How Long Does Hot Sauce Last?

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Hot sauce is one of those condiments you can count on, to instantly add heat and zest to any food! But, if you aren’t an absolute lover of all things hot, you may find yourself with a bottle of hot sauce that is mostly unused. Does that make you wonder how long hot sauce lasts? You’ll get your answer here! 

How long does hot sauce last?

Hot sauce, on average, already has a “best-by” date printed on the bottle, which shows that it can last for 2-3 years. But it can even last beyond this date if the bottle remains unopened. Once you open the bottle, the hot sauce will stay in the pantry for six months and in the refrigerator for over one year. 

Some of us (like me) love adding hot sauce to everything. So, once a bottle is brought home, the hot sauce will be over soon! Similarly, quite a few people like adding hot sauce to their food, but just a few select recipes. 

In these situations, it is more likely that you may have bottles of hot sauce lying around for the longest time. It is much easier to tell how long fresh produce will last. But, it can be confusing with condiments like hot sauce. 

One of the reasons behind this is that the date printed on the back of the bottle is not technically a way to denote if hot sauce is okay to use. Moreover, hot sauce is enriched with preservatives like vinegar, extending the shelf life further. 

So, if stored well, such condiments can last much longer than you may have thought! In this blog post, we will discuss in detail how long hot sauce lasts, its signs of spoilage, and the best way to store it to ensure it retains its flavor! 

How Long Does Hot Sauce Last? 

Unopened Bottle1 Year1-2 Years
Opened Bottle6 Months1 Year

Here, I want to mention a few factors. The durations that are given in the table on how long hot sauce can last after they are past the date printed on the bottle. Hot sauce, unlike fresh produce, is not a perishable product. 

Hot sauce generally has several ingredients added to it; vinegar is one of them. Vinegar is an acidic ingredient that acts as a natural preservative. This, in turn, increases the shelf life of the hot sauce. 

Moreover, sauces tend to have “best by” or “best before” printed on them and not a “use by” date. This means the product will go smoothly after surpassing the published date. Instead, the best-by date denotes how long the flavor of the hot sauce will stay at its prime. 

The “best by” date is also a way to judge the overall quality of the hot sauce. So yes, hot sauce will last beyond the date mentioned on the label. But, the rate will differ from when the bottle was purchased, and the sauce will even go bad if not stored properly. 

Is It Necessary To Refrigerate Hot Sauce? 

At most restaurants and even at home, you may have always noticed the bottle of hot sauce safely placed in the pantry. It is less of a common phenomenon to store hot sauce in the refrigerator. But, at the same time, refrigeration also increases the life span. So, is refrigeration of hot sauce mandatory? 

No, refrigeration of hot sauce is not mandatory. This is because hot sauce is a vinegar-based condiment, and the chances of it going wrong in the pantry are minimal.

However, refrigeration is also a good idea at the same time. Refrigeration of hot sauce, especially opened bottles, will ensure the quality stays intact for a long time.

How To Tell If Hot Sauce Has Gone Bad? 

Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Hot sauce has a long shelf life and only goes rancid slowly. But that being said, there are still very likely chances of hot sauce going bad. This is especially true if the hot sauce is not stored correctly, stored for a long time, or has come in contact with mold.

Here are a few easy ways to tell if your hot sauce is okay or needs to be thrown out. 

1. Appearance

The first way to judge whether your hot sauce is okay to use is by looking at the visible signs of spoilage. If the hot sauce has gone wrong, it may have growth of mold. Moreover, it could also look discolored, with brown speckles and a chunky texture. If you see any of these signs, it is best not to use the hot sauce further. 

2. Smell

Like most other food items, hot sauce tends to have an off smell once it goes wrong. This could also be because of oxidation or if the bottle was stored near a heat source. If your hot sauce does not have a pungent smell and instead smells rancid, you should throw it out.

3. Taste

If the above two parameters are not convincing enough, you could taste a little hot sauce to check if it is okay. Just like the smell factor, if the flavor of the hot sauce is rancid, it hasn’t gone nice and should not be used. 

How To Store Hot Sauce Properly? 

Hot sauce

Storage is one of the hot sauce’s most critical factors, determining how long it can stay okay. Although storing hot sauce may seem easy, we must remember the best ways. Here are some ways to keep your hot sauce fresh for a long time. 

1. In The Pantry

Storing hot sauce in the pantry is the ideal way to store it. This is mainly for unopened bottles. If the bottle is not near a heat source and is kept in a calm and dark place, it will last a few years beyond the “best by” date. 

Similarly, you can store opened hot sauce bottles in the pantry for as long as six months. Make sure that you tightly seal the bottle after every use. 

2. In The Refrigerator

Once you have opened the bottle of hot sauce, and in case you plan on using it only for a short period, then storing it in the refrigerator would be ideal. As the overall temperature maintained in the refrigerator is lower than in the pantry, this will make sure that the hot sauce lasts longer. Unopened bottles don’t need to be refrigerated. 

Can Hot Sauce Be Frozen? 

Freezing any food item is one of the most effective ways to increase shelf life. This is something that people mostly do with perishable items. However, you may wonder if hot sauce can also be frozen to increase shelf life. So, is that the case? 

Technically, hot sauce can be frozen. Moreover, hot sauce, unlike many other spices, also freezes well. However, this step is only required if you want to extend the life of the hot sauce for a few years.

Moreover, freezing can also affect the quality and texture of the hot sauce. So, unless the hot sauce is homemade, freezing is undoubtedly not necessary. 


Hot sauce is a go-to condiment for anyone who likes a little zest in their food. Most people use hot sauce sparingly, so a bottle stays as it is for the longest time. However, hot sauce is a condiment that is packed with a lot of preservatives. 

So luckily, that bottle of hot sauce in your fridge or pantry will last long! You should, however, be aware of signs of spoilage and also be vigilant with the storage of the sauce, as these factors play an essential role in its shelf life. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you freeze hot sauce?

Yes, hot sauce can be kept in the freezer. However, this step is optional. 

If not stored correctly, how long does it take for hot sauce to go wrong? 

If stored correctly, hot sauce can go right in as short a time as a few weeks. 

Are all types of hot sauces made with vinegar? 

Yes, almost every type and brand of hot sauce has vinegar added to it, which makes it last longer. 

If the hot sauce has a lumpy texture, has it gone wrong? 

If the texture of the hot sauce seems off compared to when you first bought it, chances are it has gone wrong and should not be consumed. 

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