Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad? – Can Expired BBQ Sauce Make You Sick?

Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad?: Barbecue has been one of the favorite food options for most of us. Sometimes it may happen that you have run out of barbecue sauce and the stores are closed. Finally, you find an old bottle of BBQ sauce from your kitchen pantry whose Best use by date has already passed.

Now you must be wondering does bbq sauce go bad just by looking at the bottle and whether you can still use it or not. Well, that is the very topic for today, where we are going to disclose everything about barbecue sauce’s shelf life and also give you some easy tricks to store them properly. Sounds interesting? Let’s dig in!

Does BBQ sauce go bad

Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad If Left Out?

Definitely yes. Barbecue sauces can easily go off after a significant amount of time. Chemicals and artificial preservatives added in the sauce give an extra-ordinarily longer shelf life to BBQ sauces but if you buy an organic one you must expect a comparatively lower shelf life.

Once you open the Bbq sauce bottle and do not close it properly, the sauce gets exposed to air and breaks down its particles causing more opportunities for foreign bodies like mold, moisture, and bacteria to make their way into the sauce. Barbecue Sauce at first tastes tangy, sweet, and spicy at the same time but once oxidation makes its way the authentic flavors are going to die.

Does BBQ sauce go bad after the expiration date?

Not necessarily. If your bottle of BBQ sauce has no mold, fungus, poor smell, discoloration, or any other indication of spoilage, then it is absolutely safe to be used even if the expiry date has passed. But, one significant factor that you may notice is a slight change in the flavor and aroma.

The taste might change a little bit from what it was previously after the expiration date has passed due to the ingredients reacting amongst each other after a considerable amount of time.

Generally, BBQ sauce bottles do not come with expiry dates but come with best buy dates which are estimated timespans till which the BBQ sauce is supposed to retain its authentic flavor and aroma.

If you can prevent oxidation through air exposure or contamination by storing your bottle of Barbecue Sauce properly then there will be no change in its chemical composition and you will be easily able to use it even if it has expired. We still do not recommend this for elderly people and children.

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Does homemade BBQ sauce go bad?

Yes, homemade BBQ sauce must be refrigerated all the time irrespective of the recipes that you have made it in. Homemade BBQ sauce can last for up to one week in your kitchen pantry after which you need to immediately shift it inside the refrigerator or freezer.

Homemade BBQ sauces are made up of a bit of vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar but without cosmetic pasteurization, so they won’t last as long as a store-bought one.

If you aim to make a large batch of BBQ sauce altogether and store it for future use, then the best method to follow would be freezing. Make sure you divide the sauce into small portions enough for a single dish or use an ice cube tray inside the freezer.

Does Vinegar BBQ Sauce Go Bad?

Yes, definitely. If you have bought an authentic organic Bbq sauce from a reputed brand, then it must be filled with all-natural ingredients like tomato, ketchup, lemon juice, vinegar, herbs, and spices. Without the addition of additives preservatives and other chemicals, the sauce will have a potentially limited shelf life.

All these natural ingredients including vinegar will degrade over time and once you open the bottle, the oxidation process will also hop in. Oxidation breaks down all the ingredients to provide bacteria, mold, and fungus to penetrate into the sauce. Hence, refrigeration is a must for vinegar BBQ sauces too.

Does BBQ Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

Yes, BBQ sauce will definitely go bad if the bottle is opened for a long time and not refrigerated or stored properly. Once you have opened the BBQ sauce bottle then it is no longer safe to be kept just in the pantry. It needs to be refrigerated right from the day we have opened the bottle.

By this, we can ensure that the authentic flavors and aromas of the BBQ sauce will still remain intact the next time you open the bottle to use it. Without this extreme drop in temperature and precise moisture level, the ingredients of the BBQ sauce will not retain their potency and start to go bad.

In the refrigerator, BBQ sauce can last for up to 6 to 12 months after opening but always remember to check the smell, appearance, texture, and taste to guarantee whether it is safe to consume or not.

Also Refer: Can Soy Sauce Go Bad

BBQ Sauce Storage Dos and Dont’s

Do’s: To store your BBQ sauce properly after you have opened it, you must search for a sealed, cold, and dark space such as a kitchen pantry away from direct sunlight or oven heat for that matter to avoid any potential for oxidation due to air exposure or contamination. If you have made homemade BBQ sauce, put it inside an airtight container just after you have cooled it down to room temperature and store it in a refrigerator right from the start.

