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How Long Does Fish Sauce Last? Does it Go Bad?

Do you have an open bottle of fish sauce in your fridge that has crossed its best-before date?

If yes, then you will be wondering if you can use it or do fish sauce go bad.

Everyone asks this question as they always have a half-open bottle as we frequent purchasers of fish sauce.

It is true that fish sauce does lose its flavor and texture when stored for a more extended period.

But it is not crucial that the texture will only lose because of storage; there are many other elements that can make the sauce bad.

What is Fish Sauce?

It is a sauce made up of a mixture of fish and salt, which is fermented for up to 2 years.

These sauces are primarily used in Thai and Asian cuisines.

The sauce was extracted from oily fish like anchovies in the old time.

The fish was seasoned with salt, placed in a barrel, and pressed to take out the extract from it.

Besides an anchovy, other sauces can also include shrimp, mackerel, krill, and much more.

Some sauces that are on the sweeter side can also contain caramel, molasses, and roasted rice.

One can use it in many different forms, such as a dipping sauce, stir fries, marinating, and much more.

Many people use them while cooking and add them to recipes to add flavor to them.

While buying, look for fish sauces that are rich in protein, as low-protein sauces are too salty.

How Long Does Fish Sauce Last? Does Fish Sauce Go Bad?

Even though the sauce takes at least two years for fermentation, it does not last that long after opening.

Fish sauce does have a long shelf life and can only be used for a year once the bottle is opened.

But if we compare it with other sauces, its life is pretty long.

That is because this contains a high salt level and does not have ingredients that go bad quickly.

As mentioned earlier, the opened bottle will serve you for one year, but if you expect longer storage, do not open it.

Until the bottle is closed, you can expect 3 to 4 years of shelf life.

In the open bottle, the quality of sauces reduces daily because it gets in contact with air.

Suppose you find an open bottle of sauce; then how will you decide if you can use it? You’re mistaken if you think that according to the best-by date.

A sauce can still retain its quality after that period or can even go bad before that.

So you need to understand that you must know about the bad signs to differentiate a good and bad fish sauce.

How to Tell if Fish Sauce Has Gone Bad?

  • Crystals.

Many people consider that if the sauce develops crystals in its bottom, then it has gone bad.

But that’s not true, as it is not a sign of spoilage.

If you store the sauce for a longer time, then it will naturally form crystals, but it will not affect the quality of the sauce in any way.

  • Color.

The authentic color of fish sauce is reddish-brown or golden-brown and transparent.

Also, it does not contain any sediment.

But as long as you keep it, the sauce will become dark over time.

But still, that will not make its quality or taste bad.

  • Smell.

The sauce indeed smells like savory fish.

Some people do not find this smell pleasing as it is strong, but it does not seem so strong once it is cooked or stir-fried.

But this can indicate that it has gone bad; if it does not offer any strong smell or a foul odor, then be sure to discard it right away.

  • Taste.

If you are not noticing any change in color or smell, then you can taste the sauce.

When the sauce is fresh, the taste will be stable, but once it goes bad, it will give a different taste.

At first, the flavor will be slightly different; then, it will become entirely different; thus, do not wait till that time and throw the sauce out.

How to Store Fish Sauce?

  • Kitchen Cabinet.

If you have recently bought a bottle of fish sauce, then keep it in your kitchen cabinet.

That is because one can preserve the sauce for more years when it is closed.

Also, the best place to store the fish sauce is a cool and dry place; therefore pantry or a kitchen cabinet will be a great choice.

  • Fridge.

The pantry is suitable for storing the sauce, but you can use a fridge to retain its authentic quality.

By keeping the sealed bottle in the refrigerator, you will protect them from pests too.

The kitchen cabinets probably have pest infections; thus, using the fridge can help preserve your sauce from pests.

  • Freezer.

You are advised not to freeze the sauce for more prolonged use.

Keeping the fish sauce at room temperature will be more beneficial if it’s an unopened bottle.

If you have a used bottle, then keeping it in the fridge will keep it unspoiled for an extended period.


When you have sauce from an old open bottle, then looking for bad signs is essential.

There are numerous risks and problems that one can face if you have bad fish sauce.

Those are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even food poisoning.

The high salt content in the sauce will kill bacteria, and one can consume it for a long time.

How Long Does Fish Sauce Last? Does it Go Bad?

Discover the shelf life of fish sauce! Learn how long fish sauce lasts, and understand signs of deterioration to maintain its quality for all your savory dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Shelf Life
Servings 1 Serving


  • Fish sauce
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  • Store your product in an labelled container in a cool, dark place like the pantry or fridge.
  • If your food is frozen, allow it to thaw in the fridge before cooking.
  • Make sure to look for signs that your food has gone bad before eating it.
Keyword How Long Does Fish Sauce Last
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