Does Worcestershire Sauce Go Bad?

No one in your household remembers buying a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, but yet there’s still one on the side of your refrigerator door. Maybe it was from your annual summer barbecue, but that was so long ago.

Now that you see it, you’re wondering: does Worcestershire sauce go bad ever go bad?

If you’re among the people who rarely use Worcestershire sauce, you might not be that familiar with this condiment.

If you would like to learn a bit about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of Worcestershire sauce, read on.

Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce
Image used under Creative Commons from mechnine

Does Worcestershire Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

Worcestershire sauce doesn’t require refrigeration even after opening, but doing so helps the condiment retain quality for longer. In other words, you don’t have to keep it in the fridge, but that’s a good idea if you want it to keep quality for more than a year.

When it comes to storage, Worcestershire sauce is similar to high-sodium sauces, such as soy sauce, fish sauce, and less so oyster sauce.

Related: Does Soy Sauce Go Bad?

That means you should keep an unopened bottle in a cool and dry place. The pantry is the obvious choice, but a cabinet in the kitchen is just fine too. Both these options guarantee that the bottle will sit away from sunlight, which also helps a bit.

Once you open the bottle, the most important thing is always to keep it sealed tightly.

The question of whether you need to refrigerate Worcestershire after opening comes up fairly often. The best answer I can come up with is: it depends.

If you store it in the fridge, it will retain the best quality for a longer period than if you keep it at room temperature. But if you will use the contents of the bottle within 6 to 12 months, the storage method won’t make that big of a deal.

The main ingredients of Worcestershire sauce, such as vinegar, blackstrap molasses, or soy sauce, don’t need refrigeration, so the sauce keeps quite well at room temperature too.


If you use Worcestershire sauce only from time to time and have no idea when you will finish the bottle, keep it in the fridge.

How Long Does Worcestershire Sauce Last?

Worcestershire sauce has a shelf life of 1.5 to 3 years and easily lasts way past the printed date. Once you open the bottle, the condiment keeps quality for about a year in the pantry and around 3 years in the fridge, but it stays safe to use much longer.

That means even if your unopened bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce already sits in the pantry for 5 years, in almost all cases, it will be perfectly fine.

Most bottles of this condiment come with a best-by date. Usually, that period falls somewhere between 18 months and 3 years. Obviously, the sauce will stay fine and of good quality for much longer if the bottle is unopened.

There’s actually no good way to determine how long will the sauce last because it doesn’t really go bad. Its quality degrades very slowly with time, so if you open a bottle that’s 10 years old, the taste might not be that great. The key here is “might” because just as well it could turn out great. That’s the reason some sources say it lasts indefinitely.

Once you open the bottle, the sauce starts to lose its quality slowly. That means that with time its taste flattens and the dishes flavored with it won’t be as good as they used to.

Again, it’s impossible to point out precisely how long the bottle can sit open and still taste good. The general consensus is that it stays best for about 2 – 3 years, but that depends on the brand, ingredients, and of course your taste buds.

Worcestershire sauce (unopened)Best by + 5 years 
Worcestershire sauce (opened)1 year3 years

Please note that the time periods above are for best quality only. Worcestershire sauce, if stored properly, will last for much longer.

Homemade worcestershire sauce
(credit: Edsel Little)

Does Worcestershire Sauce Go Bad?

Worcestershire sauce doesn’t really go bad, but it doesn’t retain quality forever either. After being open for a year in the pantry or about 3 years in the fridge, you might notice that the texture, color, or flavor changes. But you can still use it if there are no signs of spoilage.

The sauce stays safe for a long time because most of its ingredients are natural preservatives. That’s why it’s unlikely for any kind of bacteria to live and grow in such an environment.

Of course, strange things sometimes happen, so before you use the sauce that’s been sitting in the pantry or fridge for ages in your next Caesar salad, give it a quick exam.

If the sauce has developed an unpleasant (sour, off, or funny) smell, or you have noticed any signs of mold, discard it.

Another sign is when there is a buildup of gas. If the bottle is plastic, you will see that it appears to be puffy. Whether the bottle is plastic or glass, if the lid makes a loud “pop” when opening, as if releasing a lot of pressure, this is a sign that gas has built up. The sauce is most likely spoiled and should be discarded. Again, the mentioned circumstances are very unlikely to happen.

What’s very likely to happen, on the other hand, is that you will notice a layer of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. That’s perfectly normal and all you need to do is to shake the bottle to dissolve it.

As I already mentioned, Worcestershire sauce degrades in quality over time. If you have a bottle that’s opened for a long time and seems to be fine, give it a taste.

If the taste isn’t that great, you probably need to discard it for quality purposes. Bad-tasting condiments usually mean a bad-tasting meal, and you don’t want that. Of course, you can experiment with adding more Worcestershire sauce to fix the issue, but that doesn’t always help.