More than just a hipster hot sauce, Sriracha has become the ketchup of the spicy food revolution. It tastes good on almost anything and seems to last forever.
If you liked it before it was cool, but now your original Sriracha bottle is getting a little old, you may be wondering, “Does Sriracha go bad?”
Sriracha’s ironclad ingredient list keeps many kinds of spoilage at bay. It can lose quality over time, but you can help Sriracha stay fresh for at least nine months after opening by storing it in a cool, dark place in its original container.
Here are a few more tips to make that Sriracha last.
How Long Does Sriracha Last?
Sriracha is made up of many hardy ingredients that give it a much longer shelf life than you might expect.
We’d bet that most people who end up throwing out unfinished bottles of Sriracha do so due to slight changes in quality, not because the Sriracha became inedible or unsafe.
Just because Sriracha is durable doesn’t mean it’s immortal. Here’s how long you can expect your Sriracha to keep its quality under common conditions.
- 2 years past the ‘Best Before’ date
- 9 months in the pantry
- 3 years in the fridge
Sriracha is made from a vinegar base, which is marvelous for keeping food-borne bacteria like E.coli at bay. Its other main ingredient is red jalapeños, which contain capsaicin, the chemical that puts the sting into most chili peppers.
Capsaicin is another agent with bactericidal effects. It’s particularly effective against salmonella, which is a leading cause of food-related illnesses.
Other ingredients in Sriracha which help to keep mean microorganisms at bay include garlic and salt as well as its many preservatives and thickening agents.
It turns out Sriracha is a potent cocktail of chemical compounds that both taste good and can sit around at room temperature fighting bacteria for years on end without tiring.
Most of the sources we read say that bottles of Sriracha should last at least nine months in the pantry and up to three years in the fridge after opening.
If you find an old unopened bottle of Sriracha lying around, check the ‘Best Before’ date etched in raised glass on the bottle’s neck.
Most sources state that the ‘Best Before’ date is just the manufacturer’s rough estimate of the amount of time they expect it to stay in perfect condition. You should be able to use unopened bottles of Sriracha for at least a couple of years past that date.
Related | How To Read Best Before Date
According to hot sauce enthusiasts on Reddit, Sriracha is like a fine wine with a slightly shorter lifespan. A little bit of aging helps it reach its peak. Too much aging will kill the sauce’s quality, but it won’t kill you.
According to this hazard analysis by the FDA, most kids of Sriracha are listed as shelf-stable, but a few still need refrigeration.
Does Sriracha Need To Be Refrigerated?
Huy Foods, Sriracha’s principal manufacturer, clearly states in their Sriracha FAQ that you don’t need to refrigerate their original Sriracha recipe.
If you buy an alternative Sriracha blend that mixes in other sauces, you may need to refrigerate it. These include Sriracha Mayonnaise, Sriracha Mustard, Sriracha Barbecue Sauce, etc.
Fancy Srirachas with extra ingredients like eggs, fruits, and mustards have better chances of spoiling at room temperature.
How To Tell if Sriracha Has Gone Bad
In Sriracha’s case, “bad” usually means anything from a slight change in taste and consistency to a little stronger change in taste and consistency. Your Sriracha may be losing its religion if you find:
- A swollen bottle
- A color change
- A thicker mix
- A fermented smell
- Black dots of mold
Both opened and unopened bottles of Sriracha can suffer from swelling. If your bottle looks puffed up or is leaking liquid, it may be full of gases that have built up over time.
You don’t necessarily have to throw away mild cases of bottle bloat, but you should take care when opening these containers. Like a well-shaken soda, Sriracha with extra gas likes to splatter all over you. If you survive the Sriracha spurt, move on to the next safety checks.
The next mild difference to be aware of is a subtle change in color. If you leave a red chili pepper on the shelf for a few months, the red will start to dull. Leave it even longer and the radiant red may decay to a bland brown.
If your Sriracha has turned brown, it’s definitely aging, but it’s probably edible.
Sriracha tends to get thicker with age. Slightly thicker Sriracha is nothing to worry about, but separated Sriracha could be a warning sign.
In extreme cases of bad storage, Sriracha can ferment and turn sour. Smelly, sour Sriracha is another warning sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
If you see little black dots in your Sriracha that weren’t there before, you might have a case of mold. Sriracha mold isn’t usually life-threatening, but we don’t recommend eating it.
If you need to throw out a bottle of Sriracha, make sure to take the lid off first. Old Sriracha may expand, so leaving the bottle open can help you avoid a minor depressurization mess around your trash can.
Can Sriracha Make You Sick?
If you’ve eaten some Sriracha that tastes a little off, you shouldn’t worry too much. At worst, you may have gotten a bit of mold or aging yeast into your digestive tract. Your stomach may feel a little upset, but the risk of long-term damage is extremely low.
How To Store Sriracha
You can keep your Sriracha at peak quality as long as possible if you:
- Store it in a sealed container somewhere cool, dry, and dark
- Shake it before using
- Occasionally clean and dry the bottle’s opening
Sriracha doesn’t like temperature swings, so try to keep it in a place that doesn’t tend to heat up or cool down drastically. Your pantry or a kitchen cupboard are good options. Don’t keep it near the stove or any windows where direct sunlight could hit it.
If your Sriracha has been sitting for a while, give it a good shake before pouring some out. The heavier ingredients might have settled to the bottom, which can give it an uncharacteristic taste. Shaking it up will help restore its original flavors and consistency.
One of the main causes of bad Sriracha is foreign matter that enters through the mouth of the bottle. This may be old sauce left on the tip too long that gets exposed to airborne contaminants and then leaks back in or particles of food from the last dish you sprayed the sauce on.
Clean off the mouth every so often, before the Sriracha around the edges gets crusty, and wipe it dry.
Whatever container you keep your Sriracha in, never use it for dunking or dipping. Leftover food particles in your Sriracha is the best way to incite a bacterial outbreak. Instead, put a few spoonfuls into a separate dish, and dip away.
Don’t pour the extra post-dip sauce back into your container.
Sriracha has been deemed shelf-stable by our sources, thanks to its potent preservatives and processing.
Original Sriracha can store for around nine months in a kitchen cupboard in its original container. Niche Sriracha mixes that contain mayonnaise, ranch dressing or other extra ingredients should be refrigerated.
It’s almost impossible to get seriously sick from spoiled Sriracha. Poor storage choices can lead to gas build-up, mold and subtle changes in flavor and consistency.
If you have to throw some Sriracha out, leave the cap open to prevent garbage splatter from bottle bloat.