Are you worried about how long spaghetti sauce will last? Read to see how long pasta sauce will keep in the pantry, fridge, or freezer!
Pasta and pasta sauce are two of my main pantry staples. I always keep some in the house for emergency meals because they’re so cheap!
Do you ever have those times that you look in your pantry and find random jars and cans and you have no idea how long they’ve been in there? Are they even still good?
I’ve done this so many times. And this post can hopefully give you some solid info on when to eat the spaghetti sauce and when to toss it. I also include tips for homemade sauces.
Remember, use YOUR best judgment when using your food! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Need a quick answer? Take a look at the chart below:
|Storage||Length of Freshness|
|Jarred, store-bought, pantry||12-24 months|
How long is spaghetti sauce good for?
Food products have some kind of date on them. They could say something like:
- Best By
- Best Before
- Best When Used By
These aren’t technically expiration dates. This date is for peak freshness of the product, not the safety of eating it.
This applies to foods that are packaged in good condition, stored at room temperature in a dry place, and UNOPENED. Once it’s opened, the game changes.
But typically, I’ll eat foods that are a few months past their Best By date.
Here’s how long pasta sauce is good for, depending on the type of sauce.
Jarred marinara sauce
Store-bought spaghetti sauce, or any type of tomato-based sauce that comes in a jar, typically has a shelf life of 18 months-2 years.
Jarred Alfredo sauce
A jar of cream-based Alfredo sauce has a similar shelf life of about 12-18 months. It’s a slightly shorter shelf life, mainly due to the ingredients.
How long does spaghetti sauce last in the fridge?
Jarred marinara sauce
Once you open a jar of store-bought sauce, the timer begins. If you’re not going to use all of the sauce at once, put the rest in the fridge immediately.
An open jar of spaghetti sauce can last in the fridge 5-10 days.
Jarred Alfredo sauce
Since Alfredo is a cream-based sauce, it won’t last quite as long. Use up jarred Alfredo sauce within 3-5 days.
Homemade spaghetti sauce, including ones made with meat like ground beef, have the shortest life in the fridge. They’re not made with the same preservatives as store-bought, so they won’t last as long.
I usually put homemade pasta sauce in an air-tight container once it’s completely cooled, although glass jars would work as well.
I recommend using up homemade sauce in the fridge within 3 days.
Does spaghetti sauce freeze?
I freeze spaghetti sauce all the time! Making a big batch of spaghetti sauce and freezing it is super easy to do. I’ve frozen it with or without meat, and both work great.
The tomato-based sauces freeze very well, but I don’t recommend freezing Alfredo sauce. It may have a grainy consistency once it’s thawed.
My favorite method is using heavy-duty freezer bags, like Ziploc bags. If I’m freezing a full batch of homemade sauce, I’ll use a gallon-size bag. If you’re freezing smaller servings, the quart-size bags should be fine.
If you prefer containers, you can use a freezer-safe airtight container.
Whatever you use, just make sure you label them with the date and what kind of food it is!
How long does spaghetti sauce last in the freezer?
As long as the sauce is kept in the freezer at a consistent temperature, spaghetti sauce should last 3-6 months!
Like the jars, the 3-6 months is mainly for best quality. After that time, your food risks getting freezer burn and the taste will be affected.
How can you tell if spaghetti sauce has gone bad?
For tomato-based sauces, check the inside of the jar for any mold. I’ve seen white fuzzy mold around the lids of my jars, only on the ones that have been opened and have been sitting in the fridge.
Sometimes it’s hard to see signs of spoilage. The texture of the sauce, and meat if it’s in the sauce, can vary and it’s just hard to know for sure what’s mold and what isn’t. There usually won’t be any unpleasant odors in the marinara sauce, but there could be a sour smell in the cream-based sauces like Alfredo.
If the sauce has been in there a long time and you’re in doubt, just throw it out. There’s no need to risk getting food poisoning.
Should I follow the expiration date?
Like I said above, the “expiration date” on a jar of pasta sauce is actually a “best by” date. If the jar is unopened and still in good condition, you can easily use the sauce a few weeks, maybe even months, past that date.
However: if the jar is already opened, don’t follow the date on the jar. Keep the jar in the fridge and use it in less than 7 days.
How to use up leftover sauce
I tend to have leftover pasta sauce when I make dinner. Since there are only 3 of us, I just don’t use an entire jar! Here are some ways I use it up:
- Use tomato sauce as pizza sauce! Whether it’s on a pizza, or on the side for pizza quesadillas.
- Stuffed peppers
- Dipping sauce for bread
- Pasta casserole
Ultimately, the shelf life of spaghetti sauce is pretty long. Use your best judgment when eating it, and just have a watchful eye!