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Does Hot Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated? | Storage Guidelines

Hot sauce does not need to be refrigerated, especially if you use it by the recommended date on the label. Most hot sauce has a small combination of ingredients that makes it shelf-stable for an extended period. Exceptions to this include homemade recipes without vinegar, salt, or preservatives.

Even though most hot sauces don’t require refrigeration, there are some exceptions to the rule. Keep reading to learn more about your favorite hot sauce brands and how long the spicy condiment can last in the fridge. 

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How Should Hot Sauce Be Stored?

Hot sauce should be stored in the pantry or refrigerator. You can keep commercial hot sauce at room temperature, but if it’s homemade, it’s better to be cautious and keep it in the fridge

Store-bought hot sauce goes through rigorous safety standards when it comes to a few important factors, including:

  • Ingredients
  • Processing
  • Packaging

Because most commercial hot sauce brands focus a lot on quality control, they’re generally shelf-stable. So if you make the hot sauce yourself, there are other things to remember. 

However, chances are your favorite brand of hot sauce can stay in your cabinet or on your counter for surprisingly long periods.

How Long Can Hot Sauce Stay Unrefrigerated?

Hot sauce can stay unrefrigerated indefinitely up to the best-by date if the jar is unopened. You can store an unopened bottle on the shelf for months or even years before cracking the seal. Once you open it, it can stay on your shelf for several weeks.

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Every brand of hot sauce has its unique formula and recipe. The ingredients may include preservatives and different amounts of natural components. Because salt and vinegar are key contributors to why hot sauce doesn’t need to be refrigerated, they can determine how long the product remains shelf stable. 

When you’re deciding if you can leave your hot sauce out of the refrigerator, there are a few things you’ll want to remember:

  • The container that the hot sauce is in should be airtight. 
  • Using your hands or dirty utensils make it much more likely to spoil outside the fridge. 
  • Warmer climates may cause the hot sauce to go bad faster than it would in places with more temperate conditions.

Does Frank’s Hot Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated? 

Frank’s Hot Sauce doesn’t need to be refrigerated. While the majority of Frank’s Red Hot sauces don’t require refrigeration, there’s one sauce (the RedHot Sweet Chili) that the manufacturer recommends refrigerating. However, you can leave the rest of their hot sauces safely in your pantry.

Classic Frank’s Hot Sauce and most other sauces they make do well when left out on the shelf, even after opening. You can also use these products after the best-by date if they don’t take on any noticeable changes. Some Franks Hot Sauce that you can leave on your shelf include: 

  • Original
  • Buffalo Wings
  • Nashville Hot Wing
  • Xtra Hot

Does Crystal Hot Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

Crystal Hot Sauce does not need to be refrigerated. Instead, it can sit on your shelf for weeks or months whether you’ve opened it or not, as long as there are no apparent signs of it spoiling.

Because there’s a higher ratio of peppers to vinegar in this sauce, you’ll want to store it in the refrigerator for a few weeks after you open the container. It’s still a shelf-stable product, but you may notice more changes quickly due to the higher portion of the fruit to vinegar and salt.

Does Cholula Need To Be Refrigerated?

Cholula hot sauce is a favorite of many — and it’s one of the hot sauces you’ll typically find at your favorite Mexican restaurants. Luckily, you can buy this hot sauce at the store so you can use it at home, but does it need to be refrigerated?

Cholula doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but many recommend that you do after opening the bottle to prolong it’s shelf life. Despite this, you can store it on your shelf for at least several weeks without the ingredients spoiling. However, Cholula suggests you use it within six months after opening.

Does Chili Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

Chili sauce needs to be refrigerated sooner than other hot sauces after opening because many chili sauces have multiple ingredients besides vinegar and salt. If there are numerous ingredients, they may need to be refrigerated immediately. 

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Because you can make chili sauce with more perishable items than other hot sauces, it’s more important to refrigerate them sooner after opening the jar. If you use a chili sauce with a lower amount of vinegar or salt, then chances are that it’ll go bad faster if it’s not kept in cool enough conditions.

Does Sriracha Need To Be Refrigerated?

Sriracha does not need to be refrigerated. You can extend the shelf life by putting it in the fridge, but it’ll still last months, or even longer, on your shelf. If you keep your house at a cool temperature, there’s no need to put sriracha in the refrigerator whether you open it or not.

How To Store Condiment Packets?

You can store condiment packets at room temperature, just like a hot sauce bottle. The packs are ideal for keeping at room temperature, and the sealed containers are the perfect size to fit in your drawers or cabinets at home.  

One way to store your condiment packets is to organize them by product type and when you received them. Keeping a well-documented (or at least well-organized) system lets you know which condiments to eat first so you can use them up before you need to toss them out. 

However, remember you should only keep condiment packets for a short time after you open them. If you must hold on to them after opening them, you’ll want to transfer them to another container, or wrap cellophane around the packets and store them in the refrigerator. The packets aren’t designed to keep the items inside fresh after you crack the seal.

