Food preservation

Does soy sauce go bad?

Soy sauce is an interesting ingredient. You can use it as a marinade for your meat dishes and also as an ingredient in your salad dressing.

Soy sauce is made from wheat and fermented soybeans. There are different types of soy sauce in the market, the most common ones being dark soy sauce and light soy sauce.

I am one of those moms that don’t use soy sauce very often. I particularly like using soy sauce as a marinade for my pork ribs which is not a regular in my menu. My bottle of soy sauce ends up lasting for a really long time.

Sometimes I use it once then store it in my refrigerator and even forget it is still there until the next time I need it.


Does soy sauce go bad? Well, not really. Soy sauce is packed with sodium which means its environment is not conducive for micro-organisms to flourish. If you store your soy sauce properly, it will still be safe to consume even after several years.

However, its quality deteriorates as the years go by. You won’t get sick from using it but it probably won’t give you the results that you want. You will also have to use more soy sauce than you usually do.

Proper storage is key when it comes to extending the shelf-life of your soy sauce and maintaining its freshness.

Your soy sauce will be safe to use for a very long time. It will also still be of good quality. Additionally, it will not get contaminated.

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How to properly store soy sauce


Soy sauce should be stored in a cool, dry place when it is unopened. For this reason, your kitchen cabinet or pantry is the best place to store unopened soy sauce.

Once you open your soy sauce, I recommend that you store it inside your refrigerator. This way, it will stay fresh for much longer and maintain its good quality.

However, if you are the kind of person that uses soy sauce on a regular basis, you can just store it in the pantry because it will definitely run out before its quality starts deteriorating.

Soy sauce should be stored at a constant temperature. When storing it in the refrigerator, don’t store it at the door because the temperature there is unstable. Each time you open or close the door, the temperature changes. Instead, store the soy sauce inside the fridge where the temperature is stable.

After every use, you need to make sure that you have sealed the bottle tightly. This way no moisture, germs, or micro-organisms will find their way into the soy sauce.

I recommend leaving the soy sauce in the same container it came in. Do not transfer it to a different container before storage.

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What is the shelf life of soy sauce?


Opened soy sauce that is stored at room temperature will maintain its quality for up to six months. After six months, the quality of the soy sauce will not be as good as it was in the beginning.

Unopened soy sauce that is stored in the pantry or kitchen cabinet will maintain its peak quality for up to 3 years.

If you open your soy sauce and you refrigerate it continuously, it will maintain its peak quality for approximately two years. After that, the soy sauce may start tasting a little bit off.

Most soy sauce bottles have the best by date. It is important to note that this date is not an expiry date. You can still safely consume soy sauce even a year past its best by date. Manufacturers simply put the best by date to estimate when the soy sauce will still be at its best quality.

As long as you had stored the sauce properly, you can still use it in any of your recipes.

Unopened soy sauce maintains its good quality for up to two years past the best by date when stored in the pantry.

Opened soy sauce maintains its good quality for up to 6 months past the best by date when stored in the pantry and one year past the best by date when stored in the fridge continuously.

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What happens when the quality of soy sauce deteriorates?


The first indication that your soy sauce has started losing its quality is when its color change. Soy sauce starts changing color when it has stayed for a long time. Its texture and flavor may also change a bit.

If your soy sauce has stayed for a long time, it may only have a mild effect on your food. For this reason, you may be forced to use more soy sauce than usual.

If you do not like using too much soy sauce, you can discard it and get a new bottle that is of good quality.

When to throw out your soy sauce

Although soy sauce does not necessarily go bad, it may inhibit some characteristics that show it is no longer safe to use.

This means that soy sauce does not last forever. If you see any of these signs, I suggest that you don’t keep using the soy sauce.

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  1. The soy sauce has a weird smell.

If your soy sauce has a weird smell, it will most definitely alter the smell and flavor of your dish. I recommend throwing it out if you notice it smells a little weird.

  1. The soy sauce has little to no effect on your food

The quality of soy sauce deteriorates with time. If you use it and you can’t really tell whether or not you added some soy sauce in the dish, it means that your soy sauce has stayed for too long and it gradually lost its quality.

I recommend that you just buy a new bottle. However, if you are in the middle of a recipe and you do not have any other soy sauce in hand, you can still use it because it is still safe to consume.

You might need to use twice the amount you usually use but that is just about it.

  1. You forgot to seal the soy sauce properly and some contaminants found their way into the soy sauce.

If this happens and anything, including food particles, gets into your soy sauce container, it is better if you discard it.

Although soy sauce is not a conducive environment for microorganisms to flourish, the contaminants may alter the flavor or taste of your dish and consequently mess up your dish.

  1. If molds forms inside the container

Molds are never a good sign. They grow when you let moisture get into the container. If you notice any molds inside the bottle of your soy sauce, throw it out.

Do not try to salvage the remaining soy sauce by transferring it to a different container. If you use it, you might get food poisoning. Better safe than sorry, right?

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How long does soy sauce last when prepared in a dish?


As we have seen, soy sauce maintains its quality for a very long time.  When you use it in your dish, it will definitely be the last ingredient to go bad.

However, if one of the ingredients goes bad, the dish is no longer safe to consume. You should get rid of it.

Tips on handling soy sauce

  1. Store unopened soy sauce in a cool, dry place.

The pantry or kitchen cabinet is the best place to store soy sauce when it is unopened. Keep it away from moisture for it to last longer.

  1. Store opened soy sauce inside the fridge.

Once you open soy sauce, the best place to store it is inside the fridge. This way, it will maintain its good quality for much longer than when you store it in the pantry.

  1. Seal well after every use.

Sealing ensures that no moisture or contaminants get into your soy sauce. Its flavor, texture, and smell will remain the same if you seal it properly before storing it in the pantry or fridge.

  1. Keep the soy sauce in its original bottle.

Do not transfer the soy sauce into another bottle. It might interfere with its flavor or texture. Just leave the soy sauce in the bottle you bought it in and store it in the pantry, kitchen cabinet, or fridge.

  1. If your soy sauce has stayed for a long time, taste the dish before serving.

Soy sauce loses its good quality as time goes by. If yours has stayed in the pantry for several months, make a point of tasting your food before serving. You may need to add a little bit more soy sauce to achieve the taste that you want.

  1. Check for any contaminants before using them.

If you mistakenly leave your soy sauce open, you need to check for any contaminants before using it again. Pour some of the soy sauce into a bowl.

If you notice any particles floating in the soy sauce, it is definitely contaminated. Do not use it in your dish because it might make you sick.

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