How Long Can Spaghetti Sauce Last in the Fridge: Expert Tips and Guidelines

Wondering how long does spaghetti sauce last in the fridge? Whether it’s jarred pasta sauce or your own homemade pasta sauce, it’s important that you’re not putting yourself at risk by leaving it in the fridge longer than you should.

how long can spaghetti sauce last in the fridge

As an Italian foodie who loves to make her own sauces such as my own easy homemade spaghetti sauce, the reality is that I often use jarred sauces when I’m flat out of my own. So I’m very aware of the importance of regarding shelf life and the negative effects it can have if it’s gone bad.

About storing spaghetti sauce in the fridge

I’ve written this comprehensive guide to help you understand how to properly store your sauce so you can get the most out of it. Instead of just giving a short answer, I want to also address issues about freshness and spoilage, plus other factors impacting the length of time your spaghetti sauce can be stored in the refrigerator.

And don’t worry, I’ve also got tips for how to freeze your spaghetti sauce – so you can use it months down the road!

Quick takeaway: If you’re short on time and want the basic general guideline for how long to store your pasta sauce in the fridge, the answer is 3-7 days. But there’s more to it than just that, so keep reading if you can!

Understanding spaghetti sauce shelf life

Here’s a picture of some pasta sauce that’s been pushed to the back of my fridge. You can see it’s barely been used and guess what? I’ve got to throw it out.

In today’s economy, I can’t stand having to throw anything out. But it’s been in there for over a week and I won’t risk it.

So let’s talk about shelf life. The shelf life of spaghetti sauce in the fridge can vary depending on several factors. Understanding these factors will help you remain risk free.

  • Ingredients used
  • Storage conditions
  • Preservatives used

Factors affecting pasta sauce shelf life

Let’s look at each of these factors in more detail. To learn more about storage and handling of tomatoes, visit the FDA site here.

Ingredients

The fact that tomatoes are high in acid means they’ll last longer since acidity acts as a natural preservative. Whether it’s a marinara, bolognese or spicy arrabbiata, these are good for 5-7 days when stored properly in the refrigerator.

Alfredo sauces however contain dairy due to the milk and cheese. So these won’t have that high acidity and will not last as long in the fridge. Don’t forget that even vodka sauces contain dairy and cheese, even though they are red. Due to the dairy, bacterial growth can happen more quickly. Dairy based open pasta sauce jars can last 3-4 days in the fridge.

Preservatives

Unlike homemade sauces, store bought jarred pasta sauces will have ingredients such as citric acid and sodium benzoate. These are used by manufacturers to deter bacterial growth and therefore extend its longevity both on the shelf and for refrigerator life.

Storage Conditions

types of glass storage containers

As with any food item or leftovers, store them in airtight containers within 2 hours of cooking or once cooled. Above are the two types we use in our house. I prefer glass containers that have the flip lids instead of plastic tops because they last longer and don’t absorb the food smells. The round ones, shown above, also tend to chip easier.

Here’s the type that recommend that we’ve purchased on Amazon.

Glass food storage

I like these particular storage containers, they chip less. Plus the lids have a tight seal and are easier to put on and take off than regular plastic lids.

TAKE AWAY: Homemade spaghetti sauces containing ingredients like fresh tomatoes or dairy products will have a shorter shelf life compared to commercially bottled sauces with added preservatives.

Determining freshness and spoilage:

Let’s talk a moment about freshness and spoilage. Food borne illnesses are a real thing and can happen with refrigerated items, not just food that’s left out. Here are some things to look out for when dealing with leftover sauce.

  • Any type of foul smell
  • Any visual sign of mold. This can appear on the rim of the jar or on the pasta sauce itself.
  • Any unusual discoloration or change in texture – like getting clumpy.

PRO TIP: Remember the phrase, “If in doubt, throw it out”. I use this every time I’m unsure of anything – it’s not worth a medical visit just to feel good about saving a few dollars.

Freezing spaghetti sauce

So far we’ve mostly talked about storing your pasta sauce in the refrigerator, but what about keeping it in the freezer? The answer is absolutely yes! You can store both homemade tomato sauce or store bought pasta sauce (any type) in the freezer for up to 6 months, although I admit, I’ve kept it frozen for longer.

  1. Allow the leftover pasta sauce to completely cool to room temperature.
  2. Transfer the sauce to airtight freezer bags or containers. Due to the freezing process, the liquid will expand, so make sure to leave extra room at the top of the container.
  3. Lastly, label and date the contents. Trust me, this is worth the extra step. I always think I’ll remember what is what, but put a freezer container of tomato pasta sauce next to a container of meatless chili and it’s hard to tell the difference. This is especially true if you freeze homemade pizza sauce too!

PRO TIP: To reheat your frozen pasta sauce let it thaw in the fridge overnight, or reheat over low-medium heat in a sauce pan covered with a lid. If reheating Alfredo, add extra cream or milk and stir frequently when reheating to help restore its original consistency. This is because frozen dairy will often curdle or separate during the thawing process.

Quick Q&A

Does spaghetti sauce go bad in the fridge?

Yes, it absolutely can. Look for signs of spoilage and if in doubt, toss it out. If it’s over 7 days old, definitely toss it out.

Is spaghetti meat sauce good after a week?

I don’t recommend eating spaghetti meat sauce after being left in the fridge for over a week. Meat products in general should only be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days.

How long can you keep leftover spaghetti and sauce in the refrigerator?

The same rules apply even if the sauce is a part of leftover spaghetti. Pasta shouldn’t be left in the fridge for more than 3-5 days.

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If you have your own tips for keeping your spaghetti sauce in the fridge let me know in the comments below!

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How Long Can Spaghetti Sauce Last in the Fridge: Expert Tips and GuidelinesHow Long Can Spaghetti Sauce Last in the Fridge: Expert Tips and Guidelines

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