Do Hot Sauce Packets Go Bad?

Hot sauce packets do go bad, and you’ll want to see a clear date on them that details when they’re best consumed by. Try to keep hot sauce packets in your cabinet for no more than a year or two.

Hot sauce packets aren’t the indestructible items you may have thought. Contrary to what many believe, just because there’s no date on the packet doesn’t mean it won’t expire. The packaging isn’t as durable as other mediums and can also be prone to breaking open or getting small tears that make it expire even more quickly.

If you store hot sauce packets, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Keep them in a cool, dry place like your cabinet.
  • Toss them out after a year or two.
  • Don’t use the packets if visible damage is on the outside packaging.

How Can You Tell if Hot Sauce Has Gone Bad?

You can tell hot sauce has gone bad if it doesn’t taste right anymore. If there is no spiciness or you taste a moldy flavor, it’s time to throw it away. However, you can also tell by the appearance. If there are any black or white spots in the hot sauce, you shouldn’t consume it.

In fact, not only will your hot sauce taste bad if you keep it too long, it can make a massive mess in your cabinet or fridge. According to Doug Archer, a scientist at the University of Florida, if you see black spots, throw the bottle out. It could signify that it’ll grow enough mold soon to make it explosive.

Can You Eat Expired Hot Sauce?

You can eat expired hot sauce without much risk of long-term effects. However, you take a chance anytime you eat spoiled food, so it’s best to avoid eating hot sauce long after the best-by date. If you must eat it, look for any bacteria or mold growth clues beforehand.

The label on your hot sauce bottle usually has a best-by or consume-by date. However, the labeling system in the United States isn’t very consistent, and this unpredictability goes for hot sauce too. Therefore, you’re best off relying on your instincts to decide if something is expired.

Can Expired Hot Sauce Make You Sick?

Expired hot sauce can make you sick, but chances are the effects are mild and not long-lasting. However, you should be careful and not intentionally eat food with odors or appearances indicating that you should throw it away.

Like any food, if you eat it when mold is visible, there’s a slight chance you could get sick. Because most hot sauces have preservatives and natural ingredients that fight off mold and bacteria, it’s less likely. But if it’s truly starting to host microbes, you shouldn’t eat it.

If you’re wondering if your expired hot sauce could make you sick, some things to remember include: 

  • The date on the side of the bottle often indicates expiration.
  • Your hot sauce may expire at a different rate depending on the container you store it in and the environment around you.
  • The hot sauce usually won’t grow mold or bacteria until long after the best-by date. 

Does Hot Sauce Kill Bacteria?

Hot sauce doesn’t kill bacteria on food that’s contaminated. When combined, however, the ingredients typically have a chemical makeup that doesn’t make it easy for bacteria to grow or multiply in the bottle of hot sauce. 

It’s important to understand that while bacteria probably won’t grow in hot sauce, it’s not impossible. You’ll want to do your part to ensure that you keep your hot sauce in ideal conditions to stop unwanted bacteria. Therefore, you should always do the following: 

  • Store your hot sauce in containers that won’t let any outside contaminants in. 
  • Don’t leave your hot sauce open for long periods to avoid bacteria growing inside. 
  • Never use utensils with food on them when removing sauce from a container, as this will reduce the shelf life and cause bacteria to grow faster.

Does Homemade Hot Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

Homemade hot sauce should always be refrigerated. The one exception is if you pasteurize the hot sauce and put it in a sterilized container. Even then, there’s some risk involved with storing homemade food on the shelf.

The risk you take from not refrigerating hot sauce is that dangerous bacteria or mold could grow on the food. While it’s not necessarily typical, the results can be deadly in worst-case scenarios. You risk botulism forming when you can or bottle food for long-term storage.

Therefore, unless you’ve taken classes or read enough to grasp the steps to bottle or can hot sauce, you may want to save that job for experts. That said, if you’re going to keep some hot sauce you made at home, you can take steps to make it as safe as possible, and one crucial step is to pasteurize your hot sauce before storing it. 

How To Pasteurize Hot Sauce

To pasteurize your hot sauce, you’ll want to bring it up to a high enough temperature to eliminate any unwanted bacteria. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, you must get a liquid up to 161 degrees Fahrenheit (71.6 degrees Celsius) for at least 15 seconds to pasteurize. Once you get to this temperature, you have a pasteurized hot sauce. 

What’s the best way to do this? Well, it depends on your hot sauce and how big of a batch it is. This video from Alabama Hot Sauce shows how an expert hot sauce maker does it without burning the final product:

Final Thoughts 

After reading this article, you now have a better idea about the storage conditions for your favorite spicy condiment. Generally, you don’t have to worry about refrigerating hot sauce, especially if it’s a store-bought brand. 

However, if you’re making hot sauce at home, be sure to pasteurize it for best results, and especially if you’d rather keep your spicy condiment out of the refrigerator. Unpasteurized hot sauce goes bad very quickly, so it must be kept refrigerated.

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