How long will homemade BBQ sauce last?

by Chris
(Knoxville, TN)

Our Home Bottled Que Fresco White BBQ Sauce

Our Home Bottled Que Fresco White BBQ Sauce

We made a huge batch of BBQ sauce and would like to give it as Christmas gifts. We put it in bottles. How long should it be safe to consume? I assume it should be refrigerated?


Most barbecue sauces contain vinegar which is a natural preservative and this should mean that provided you follow the standard procedures for bottling that your sauce will be good without refrigeration. Once opened of course you will have to refrigerate it.

What gives vinegar it's preservation properties is its acidity so by adding vinegar to your sauce you are making it more acidic. It's always best to check with a pH Meter, you're looking for a pH of approximately 3.5 - the lower the pH, the more acidic your sauce is.

Most bacteria can't survive in much under 4 so 3.5 gives you that margin of safety. If your sauce isn't sufficiently acidic then try adding more vinegar (you'll be surprised how much vinegar you can add without significantly affecting the taste).

Follow these steps for sterile bottling:-

  1. Make sure that your bottles a sterile by thoroughly cleaning them with hot water. I put a little water in the bottom of each bottle and blast them in the microwave.
  2. Pour your sauce into the bottle whilst it's still simmering or just off the boil (take care and use gloves).
  3. Immediately tighten the cap and allow to gently cool (the cap should pop as the warm air inside the bottle cools and compresses).

Clearly refrigeration will help and if you have the space in your refrigerator then it's better to be safe than sorry.

If you've done the above then your sauce should last unopened for months and once opened, it will need to be refrigerated and used within five days.

To make your sauce last even longer you can add a natural preservative (benzoic acid) which you can buy as sodium benzoate.

My understanding is that you have to add this sparingly to the tune of 500 to 750 parts per million and by my reckoning that equates to 1 teaspoon in every 22 pints of sauce. Please check this with the instructions on the packet.

Unless you've made absolutely mountains of sauce then you might have some sodium benzoate left over but that's a fair price to pay for having made such a fantastic Christmas present!

See Also:-

Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Start A BBQ Business

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May 26, 2021
clumping after several days
by: My Homemade sauce clumps

I make 2 BBQ sauces at home: 1 with cayenne and Tabasco, and the other without hot spices. The mild version has ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar but after a few days, it starts to gel. I can turn the container upside down and it stays in place. When I squeeze it out, it is all clumpy.It looks unappetizing but still tastes good. Cannot give it away to people because of the cosmetics. How can I eliminate the clumps as I make it?

Mar 18, 2021
Sodium Benzoate
by: Anonymous

Sodium Benzoate better known as E211 is NOT a natural preservative, in fact it is far from it. Just Google it and you will understand why many higher quality sauce makers refuse to use it in their products.

Aug 05, 2020
Plastic bottles
by: Anonymous

What if you are using bottle food safe bottles? Do you still put the sauce in the bottles right off the stove?

Apr 15, 2016
BBQ Sauce
by: Addison

I make homemade Bbq sauce and use ketchup, lemons, green peppers, sugar and Karo syrup. I'm curious as to how long I can safely use it. I put it back in the ketchup bottles and keep it in the fridge...

Sep 13, 2013
by: 'CUE

I make a couple of gallons at a time and can it into pint jars. Process for 20 minutes. It never lasts long but has kept for up to a year and has still been better than ever!

Feb 14, 2011
How long to keep bbq sauce
by: Bob

I made bbq sauce last spring and I'm still using it.

It didn't change in any way. As a matter of fact
it taste's better now since it was in the fridge all this time. I just put it in plastic containers.

Jun 27, 2010
Your answer
by: Anonymous

So, when you wrote your answer to how long the
sauce would keep in the jar, you said beyond
Christmas. My question is "how long is that"?
Did you write your answer in January, June,

From Paul:-
The assumption was that the sauce was made in the run up to Christmas given that Chris was making them as Christmas gifts. Having said that, the process I have suggested to follow should mean that the sauce will be OK for many months so long as it's not opened.

Thanks for asking for clarification.

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