Don’ts: Limit your habit of opening the freezer door again and again. If the sauce has come in a wide-mouthed bottle, do not put your finger inside to taste, this will contaminate the whole thing. Instead take it out on a plate, secure the cap properly and then have it. Avoid water droplets from falling into your sauce bottle while cooking.

How to Tell if BBQ Sauce is Bad? | Signs of Spoilage

The three obvious signs that you can look into to check whether your Bbq sauce has gone bad or not are as follows:

Weird smell-

Generally, BBQ sauce tastes a little tart, sugary, or sometimes smoky but the irresistible aroma is pleasing to the nose. But if its smell turns into something pungent, sour, rotten, or gag-inducing then your Bbq sauce has probably gone bad, throw it away immediately.


There are three levels of appearances that you must check. First, check the color, if you notice that your sauce is looking deeper or darker than what it originally was that is a clear indication that your sauce has gone bad due to oxidation.

If you see white fur-like entities covering the surface of your sauce then that is mold, discard the bottle immediately. If you see that the bottle has started showing the liquid and the sauce layers differently then that is also a sign of the sauce going bad and the liquid layer separating. But, if it is just a few days past the best-buy date, you can give your bottle a good shake and use it again.

Strange texture-

BBQ sauce is generally supposed to be smooth, runny, and viscous in texture. Once you put the sauce on a plate if it is slimy, thick, or clumpy then it means that your sauce has been ruined due to oxidation, throw the sauce out and replace the bottle with a fresh one.

Do Check: Can Freeze Alfredo Sauce

How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last?

Store-bought BBQ sauces last longer than homemade ones due to the presence of added preservatives. If you can keep a check on the oxidation process then BBQ sauces will last you a pretty long time, might be upto a year, so refrigeration is a must once you open the bottle to slow down the oxidation process.

Another pro tip here is to store the bottle upside down to retain the quality for a longer period of time. By doing this, the air is prevented from getting inside the bottle from all sides which in turn slows down the oxidation or contamination process.

Conditions Pantry Fridge
BBQ Sauce (unopened) Best by + 6 months
BBQ Sauce (opened)  1 – 4 weeks 4 months
Homemade BBQ Sauce 7 – 14 days

How Long Does BBQ Sauce Last

Interesting Facts About Barbeque Sauce

Now, let’s see some amazing facts about BBQ sauce that we bet you didn’t know earlier:

  • Some barbecue sauces have a high content of sodium, manganese, vitamin A, and potassium, along with vitamins and minerals.
  • Barbecue sauce is made primarily from tomato sauce, and has a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. This carotenoid compound reduces the risk of certain cancers, especially prostate cancer.
  • BBQ sauce is also known to have antioxidants that improve vascular function in people with cardiovascular diseases and reduce high blood pressure.
  • Antioxidants, vitamins C and A in BBQ help to protect the skin, cure sun damage, and may have anti-aging properties.
  • In case weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight is your aim, BBQ sauces, add flavor without racking up fat

FAQs on Can Barbecue Sauce Go Bad? – BBQ Sauce Darkening

1. How do you know when barbecue sauce is bad?

If your Barbecue Sauce has a pungent odor, darkened color than the original, clumpy, thick texture instead of being runny and viscous, mold growth, or the liquid layer separating then you can consider these as clear indications for the spoilage of your barbecue sauce.

2. How long is barbecue sauce good for past expiration date?

As long as your barbecue sauce is not showing any signs of spoilage and you have stored it properly inside the refrigerator omitting contamination and oxidation due to air exposure, your barbecue sauce is good to be used even if it has expired.

3. Why BBQ Sauce Goes Bad? 

BBQ Sauce goes bad because of the ingredients used in it like natural herbs, spices, and liquids. It naturally degrades after opening the bottle and storing it properly.

4. What are the three obvious signs that your BBQ Sauce is expired?

The most common warning signs to toss bbq sauce are a change in appearance, a change in texture, and an off-putting smell.

Bottom Line

So that was all you needed to know about store-bought and homemade BBQ sauces. Till your bottle is unopened it is safe to be kept in a pantry even for a year, but once opened refrigeration in an air-tight container is a must to ensure no bacterial growth or oxidation.

Hope you enjoyed the article Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad? If yes, it’s great and if not then let us know via the comment section below.

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