How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last? Shelf Life Tips

There’s nothing quite like BBQ sauce when it comes to summertime cooking (or, if you’re like us, any time of the year.) Whether you’re grilling up chicken or ribs, bbq sauce is a must-have condiment. …

how long does bbq sauce last

There’s nothing quite like BBQ sauce when it comes to summertime cooking (or, if you’re like us, any time of the year.) Whether you’re grilling up chicken or ribs, bbq sauce is a must-have condiment. But once you’ve opened the bottle, how long does it last? How long does bbq sauce last in the fridge? At room temperature? And is there anything you can do to extend its shelf life? Let’s answer those questions so that you can keep this tasty condiment as fresh as can be for as long as possible.

Table of Contents

What is BBQ sauce made of?

The ingredients in BBQ sauce can vary depending on the recipe, but some commonalities exist. Most BBQ sauces contain vinegar, tomato paste, sugar, and spices like onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Some recipes also call for Worcestershire sauce, mustard, molasses, or even beer. And that’s just a start. This condiment is ripe for experimentation.

With so many different ingredients, it’s no wonder this sauce can add so much flavor to any dish. But it also adds to the challenge of bbq sauce shelf life. Like with hot sauce shelf life, it can differ depending on the specific ingredients inside.

How long does bbq sauce last in the fridge?

Unfortunately, because of all those different ingredients, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, we can give you some general guidelines.

Most commercially-prepared BBQ sauces that contain vinegar (a natural preservative) will last six to nine months in the fridge after being opened. But if you make your own homemade BBQ sauce, that shelf life may be shorter. Homemade sauces don’t have the same levels of additional preservatives in the jar as most commercially-prepared BBQ sauces.

If your BBQ sauce contains perishable ingredients like dairy or fresh fruit, it’s best to consume it within two to four weeks of opening. The same is true for sauces that don’t contain vinegar. Though, other natural preservatives may extend that, like using chili peppers as an ingredient. Those spicy flavors have more benefits than just their fun heat!

And as with all food, if your opened bottle of sauce starts to develop mold, it’s time to toss it.

When it comes to storage, the key is to keep your BBQ sauce airtight. Many people like to transfer their sauce to a mason jar or other reusable container after opening the bottle. This helps extend its shelf life by preventing exposure to oxygen, which can cause the sauce to spoil more quickly.

You can also freeze BBQ sauce to help it last longer. Just be sure to thaw it in the fridge overnight before using. And, as long as it’s kept sealed airtight in the refrigerator after that, you should be good to use it for many months to come. By freezing, you can extend the shelf life to more than a year.

Pro tip: Freeze your BBQ sauce using an ice cube tray for meal-sized portions. Simply pour the sauce into a tray, let it freeze, then pop the “sauce cubes” out, place them into a freezer bag, and seal tight. Pull them cube-by-cube out of the freezer as you need.

How long does bbq sauce last at room temperature?

We don’t recommend storing BBQ sauce at room temperature for two reasons. First, it can cause the sauce to spoil more quickly. And second, because of the high sugar content, it can attract bugs and other pests. So it’s best to keep this condiment in the fridge or freezer.

That said, if you accidentally leave your BBQ sauce out on the counter, it’s not necessarily ruined. Just be sure to use it within two hours. After that, it’s best to err on the side of caution and toss it.

How long does an unopened bottle of BBQ sauce last?

When it comes to unopened BBQ sauce, you’re usually looking at a shelf life of one to two years. But as with all food products, it’s best to check the expiration date on the label. Some manufacturers print “best by” dates while others print “sell by” dates.

Is expired BBQ sauce bad? Is it ok to eat?

Once your BBQ sauce hits the “use by” date on the label, it’s time to start thinking about whether or not you want to consume it. The “use by” date is the manufacturer’s estimate of how long the sauce will retain its peak quality.

So if you use your old BBQ sauce after the “use by” date has passed, it may not taste as fresh as it did when you first opened it (or first bought it.) But it’s unlikely to cause you any harm. The “use by” date is more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule to maintain the best quality experience for the eater.

How can you tell if BBQ sauce is bad?

As with all food, it’s best to use your senses when trying to determine whether you have spoiled BBQ sauce. There are warning signs.

First, give it a smell test. If the sauce smells off or sour, it’s probably time to toss it.

Then, take a look at the sauce. Is it starting to separate? Are there any signs of mold? Are there tiny bubbles? If so, it’s best to get rid of it.

Finally, give the sauce a taste test. If it doesn’t taste quite right, it’s probably time to say goodbye.

Tips to extend the shelf life of BBQ sauce

  • Store BBQ sauce in an airtight container: Just like with any food storage, this will prevent oxygen from causing the sauce to spoil more quickly.
  • Freeze it: Freezing BBQ sauce can help it last for up to six months. Just be sure to thaw it in the fridge overnight before using.
  • Avoid contamination: Be sure to clean your hands and any surfaces that come into contact with the sauce. This will help prevent bacteria from contaminating the sauce.
  • Inspect it regularly: Check your BBQ sauce for signs of spoilage, like mold or changes in color or texture. If you see anything off, it’s best to discard the sauce.