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How to Know If BBQ Sauce is Bad

Have you ever wondered how to tell if BBQ sauce is bad? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s a question that I get asked quite often.

The answer is actually pretty simple: just use your senses.

If the sauce looks off, smells funky, or tastes strange, then it’s probably time to toss it out.

Of course, there are other factors to consider as well… Let’s dive in.

Small stone dish of BBQ sauce with a basting brush

How to know if barbecue sauce is bad?

What are the signs that your barbecue sauce has gone bad? The color and texture are the two most obvious indicators, but there are other ways to tell if your sauce has spoiled.

To determine if your barbecue sauce has gone bad, there are several steps to follow.

Check the expiration date

Always check the expiration date before you use barbeque sauce as that will tell you if it is still fresh or not.

To tell if BBQ sauce has gone bad after the expiration date, you should check the consistency and color of the sauce.

As BBQ sauce degrades, it gets thicker and darker in color. While the ingredients in BBQ sauce help to slow down the spoilage process, there is a limit to its shelf life.

When in doubt, it is best to discard the BBQ sauce if it has expired.

Check for mold

To tell if your BBQ sauce has gone bad, look out for mold, and changes in texture, color, and thickness.

If you see any mold on the surface of the sauce, it is a sure sign that it has gone bad and should be thrown away immediately.

You should also take a look at the color of the sauce. If it has turned black, then it has definitely gone bad. Lastly, if the sauce has thickened or become slimy, it has also gone bad and should not be consumed.

Smell test

To tell when BBQ sauce has gone bad by smell, simply open the bottle and take a sniff. It should have a sharp, tangy, or smoky scent.

If it smells anything other than that, then it is likely no longer good.

Other signs of spoilage include a pungent or off-putting odor, the color of the sauce has changed, it has mold, it’s separated, it’s thick, slimy, or clumpy.

If the BBQ sauce has any of these characteristics, it is best to discard it.

Taste test

Lastly, if the BBQ sauce does not have any of the signs of spoilage mentioned above, the final test is to taste the sauce.

If the flavor is off or tart, it’s best to discard the BBQ sauce immediately.

Following these steps will ensure that you can make an educated decision on whether or not your barbecue sauce is still edible.

It is important to practice proper hygiene and food safety techniques to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.

If your barbecue sauce is too thin, learn how to thicken BBQ sauce in this post.

How to Store Unopened BBQ Sauce

Unopened BBQ sauce should be stored in a cool and dry place, such as a pantry or kitchen cupboard, away from sources of heat and direct sunlight.

If a bottle says it requires refrigeration, it should be refrigerated.

If the bottle or package is swollen, discolored, or has broken seals or dents/cracks, then it should be discarded.

How to Store Opened BBQ Sauce

Once you have opened a bottle of BBQ sauce, it is important to seal it tightly after every use to prevent air from entering the bottle and oxidizing the sauce.

Opened BBQ sauce should be stored in the refrigerator.

In order to keep your BBQ sauce fresh, always use clean spoons when scooping it out and pour it into a dedicated bowl for dipping.

Another way to prolong the shelf-life of your BBQ sauce is to store the bottle upside down, which limits the amount of air that gets to the condiment.

For homemade BBQ sauces, it is important to keep them stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Store-bought BBQ sauce can be left in the pantry, but it should be stored in a closed, cool, and dark space.

Have some barbecue sauce and not sure what to make with it? Try out my grilled chicken leg quarters recipe!

The Best Places To Store BBQ Sauce

BBQ sauce is a delicious condiment or addition to any grilled meat, but it can go bad if not stored properly. Here are some tips on how to store BBQ sauce so it stays fresh and tasty.


Once you open the bottle, make sure it’s always sealed tightly and keep it in the refrigerator.

If you’re storing leftover homemade BBQ sauce, place it in an airtight container or mason jar, and store it tightly closed in the refrigerator for up to a month.


The best place to store your unopened barbecue sauce is in the pantry or a cool dark place.

Barbecue sauce can last up to a year if not opened and stored correctly; once opened, refrigerate the sauce and use it within two weeks.


You can store barbecue sauce in the freezer for up to three months. Transfer it to a freezer-safe container or plastic freezer bags, using double bags to avoid leakage.

Consider freezing small portions in small mason jars, an ice cube tray, or a small air-tight container so you can thaw a little bit at a time if desired.

How long does barbecue sauce last?

Barbecue sauce has a shelf life of 1-2 years when unopened and can be kept for 2 weeks or so after opening.

Once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Homemade BBQ sauce typically lasts for a month in the refrigerator. To extend its lifespan further, BBQ sauce can be frozen.


Yes, BBQ sauce does go bad if not refrigerated. The sugar and vinegar found in BBQ sauce act as preservatives and can help slow down the process of spoilage if stored in a dark, cool place.

BBQ sauce can last up to one to a month in the fridge when stored properly. It can also be frozen for future use.

Yes, you can freeze BBQ sauce. Freezing your BBQ sauce is likely to compromise the texture, but once unfrozen it’ll still be good to eat and can last for around a year in the freezer.

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