Sauce Secrets: How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last?

bbq sauce in a saucer on a table
Most commercial barbecue sauces will last 1 to 2 years if the bottle is sealed. Most homemade bbq sauce lasts 1 to 2 weeks. You can ensure your bbq sauce has a long shelf life by storing the bottle upside down to stop the oxidation process, and store it in a cold and dark place.

How long bbq sauce lasts depends on several factors including whether you’ve opened the bottle or not, whether it’s homemade or store-bought, what ingredients it contains, storage conditions, and others! The easiest way to know if barbecue sauce has gone bad is to look for signs of spoilage.

How Long Does Homemade BBQ Sauce Last?

Homemade barbecue sauce can last for two weeks when stored in the refrigerator, depending on the ingredients and preparation. If the sauce is made with fresh ingredients, such as fresh tomatoes or peppers, it may last less than a sauce with canned or preserved ingredients.

Homemade barbecue sauce stored at room temperature lasts only 2-3 days. Heat and light can affect the quality and flavor of the sauce, and it may not be as safe if the sauce is left out for an extended period.

You can freeze it to extend its shelf life, which can help it last several months. However, it’s important to note that freezing can affect the texture and flavor of the sauce, and it may not taste as fresh as a sauce that has not been frozen.

Commercial barbecue sauce can last longer than homemade barbecue sauce because it has natural preservatives like lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar. This combination of ingredients helps increase acidity to help prevent mold and decrease water content, which helps avoid microbial growth.

How Long Does Store-Bought BBQ Sauce Last?

Store-bought barbecue sauce can have a longer shelf life than homemade sauce, as it is typically made with preserved ingredients and has been processed to extend its shelf life.

The expiration date on the label will give you an idea of how long the sauce is expected to have peak quality, but in general, store-bought barbecue sauce can last for about 1-2 years when stored in a cool, dry place.

As with any food product, it’s essential to pay attention to the appearance, aroma, and taste of the barbecue sauce before using it. It is safe if the sauce looks and smells normal and tastes good.

As an estimate, an unopened bottle of barbecue sauce will last about 1 year in the pantry; and even longer if stored in the fridge.

In comparison, an opened bottle of bbq sauce will not last long at room temperature for more than a few days whereas storing it in the fridge can keep it in good quality for about 6 to months.

Does Barbecue Sauce Go Bad?

Like any sauce, there comes a time when you have to kiss your old bbq sauce goodbye and never see it again. Barbecue sauce does go bad over time.

One noteworthy thing to mention is that an expired bbq sauce is not necessarily spoiled. The expiration date is an indicator of quality, not spoilage.

One sign that people think is a sign of spoilage is that the sauce has darkened. If your bbq sauce darkens, it’s not necessarily a sign that it has gone bad. Other sauces like hot sauce or sriracha can also darken over time. This is more likely to happen if your bbq sauce has chili peppers as an ingredient.

6 Signs that BBQ Sauce is Bad

If you’re wondering if your BBQ sauce has gone bad, here’s what to look for:

1. Bad taste or smell.

If your sauce has an off taste, toss it. The flavor should be delicious and full of spices and tang, not rancid or sour.

2. Thick, clumpy consistency.

If your BBQ sauce has a weird texture when opened, it’s no good to eat anymore. Ideally, the sauce should be smooth and easy to spread.

3. Liquid separation.

If your BBQ sauce has a thick layer of liquid on top, proceed with caution as this is one of the signs it has spoiled.

4. It smells weird.

This is the most obvious sign and probably the only one you need to look out for. If your sauce smells funny, it’s time to toss it.

5. There are visible signs of mold or other contamination.

If there are fuzzy spots on top of the sauce or discoloration around the edges of the container, then toss it! If you’re unsure whether something is moldy, don’t risk it – get rid of it!

6. It’s way past its expiration date.

While an expiration date relates to quality, if you have a sauce that has long since expired, it may not be safe to consume, especially if you notice any other signs of spoilage.

How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last After the Expiration Date?

The shelf life of bbq sauce is about 1-2 years when stored in a cool, dry place, but the expiration date on the label is often much shorter. The expiration date is generally considered to be the point at which the quality of the sauce may start to decline rather than a safety issue. Consider it a “best by date,” not “use by” date.

