You’re here because perhaps you’ve got this giant bottle of Sriracha sauce that you’ve been using for a while now but you’re starting to notice some distinct changes in its flavor or appearance. Or perhaps you just want to learn more about Sriracha’s shelf life. Whichever the case, we’re happy to walk you through the lifespan of this wonderfully spicy, tangy, sweet sauce. Stay tuned.
Does Sriracha Go Bad?
In theory, yes. But it takes a long time for that to happen. Chili peppers, the ingredient Sriracha is majorly made from, contain capsaicin that prevents bacterial growth, keeping the product from deteriorating quickly. Other ingredients like salt and vinegar act as natural preservatives, which also slows down spoilage.
Even though a bottle will have a best-by date printed on it, you can still be able to use the sauce months beyond this date. But it will not retain its original flavor forever.
After the indicated period, Sriracha will slowly start to degrade in flavor, and at some point, it won’t taste as good as it did. Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure when that will happen, and for that reason, we recommend finishing the bottle before the printed date when its quality is still intact.
How Long Does Sriracha Last?
Like most hot sauces, there is no hard and fast rule for the duration Sriracha really stays good for. Sure, the date printed on the label may specify that the product be consumed within a given period, but even if you use your sauce years after this period, nothing will likely happen to you.
People throw away Sriracha because of the degraded quality, not because it has become unsafe to ingest. Sriracha is a shelf-stable product that can retain its quality well beyond the indicated period. An unopened bottle will stay good for an extra two to three years past the best-by date at room temperature.
When the bottle is opened, however, its quality starts to drop slowly by slowly and should be finished within five to seven months. You can help the sauce retain its flavor a little longer by placing it in the refrigerator where it can keep for up to twelve months.
But Sriracha really doesn’t require refrigerating, as even an opened bottle can keep good just by resting in the pantry. However, if the one you are using contains too many ingredients, you may want to store it in the fridge. For instance, if yours is Sriracha ranch, it would be best to put the sauce in the refrigerator.
The following chart illustrates the shelf life of Sriracha both at room temperature and in the refrigerator.
|Unopened bottle||Best-by date + 2 to 3 years||N/A|
|Opened bottle||5 to 7 months||Up to 1 year|
5 Tips to Tell If Sriracha Has Gone Bad
Sriracha does not spoil to an extent of making you sick, but if you see the following, it could be time to open a new bottle.
It is very rare that mold will grow in hot sauce, but if you see little gray, black, or greenish spots in your Sriracha that were not present before, the product may have caught mold. The sauce may still not be life-threatening but won’t taste so great. It may also not be so kind to people who are allergic to moldy food.
2. Foul Smell
If Sriracha is not stored properly, for example, if it is stored at high temperatures or not sealed tightly before it is put away, it can start to ferment. When that happens, it can give off a strong sour smell. If your sauce’s usual spicy-savory aroma has been replaced by a foul or fermented odor, get rid of that bottle.
3. Bloated Bottle
It is not uncommon to see a swollen bottle of Sriracha, a phenomenon caused by gas buildup. While it should not be too much of a concern, if the bottle is dented or leaking liquid, you should not use the sauce, as it could already have been contaminated.
4. Awful Taste
Good Sriracha is generally spicy, with a vinegary, sweet flavor. If yours doesn’t have enough flavor or just tastes terrible, discard it.
5. Change in Texture
Sriracha tends to thicken as it ages. A slightly thicker and dense sauce should be nothing to worry about, but if the product is too thick that it can’t pour anymore or has completely separated, you should not use it.
What About Browning/Darkening?
Sriracha tends to turn brown as it ages, but that is not a sign of going bad. The browning is usually a result of the sauce coming into contact with air. Whenever you open the bottle to use the product, a little amount of oxygen finds its way into the bottle, breaking down the product’s chemical composition, which causes it to change its color.
Darkening of hot sauces is perfectly normal and in most cases, it does not degrade the quality of the product. Sure, the taste may be a little different, but the sauce is usually not unsafe to eat.
3 Tips to Store Sriracha
If you want to keep your Sriracha looking vibrant, tasting fresh, and at peak quality for a long time, follow these tips.
1. Store It in a Cool, Dry, and Dark Area
Sriracha does not like high temperatures, moisture, or direct sunlight. So, make sure your bottle stays away from the stove or the window and always keep it tightly sealed so it doesn’t absorb moisture from the atmosphere.
We recommend storing the product in the pantry but any other spot that favors hot sauces would be perfect.
2. Keep the Mouth of the Bottle Clean
One of the major reasons why Sriracha goes bad is the presence of foreign matter in the sauce. These usually enter through the bottle’s opening especially when old sauce is left to sit on there for too long collecting airborne pathogens. Over time, these microorganisms find their way into the bottle and contaminate the product, causing it to go bad prematurely.
Regularly cleaning the mouth of the bottle can prevent contaminants from sneaking into your Sriracha. Simply run a damp cloth around the bottle opening after every use and completely wipe the area dry before closing the lid.
3. Don’t Dunk Foods Into the Bottle
No matter how wide the mouth of the bottle is, do not dip foods directly into the sauce. Sure, it may seem more convenient, but dunking is one of the easiest ways to attract contaminants into your sauce.
The food particles left inside the bottle will soon incite a mold or bacterial outbreak, accelerating the deterioration of the bottle. Instead, pour a few spoons of the sauce into a separate bowl and dip away. Also, do not put any leftover dip sauce back into the bottle.
The above tips work for both store-bought and homemade Sriracha. Looking to make your own Sriracha at home? Here is a video with step-by-step instructions on how to make and store homemade Sriracha. Check it out!
The Risk of Consuming Expired Sriracha
If you have ingested Sriracha that has been in storage beyond its expiration date, don’t worry too much because that sauce is still safe for human consumption. The date printed on the bottle is meant to show you how long the product retains its original flavor for, not when you should stop using it.
However, if a bottle has been sitting in the pantry for five to six years past the marked date or has been infested by mold due to improper storage, it’s best to just toss it out.
Well, we are not saying that you will develop severe health conditions from ingesting the sauce. Maybe you will experience mild stomach pains or, at worst, irritate your digestive system, but the risk of long-term complications is very low.
Can You Freeze Sriracha?
Yes, you can safely freeze your Sriracha. However, you need to ask yourself whether it is really necessary. Sriracha stays good long enough stored in the pantry, so it actually doesn’t need freezing. Also, you should keep in mind that after thawing, the texture will not be the same anymore. The sauce will thin out and become less spicy and flavorful.
If you are looking to extend the shelf life of your Sriracha, store it in the refrigerator instead. Because of the cold temperatures, your sauce will not darken as much and will keep its flavor for a long time.
The bottom line is, that Sriracha will stay at peak condition even at room temperature. If you have bought a couple bottles that you intend to keep a little bit longer, the fridge will be the best option, not the freezer.
Sriracha is a hardy food item that will retain its quality and flavor for a long time. However, poor storage practices can lead to mold growth, gas buildup, and slight changes in flavor, aroma, and texture. Trust your judgment. If you think the sauce is still good to use, it probably is.