Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 5th, 2022

Is it possible for BBQ sauce to go bad? Is it safe to eat spoiled BBQ sauce, and how can you tell if it’s spoiled? Here are the solutions.

You’ve had a picnic when your favorite BBQ sauce was used on practically every dish. So you save it till the next time you need it.

three filled condiment shakers on brown wooden surface

Today is the big day. You’re getting ready to prepare some handmade burgers. You’re concerned about how long it’s been since you’ve used your BBQ sauce.

Looking at the best-by date on the bottle of BBQ sauce, you wonder, “Has my BBQ sauce gone bad?” How long is it going to last?

So, here’s what you need to know about your BBQ sauce’s shelf life. Because it is heavy in preservatives, an opened container of store-bought BBQ sauce will last 4-6 months. However, if you make your BBQ sauce, it will only last 7-10 days.

What Exactly Is BBQ Sauce?

Barbecue sauce is used as a condiment, marinade, flavoring sauce, basting agent, or meat topping (typically pork, beef ribs, or chicken). Common ingredients include salt, sugar, sweeteners (molasses or honey), vinegar, tomato paste, mayonnaise, liquid smoke, onion powder, mustard, and black pepper.

The early barbecue sauces were often created with only vinegar, salt, and pepper. Later, ketchup, sugar, and other additives were added. It’s worth noting that evidence of early grilled meat dates back to 700 B.C.

In addition, several recipes for grilled meat can be found in English and French cookbooks from the early 1900s.

Let’s have a look at the nutritional information for BBQ sauce per 2 tbsp (36g):

Fat0 g
Sodium300 mg
Carbohydrate17 g
Sugars 15 g
Fiber0 g

As you can see, the BBQ sauce includes a lot of sugar and salt, which can greatly harm your health. On the other hand, BBQ sauce contains trace levels of vitamins such as potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Although you are unlikely to get considerable health advantages, there are some. BBQ sauce contains tomato sauce, which contains antioxidants known as lycopene. This antioxidant can lower blood pressure, minimize the risk of some malignancies, and protect the skin.

Furthermore, the sauce lacks fat, as plant-based components often lack this macronutrient. As a result, it is a fantastic method to enhance the flavor of foods without adding fat.

Is it past its prime, or has it been spoiled?

You should be aware that there are two phases to BBQ sauce. It will come first past its prime when it is still safe to eat but not as delicious or high in quality as it once was.

Then it starts to deteriorate or ferment. At this point, it will begin to smell and taste strange, and it is no longer safe to consume.

While it’s fine to retain BBQ sauce that’s past its peak, you should probably throw it out because the flavor won’t be the same after this point. You’ll lose a lot of the rich, sour, and spicy flavors that make barbecue sauce so special.

Check the expiration date on the store-bought sauce and keep it for no more than a month or two past the best-by date for the finest flavor.

It’s crucial to remember that if you leave a BBQ sauce out on the counter or in the sun for an extended period during a barbecue, it will begin to rot or ferment in the bottle.

This will result in a bubbliness and a distinct vinegary odor. This will happen even if the sauce is brand new if left in poor circumstances for an extended period. When it reaches this point, it should be discarded.

How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last?

BBQ Sauce (unopened)Best by + 6 months 
BBQ Sauce (opened)1 – 4 weeks4 months
Homemade BBQ Sauce 7 – 14 days

Please remember that the times shown above are just for the finest quality. In most circumstances, the sauce will remain longer, but the quality may be subpar.

BBQ sauce has a best-by date of 1 to 2 years and may easily be stored for a few months over the printed date. If you refrigerate the condiment after opening it, it can last up to 4 months.

The four months after opening isn’t a hard and fast guideline, but it’s one that many BBQ sauce manufacturers follow.

Of course, outliers exist at both extremities of the spectrum. As a result, don’t be shocked if yours lasts up to a year after opening or if you should complete it within a week.

Examine the labels. The fundamental parameters I provided should work in most circumstances. However, certain store-bought BBQ sauces may advocate far shorter storage dates than the four months I indicated.

How long does it last after you open it?

When you open a bottle of BBQ sauce, you usually have four months to finish the leftovers. As previously said, some brands have a considerably shorter term, while others have a much longer one.

Of course, the storage term provided by the company is merely an informed judgment as to how long the sauce should hold its quality, at the very least. That implies you’ll be OK if you leave your barbeque sauce in the fridge for a little longer than the manufacturer recommends.

How long, you might ask?

