Quantity:  Be careful to freeze your hot sauce in smaller quantities so you can use the thawed sauce in an appropriate amount of time.  If you have too much hot sauce it will go bad before you can use it all defeating the time you may have gained by freezing it.

Quality may suffer:  Depending on the ingredients in your hot sauce freezing may result in a more watery thawed product.

Allow room for expansion:  Be sure to allow room for the frozen sauce to expand before you put it in your freezer.

Remove air:  Be sure to remove as much air as possible from the container before freezing.  This will help to keep other odors away from your hot sauce.

How to Thaw Hot Sauce?

If you decide to freeze your hot sauce, the easiest way to thaw it is to transfer the container of hot sauce from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before.

The quality of your hot sauce may decline after freezing and thawing, but remixing it should help.  You may also want to drain off some of the excess liquid if it seems to be too much.

Frequently Asked Questions About Hot Sauce’s Shelf Life

My hot sauce has gotten darker in color.  Is it safe to eat?  It may be safe to eat, but maybe not.  Hot sauce that has been stored in your pantry for a long time will darken because the peppers and garlic, frequent hot sauce ingredients, in the hot sauce will darken over time.  This may indicate that your hot sauce is too old to eat, but you should smell it and taste it to be sure.  As long as it smells and tastes fine, then it is likely fine to eat.

Does hot sauce get spicier or less spicy as it ages?  Hot sauce actually gets spicier the longer it sits in your pantry or refrigerator.  This is because the peppers in the hot sauce get spicier the longer they sit and the other ingredients in the hot sauce don’t counteract the increased spiciness.

Wrap Up

Unopened hot sauce will be good for quite a while in your pantry, but once you open your hot sauce it is worth considering refrigerating it from there as it will stay fresher longer in the refrigerator.  Tell us in the comments below where you keep your hot sauce once you open the bottle.

Leave a Reply