How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last? | Unopened vs. Opened

Tomato sauce is a very important commodity around my house. In fact, it’s one of the handfuls of things two of my kids will actually eat. As a result, there is a lot of spaghetti being cooked during any given week. In order to stock up adequately, a common question is how long can we can keep the stuff around before using it?

When stored correctly in a can or glass jar, tomato sauce is best for about 2 years unopened in your pantry. Once opened, it will be best for about a week in the fridge or up to 18 months in the freezer in a freezer-safe container. Tomato Sauce will often last for a lot longer than the use-by date.

To maximize shelf life, these storage containers, available on Amazon, will work very well. They work great for meal prep or storing just about anything you want in the fridge or freezer.

How long tomato sauce lasts:

TypePantry (Unopened)Refrigerator (Opened)Freezer (Opened)
Can or Glass JarUp to 2 Years5-7 DaysUp to 18 Months
Homemade (Properly Canned)Up to 1 year3-4 Days4-6 Months

Now, let’s take a closer look at the factors contributing to the shelf life of tomato sauce, how it should be stored, and how to tell if it has gone bad.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last Unopened?


Tomato Sauce contains a preservative when made commercially, and this helps it to last for a more extended period than many other foods.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last out of the Fridge

Out of the fridge, Tomato Sauce will not last as long. After a few weeks, you will notice that it is beginning to change color and is probably being affected by heat and changes in temperature. If you are keeping the Tomato Sauce in a non-refrigerated location, do not expect it to last for more than a couple of days once opened.

How Long Will Tomato Sauce Last in the Fridge?

If you live in a warm climate, all your sauces should be kept in the fridge where it will last up to a week once opened. Even in the cold weather, you will get a lot more out of them if they are kept under refrigerated conditions or in a root cellar. Tomato Sauce may then last up to 3 years if unopened.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in a Jar?

Glass, rather than plastic, is the best place to store Tomato Sauce. Storing in a glass container, such as a mason jar, will allow it to last for the optimal amount of time when stored in your fridge or unopened in a dark pantry.

If you store in plastic, be wary as plastic can become unstable and degrade, causing your product to go off. I would make an educated guess that the shelf life in plastic is about 25% less than in glass.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in a Can?

Canned Tomato Sauce also contains preservatives, and this can be kept for a long time, often three years, once again in your pantry area, but is best in 2 years or less. There will be a use-by date, for a guide, but I find that it keeps for a bit longer.

It is “best” by this date, but often will be fine to eat much longer.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last Once Opened?

Once your tomato sauce is opened, it needs to go into the fridge. You will notice over time that it starts to change color, probably due to the change in temperature, and after it has been opened for a month and not finished, throw it out. After about a week, you will want to check for signs of it going bad.

If you have made your own sauce, it will not contain preservatives and should not be kept for more than a few days. Once again, after 1 week check for signs of spoilage before consuming.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last in the Freezer?

If you have made the Tomato Sauce yourself, it will be best within the first 6 months frozen. If you have bought it, you should freeze it for one year to 18 months in a freezer-safe container. Just make sure you get leak-proof containers, like these found on Amazon. Otherwise, you can end up with a big mess.

Tomato sauce will often be safe to eat indefinitely if kept at 0 degrees F, whether it is store-bought or you made it yourself. But, once it has been thawed out, you cannot refreeze it has to be eaten within 4-5 days or thrown out.

Does Tomato Sauce Expire?

Everything expires, but Tomato Sauce lasts longer than a lot of other sauces. Commercial sauces, made as a complete meal, often recommend discarding within seven days as they are meant to be eaten immediately since they have no preservatives. However, they are very different from regular Tomato Sauce, which is designed to be kept, and it is essential to understand that there is a difference.

Can You Eat Tomato Sauce After the Expiration Date?

If tomato sauce is in the fridge, it should be alright for another three months or so past the expiration date, as long as it is a commercial sauce and not homemade. If it has not changed color, it should be fine for a bit longer left in the fridge.

How to Tell If Tomato Sauce Has Gone Bad?

Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Color- Change in color, often darker.
  • Smell- Might smell slightly acidic.
  • Watery- It may have separated in the bottle and look a bit watery.
  • Taste- It could taste somewhat bitter.

If any of the above occurs, throw it away.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Tomato Sauce?

It could make you feel sick if it has become unstable. At best, it might not taste at all nice.

Botulism can occur in products where the preservation technique has broken down, and botulism can be fatal. So if you have any concerns, do not take the risk. There would certainly be a recall of such products.

How to Properly Store Tomato Sauce Products


Manufacturers provide a use-by date for a reason, so be guided by it as there are many different kinds of Tomato Sauce products. As said earlier, the Tomato Sauce-based ready meals all have to be consumed a lot more quickly than the sauces, and many have to be consumed between 3-5 days of opening.

Any new ready meals unopened and any sauce unopened are quite safe stored in a cool dark cupboard or pantry.

If you are putting Tomato Sauces into the freezer, document your own use-by date on the container so you won’t forget when they should be eaten by. I like to use labels that include a lot of details like shelf life. Surprisingly, it’s hard to find good labels, but here are some found on Amazon that I found that I highly recommend.

If you are doing any home preserving as once carried out in the kitchen, chutneys, and Tomato Sauce, make sure that your product does not develop any mold under the lid, as this is also dangerous. These products should be refrigerated until use. Because Tomato Sauces have a high acidity level, this precludes microbes’ growth and means that the sauce is more stable for storage.

If you have opened a big jar of Tomato Pasta Sauce and you haven’t used it all look for other uses, for instance, you could turn it into a soup for next days lunch, or put it over pasta and freeze it in a meal-sized portion for the children’s dinner a week ahead, just don’t forget to date it.

Otherwise, if you are not going to use it, definitely throw it away.

When heating Commercial ready meal Tomato Sauce, I always add about half a glass of red wine, it makes them taste homemade and anyone having it thinks that you made it.

Final Thoughts

Tomato sauce might be the most important sauce in America and many other countries, maybe followed closely by ketchup (also tomato-based, go figure). The good news is that it keeps a long time so stocking up on too much of it is generally not a problem. I hope this article has been helpful, thanks for reading!

For more, don’t miss Can I Substitute Ketchup for Tomato Sauce? | With 5 Alternatives.

Helpful Related Products

For your convenience, here are a few products that I recommend to help with your storage needs.

Also, if you are building your emergency stores, be sure to check out My Patriot Supply. I recommend them because they have low prices and some of the tastiest survival food available.

Anne James

Anne James has a wealth of experience in a wide array of interests and is an expert in quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, mixing drinks (bartending), and making jelly. Anne has a professional canning business, has been featured in the local newspaper as well as on the Hershey website, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is. With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass. Amazingly, she doesn’t need to reference many resources due to her vast wealth of experience. She IS the source. Anne wants nothing more than to pass on her extensive knowledge to the next generations, whether that be family or anyone visiting her website, her YouTube channel, or

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