Does Teriyaki Go Bad? Do You Refrigerate It?

Here’s everything you need to know about teriyaki sauce. Learn how long it lasts, whether or not you have to refrigerate it, and if it ever goes bad.

Your teriyaki sauce is expired for a few months already, and you want to know if it’s still safe to use.

Or maybe you have a half-open bottle of teriyaki sauce left after cooking, and you’re wondering if you need to refrigerate or not.

Sounds familiar? If so, this article is for you.

Read on.

 Teriyaki chicken
Teriyaki chicken

Does Teriyaki Go Bad?

Teriyaki sauce doesn’t go bad quickly, but it doesn’t last forever. Once you open the bottle, it keeps for anywhere between a couple of months to even a year if you refrigerate it.

In most cases, teriyaki sauce retains quality for up to a couple of months after the best-by date. Of course, that period shrinks considerably if it’s already “expired” when you first open it.

Teriyaki sauce (or marinade, as some brands call it) keeps well after opening mainly because its main ingredients (soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and often sesame oil) last quite some time.

Obviously, teriyaki marinade isn’t as resistant to microbial growth as soy sauce is, but it’s not a condiment that spoils easily.

That said, in some rare cases, your teriyaki might go bad. Let’s talk about how to tell if teriyaki sauce has gone bad.

Signs of Spoilage

Discard your teriyaki if it gives off a bad or funny odor or shows any noticeable changes in appearance, such as a drastic texture change or floaties on the surface.

If you don’t notice anything unusual and the sauce isn’t more than a couple of months past its date, give a small amount a taste. If the quality is good enough, feel free to continue using it. Otherwise, you might need to open another bottle.

The flavor of soy sauce fades over time (here’s how long soy sauce lasts), and you should expect the same from your teriyaki sauce. If it lacks a bit of flavor, you can try using more of it to make up for that. In many cases, that should solve the issue.

But if there’s little flavor left, there’s no point in using it, and you should open a new bottle instead.

Teriyaki chicken
Image used under Creative Commons from mosespreciado

How Long Does Teriyaki Sauce Last

 PantryFridge
Teriyaki (Unopened)Best-by + 3 to 6 months 
Teriyaki (Opened)1 – 2 weeksBest-by or 3 to 6 months
The periods above are for best quality only.

Teriyaki sauce typically comes with a shelf life of 12 to 18 months. After you open the bottle, refrigerated teriyaki sauce leftovers usually keep best quality until the printed date, or for at least a few months if you open it near or after the printed date.

That’s the typical scenario, but many brands have different guidelines. For instance, San-J recommends that you use their sauces within 1 month for table use and 3 months for cooking use. Or Toshi’s teriyaki, which you should use within 3 months of delivery.

That said, the best-by date printed on the label is only a rough estimate of how long the product will retain quality. And since teriyaki is a condiment based on soy sauce, it typically lasts way past its date.

Let’s talk about that.

Expired Teriyaki

As I already noted, teriyaki doesn’t go bad easily, and your unopened bottle should still be perfectly safe and flavorful even if it’s a few months “expired.”

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell how long exactly the sauce will retain quality. So it’s better to open it up, check for spoilage signs, and assess the quality if everything seems to be fine.

(Of course, if you’re not comfortable using teriyaki that’s a year past its date, it’s okay to discard it.)

Also, take into account the general shelf life of your teriyaki.

If it’s the standard 12 to 18 months, chances are it’s going to taste great for at least an extra 3 to 6 months. But if it comes with a limited storage time (like the mentioned three months), I wouldn’t expect it to keep quality for more than an extra month or so.

Obviously, it also depends on your taste buds and what you consider decent quality and what you don’t.

Teriyaki chicken on a plate
(credit: Mgg Vitchakorn)

After Opening

Once you open your teriyaki bottle, the condiment typically retains quality up until the printed date. That means you get at least a couple of months to use it up.

If your teriyaki is nearing or past its best-by date, assume that it should keep for like 2 to 3 months, and try to use it as soon as you can for best quality.

