Does Tomato Sauce Go Bad? – How Long It Lasts, How to Store, and More

Does Tomato Sauce Go Bad

Which is that one sauce that can automatically elevate a boring dish and make it delicious? Yes, you got that right. We’re talking about our favorite, the tangy tomato sauce. Not only is this sauce easy to find, but it also fits well with all sorts of dishes.

But if your family is not an avid lover of tomato sauce, you might want to keep an eye on its bottle to look for signs of quality degradation. While it can last for at least a few months, you can elongate its shelf life with a few storage techniques.

Do you find that hard to believe? Well, you will have a different perception by the end of this article after we explain the best ways to store and preserve your favorite bottle of tomato sauce.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last?

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last

As mentioned, the shelf life of Tomato Sauce is longer than other common sauces on the market. An unopened Tomato Sauce is best for consumption for up to two years, provided that it is stored properly in the pantry or kitchen cabinet.

How long does Tomato sauce last unopened?

The most common issue associated with the storage of the unopened bottle of Tomato Sauce in the pantry is the fluctuation in the temperature. If there is temperature fluctuation in your pantry, it is best to store it in the fridge to extend its shelf life. But on average, it will last for at least 18 to 24 months. 

How long does Tomato sauce last once opened?

After opening, the Tomato Sauce must be refrigerated, and the shelf life of opened Tomato Sauce is one-two week when properly refrigerated. Here is the table for you to understand the shelf life of Tomato Sauce.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in a Jar?

Since it is a highly acidic sauce, Tomato sauce lasts for 5-7 days once it is opened in the fridge. If it is unopened, you can place it in the kitchen pantry, and it will retain quality for 2 years. You can also try freezing it as it can help maintain the taste for 18 months.

Type In Pantry (Unopened) In Fridge (Opened) In Freezer (Opened)
Glass jar or Can Up to Two Years Five-Seven Days 18 Months
Homemade Tomato Sauce Up to One Year Three-Four Days Four-Six Months

Whether it is homemade or commercially-bought sauce, it must be refrigerated to extend its shelf life after opening.

Does tomato sauce go bad if left out overnight?

If you live in a cold region, you can place your tomato sauce on the counter overnight. But this scenario is only acceptable if the room temperature is 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, such a tomato sauce will only last for 2-3 days.

How Can You Tell if Tomato Sauce Sauce Is Bad?

How to Tell If Tomato Sauce Has Gone Bad

There are certain signs to look for, and these signs are the indicator that the Tomato Sauce has gone bad. If you see any of these signs, discard the sauce and avoid using it further.


Change in Color

Tomato Sauce usually comes in a bright red color, and the color changes when the sauce has gone bad. You will see a darker shade on the sauce’s surface, indicating that the sauce has gone bad and is not good for consumption.


Change in Smell

Tomato Sauce smells fresh like tomatoes, and when it goes bad, the smell changes. The sauce will smell funny and slightly acidic. In such scenarios, it is best to discard it without using it further.


Watery Texture

When the sauce goes bad, it leaves the water content. You will see water separating inside the bottle. The watery texture of the Tomato Sauce means it is time to discard and replace it with a new sauce.



The most common indicator is the taste of the Tomato Sauce. As the Tomato Sauce goes bad, the flavor turns bitter, indicating that it has gone bad and you have no option rather discard it.


How long does Tomato sauce last in the Refrigerator Vs. Shelf Stable

What difference do refrigeration and self-stable processes make?



Tomato Sauce must be refrigerated after it is opened. Refrigeration won’t harm the sauce. Instead, it will heighten the shelf life of the sauce by lowering the color and chemical changes. It will help in reducing the sensory properties of the Tomato Sauce.

But, the food historian Dr. Polly Russell, the modern-day refrigeration of sauces could prove to be bizarre at times because many brands were selling sauces before households even had refrigerators.


Shelf Stable

In the debate, 54% of the participants said that Tomato Sauce is a shelf-stable product and must be stored in the pantry and kitchen cabinet. Tomato Sauce is microbially a stable product because it has a low pH level.

So, unless mentioned by the manufacturer, refrigeration is not needed. It can last and stay edible when stored in a pantry or kitchen cabinet. But, the commercially-bought Tomato Sauce needs refrigeration to delay the color and chemical changes that occur over time.


What happens if you eat expired tomato sauce? Can old tomato sauce make you sick?

What Happens If You Consume Expired Tomato Sauce

The expired Tomato Sauce is safe for consumption under certain conditions. You can eat the Tomato Sauce after expiry, if:

  • The bottle of Tomato Sauce is not damaged, rusting, leaking, or bulging.
  • It shows no signs of spoilage, including color changes, off-smell, and mold growth.