The suggested storage duration determines that. An extra two to three weeks shouldn’t be a problem if it’s the standard four months. However, I wouldn’t keep it for more than 10 to 14 days if it’s only a week or two.

How long does it last after the Date of Expiration?

The date on the BBQ sauce bottle is a best-by date concerned with food quality rather than safety. In other words, once that date has passed, the BBQ sauce does not “expire.”

And, as previously said, as long as the condiment stays unopened, it may generally survive months past the listed date. Sure, it might separate a little more over that period, but that’s all.

Of course, if you open a BBQ sauce bottle that is a few months over its expiration date, you can’t expect it to hold its quality for as long as a new bottle. To get the most out of it, you should utilize it within a few of weeks.

Before ingesting “expired” BBQ sauce, always inspect it for symptoms of deterioration.

How long does BBQ Sauce from Scratch last?

Homemade BBQ sauce has a shelf life of 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the recipe, and must be kept refrigerated at all times.

Following a recipe you discovered online, follow the author’s advice. In most circumstances, it will be a week of storage, maybe up to two weeks.

If you acquired the recipe from someone else, err on caution and store it for up to 7 days.

(Without pasteurization, a little vinegar, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce won’t let your homemade barbecue sauce last as long as store-bought.)

You may freeze BBQ sauce if that relatively short period isn’t long enough for your purposes or if you want to prepare a large quantity and store some for later.

Use an ice cube tray to portion it out so that each amount is enough for a single dish, whatever makes more sense for you.

Is it necessary to keep BBQ sauce refrigerated?

After opening the bottle of BBQ sauce, keep it in the refrigerator. In most situations, leaving the sauce at room temperature maintains it safe to use, but it only preserves its quality for a few of weeks. As a result, refrigeration is the superior option.

Regarding storage temperature, BBQ sauce falls halfway between regular salsa (which requires refrigeration) and spicy sauce (which often does not). You may keep it out on the counter, but it’s far preferable to store it in the refrigerator.

However, if you know, you’ll finish the bottle you just opened within a week, put it in the pantry or kitchen cabinet.

(Unless, of course, the label specifies that it must be refrigerated after opening.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s talk about various BBQ sauce preservation methods.

Homemade BBQ sauce should always be kept in the refrigerator.

Darkening of BBQ Sauce

If your BBQ sauce contains chili peppers, it may darken or even turn brown if left uncovered for an extended time. This is because oxidation-induced darkening is natural for chili peppers and does not render them harmful to eat.

The worst effect of the color shift may be a tiny change in flavor, but that’s about it. That rich crimson BBQ sauce can still be used.

Now, if the ingredients list of your BBQ sauce does not include chili peppers or one of its variations (e.g., tabasco peppers), be cautious if the sauce becomes brown.

And if the label does not explicitly state that browning is a natural side effect of long-term storage, it’s usually best to err on caution and toss the bottle.

Why does bbq separate?

It is typical for BBQ sauce to separate. And by separation, I mean that there’s a layer of liquid on top, with the remainder of the sauce being noticeably thicker.

If your sauce has been sitting in the cupboard for a long, it will most certainly separate, which is OK.

Before opening the bottle of separated BBQ sauce, give it a thorough shake. It should aid in blending everything into a smooth texture.

If your sauce has been sitting unused in storage for months and has not separated, it most likely contains some artificial preservatives that help it maintain its texture.

However, if your sauce has entirely split, as in the bottom is solid, and the top is liquid, presume that the sauce is finished. If things got to this stage, I’m confident it stayed in storage for much longer than the two years and change reported.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s speak about the real indicators of rotten barbecue sauce.

How to tell if your BBQ Sauce Is bad

If you peek in your pantry or refrigerator and notice any warning signals, throw it out immediately!

1. Disturbing Smell

BBQ sauce should have a tangy, sweet, and smoky aroma. That seductive scent is one of the reasons we adore the sauce!

However, throw it out if that fragrance becomes intense, off-putting, or plain disgusting. This stench is your first warning sign that your BBQ sauce has gone bad.

2. Alteration in Appearance

Several visual changes will occur when your BBQ sauce degrades over time:

  • Color – Pay attention to the color of the BBQ sauce. You’ll notice a richer, darker tint as it draws closer to expiration. This is due to oxidation, which takes place after the bottle is opened.
  • Mold — Do we need to explain this one? Please don’t eat BBQ sauce or any other meal with visible mold.
  • Liquid Separation – While some separation is inevitable, this shift, combined with a color variation, indicates that your BBQ sauce is nearing the end of its shelf life. If separation occurs before the expiration or best by date, shake the bottle to re-mix the components.

