» Does Fish Sauce Go Bad?How Long Does It Last?

Does Fish Sauce Go Bad?How Long Does It Last?

Does Fish Sauce Go Bad How Long Does Fish Sauce Last
Image: Lucky Belly

Many people keep condiments like a fish sauce for a long since it is only necessary to add it a little bit to the dish. If you don’t prefer preparing Asian dishes too often, this food will likely stay in your house for months, even years.

The good news is that this flavoring made from fermented fish has an extended expiration date so that it will be edible even after months of spending in your pantry. Let’s see does fish sauce go bad and how long does fish sauce last.

Does Fish Sauce Go Bad?

Does Fish Sauce Go Bad
Image: Lucky Belly

Fish sauce is created from fish and tiny crustaceans, krill, in Vietnam and Thailand. After coating with salt, they ferment for approximately two years. Thanks to its rich, umami flavor, this sauce is practically an unavoidable condiment in Asian cuisine.

Premium product contains nothing except fish and salt, but manufacturers often add sugar, monosodium glutamate, and various preservatives to prolong the shelf life of products intended for mass consumption.

In most cases, fish sauce has a best-by date, and its shelf life depends on the storage conditions. You can use this condiment in different periods depending on the brand, but it usually lasts about one year when stored properly.

Believe it or not, it is recorded that this product sometimes won’t change flavor even when kept in a fridge for a few years.

How Long Does Fish Sauce Last?

How Long Does Fish Sauce Last
Image: Lucky Belly

In most cases, you can keep an unopened fish sauce bottle for a year after the best-by date printed on the label. It is approximately a period of three to four years after bottling.

Once opened, you can freely use this product for at least a year when storing it in the fridge without any concern that its quality will decrease. The point is that this product can stay fresh and flavored for long, thanks to the high salt level and absence of any perishable ingredients.

Some manufacturers don’t put best-by dates on the label, but only the bottling date. Others add this data because customers prefer choosing a product containing such information. However, it doesn’t change the fact that you can use it much longer than labeled.

Fish sauce shelf life

Fish sauce type

Pantry Fridge
Unopened packaging One year


Opened packaging

A few weeks to 6 months

More than a year

You probably won’t see spoiled fish sauce, but that doesn’t mean its quality will stay the same forever. On the contrary, it will degrade over time, its typical taste will disappear, and its flavor will become milder.

No one can predict the exact moment when that change will happen, but you can keep an unopened bottle for approximately a year after the best-by date without worrying about the product quality.

On the other hand, you should store an opened bottle in the fridge, and the fish sauce will retain its quality for more than a year. You can also keep it in the pantry, but its quality will worsen after a few months in such a case.

One more thing! The fish sauce shelf life will also depend on the way of its production, brand, and quality level. Manufacturers ferment the first-grade product for at least a year, and that process significantly affects its longevity.

6 Tips to Tell if Fish Sauce has Gone Bad

As I have already mentioned, fish sauce is unlikely to go bad, but you should always check its condition when storing it for a long.

Even though manufacturers put best-by dates on the bottle label, there are actually no legal requirements regarding the fish sauce expiration date in the US. The catch is in customers who trust food with the noted expiration date.


You can often notice clear crystals on the fish sauce bottle bottom. It is not a sign of spoilage, and these sea salt crystals naturally form in this sauce over time. The best part is that they won’t affect the sauce quality.

Cloudy particles

Small cloudy particles floating in the bottle are proteins. They precipitate when you store the fish sauce in a place with significant temperature variations. It is a natural process that won’t affect the sauce taste.


Fresh fish sauce color is transparent, golden-brownish, and reddish-brown without any sediment. Be prepared that this product becomes darker over time, but it doesn’t affect its quality and taste.


The fresh sauce smells like savory fish. Some people don’t like this fishy odor, but it doesn’t stay that strong when added to a meal. In fact, this condiment will provide a rich flavor you will adore. Once the product goes bad, you will notice a rotten odor. That is the sure sign this product is not edible anymore.


If you decide that your fish sauce looks and smells fine, but you are still unsure if it is usable, you can taste a bite. If the taste is significantly different than the fresh product you bought, it is better to get rid of it.


It is not common, but you can sometimes see the mold that develops on the bottle cap inside. As soon as you spot mold even in traces over the sauce surface, it is time to throw the whole bottle away.

3 Tips to Store Fish Sauce

The best storage solution for fish sauce is in its original packaging. Since it is an airtight bottle, it will be enough to keep it away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Even though you can find an expiration date printed on the label, the adequately stored fish sauce will last much longer.

Kitchen cabinet or pantry

Until you open the fish sauce bottle, it will be acceptable to store it in the kitchen cabinet or pantry. It is crucial to keep this product at room temperature and in a dark place since heat and light negatively affect its quality. Never choose the spot next to the stove, microwave, or dishwasher.

Once you open the bottle, it will be OK to keep storing it in the pantry, but you should take care to close the cap tightly after every use to prevent oxidation.

It is recommended to check the cap occasionally and clean it when needed. It is essential to prevent fish sauce crud build-up since they can be the basis for mold development.


Even though you can store a properly sealed fish sauce bottle in your pantry, it is better to place it in the fridge if you plan to save the product untouched for a long.

Thanks to the high salt level, this sauce will go well for a few weeks when stored in the kitchen cabinet or up to six months in the pantry. However, it would be better to keep it at a lower temperature to keep its quality for a prolonged period.

It is not rare to notice the sauce loses its typical taste when kept in the warmer place for more than a week or two. The fridge temperature is ideal for retaining its quality, particularly when you use the same bottle for six months or more.

Keep in mind that premium quality fish sauce doesn’t contain preservatives. Therefore, it will last shorter than the lesser quality product full of these ingredients.


Since the fish sauce is packed with salt as a preservative, there is no need to put this product in the freezer. It will last for a long when kept at room temperature before opening the bottle.

Once you start using it, it will be enough to store the bottle in the fridge, and these temperatures will keep it tasty and unspoiled for months.

The Risk of Consuming an Expired Fish Sauce

The Risk of Consuming an Expired Fish Sauce
Image: Lucky Belly

When you eat food past the expiration date, you can expect symptoms of food poisoning to appear, followed by typical symptoms like fever, stomachache, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

However, fish sauce is something special. Thanks to the way of production and high salt levels, this product won’t go bad for years, and its taste will remain unchanged.

Salt as preservatives will keep it safe from spoiling, and you won’t have any negative consequences even when eating an old condiment stored in the original packaging.

Can You Freeze Fish Sauce?

No, you can’t and shouldn’t freeze the fish sauce. It is that simple, meaning there is no need to put this product in the freezer since it contains only fish and salt. Salt is a preservative that kills bacteria and keeps this product safe for consumption for a long.

Without these microorganisms, food can’t spoil. Therefore, it will be enough to store this condiment in a pantry or fridge and keep it there for months, even years.


In some Asian countries, fish sauce is an essential ingredient unavoidable in most recipes. Nowadays, it is popular worldwide, and you probably want to use it from time to time.

Since it is probably not a standard part of your cuisine, you may keep the same bottle for years. Don’t worry. Thanks to the salt it contains, this product has a long shelf life, and you can use it for years without negative consequences.


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