Does Sriracha Ever Really Expire?

Remember the hot sauce crisis of 2022, when people resorted to theft amid a sriracha shortage and price hikes? While we did not participate in condiment theft, we are guilty of hoarding bottles of this hot chili sauce. After about a year, our bottles of sriracha were no longer brightly red and had darkened in color, but the hot sauce did not appear spoiled. So, does sriracha ever expire? Or is it a magical, apocalypse-proof condiment with an indefinite shelf life?

The fact is, if it's food, it can and will eventually expire. Like other foods with natural and chemical preservatives, sriracha has a long shelf life even after you open the bottle, especially if you store it properly. According to Huy Fong Foods (the brand behind the iconic sriracha with the chicken logo), the best way to store a bottle of sriracha is to place it in a cool and dry place, like in a cabinet or the pantry. The storage space should also be relatively dark, as it is a mistake to store hot sauce in direct sunlight.

This all makes sense as you can find bottles of sriracha on unrefrigerated supermarket shelves away from direct sunlight, just like ketchup and other condiments. Of course, if you want to extend sriracha's shelf life and preserve its taste, it's never wrong to refrigerate an opened bottle.

Signs that you should throw out that bottle of sriracha

Why does sriracha have a long shelf life? This hot sauce is naturally self-preserving thanks to ingredients like salt, distilled vinegar, and chili peppers that make it hard for bacteria and mold to grow. Huy Fong Foods also uses chemical preservatives, listing "sodium bisulfite as preservatives" on the bottle's label. 

Of course, the sauce will eventually go bad, and you need to know the signs you should throw out your food before eating it. If it smells very bad and rancid, shows signs of mold and bacterial growth, the texture has changed or thickened, and the sauce has separated, it's time to say goodbye to that bottle of sriracha. If these signs are present, the hot sauce will certainly taste foul too. If it has just darkened and is not showing these other signs, the sriracha should still be safe to eat. Sriracha lovers almost always have bottles of sriracha stocked up, but you could always turn to an easy homemade sriracha recipe in times of shortages and price hikes.