Does Hot Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

So, you brought a brand new hot sauce bottle from the store. You opened it and used it to spice up your dish. But now what? Should you store the host sauce bottle in your pantry at normal temperature, or should you refrigerate it? Let’s see!

Does hot sauce need to be refrigerated after opening?

As a general rule, hot sauce doesn’t need to be refrigerated after opening because it is shelf-stable as its high salt and vinegar content prevent any bacterial growth. However, if you want to preserve its color and long-term quality, you should refrigerate it.

Let’s jump in to learn more about why hot sauce doesn’t need to be refrigerated usually, when it is good to refrigerate it, along with some related questions.

Does Hot Sauce Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

Usually, sauces don’t need to be refrigerated. You can keep the hot sauce bottle after opening it in your pantry for a considerable amount of time.

hot sauce

Technically, except honey, all foods will start spoiling eventually. But the thing is that it will take a decent amount of time by the time you might have already consumed your hot bottle, especially if you are a spicy eater.

Here’s a table that gives a rough idea of how long you can keep an opened hot sauce bottle. Please note that some hot sauces can last longer or shorter than the mentioned time frame, depending on what ingredients are used to make them. This is only to give you a general idea.

Condition:How Long Can An Opened Hot Sauce Bottle Last?
In Refrigerator2 years
At Room Temperature6 months

Why Does An Open Hot Sauce Bottle Not Need To Be Refrigerated?

Hot sauce bottles contain these three magical elements because of which the bottle environment becomes hostile for any bacteria to thrive. Those elements are:

  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Capsaicin

Generally, most hot sauces contain vinegar and salts as their ingredients. Now the acidity of the vinegar and relatively high concentration of salt creates an environment that creates unfavorable conditions for bacteria like Clostridium Botulinum and others to thrive.

And as you might already know, bacteria infestations on food are one of the primary causes why a food starts to spoil. However, since these components prevent bacteria from getting into the sauce, it remains edible for a long time, depending on where you keep it.

In addition to these ingredients, there’s also a third ingredient present in hot sauces that is Capsaicin. Do you know about them?

Capsaicin is the compound that gives hot peppers their heat. And it, in turn, helps in keeping the bacteria away.

Furthermore, the commercially made hot sauces have preservatives in them to make sure that they remain safe even when stored at room temperature.

Hence, you can see so many protective ingredients present in hot sauce that prevent it from going bad. So by now, it might be already clear to you why the hot sauce can remain self-stable. Right?

However, does that mean we shouldn’t refrigerate hot sauce at all? No, there are some situations where keeping the hot sauce bottle in the refrigerator will make sense. Let’s see!

When Should You Refrigerate A Hot Sauce?

Here are some cases in which you might find it helpful refrigerating a hot sauce rather than leaving it outside:

1. Not All Hot Sauce Are Same

Although ingredients like vinegar can prevent the hot sauce from getting spoiled, do remember that not all hot sauces will have vinegar. For instance, if your hot sauce is oil-based, it is recommended to refrigerate it as there will be a higher risk of botulism if raw garlic is used to make it.

Moreover, if your hot sauce contains pieces of mango, tomato, pineapple, carrots, and other fruits, it is also advised to keep the hot sauce in the refrigerator. The reason is that those types of ingredients can spoil quickly compared to vinegar-based hot sauces when kept outside.

In general, if you are in doubt, you should keep the hot sauce in the refrigerator as a rule of thumb.

2. Appearance Of The Hot Sauce

Though your hot sauce won’t go bad outside at room temperature, over time, the color of the hot sauce can change if you don’t refrigerate it.

The hot sauce may not look so visually appealing because of the oxidation. The vibrant color of the hot sauce may change a bit if you don’t refrigerate it. So if the presentation and appearance of the sauce are important to you, then you should consider refrigerating it.

3. Taste of The Sauce

Yes, an old sauce stored outside may not spoil, but you will somehow be able to get the feeling and the test of old. Isn’t it?

As time passes, the heat and the other flavors of the hot sauce will keep fading away. And what will eventually remain is a dull, thick sludge of vinegar.

However, if you store the hot sauce in the refrigerator, you can make it flavorful.

4. Hot Sauce Is Homemade

If you are a foodie and like to make food and prepare ingredients yourself, it’s good. But do note that even if you make a vinegar-based hot sauce, still, it is recommended to store it in the refrigerator.

Why? Just think the commercial hot sauces are packed after conducting various tests and adding all the necessary preservatives to ensure that the hot sauce shelf-life is maintained for the estimated time.

But in your homes, you aren’t probably going to do all such tests to prepare your hot sauce, right?

Hence, in that case, also it is recommended to refrigerate your hot sauce to prevent the risk of spoilage.


In short, if you feel that you can use the commercial hot sauce bottle within a few months, then you probably don’t need to store it in a refrigerator.

But if you care about the appearance of the sauce, its taste, if it is not vinegar-based, or if it is homemade. Then in all the situations, you can think of storing the hot sauce in the refrigerator. That’s it! Thanks

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