3. Modified Texture

BBQ sauce should have a smooth, spreadable, and dense texture when produced correctly.

If your BBQ sauce becomes thick, slimy, or clumpy, it’s time to toss it. A change in texture indicates oxidation or moisture, both of which initiate the process of diminished flavor and quality.

How to Store BBQ Sauce

Barbecue sauce comes in a plethora of flavors. Most of them are vinegar-based, with tomato paste, sugar, spices, and other components.

BBQ sauce from the store is shelf-stable. The storage instructions are the same whether it’s a Louisiana style, Kansas City BBQ, Texas, Southern, or those laced with alcohol, such as honey-bourbon or BBQ rum sauce.

BBQ sauce that has not been opened can be securely stored at room temperature. Choose a cool, dry location away from heat and lights. Your pantry or kitchen closet is an excellent location. It’s the same as preserving other sauces and condiments like mustard or mayonnaise.

If you opt to make your recipes, keep homemade barbecue sauce refrigerated. Refrigeration, on the other hand, is not required for home-canned sauces.

If it is a cooked sauce, allow it to cool before moving it to the refrigerator. Store the sauce in an airtight container.

Is It Possible to Freeze BBQ Sauce?

Barbecue sauces can be frozen and do so extremely well. If you won’t complete the bottle of barbecue sauce within 6 months or if your fridge is restricted in capacity, freezing the BBQ sauce is an excellent choice.

You can store barbecue sauce in an airtight container or a plastic bag when freezing barbecue sauce. For a large number of sauces, an airtight container is preferred for a largnumberty of sauces, but a plastic bag is ideal for small amounts or individual servings of sauce.

It is critical to never freeze the sauce in its original bottle, whether plastic or glass. The sauce will begin to expand as it freezes. Both glass and plastic bottles will fracture as a result of this expansion.

Pour the sauce into a jar with a securely closing cover for storing in an airtight container. If not, the sauce will be exposed to air throughout the freezing process and will develop freezer burn. Also, allow approximately a half-inch gap at the top for the barbecue sauce to growing.

The easiest method to keep the sauce in plastic bags is to freeze it beforehand. Pour the barbecue sauce onto an ice cube tray and freeze it until all of the cubes are frozen.

Transfer the frozen barbecue sauce cube to the plastic bag. Before closing the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible. Then place the sauce packets in the deepest part of the freezer.

Aside from plastic bags, you may store the barbecue sauce cubes in an airtight container. Either way, the barbecue sauce will stay fresh for up to a year.

How to Keep BBQ Sauce Fresher for Longer

Purchasing BBQ Sauce

When purchasing barbecue sauce at the grocery shop, it is essential to check the printed date on the bottle. Some manufacturers will stamp the bottle with the best by, use by, or expiry date. Each has a somewhat distinct meaning, but all of the dates indicate that it will remain fresh until the written date.

When purchasing barbecue sauce, search for ones that have recently been created and placed on the shelves. Most supermarkets keep fresh sauces in the back. BBQ sauces that have recently been created will taste the finest.

Regarding size, you have several options depending on how long you plan to keep the sauce. A large bottle is a good choice if you’re doing a lot of barbeque cooking. Smaller bottles, on the other hand, are intended for folks who cook only sometimes.

Using BBQ Sauce

When handling BBQ sauce, using clean tools when scooping the sauce or placing any inside the bottle is critical.

Of course, most people would use “dirty” utensils to handle the barbecue sauce since they forgot or were too lazy to use a clean tool. In any case, it’s not a huge concern because the sauce won’t spoil.

However, using dirty utensils with the same bottle of BBQ sauce over and over again may lead it to spoil. As a result, it’s advisable to be careful and always use clean utensils.

Another thing to keep in mind is that any leftover barbecue sauce should never be poured back into the bottle. Bacteria will begin to develop on the sauce after it has been sitting at room temperature for a while. Pouring it back into the bottle may contaminate the entire sauce with bacteria and cause it to spoil.

In conclusion

Always inspect your BBQ sauce for symptoms of deterioration by smelling, tasting, and searching for mildew. However, if properly preserved, this sauce may last for quite some time. Remember, if it’s unopened, store it in the pantry; if it’s opened, keep it in the fridge.


Editorial Staff

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