(Of course, many teriyaki manufacturers recommend tossing the sauce if it’s past its date because of quality reasons.)

Again, the longer the overall shelf life of the sauce, the longer after opening it should last.

All of that isn’t to say that teriyaki can last forever. If yours is two years past its date and sits open in the fridge for over a year already, it’s best to discard it, even if it seems fine.

As usual, err on the side of caution.

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Homemade teriyaki keeps for about a week in the fridge. However, if your recipes use any extra ingredients besides the usual ones, you should probably reduce that to the standard 3 to 4 days of storage for leftovers, just to be safe.

Some recipe bloggers might claim that theirs keeps for a month in the fridge, but I wouldn’t bet on that.

If you need our homemade teriyaki to last a long time, or you’re considering preparing a big batch, choose to freeze the sauce instead (more on that later). This way, your teriyaki stays safe for months, and you won’t end up with a spoiled teriyaki that you hoped was good.

Bottle of Teriyaki sauce
Image used under Creative Commons from Bobby P.

Does Teriyaki Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

After you open the bottle, you should refrigerate leftover teriyaki sauce for best quality. While you can probably leave it at room temperature, its overall flavor will decline much faster than if it sits in the fridge.

In other words, unless you know that the bottle will be finished within a week or two, it’s better to place it in the fridge.

Plus, most brands out there (e.g., KikkomanSoy VayKinders, or Toshi’s) recommend that you should keep their marinade in the fridge after opening.

When it comes to homemade teriyaki, you should always refrigerate it, no matter what.

Other Storage Practices

As long as the bottle is unopened, a cool and dry place away from any heat sources is all teriyaki sauce needs.

After you open it up for the first time, remember to seal it tight after every use. And if you can’t or don’t want to refrigerate it, store it in a possibly cold place away from direct sunlight.

Last but not least, try to keep the cap and the rim of the bottle clean. If you use only a bit of the sauce a dozen times, sooner or later, a gross layer of crust is going to form there. And at that point, it’s time to take a moist paper towel, clean everything up, and then wipe it dry.

(Ideally, you’d do that after every use, but we all know it’s not a realistic expectation.)

Finally, let’s talk about whether freezing teriyaki is a thing and how to go about it.

Can You Freeze Teriyaki Sauce?

There’s no need to freeze store-bought teriyaki sauce because it typically lasts months after opening. When it comes to homemade teriyaki, it all depends on the recipe because each one is different in terms of ingredients and their amounts.

If you’re considering freezing homemade teriyaki, your best bet is to check the recipe for any info on the topic and go from there.

Unfortunately, in most cases, you won’t find much, and you’re going to be left on your own.

If that’s the situation you’re in, I suggest freezing a small amount for a day or two to see how it goes. Then, if it works out well, you can use that recipe to make a big batch and freeze the leftovers from here on out. And if things don’t pan out, you test another recipe (if you really need one that freezes well).

If you’re looking for ideas on how to freeze teriyaki, here are some options.

How To Freeze Teriyaki

The easiest way to freeze teriyaki is to use an ice cube tray. Here’s how:

  1. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray.
  2. Stick the tray into the freezer and leave there until the sauce freezes solid.
  3. Take the ice cube tray out of the freezer and carefully pop the cubed sauce out of the tray.
  4. Transfer the cubes into a resealable freezer bag. Add a label with the name if needed.
  5. Put the freezer bag into the freezer.

This way, you can easily thaw as much teriyaki sauce as you need at a time.

Of course, the ice cube tray method is best if you use teriyaki in small amounts. Otherwise, it’s probably better to freeze it in a few small containers or maybe using a muffin tin.

Another option for freezing teriyaki marinade is to freeze it with the meat.

You prepare the marinade, pour it into a freezer bag, add the meat, and massage the marinade into it. Once everything is nice and combined, you chuck the bag in the freezer.

When the time comes, you defrost the meat, and it’s ready for cooking.