Does fish sauce expire?

In this article, we will answer the question “Does fish sauce expire?”, how to store fish sauce, and how to tell if the fish sauce has gone bad. 

Does fish sauce expire?

Yes, fish sauce does expire. But the sauce is not necessarily spoiled past its expiry. Fish sauce has a pretty long shelf-life and it does not go bad unless you help it. The shelf-stability of the fish sauce is attributed to its rich salt content which acts to preserve the sauce. More on this in the article below.

How to store fish sauce?

Storing fish sauce is a no-brainer. As long as the bottle is unopened, it stays at room temperature. However, a slightly colder temperature than the room temperature is preferred. 

The perfect place for keeping an unopened bottle of fish sauce is the p[antry, or a kitchen cabinet. Make sure no light directly falls on the bottle and it is kept away from sources of heat such as the stove. 

Once the bottle is opened, you need to make sure it stays tightly sealed in between uses. You can store an opened bottle of fish sauce at room temperature for up to a month. For extended storage, consider refrigerating the bottle.  

How long does fish sauce last?

Since the fish sauce is loaded with salt or sodium, it stays good pretty long past the printed date. However, the printed date is always a good measure of how long the product will remain in its best quality. 

Fish sauce going bad is a rare occurrence. What mostly happens is that prolonged storage results in a bad-tasting fish sauce with overall degraded quality.

On average, an unopened bottle of fish sauce should easily keep for a year past the best-by date and 3-4 years past the bottling date. An opened and refrigerated bottle of fish sauce can be kept for a year.

In the pantryIn the fridge 
Fish sauce (Unopened)Best by + 1 year
Fish sauce (Opened)3-6 months12+ months 

Can you freeze fish sauce?

Yes, you can freeze fish sauce but it is not recommended. The fish sauce is loaded with salt which is enough to make it last months past the printed date if stored correctly.

Therefore, freezing seems quite unnecessary. Moreover, freezing may result in irreversible changes in the sauce texture. 

How to tell if the fish sauce has gone bad?

Crystal: The sea salt crystals that can be seen settled at the bottom of the fish sauce do not indicate spoilage. The crystals form due to prolonged storage and are a quality problem.

Cloudy particles: Small cloudy particles floating in your fish sauce are precipitated proteins. They indicate that the sauce has been subjected to frequent temperature fluctuations. This, however, is a quality issue.

Color: If the fish sauce deviates from its original clear, golden-brownish, and reddish-brown color, it may be bad. If there are no other symptoms of spoilage, the color shift may only be a quality threat.

Smell: In case your fish sauce gives off a rotten odor, get rid of it.

Taste: If all else feels right but something is off about the taste of the fish sauce, it is time to buy yourself a brand new bottle.

Mold: If you observe mold growing on the surface of the sauce or under the cap of the sauce bottle, it is done for.

How to make the fish sauce at home?


  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2-4 Thai bird’s eye chili sliced, more or less depending on your spice tolerance
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce mam nhi preferred, such as red boat
  • 1.5-2 tbsp lime juice depending on taste
  • 2/3 cup water see notes

Special Equipment

  • mortar and pestle


  1. Pound the sugar, garlic, and half the Thai chilies in the mortar and pestle.
  1. Shift the crushed mixture to a jar and pour fish sauce, ½ lime, and water from the top. Add more lime if needed. Dump the rest of the chilies as well.
  1. Refrigerate the sauce for at least 30 minutes in the fridge for its flavor to become homogenous and mellow. Refrigerate the sauce for up to one month.

What are the risks of consuming an expired fish sauce?

Consuming expired and spoiled fish sauce causes food poisoning which is characterized by stomach ache, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you are unsure about the safety of the fish sauce, it is better to discard it.

Other FAQs about Sauces that you may be interested in.

Can you overcook marinara sauce?

Can you overcook spaghetti sauce?

Can you put marinara sauce on spaghetti? 

Do you have to cook marinara sauce?


In this article, we answered the question “Does fish sauce expire?”, how to store fish sauce, and how to tell if the fish sauce has gone bad.