Does hot sauce need to be refrigerated?

by House of Scoville
May 24, 2018

If you're like me, there's probably been a bottle or two of hot sauce somewhere in your kitchen, whether in the fridge or in the pantry.

If you're a chillihead though, you're probably and proudly building up a collection of hot sauces that will soon take a lot of space. Your partner may not share the same passion and soon enough, you'll be asked to do something about it.

Do you dedicate a whole level of your fridge for your beloved hot sauces? or perhaps clear out a whole pantry section and sort your sauces carefully, by heat level, flavour, country of origin or possibly even by alphabetical order!

OR, you could dedicate a mini bar bridge just for your hot sauces, like this guy did!

Hot Sauce Mini Bar Fridge

Before you make a decision, one question that will cross your mind is: Do my hot sauces need to refrigerated?

Well, simply put, it depends on each hot sauce!

See, if a hot sauce contains perishable ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits, dairy or eggs, then it should be refrigerated.

However, if your sauce only contains chilli peppers along with vinegar (all types) and salt, then it should be fine to keep in the pantry. Note that garlic isn't considered a vegetable here.
If you are keeping sauces in your pantry, do make sure it's a cool, shaded and dry environment as the opposite may decrease your sauce's shelf life. Some sauces like Tabasco or Frank's hot sauce fall into that category and can have up to 3 years of shelf life in the pantry but again, that will depend on what's in the sauce, if and how it's been fermented and the environmental conditions in your pantry.

It's always recommended to check the label on your bottle of hot sauce and see if it says "Keep refrigerated after opening". If it does, it probably means it contains one of the above ingredients.

How do sauces evolve over time?

There have been claims that if a sauce is left non-refrigerated, its colour may darken over time (I always finish my sauces too quickly for me to confirm or deny this!).

There's been other claims that sauces with a vinegar-base see their flavour weaken over time if it is refrigerated, but once again, I've not had the chance to experience this.

Hope this helps.

Feel free to share your experience or tips below in the comment section

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