Does Soy Sauce Have to Be Refrigerated? Does Soy Sauce Go Bad?

There is a lot of debate over whether soy sauce belongs in the fridge or the pantry.  Some say keeping it in the fridge is the only way to keep it good, while others say the pantry is just fine.  So, who’s right?

Quick Answer

Soy sauce does not need to be refrigerated.  However, keeping it in the fridge will help it to stay good longer.

  • Even if it stays in the pantry, soy sauce will not go bad as long as nothing has been added to it (for example, water).
  • Refrigerating soy sauce helps to preserve its taste and freshness.


Whether you store your soy sauce in the fridge or the pantry, it should stay good as long as it’s stored properly.  This means that refrigerating it is your choice.

Does Soy Sauce Have to Be Refrigerated? Does Soy Sauce Go Bad?

Although soy sauce will remain safe for consumption when stored in the pantry after opening, there are a few things to consider before deciding whether or not to refrigerate it.

Why to Refrigerate Soy Sauce? How Long Does Soy Sauce Last in the Fridge?

Some people prefer to keep their soy sauce refrigerated despite the fact that it does not have to be.

Refrigerating soy sauce after opening is recommended by the manufacturers.  Most bottles of soy sauce say “refrigerate after opening” on their labels.  You will find similar recommendations on the manufacturers’ websites.

Refrigeration maintains the freshness.  Once soy sauce is opened, the taste and quality will begin to decline.  Refrigerating slows this process significantly, meaning that the taste should remain fresh for much longer if the soy sauce is kept sold.

Many people prefer the taste of cold soy sauce.  Some foods have different tastes when they are warm or cold.  Plenty of people just prefer the taste of cold soy sauce.

Refrigerated soy sauce will last years. Soy sauce will stay good indefinitely, so long as no other ingredients (including water) have been added.  To make sure no contaminants get in, always make sure that the bottle is tightly sealed.

Why Not to Refrigerate Soy Sauce? How Long Does Soy Sauce Last Outside?

Despite the benefits to refrigerating soy sauce, some people prefer to keep it in the pantry.

Soy sauce will (usually) not spoil at room temperature.  Soy sauce contains a large amount of sodium and microorganisms.  These give soy sauce its distinct taste, but they also act as preservatives, making it difficult for harmful bacteria to grow in the sauce.

Restaurants often leave soy sauce at room temperature.  If you’ve been to an Asian restaurant, you may have noticed soy sauce that is stored at room temperature, possibly on the table or in single-serve packets.

Many people prefer the taste of room temperature soy sauce.  Just like how some people prefer the taste of cold soy sauce, room temperature soy sauce has plenty of fans as well.  This is purely subjective; room temperature soy sauce may change its flavor over time, but if it tastes good to you, then go for it.

Unrefrigerated soy sauce will last years.  As previously mentioned, soy sauce will not spoil as long as nothing has been added to it.  Make sure the bottle is sealed tightly to prevent contaminants from getting in.

How Long Does Soy Sauce Last in the Freezer?

Fun fact about soy sauce: it doesn’t freeze.  This is because of the chemistry of the sauce: the ingredients that are present in it.  More specifically, it is because of the high sodium content.

The high amount of salt present in soy sauce prevents it from freezing, meaning that keeping it in the freezer will do little more than keeping it extra cold.  If you happen to enjoy extra cold soy sauce, you may want to try it.

Just like in the fridge or pantry, soy sauce stored in the freezer should last indefinitely, as long as nothing has been added to it, and the bottle is always sealed tightly.

Verdict: Should I Refrigerate My Soy Sauce?

We’ve gone over reasons to keep your soy sauce in the fridge, pantry, and even the freezer.  So, which option is the winner?

For freshness: Refrigerate your soy sauce.  Refrigeration is the best way to go if you want fresh, high-quality soy sauce.  Refrigeration will slow the chemical changes soy sauce undergoes after opening, meaning that the taste will remain closer to its original flavor when it stays in the fridge long-term.

For taste: Keep your soy sauce in the pantry.  Although refrigeration is proven to keep the flavor of soy sauce fresh, the majority of people seem to prefer the taste of soy sauce stored at room temperature.  Maybe they like it better after the flavor changes, or maybe they just don’t like it cold, but either way, this seems to be the most popular choice.

Your choice!  In the end, whether you store your soy sauce in the fridge or panty, it should be fine to use for years.  Whichever option you like the best is just fine.

As long as you remember to store your soy sauce properly, wherever you prefer to store it is just fine, in terms of safety.

How to Store Soy Sauce

Storing soy sauce is easy and straightforward, given that it does not usually spoil in normal conditions.

  • Soy sauce can be safely kept in either the fridge or pantry after opening.
  • Storing your soy sauce in the fridge is recommended to preserve freshness, but not necessary.
  • Always make sure your soy sauce is sealed tightly, with no cracks or holes in the bottle.
  • Keep it in a cool location, away from heat, as heat can negatively affect your soy sauce.
  • Keep it in a dry location, as your soy sauce can go bad if it has water added to it in storage.

How To Tell If Soy Sauce Has Gone Bad / How To Know Soy Sauce is Fresh

Although soy sauce will generally remain safe to use indefinitely, it may develop a bad flavor, and in some cases, may become contaminated.  Here’s what to look out for.

Mold.  If you ever see mold on or inside your bottle of soy sauce, throw it away immediately.  It has become contaminated and is no longer safe to use.  If your soy sauce is somewhat old, always check carefully for mold before using.

Smell.  Smelling your soy sauce before using it can help you determine if its quality has degraded too far.  If your soy sauce has developed a bad odor, although it may still be safe to consume, it may not taste very good.

Storage.  Check the storage conditions for your soy sauce to make sure it was not exposed to unsafe conditions.  Make sure it was away from heat and moisture.  Check that the bottle has been sealed tightly, and check for cracks or holes in the bottle.  If you find any of these issues, you should probably throw it away.

Age.  While it’s true that in proper storage conditions your soy sauce should not spoil, if it becomes very old, the quality may decline, and it may become undesirable.  If your soy sauce is more than a year old, you may want to replace it.

Taste.  If you’re really not sure about the quality of your soy sauce, just go ahead and taste it.  If it has been stored correctly, it should be perfectly safe, so go ahead and try a little bit to see if it still tastes good.

Wrap Up

Fortunately for lovers of Asian food, soy sauce is very easy to store and rarely spoils.  Whether you store it in the fridge or the pantry, you should be able to use it for a long time with no problems.

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