Does Sriracha Go Bad?

Some people can go through a bottle of sriracha in a week's time, but for those of us who have a questionable bottle in the refrigerator door, when is it time to throw it out?

large and small bottles of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha sauce on a store shelf

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A favorite hot sauce for pho and ramen, most people probably have a bottle of sriracha kicking around in their fridge. It garnered nearly cult status, with enthusiasts slathering it on almost everything from eggs to pizza and even ice cream! But if you're not using your bottle morning, noon, and night, how long until it's time to toss it?

Does Sriracha Go Bad?

In short, yes — all food goes bad eventually. But fear not, sriracha has an extremely long shelf life, so it's much more likely that you'll use it all before any spoilage occurs. This means that an open bottle of sriracha is totally okay in the fridge for up to three years! Sriracha is made from several foods that do a great job at preserving; namely, hot peppers, salt, and vinegar — along with some commercial preservatives. 

Salt and vinegar are two natural ingredients used for food preservation and help keep canned and jarred foods, like pickles or beef jerky, safe to eat much longer than they usually would be. Additionally, the chemical in hot peppers that gives them their signature heat, capsaicin, is also used as a natural preservative. All of these forces working together help to fight off the development of dangerous bacteria and, of course, taste delicious.

How to Store Sriracha

Some people keep their sriracha in the cabinet or even on the table, and that's fine if you plan to eat it quickly, around three months or less. However, it's best to refrigerate it if you're a more occasional user. Most hot sauces, sriracha included, get their multi-dimensional hotness from a bit of fermentation. When left at room temperature, this process continues. The sauce can get much hotter or ferment too much and taste sour or rotten, so we recommend popping it in the refrigerator for the most longevity out of your bottle.

It's less common in sriracha than with other condiments, but mold can be an issue if you mishandle your bottle. Always clean off the nozzle after each use to prevent build-up and lower the risk that something on the outside could make its way into the opening and contaminate the whole bottle. Additionally, if you unscrew the lid to get the hot sauce out that way, make sure to either pour it or use a clean utensil to coax the sriracha out. A utensil that has touched other foods or has been used for eating already could introduce mold spores or bacteria into the bottle.

How to Tell if Sriracha Has Gone Bad

Because of sriracha's natural preservatives, sriracha that has "gone bad" is usually just not as delicious or tastes off, it's seldom dangerous, but it's always better to be safe than sorry. The best indicator of sriracha's freshness is its appearance. Over time, sriracha will darken; it's a natural process that happens with chili peppers. But if it starts to look brown, that's an indicator that the flavor won't be very good anymore. Additionally, any thickening or separation is a pretty good sign it won't be tasty, and it's time to toss it. If there are any signs of mold or a film across the surface, toss it immediately.

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