Does Fish Sauce Go Bad? How To Tell For Sure

Quick summary: Fish sauce is unlikely to go bad as long as it’s unopened and in good storage conditions. However, quality will decline over time. 

Fish sauce is one of the main condiments in East Asian cuisine. Basically, the recipe is made from shrimp or krill that have been coated with salt and fermented for an extended period. If you practice this kind of cuisine, you won’t have too many problems with leftovers of this delicious sauce. 

However, if fish is not on your daily menu, you will most likely have one bottle of fish sauce in your kitchen for a year.

We’ll dispel your doubts right now. The open bottle you found is most likely perfectly safe to eat. We say very likely because there are certain exceptions, and the lifespan is not forever. But this condiment is very durable and will last for months, if not years, without spoiling. Read on for all the details.

How Long Does Fish Sauce Last?

Fish sauce has a significantly longer shelf life than the one written on the label. Many manufacturers will put a best-by date as a guideline for when quality is at its peak. Others won’t even put that but will write the date of manufacture to give you an approach for durability. Here are the estimated deadlines.

Unopened fish sauce 

As long as the fish sauce is unopened, it’s best preserved and doesn’t really have much chance of spoilage. Unless you’ve kept it in the sun or next to a radiator, your purchased bottle will most likely be good for at least a year beyond the expiration date written on the back. Of course, when stretching durability, always check the quality. There is really little chance that the product you have is bad.

Opened fish sauce

Even after opening, this condiment is very durable. Due to the high proportion of salt it contains, it is a challenging climate for the survival of bacteria. Although refrigeration is not necessary, it will extend its shelf life. If you store it at room temperature, you can count on the sauce for several months, while in the refrigerator, it will be perfectly good for at least a year.

Can Fish Sauce Go Bad?

Fish sauce is not one of those foods that will spoil in a way that makes it dangerous to eat. It’s more likely that the flavor will fade over time, so you’ll want a new bottle because of the quality. However, some rare cases of spoilage are possible in very unfavorable storage conditions, and the signs would be as follows.

Sign 1: The smell is off

If you are hit by a very strong, unpleasant, slightly chemical smell when you open a bottle of fish sauce, it means that it is spoiled. You will usually also notice significant color changes when you pour the sauce onto the plate. In any case, these are red flags that say the condiment must go in the trash.

Sign 2: Organic growth on the surface

Although the fish sauce is not the first choice of habitat for mold, it is still possible. Perhaps moisture got into the liquid, or simply too much time has passed since opening. In any case, if you notice any mold spores or something that looks like yeast, throw it all away.

Which is the Best Way to Store Fish Sauce?

If you love fish sauce, you’ll love how easy it is to store it. It can truly become your savior go-to sauce when you want to impress your guests. Here are the simple steps you need to follow.

Tip 1: Close the bottle after use

This is true for all spices or all food in general. It is a mandatory rule to close the bottle well after use. This prevents impurities from getting into the contents and, at the same time, prevents the aroma from evaporating. So, seal well. 

Tip 2: Choose cool and dark places for storage

Direct exposure to the sun or heat sources can undoubtedly damage all food items. It is always good to choose a pleasantly cooler temperature and certainly darker places. So, it is better to store the sauce in the kitchen cabinet than to keep it exposed on the counter. After opening, putting the sauce in the refrigerator would be preferable. This will further preserve the quality and extend the shelf life to a year. Even longer.


How long is fish sauce good for after the expiration date?

An unopened bottle of fish sauce should be good for at least a year after the expiration date. Provided it was stored correctly.

How long can you keep fish sauce once opened?

If you keep the fish sauce at room temperature, it should be good for about three months after opening, possibly a few months longer. It will certainly last at least a year in the refrigerator.

How can you tell if the fish sauce has gone bad?

It is very rare for fish sauce to spoil, so it is harmful for consumption. You could notice this by the appearance of mold on the surface or parts of the bottle. Another sign could be a strong chemical smell that will indicate that spoilage has occurred.

Fish sauce is an excellent addition to dishes, especially fish delicacies. This is a condiment that is used on a daily basis in most Asian cuisines. 

Due to the large proportion of salt in which the fish was fermented during production, this sauce is very durable and will not spoil quickly. 

Before opening, feel free to keep it at room temperature, while it is recommended to refrigerate the sauce after opening. It is not necessary, but it will extend the service life and preserve the quality.

You might want to check also: Fish Sauce Alternatives: 8 Easy Substitutes For Asian Recipes

*image by phonlamai/depositphotos

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