After the expiration date, the barbecue sauce may not taste as fresh or flavorful as you first purchased it. The flavors may become less vibrant, and the texture may change, but the sauce is still generally safe to eat. As an estimate, it can last 6 months beyond its “best by date” provided it has been properly stored.

To sum it up, the printed date on the label is a determinant of the best quality. Factors such as the type of sauce, its ingredients, and how you store it can all affect its shelf life.

How Long Can You Keep BBQ Sauce in the Refrigerator?

According to the Food Safety Government App, bottled shelf-stable commercial barbecue sauce can last up to 1 year in the pantry if it’s unopened.

After opening a bottle, you can keep it in the pantry, but keeping it in the refrigerator could prolong its life. The same goes for other sauces like ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, sriracha, or tabasco. An opened barbeque sauce stored in the fridge can last from 6 months to 1 year.

Storing BBQ Sauce Pros and Cons

Food storage is essential when you want to preserve your products. Here are some pros and cons of storing barbecue sauce in different ways:

Storing BBQ Sauce in a Cupboard

Many people store unopened bottles of barbecue sauce inside the kitchen pantry or a cupboard.


  • Convenient and easy to access.
  • It does not take up space in the refrigerator.


  • It may be exposed to heat and light, which can affect the quality of the sauce over time.
  • It may not be as safe if the cupboard is prone to pests like mice or insects.

Storing BBQ Sauce on the Countertop

Some people prefer to leave often-used condiments on the kitchen counter or on the dining table.


  • Convenient and easy to access.


  • It may be exposed to heat and light, which can affect the quality of the sauce over time.
  • It may not be as safe if the countertop is prone to contamination, such as raw meat or other food products.

Storing BBQ Sauce in the Refrigerator

Many condiments are placed in a refrigerator to help preserve them for future use, and there are several good reasons to do this!


  • It protects the sauce from heat and light, which can help preserve its quality and flavor.
  • It can help extend the shelf life of the sauce.
  • It may be safer if the sauce is opened and sits out for a while.


  • It takes up space in the refrigerator.

Storing BBQ Sauce Frozen in an Air-tight Container

If you have too much sauce to use and not enough storage space, freezing your sauce may be an option for you!


  • It can help extend the shelf life of the sauce.
  • It takes up less space in the freezer than in the refrigerator.


  • It may not thaw evenly, which can affect the texture and consistency of the sauce.
  • It may not taste as fresh as the sauce that has not been frozen.

What Can You Do to Use Up BBQ Sauce?

If you have a large amount of BBQ sauce in your pantry that’s about to go bad, don’t throw it out! You can use BBQ sauce to make all sorts of delicious dishes.

Here are some ideas for how you can use up your barbecue sauce:

  1. BBQ Sloppy Joe’s: Instead of using a tomato-based sauce, substitute BBQ sauce in this simple weeknight classic dish!
  2. BBQ Chicken Salad: Add BBQ sauce to your favorite chicken salad recipe for an extra kick of flavor.
  3. BBQ Meatball Subs: Add a few tablespoons of BBQ sauce to meatballs, then serve them up in hot bread rolls with barbecue sauce and dill pickles for an easy dinner.
  4. BBQ Pork Chops: Coat pork chops with BBQ sauce before baking or grilling them for a simple dinner dish that will impress your family and friends!
  5. BBQ Country-style ribs: the juiciness of the ribs go perfectly with the smokiness and subtle tanginess of the BBQ sauce. Additionally, ribs are traditionally cooked slathered in BBQ sauce.
  6. BBQ Chili: You can make chili by adding some diced vegetables and shredded beef (or chicken) to your leftover BBQ sauce and simmering it all together for 20 minutes or so until the vegetables are soft enough to eat without chewing too much. Top it off with cheese if you like!
  7. Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Add a little kick to your next sandwich by mixing pork and BBQ sauce in any combination of bread or rolls you like.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who loves everything related to food: from buying local produce and sourcing the best ingredients to finding the perfect spice mix and sauce to complement each dish. She loves getting together with friends near a campfire and grilling up some barbecue goodness while having quality conversations - no screens allowed.

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