Does Sriracha Go Bad?

Unless you or your family are hot sauce aficionados, a bottle of sriracha probably lasts months or even years in your house. You use it only when a recipe calls for it. Since you’re not keen on making everyday dishes like eggs, grilled meats, or soups extra hot, you use it once in a blue moon. And when it’s already past the “best-by” date on the label, you start to wonder: does sriracha sauce go bad? It looks okay and smells fine, but you’re not quite sure if it’s still safe to eat. If that’s the case, it’s time to learn a bit more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of this chili and vinegar based hot sauce.

Sriracha sauce
Image used under Creative Commons from Mike Mozart

How To Store Sriracha Sauce?

You should store sriracha pretty much the same way you store other hot sauces or Tabasco. That means you should keep it in a cold place, away from light and any heat sources. Exposing the sauce to changing temperatures and sunlight for a prolonged period may affect its quality. That means if it sits in the kitchen, make sure it’s away from the oven. The pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are perfectly fine options for storing sriracha.

Once you open the bottle, make sure you always seal it tightly when not in use. Since it contains vinegar, sriracha retains its quality even better than most other hot sauces and doesn’t require refrigeration. If you’d like to confirm that, check out Huy Fong Foods FAQ, where they clearly state that sriracha doesn’t have to be stored in the fridge. Of course, storing the sauce in the refrigerator won’t harm it in any way. In fact, if you’d like to keep the sauce for an extended period, the fridge is a better spot than the pantry.

Last but not least, food hygiene. Sriracha is sometimes used as dipping sauce. Always transfer a few tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl if you want to use it for dipping. The leftover sauce should be discarded. Don’t even think about pouring the leftovers back into the bottle. That’s an easy way to transfer bacteria and contaminants into the sauce. And that can result in the condiment going bad early. If your sriracha comes in a squeeze bottle, make sure to clean the tip of the bottle every now and then. If you need some water to clean it, make sure you wipe it dry afterward.

Sriracha hot chilli sauce
Image used under Creative Commons from Mike Mozart

How Long Does Sriracha Sauce Last

Like with Tabasco and pretty much any other hot sauce, it’s difficult to tell how long does it last. The issue here is that you will more likely discard sriracha because of the degraded quality, not because it has gone bad in a way it’s unsafe to eat. Of course, there’s a best-by date on the label, but that’s only a rough estimate of how long the sauce retains freshness. All hot sauces easily last months past the date on the label. And since sriracha contains more vinegar than other similar condiments, it easily lasts at least as long as they do.

Once you open the bottle, the time for how long it will retain good quality depends on whether you store it in the fridge or at room temperature. At room temperature, the sauce should last in top condition for at least a few months. In the refrigerator, on the other hand, it should keep its freshness for two years or even longer. As you can see, the difference is quite staggering.

Pantry Fridge
Sriracha sauce (unopened) Best-by + 2 years
Sriracha sauce (opened) 6 – 9 months 2+ years

Please note that all the periods above are rough estimates and for best quality.

How to Tell If Sriracha Sauce Is Bad?

Let’s start with something that’s not a sign of sriracha going bad: the sauce taking on a darker shade of red. Chili peppers darken over time. That’s perfectly natural, and it doesn’t affect the quality of the sauce much. The process is accelerated by exposure to air and light, so if you open the bottle very often, it will darken faster.

When it comes to this hot sauce going bad, the signs are quite usual. First is the presence of mold or any other organic growth in the bottle. Second is a foul or fermented aroma, instead of the usual spicy-savory one. The third is a drastic change of texture. Last but not least, if for any reason you think the sauce might not be safe to consume, discard it. If the sauce looks and smells perfectly fine, it’s most likely safe to eat. Now it’s time to test its taste. If the flavor is good enough, continue using it. Otherwise, toss it out and open a new one. As I already mentioned, it’s more likely that the quality of the sriracha won’t be good enough to use than that it spoils.

When assessing if the sauce is okay to use, please use common sense. If the sauce is already 4 or 5 years past the best-by date, it’s probably better to discard it. Same thing if your half-open bottle already sits for over a year in the pantry. As usual, it’s better to be on the safe side.