Does Sriracha Go Bad? Do You Refrigerate It?

This article is all about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of Sriracha. Learn how long the sauce retains quality and if you need to refrigerate it after opening.

So you have a half-open bottle of Sriracha in storage for quite a few months already, and you’re wondering if it ever goes bad.

Or you just opened the condiment for the very first time, and you want to know if you should refrigerate it or not.

Sounds familiar? If so, this article has all the answers you’re looking for.

Let’s dive in.

Note

Sriracha is sometimes called rooster sauce because of the rooster on the label of the most popular Sriracha from the Huy Fong Foods brand. Nowadays, other hot sauce brands (e.g., Tabasco) also offer sriracha flavor.

Sriracha sauce
Image used under Creative Commons from Mike Mozart

Does Sriracha Go Bad?

Sriracha hot sauce doesn’t easily go bad because most of its ingredients, like chili peppers, vinegar, and salt, are natural preservatives. So even though the sauce comes with a date printed on the bottle, it usually lasts months past that date.

Over time, however, Sriracha slowly degrades in flavor, and at a certain point, you might not be satisfied by its taste anymore. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell when exactly that is going to happen.

One thing related to quality worth knowing is that Sriracha from Huy Fong Foods is made using chili peppers grown naturally. That means some bottles might be slightly hotter than others, and the color might be a bit different too.

That said, it doesn’t mean Sriracha can’t go bad. If you store the condiment long enough and in bad conditions, it might go bad. Let’s talk about how that might look like.

How to Tell if Sriracha Is Bad?

Signs of spoiled Sriracha include:

  • Presence of mold or any other organic growth. Moldy Sriracha isn’t something common, but if yours is, it has to go.
  • Off aroma. If your Sriracha gives off a foul or fermented smell instead of the usual spicy-savory one, discard it.
  • Drastic change of texture. If the sauce has completely separated or you can’t pour it anymore, it’s done for.
  • Bad taste. If everything seems to be okay, try eating a bit. In almost all cases, your Sriracha will be fine. But if the flavor isn’t good enough, or it tastes plain bad, it’s time for it to go.
Bottle of Hu Fong Foods Sriracha
(credit: Chris Liverani)

Also, use common sense when assessing if the condiment is okay to use.

If your Sriracha 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 two years in the pantry.

In other words, err on the side of caution.

As you can tell, I didn’t say that your Sriracha is bad if it turns dark red or even brown. That’s because darkening isn’t a sign of spoilage for this hot sauce. Let me explain.

Sriracha Darkening

Sriracha taking on a darker shade of red (or browning) isn’t a sign of spoilage. Chili peppers darken over time, and you can notice the same effect in most hot sauces, like, e.g., Tabasco.

The darkening process is perfectly natural (I wrote about it in more detail in my article on hot sauce), and it doesn’t affect the quality of the sauce that much. Sure, its taste might be a tad bit different, but that’s about it.

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

Does Sriracha Need to be Refrigerated?

You don’t need to refrigerate Sriracha even after opening the bottle. That’s because the condiment’s ingredients resist bacterial growth and don’t spoil easily. A cool and dry place is good enough for storing it.

In other words, Sriracha isn’t your typical salsa that always requires refrigeration after opening.

That said, pretty much all hot sauces benefit from refrigeration, and Sriracha is no different. If you keep it in the fridge, it won’t darken as quickly, and will retain flavor for longer.

The bottom line is: if you’re going to finish the bottle within a couple of months, it’s fine to store open Sriracha at room temperature. But if you expect it to sit in storage for more than half a year, it’s better to refrigerate it.

How Long Does Sriracha Last?

Sriracha comes with a shelf life of a couple of years and easily stays good well past the printed date. Once you open the bottle, it keeps quality for at least half a year at room temperature and more than a year if refrigerated.

Of course, if the bottle is already past the printed date when you open it, Sriracha might not retain quality for as long. But as I mentioned in the section on spoilage, chances are it’ll stay safe way past that date.

Like Tabasco and pretty much any other hot sauce, it’s difficult to tell how long Sriracha really lasts. The issue here is that you will more likely discard the condiment because of the degraded quality, not because it has gone bad in a way it’s unsafe to eat.

 PantryFridge
Sriracha sauce (unopened)Best-by + 2+ years 
Sriracha sauce (opened)5 – 6 months1+ years

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

Half-full bottle of Sriracha sauce
(credit: Samantha Sophia)

Expiration Date

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. It’s not an “expiration” date and is all about the quality, not safety.

Pretty much all hot sauces easily last months past the date on the label. And since Sriracha contains about as much vinegar as similar condiments, it lasts at least as long as they do too.