The store-bought Tomato Sauce comes with a best-by date rather than an expiry date. The best-by date must not be confused with the expiry date as it is just the estimation of how long the sauce retains its quality and taste and not a safety indicator. However, you will experience a taste change when using Tomato Sauce after a best-by date.

But, if you consume the unstable Tomato Sauce, it may make you fall sick.

Can botulism grow in tomato sauce?

Botulism is common in Tomato Sauce when the proper preservation method is not followed and can prove to be lethal. If you suspect any signs of mold growth or off-smell, discard it without taking any risk.

Can You Freeze Tomato Sauce?

Both the store-bought and homemade Tomato Sauces are safe for freezing. The unopened Tomato Sauce needs no freezing or refrigeration until there is no temperature fluctuation in your pantry or kitchen cabinet.

The opened can of Tomato Sauce is safe for freezing to extend its shelf life. It can extend the life span up to 18 months if properly frozen. But, there are certain criteria for storing canned Tomato Sauce in the freezer.


Pros Tips for Freezing

  • Pour the store-bought Tomato Sauce into an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag.
  • Place it into the freezer by securing the lid tightly to the container.
  • Set the freezing temperature to zero degrees to keep the sauce safe and edible for an indefinite time.
  • Once you thaw the sauce, don’t refreeze it, and ensure you consume it within four-five days.

For homemade Tomato Sauce, freezing is necessary to keep it edible for a longer period. You have to freeze the homemade Tomato Sauce in an airtight container.


How to Store Tomato Sauce? 

How to Store Tomato Sauce

The storage method varies for opened, unopened, and Homemade Tomato Sauce. So, depending upon the Tomato Sauce you are using, you have to follow the right techniques for its storage to extend its lifespan and reduce the chance of spoilage.

Here is the expert guide on how to store Tomato Sauce properly.


Unopened Tomato Sauce

It is absolutely fine to store the store-bought unopened Tomato Sauce at room temperature, and the best place is the kitchen cabinet or your pantry. However, you have to ensure no fluctuation in the temperature, heat sources, and direct exposure to sunlight.

These elements cause alterations in texture, color, and taste. So, avoid storing it close to any heat sources or under direct sunlight.


Opened Tomato Sauce

For the opened Tomato Sauce, it is always safe for refrigeration. The store-bought Tomato Sauce must be stored in the fridge after every use, and secure the lid tightly to avoid faster spoilage.

You must store the sauce back in the fridge after every use, and you must not leave the leftovers outside the fridge. Refrigerating the sauce after opening extends its shelf life and sustains its quality and tastes up to best-by date.

What are the Alternatives to Tomato Sauce if it has gone bad? 

In case you have a shortage of tomato sauce or the bottle in your pantry is showing signs of degradation, it is best to use the following substitutes:

  • Tomato Pasta Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Canned Stewed Tomatoes
  • Tomato Soup
  • Canned Tomatoes

Frequently Asked Questions


Can You Eat Tomato Sauce After the Expiration Date?

Yes, you can use the expired Tomato Sauce, provided that it is properly refrigerated and stored. Refrigerating the Tomato Sauce extends its lifespan by another three months after expiry. But it is not recommended for homemade Tomato Sauce. Refrigeration is only suitable for store-bought Tomato Sauces. Tomato Sauce after expiry is edible until there is no off-smell, color changes, or mold growth.


Is it okay to use expired Tomato sauce?

Tomato Sauce after expiry lasts for three-five weeks. The grade and quality may decline after expiry, but it is edible and safe for consumption until there is no change in color, texture, smell, and mold growth. But, proper refrigeration is needed to keep using the Tomato Sauce after expiry.


How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in Freezer?

If stored correctly, the unopened Tomato Sauce lasts up to 18 months in the freezer. It tends to last indefinitely if open, but it must be stored properly in a leak-proof, high-quality container before freezing the sauce. However, refreezing is not recommended, and once thawed, it must be consumed within four-five days.


How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in the Refrigerator?

Ans – After opening the Tomato Sauce, it belongs to a fridge, and it needs continuous refrigeration. If refrigerated properly, the opened Tomato Sauce may last up to four-seven days if homemade. If it is store-bought Tomato Sauce, it may last for several months up to best-by date when refrigerated properly. The unopened Tomato Sauce needs no refrigeration until there is no temperature fluctuation in the pantry or kitchen cabinet.


The Bottom Line

Tomato Sauce might be the common sauce found in every household. But, the good news is that the sauce tends to last a long time, so stocking a few jars or cans of Tomato Sauce won’t be a problem for you.

However, it is necessary to know the proper methods for storage and how to identify the spoilage to avoid the hassles later. Hopefully, the post has helped you find all answers to your questions.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.