Found a bottle of BBQ sauce in your pantry that was well past its best buy date.
Maybe you found some leftover homemade BBQ sauce in the fridge.
Now you’re wondering how long that BBQ sauce has been in the fridge or pantry and if it’s still good.
You are not alone; for most, if the BBQ sauce is not in sight, it’s out of mind.
However, before we get to the shelf life of BBQ sauce, let’s discuss how to store BBQ sauce.
How To Store Homemade Bbq Sauce
Allow your homemade BBQ sauce to cool to room temperature. Do not allow the BBQ sauce to sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
After 2 hours, the BBQ sauce will be over run with so much bacteria that it is unsafe to eat.
Place your homemade BBQ sauce into an airtight container and place it in the fridge.
In contrast, if you canned homemade BBQ sauce, store it in your pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight.
Once you open the canned BBQ sauce, store it in the refrigerator.
Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad?
Yes, BBQ sauce goes bad. BBQ sauce contains a lot of natural preservatives, including lemon juice, sugar, and vinegar.
These ingredients make BBQ sauce very resistant to spoilage.
However, because your BBQ sauce is homemade, it will spoil faster than store-bought BBQ sauce.
On average, BBQ sauce can go bad if it sits open at room temperature for more than 2 hours, if it is more than a year old or if it comes into contact with mold or other microbes, spoilage could occur.
Even if the BBQ sauce does not become unsafe to consume, its quality will deteriorate over time, so it may be pointless to use.
How To Tell if BBQ Sauce Is Bad?
It’s relatively easy to tell if BBQ sauce is bad. For example, if you’ve had the BBQ sauce for longer than the brand recommends, it’s best to discard it.
If you notice fuzzy hair-like structures on the surface of the BBQ sauce, on the cap, or on the neck of the bottle, it’s best to get rid of the sauce.
If the BBQ sauce has an off smell that is fermented or moldy smell instead of a sweet one, discard the BBQ sauce.
It’s natural for BBQ sauce to separate, especially if it’s a homemade or organic BBQ sauce.
However, if the BBQ sauce has a layer of liquid sitting on top of an extremely dense layer, it’s best to toss the sauce.
While this isn’t a clear indicator that the BBQ sauce is spoiled, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Lastly, if the BBQ sauce does not have any of the aforementioned signs of spoilage, the final test is to taste the sauce.
If the flavor is off, it’s best to discard the BBQ sauce immediately.
Why Is BBQ Sauce Dark?
Changes in color are usually one of the signs of spoilage. However, color is not the best indicator of spoilage when it comes to BBQ sauce.
Over time you will notice the BBQ sauce will turn dark red or even brown. There’s no need to worry about whether or not you can still use the BBQ sauce.
Most of the time, BBQ sauce will darken after its opened and has been stored for a long time,
which is fine.
Even if you don’t store it for a long time, the BBQ sauce can still turn brown if it has chili peppers.
The chili peppers in the sauce will oxidize and cause the BBQ sauce to change color.
Color changes are not a sign of spoilage; the most you will experience is a slight modification in flavor.
If your BBQ sauce does not contain chili peppers or one of their varieties like Tabasco peppers, proceed with caution if the BBQ sauce turns brown.
Additionally, if browning is not an ingredient in the sauce, it’s best to be safe and discard the sauce.
How Long Does Homemade BBQ Sauce Last?
Unfortunately, if your homemade BBQ sauce is not pasteurized, it will only last for 1-2 weeks when stored in the fridge.
Therefore, you should only make as much BBQ sauce as you need.
You can make large batches of BBQ sauce. However, it may be best to freeze it to extend its lifespan.
Even the quality of the BBQ sauce may suffer a bit; it will still be a great addition to any dish once it is thawed.
How To Extend the Shelf Life of Homemade BBQ Sauce
You can also add vinegar to homemade BBQ sauce to make it more acidic and increase its shelf life.
But you must use a pH meter to make sure the sauce’s pH is at or below 3.5.
Remember, lower pH levels will indicate more acidic foods.
Below a pH level of 4, germs cannot survive, so 3.5 gives your BBQ sauce enough protection to make it safe to consume.
Nevertheless, if your BBQ sauce is not acidic enough, you can add additional vinegar.
How to Bottle Homemade BBQ Sauce
You can bottle your homemade BBQ sauce by following these steps.
First, clean your bottles with hot water to ensure they are sanitized, then rain your bottles.
Once the BBQ sauce comes to a boil, carefully pour it into the bottle using gloves if necessary. Place the cap onto the bottle and set it aside to cool.
The cap will make a popping sound as the warm air in the bottle cools and compresses.
You can store the BBQ sauce in your pantry or cupboard away from sunlight, but I prefer keeping it in the fridge.
Once the BBQ sauce is opened, it will last for 4 months when stored in the refrigerator, but it would be best to consume it within 1 week for quality purposes.
There is no BBQ without BBQ sauce. However, it’s easy to forget about BBQ sauce if it’s not within eyesight.
Luckily, now that you know how long BBQ sauce lasts, you can easily discard it if it shows signs of spoilage or has passed the recommended timeline.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.