Does homemade hot sauce need to be refrigerated?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “does hot sauce have to be refrigerated” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not homemade sauce needs to be refrigerated. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of homemade hot sauce and the things that should be considered while storing homemade hot sauce.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Does homemade hot sauce need to be refrigerated?

When it comes to the homemade hot sauce it is better to keep it refrigerated. No doubt that salt and vinegar are also added in the homemade hot sauce but it does not have added preservatives like the store-bought commercially prepared hot sauce. 

Therefore it is a good practice to store your homemade hot sauce in an air-tight container or bottle inside the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

In the case of homemade sauces, we recommend you refrigerate them no matter if they contain vinegar or not as these sauces have not gone through any rigorous food testing and safety procedures.

Moreover, if the hot sauce has tomato or any other fruit like mango, pineapple as its base or contains bits of them then it may deteriorate faster than the vinegar-based hot sauces and therefore we recommend you to refrigerate them.

How long does homemade hot sauce last?

The homemade hot sauce lasts about 3 months or 90 days when it is kept in an air-tight container or bottle in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

What are the things that should be kept in mind while storing homemade hot sauce?

You should always sterilize the cans or the bottles in which you are going to store the homemade hot sauce. Moreover, all the utensils that were used during the preparation of the hot sauce and the counter should be clean and sterilized so that the bacteria won’t find their way to your hot sauce through these mediums.

No doubt that the presence of vinegar and salt act as a natural preservative for your hot sauce but still it contains many other ingredients like pepper and other vegetables and each of them has a different shelf life. Therefore all of these ingredients collectively decide the shelf life of hot sauce.

Moreover, you should not add any oils to your hot sauce as the presence of oils can provide a suitable environment for Clostridium Botulinum in the sauce that can cause botulism in the individual that consumes such sauce.

You should thoroughly wash all the fruits and vegetables that you are going to use in the hot sauce. Moreover, 20% of your hot sauce should consist of vinegar that will not only give it a tangy taste but also preserve its quality.

You can read more about botulism here.

Does store-bought hot sauce need to be refrigerated?

The chemical composition of hot sauces varies from one manufacturer to another and no two bottles of hot sauces from different companies will have the same composition. Therefore if you should or should not refrigerate your hot sauce depends on the ingredients that make the whole formulation of the sauce. 

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no doubt that refrigeration significantly decreases the rate of oxidation reaction and thus increases the shelf life of the hot sauce. 

Various types of hot sauce will ruin at altogether different rates. By and large, any hot sauce will have a fair timeframe of realistic usability. 

That is because most contain vinegar and cayenne pepper as basic condiments. Thus owing to the preservative properties of both it is safe to estimate that the vinegar-based hot sauce can last three-to-five years if refrigerated, and an unopened hot sauce can last considerably more than that. 

Hot sauce and room temperature

Hot sauce has a very sizable amount of vinegar (that has acetic acid in it which is best known for its preservation properties) to shield it from ruining outside of the refrigerator, and the strength of the peppers will remain more blazing at room temperature. 

Except if the bottle says something else, it is safe to keep hot sauce in any cabinet or shelf of your kitchen.

Most hot sauces won’t degrade at room temperature even for several months, and many will be stable for two or three years. 

Others will change flavor gradually over the long run at room temperature, however not really in a negative way as some of the sauces are intentionally “matured” or aged at room temperature for periods from seven days to quite a while, and in some cases, these cycles will keep on changing the item even after it is packaged. 

Thus, it is safe to put your hot sauce out of the refrigerator.


In this brief guide, we answered the question “does hot sauce have to be refrigerated” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not homemade sauce needs to be refrigerated. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of homemade hot sauce and the things that should be considered while storing homemade hot sauce.



Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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