Can tomato sauce go bad in the fridge? (3 Contributing Factors)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can tomato sauce go bad in the fridge? We will discuss the characteristics of tomato sauce and the factors that determine how long tomato sauce would last in the fridge.

Can tomato sauce go bad in the fridge?

Tomato sauce can go bad in the fridge after it has been sitting for around a week. If the tomato sauce was stored safely after being opened, it will keep for 5-7 days. 

Tomato sauces are not usually quick to spoil. Tomato sauce has a low pH; the acidic environment hinders bacterial growth. Added sugar or sweetness in the tomato sauce has a similar effect. Sugar reduces the water activity of the food which does not leave enough moisture to let bacteria thrive.

Bottled or canned tomato sauce

Bottled or canned tomato sauce must be refrigerated after the seal has been broken. In the refrigerator, your store-bought tomato sauce will stay safe for up to a week.

If you store the tomato sauce in the best way possible you can push it past a week, which is in an airtight container inside a refrigerator.

Unopened tomato sauce is sterile and will not spoil if it wasn’t stored in the refrigerator. In the pantry, an unopened can or jar of tomato sauce will last for up to two years. 

Homemade tomato sauce

Homemade tomato sauce will spoil quicker than store-bought tomato sauce. Homemade tomato sauce is not packaged or canned in a sterile environment, hence they last for up to five days. Homemade tomato sauce will spoil quickly unless there is a preservative added to it. 

The acidity levels and the amount of sugar or salt that you add to your homemade tomato sauce will play a crucial role in determining how long it lasts.

Should you store tomato sauce in the fridge?

How to store your tomato sauce is a debatable topic. Experts dispute whether tomato sauce belongs in the fridge or pantry.

 The ingredients have a great role to play, the acidity levels and the sweetness of tomato sauce are strong enough to keep it safe at room temperature.

However, if the label says otherwise, or if you made it yourself, keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week.

You can even store the tomato sauce in the freezer where it will stay edible for 2-3 months. Refrain from freezing if the tomato sauce has cream, cheese, or dairy added to it because it causes deterioration of the texture. 

How to prevent your tomato sauce from going bad?

  • To preserve the safety and quality of any sauce, the significance of food preparation is immense.
  • Store your homemade tomato sauce in the refrigerator within 2 hours of being cooked. 
  • Reserve any leftover sauce in an air-tight container to prevent environmental contaminants from coming in contact with it.
  • Do not expose the sauce and keep it covered at all times. When you cover the tomato sauce, you prevent access to airborne bacteria from spoiling your food.
  • Every time you use your sauce, be sure to use a dry and clean spoon. If you introduce bacteria to the sauce by using a contaminated spoon, you are reducing the shelf-life. 

Store an opened can of tomato sauce or homemade sauce in a glass jar rather than plastic or metal.

How does tomato sauce spoil?

Tomato sauce will undergo explicit changes as it nears its expiration. It will change its appearance and color. The color will fade and the paste will thicken.

Your bright-red tomato pasta sauce will change its color to maroon.

Also, be sure to watch out for distinct odors and molds. The presence of gray or green mold indicates that the tomato sauce is no longer safe for consumption. 

You might not anticipate tomato-based sauces to spoil, owing to their acidic and sweet nature which makes bacterial growth non-viable. 

However, tomato-based products usually spoil because of lactic acid bacteria, while mycotoxins also play their role in spoilage.

The deal with tomato sauce is that it will not change its smell nor will it show signs of bacterial spoilage. Hence bacterial spoilage is hard to identify in tomato-based sauces such as marinara sauce. 

You can ensure the safety of your tomato sauce by heating it to 145 Fahrenheit which will then rid you of mildly dangerous bacteria.

A change in color and texture occurs after the spoilage has extended to fungus, which is when the tomato sauce becomes dangerous if consumed. 

Other FAQs about Tomato Sauce that you may be interested in.

What can i use instead of tomato sauce

Can you overcook tomato sauce?

Is it safe to eat tomato sauce with mold on the lid?


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can tomato sauce go bad in the fridge? We discussed the characteristics of tomato sauce and the factors that determine how long tomato sauce would last in the fridge.