Does jarred pasta sauce expire?

This article will discuss how and when jarred pasta sauce expires, along with some more information on storage and other types of jarred sauces.

Does jarred pasta sauce expire?

Yes, jarred pasta sauce will expire. Even with the presence of preservatives and being in a sealed air-tight container, every sauce has a shelf life.

When do jarred tomato-based sauces expire?

The main ingredient is tomatoes, which are acidic in nature. This makes the whole sauce very acidic, whether it is pasta sauce, marinara sauce, or any other. This means that when the seal of the sauce is opened, it can be refrigerated and kept for about a week before going bad.

If the jar has been opened and you need it to last for a longer period of time, it can be frozen to last up to 6 months in the freezer. It is always recommended to heat it up to about 145 degrees to kill any bacteria that might have started to form.

If the sauce has been kept without opening the seal, then the labeling on the jar suggests the sauce be used within one year. This storage time limit is shown for best quality only, after which the sauce’s texture, color, or flavor could change.

Generally, it will still be safe to consume if it has been stored properly, the packaging and seal are undamaged, and there are no signs of spoilage.

When do cream-based jarred sauces expire?

When properly stored, most unopened cream-based pasta sauces will be at optimal quality for about 2 to 3 years, although using it after that is safe too, as long as no visible changes or smell can be detected.

After opening the seal, cream-based sauces can last in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days only. The dairy element in these sauces are what cause the quick expiry, and if you need it to last longer, the best option is to freeze it which can preserve the white sauce for upto 6 months.

To freeze sauces with dairy in them, the best way is to spoon in single servings in separate bags, and then place those bags in a container and put in the freezer. This double layering of using bags and a container is done so that the milk and cheese do not absorb other odors from your freezer as this can ruin your silky smooth white sauce.

Homemade cream-based sauce, such as alfredo, does not freeze and reheat well because of the dairy content present in the sauce. Even though it isn’t harmful to consume, the cream tends to break off and shatter when you reheat the sauce, which ruins the texture.

Store-bought alfredo sauce contains cornstarch, which helps the cheese to properly form, and prevents any separation in the cream when reheated.

When does homemade pasta sauce expire?

Homemade pasta sauce does not contain any preservatives to promote a longer shelf life, so it can survive in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days on average. For an alternative, it can be frozen and used within six months, provided it does not contain cream or cheese.

How do you know if a sauce has expired?

For tomato-based sauces, there is no other indicator other than the appearance of mold on top of the sauce. The taste, smell, and texture of the sauce will not indicate if the bacteria has started to form or not. This means that as soon as even the tiniest amount of mold is seen, it should be discarded immediately. 

For jarred sauces that contain dairy, the first signs will be a change in color. The sauce will start to have more of a yellowish hue as it starts to go bad, and will also soon start giving a bad smell. The texture of cream-based sauces as they expire will also change, becoming lumpy and uneven. 

Tasting white sauce to see if it has gone bad is not recommended as this can lead to food poisoning or other illnesses.

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?


This article discussed how and when jarred pasta sauce expires, along with some more information on storage and other types of jarred sauces.