Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad? Yes… Here’s Why

Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad? Yes… Here’s Why

December 10, 2020 / Comments

Listen, it happens to the best of us… 

You plan out a huge backyard BBQ menu only to realize you’re out of BBQ sauce. (The horror…)

With only a few hours left until the party starts, you frantically search your fridge and pantry looking for any remaining sauce. Finally, you find a dusty bottle of BBQ sauce at the back of your pantry.

But, you can’t seem to remember when you bought it. Was it a few months ago or several years? Who knows.

The best by date has long passed and it was definitely opened, but how bad can it be, right? 


Yes, BBQ sauce goes bad—especially when not stored properly.

If you’re racking your brain trying to remember when you bought an old bottle of BBQ sauce, chances are it’s gone bad. And you don’t want to serve bad BBQ sauce to a house full of guests do you?

Before you throw caution to the wind and smother your perfectly prepared meat and veggies in expired BBQ sauce, we highly advise you read through this quick guide. Along the way, you’ll learn:

  • Why BBQ sauce goes bad and why fresh is always best
  • 3 obvious signs that your BBQ sauce is expired
  • The best ways to store BBQ sauce at home (+ how long BBQ sauce lasts)

By the end, we promise you’ll never second guess using expired BBQ sauce again!

Why BBQ Sauce Goes Bad

If you look at the ingredients of BBQ sauce, you’ll find items like vinegar, sugar, ketchup, tomato paste, spices, and herbs—along with a few secret ingredients passed down from generation to generation.

What do these ingredients all have in common? They’re all natural!

When you buy quality BBQ sauce, you’re not selecting a recipe stuffed with an endless list of chemicals and artificial preservatives designed to maintain an extraordinarily long shelf life. 

Instead, you’re purchasing a BBQ sauce carefully crafted using an age-old recipe using only the freshest and most flavorful ingredients.

BBQ sauce made with natural herbs, spices, and liquids will degrade over time, even when sealed and stored properly. And, once opened, oxidation causes ingredients to break down and separate, causing more opportunities for foreign objects like mold and moisture to make their way into the sauce. 

Now, you might ask, But aren’t sugar and vinegar natural preservatives? Wouldn’t the acids from the tomato ingredients help to extend the shelf life?”

And, you’d be right! However, as with all natural foods and beverages, these ingredients do not last forever. 

Is old BBQ sauce safe to eat? Generally, yes, assuming there is no mold or signs of spoilage. 

But, by consuming BBQ sauce well past its prime, you’re sacrificing something much greater than your culinary morals: flavor.

Fresh is Always Best

Have you seen the story about the man who *still* has a 20-year old McDonald’s Big Mac? After all that time, the bun and patty look almost immaculate.

This clear use of artificial preservatives is an excellent example of why fresh foods, including BBQ sauce, are always best. 

Sure, you probably could eat that two-decade-old Big Mac and be fine. But chances are, it tastes bland and boring.

The question you have to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to sacrifice flavor in my recipe to use this old BBQ sauce?”

If you’re in a bind and desperately need BBQ sauce, you’ll be fine to use BBQ sauce past the “best by” date. But don’t expect it to taste good!

Read: Recipe: Crispy BBQ Fries (Ready In 20-Minutes)

BBQ sauce consumed within the best by date will boast the plentiful sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors we crave! As it gets older and oxygen is introduced, those flavors will slowly but surely die out, leaving a gooey memory of what was once a kickass BBQ sauce.

3 Obvious Signs That Your BBQ Sauce is Expired

If you look into your pantry or refrigerator and the BBQ sauce exhibits any of these warning signs, throw it out immediately!

1. Off-Putting Smell

BBQ sauce should naturally smell a little tart, sweet, and/or smoky. That irresistible aroma is part of what makes us love the sauce!

But, if that smell transforms into something pungent, off-putting, or downright gag-inducing, toss it out. This odor is your first red flag of a BBQ sauce gone bad.

2. Change in Appearance

Several changes in appearance will occur as your BBQ sauce begins to degrade over time:

  • Color – Keep an eye on the color of the BBQ sauce. As it gets closer to being expired, you’ll notice a deeper, darker hue. This is due to oxidation that occurs once the bottle is opened.
  • Mold – We don’t have to explain this one, right? Please don’t consume BBQ sauce—or any food for that matter—with clear signs of mold in it.
  • Liquid Separation – While some separation can occur naturally, this change in combination with a color difference is another sign that your BBQ sauce is on its way out. However, separation occurs before the expiration or best by date, give the bottle a shake to mix the ingredients again.

Read: 10 Fun and Easy BBQ Games for Your Next Grill and Chill

3. Altered Texture 

When made correctly, the texture of BBQ sauce should be smooth, spreadable, and viscous.

If you start to notice that your BBQ sauce is thick, slimy, or clumpy, it’s time to go. A texture change is a sign of oxidation or moisture, both of which jumpstart the process of decreased flavor and quality.

The Best Ways To Store BBQ Sauce At Home

To avoid dealing with spoiled BBQ sauce, it’s important to store it properly at all times. Otherwise, you run the risk of enduring bad BBQ sauce sooner than expected!

How to Store Unopened BBQ Sauce

Unopened BBQ sauce purchased from the store can last up to 1 year in the pantry.

If you still haven’t opened the BBQ sauce after 1 year and the appearance still looks acceptable, you are safe to continue storing the sauce until opening.

It is important to store the BBQ sauce in a closed, cool, and dark space, such as a kitchen pantry, to avoid any potential for oxidation or contaminant exposure. 

However, if you’ve made homemade BBQ sauce and put it in an airtight container such as a mason jar with a lid, it will need to be stored in the refrigerator from the start.

Read: The Essential BBQ Checklist: 49 Things You Can’t Miss For A Good Time

How to Store Opened BBQ Sauce

Once you open a jar or bottle or BBQ sauce, say goodbye to the pantry.

BBQ sauce containers must be stored in the refrigerator once opened.

By doing so, you are ensuring that the mouth-watering flavors and aromas of the BBQ sauce are still intact the next time you open the bottle. Without this drop in temperature and specific moisture level, the ingredients won’t retain their integrity and begin to spoil.

Open, refrigerated BBQ sauce can last 6-12 months after opening. However, remember to check the smell, appearance, and texture to guarantee that it’s safe to eat.

Opt for a BBQ Sauce That Never Expires

Here’s a little secret we’ve been holding onto:

When you buy Redneck Lipstick, you don’t have to worry about it expiring…

Because there’s never any leftover!

Our cherished recipe is so delicious, you’ll find yourself dousing BBQ sauce on every recipe and reaching for a new bottle week after week.

But when stored correctly, you can stock up on the sweet, spicy, and tangy Redneck Lipstick BBQ sauce and never run out of that fresh, flavorful taste.

Stock your pantry with your favorite BBQ sauce today.

Checkout Our Delicious BBQ Sauces

Made from wholesome ingredients right here in the USA. BBQ sauce you can be proud to put on your table.

Shop Now

Mr. Redneck

We're demystifying BBQ by exposing industry secrets, creating easy recipes, and blowing the lid off delicious BBQ at home. Give your next meal a kiss of Redneck Lipstick.

Checkout Our Delicious BBQ Sauces

Made from wholesome ingredients right here in the USA. BBQ sauce you can be proud to put on your table.

Shop Now

About Redneck Lipstick

Southern Certified BBQ

Down home cooking isn't complete without a BBQ sauce you can rely on. Check out our unique Made in the USA flavors in our shop!

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