Last year you bought a pack of bottled BBQ sauces because they were on a sale, and the barbecuing season was ahead. That turned out to be a terrific decision because these hot summer days demand some barbecue and cocktail nights in your backyard, and you are gathering all the essential stuff.
You’ve stumbled upon a half-empty packet of bottled BBQ sauces in your pantry. So now you’re scratching your head, wondering are they still safe for use or you need to visit the grocery store. Does BBQ sauce go bad?
Don’t throw away that BBQ sauce just yet, because the information we found out might surprise you. In this article, you will learn of all the essentials: does BBQ sauce go bad, how to properly store it, and what are the possible spoilage signs, so read along!
See Also: Does Tabasco Sauce Go Bad?
Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad?
Unfortunately for all barbecue lovers, BBQ sauce can go bad. But it will happen after a lot of time.
That is because BBQ sauce contains sugar, salt, and vinegar, which are self-preserving ingredients. These prevent bacterial growth, and such food will have a much longer shelf life.
What Is BBQ Sauce?
Barbecue sauce is used as a condiment, marinade, flavoring sauce, basting, or topping for meat (typically pork and beef ribs or chicken). Ingredients may vary, but the usual ones are salt, sugar, sweeteners (molasses or honey), vinegar, tomato paste, mayonnaise, liquid smoke, onion powder, mustard, and black pepper.
The first barbecue sauces were generally made of just vinegar, salt, and pepper. Ketchup, sugar, and other ingredients were added later. The interesting fact is that traces of early barbecued meat reach as far back as 700 B.C.! Also, there are many recipes for barbecued meat found in English and French cookbooks around the 1900s.
Now, let’s look at the nutritional chart of BBQ sauce per 2 tbsp (36g):
As you can see, the BBQ sauce contains a lot of sugar and salt, which in large doses, may endanger your health. However, BBQ sauce does contain small amounts of vitamins such as potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
You’re not likely to rip significant health benefits, but there are some. BBQ sauce contains tomato sauce which harbors antioxidants called lycopene. This antioxidant can reduce the risk of certain cancers, lower blood pressure, and protect the skin.
Also, the sauce doesn’t contain fat, as plant-based ingredients usually don’t include this macronutrient. So, it is an excellent way of adding flavor to meals without racking up fat.
The Shelf Life Of BBQ Sauce
The best-by date is only a rough estimate, and you don’t have to follow it strictly. It will give you a certain idea of how long the sauce will be at its peak quality, but BBQ sauce usually stays suitable for much longer.
You can easily assume an unopened bottle will last 6-9 months after the label’s date. However, it doesn’t mean it will not deteriorate in quality, even if properly stored.
The average lifespan of an unopened bottle of BBQ sauce is 12-18 months in the pantry. On the other hand (if not canned), homemade barbecue sauce will last only 1-2 weeks in the fridge because it isn’t pasteurized.
As for the opened barbecue sauce, it will usually last from 1-6 months. Although, some manufacturers recommend finishing the bottle in 3 months after opening for the best quality.
How To Store BBQ Sauce?
Generally, you should store barbecue sauce just like you store any other sauce. That means that unopened, you can keep it at room temperature. The best choices are pantry or cupboard, as long as the container is in a dry and relatively cool place. The fridge is unnecessary, but it might be a good option if you live in a very humid and hot area.
On the other hand, once you open the sauce, you should store it in the refrigerator when not used. However, if you’re going to use the whole bottle within the first few days, you can leave it in the cupboard or pantry, it should be fine.
But in the long term, the fridge is essential. Besides, the homemade sauce must be kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
Furthermore, remember always to use clean utensils to prevent contamination and bacterial growth. Also, seal it tightly to prevent the air and moisture from getting in the bottle. Always keep the bottles away from direct sunlight and heat sources (like a stove, etc.).
If you’re sure you won’t finish the bottle in the first few months, you can also freeze the sauce. Just pour the sauce into an airtight container (you must keep it sealed tightly). Make sure you leave enough space for expansion because the bottle could explode if the sauce is filled to the top.
Stored like that, the sauce could stay good for more than a year. As for thawing, just put it in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter in a bowl filled with warm water. Don’t refreeze the sauce after thawing to preserve its texture.
See Also: Can You Freeze Alfredo Sauce?
Signs Of Spoiled BBQ Sauce
Like any other food, this sauce can also go bad, but its quality will slowly degrade over time. When it does, the signs are usually undeniable. If they are not, it is best to rely on the dates.
So, the first thing is to take a good look at your sauce. Typically, if the barbecue sauce has started to deteriorate or is already spoiled, the color changes will be evident. A much darker color will be a good indicator. That is usually the result of the oxidation process. Although it doesn’t mean the sauce is spoiled, it may still affect the flavor.
The second thing you will notice if the sauce is rancid is the changed texture. The thicker or slimy texture is a pretty apparent sign that the sauce has gone off.
You may also notice some separations depending on the ingredients and the type of sauce. After all, separation of components can sometimes occur, and it is perfectly normal. You can just shake the bottle a bit to mix the ingredients, and you’re golden.
Furthermore, greenish, white, and black spots are a sure sign of mold. Signs of bacterial growth can often be above the sauce level inside the bottle. That usually happens when the moisture and other contaminants (food particles) get inside the container. That sauce is not safe for consumption, and you should throw the whole thing away. Seal the bottle tightly and make sure you use clean utensils.
Next off is to smell the sauce. If the odors are off or the sauce smells too acidic, it is best to throw the whole thing away. If everything is okay with looks and smell, you can taste a bit of sauce. If it tastes fine, it is probably safe for usage.
Also, don’t use the sauce if you notice the bottle or container is damaged. If it is leaking, dented, or rusted, the sauce inside may not be safe for consumption.
If there is a buildup pressure in the container and expands, you should toss the sauce away as the sauce has gone bad.
All in all, you will notice the sauce has started to go bad much before it actually does. Small changes like the texture will be a good indicator, and the taste won’t hit the spot anymore. It is better to discard sauce like that than to risk a foodborne illness.
Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad – Final Word
Like any other condiment such as soy sauce or teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauce will also go bad after a while. The best-by date is there to give you a rough estimate, but the truth is that this sauce can last much longer than that. However, it is possible that after too much time, its flavor will be degraded and won’t give you good results when in need.
Spoilage is still possible like with any other food, but it will rarely happen if the storage conditions are adequate. Nevertheless, if you notice any signs of decay such as mold, changes in the texture and color, off-odor, or unpleasant taste, throw it away.
You can store the unopened bottle at room temperature. Make sure it’s a cool, dark, and dry place. Something like a pantry or cupboard will work just fine. As for the opened bottle, we strongly suggest keeping it in the refrigerator, sealed tightly.
Homemade BBQ sauce should be kept in the fridge. You can also freeze the sauce, and that way it will last much longer. Canning is also an option if you want to extend its shelf life.
In general, BBQ sauce’s shelf life will depend on multiple factors such as ingredients, storage, and temperature conditions.
Don’t forget that BBQ sauce is high in salt and sugar; thus, we recommend limiting the intake. Two or three tablespoons are more than enough to enjoy your barbecue meat without worrying about calories. That said, let’s get to grilling!