How Long Can You Keep A Barbecue Sauce?

"Sometimes I eat ribs nekked, but if company's coming, I usually put on pants."Meathead

When it comes to storing sauces, we have two concerns: Safety and flavor. We don't want any microbes setting up housekeeping in our sauce, and we want the flavors to remain bright and fresh.

Commercial barbecue sauces usually have preservatives so they can keep in the fridge for many months, even a year or more. Homemade sauces, at least my recipes, have no added preservatives, per se.

The good news is that vinegar, salt, sugars, some spices, and other common ingredients all have antimicrobial and preservative properties, so they tend to help sauce safe from microbes and fresh tasting for weeks, even months. As long as you keep your sauce refrigerated, you should have little risk. Just make sure that when you are done making the sauce you put it in a very clean glass bottle with a tight fitting lid. I use Ball canning jars and lids and run them through my dishwasher, but jelly jars and bottles from other condiments work fine as long as they have tight lids. Just clean them well.

Also, never dip a brush into sauce and then brush meat, contaminating it with meat juices and microbes, and then put it back into the jar. Pour what you need into a coffee cup and if there is leftover after cooking, toss it.

Oxygen and heat are the natural enemies of freshness, and we all have seen ketchup turn black under the cap from oxidation. So don't let bottles of sauce sit out on the dining table for long, and certainly not on the shelf next to the grill. Again, pour what you need and chuck any unused sauce out.

If a sauce recipe calls for cooking onions, garlic, or spices in oil, then expect shelf life to shorten a bit. Oil can go rancid with time, especially animal fats such as bacon fat and butter. If you want to keep it a long time use a vegetable oil rather than butter.

Storebought herbs and spices are often steam treated or irradiated to kill microbes, but fresh herbs and spices can be contaminated just by airflow or birds or critters, so they pose a small risk. That's why most of my sauces call for dried herbs and spices.

That said, sauces from my recipes keep well for months in the fridge.

Saucing strategies

Many sauces contain sugar and can burn quickly, so the secret is to hold off on the sauce until the last 10 to 15 minutes. Click here for more on saucing strategies.

 

 

Placeholder

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

Placeholder

Placeholder

Placeholder

Get Smoke Signals, our free e-letter. No spam. Guaranteed

Enter your email:

If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us. 

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

Placeholder

1) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

2) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer.

3) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different than your membership login.

Moderators

 

Click to ask questions and make comments