Can Soy Sauce Go Bad How Long It Lasts (+Storage Tips)

Soy Sauce is a salty liquid condiment used in Asian cooking. It is made from fermented soybeans and wheat. Soy sauce has a distinctive flavor and aroma. The main ingredients of soy sauce are water, salt, sugar, yeast extract, and sometimes other ingredients such as rice wine vinegar, mirin, sake, and koji.

Soy sauce is commonly used in Chinese cuisine, Japanese cuisine, Korean cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine, Thai cuisine, Indonesian cuisine, Malaysian cuisine, Filipino cuisine, Indian cuisine, and American cuisine.

Soy sauce has been around since ancient times. It was originally used as a seasoning for food, but today it’s also used as an ingredient in cooking.

Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans. The fermentation process breaks down the proteins in the beans into amino acids, which makes it easier to digest.

But did you know that soy sauce can go bad? And if it does, how long it lasts?

In this article, I’ll answer these questions and give you some tips on storing soy sauce.

Can soy sauce go bad?

Yes! If your soy sauce gets exposed to air or light, then bacteria will grow inside it. This causes the soy sauce to become spoiled.

Can Soy Sauce Go Bad ? Here's How Long It Lasts (+Storage Tips) - Foodiosity

Soy sauce can spoil, but it spoils slowly. Like many other foods, soy sauce contains a lot of salt. Salt kills bacteria, but it also prevents them from growing. Since soy sauce is very salty, it doesn’t allow any bacteria to grow. However, if you don’t use it for a long time, mold spores can start to grow. These mold spores are harmless, but they can grow into mold colonies. Mold colonies can grow large enough to take control of the soy sauce container. Once this happens, the soy sauce is spoiled.

What is the shelf life of soy sauce?

The shelf life of soy sauce depends on its storage conditions. For example, when stored at room temperature, soy sauce should be good for about one year. But if you store it in the refrigerator, it may only keep for six months.

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Soy sauce can be kept for years if stored properly. However, if not stored properly, soy sauce can spoil quickly. For example, soy sauce should be stored in a cool place away from direct sunlight. Also, the soy sauce should be opened before use. Otherwise, the soy sauce will lose its flavor.

If you want to extend the shelf life of soy sauce, here are some things you can do:

1. Store it in dark bottles with tight-fitting lids. Light exposure speeds up the growth of microorganisms. So make sure to store it away from direct sunlight. You could even put it in a brown paper bag.

2. Keep it out of reach of children and pets. They might accidentally knock over containers containing soy sauce. Or maybe they would eat it by mistake.

3. Don’t leave soy sauce open while heating it. Heat encourages bacterial growth.

4. Use soy sauce within 6 months after opening. After that, it starts losing its taste.

Best by date VS use-by date

When buying soy sauce, look for “best by dates” printed on the label. Best by dates indicate the expiration date of the product. When using soy sauce, check the best by date first. Then follow the instructions below.

Use by dates is usually found on the backside of the bottle. These labels show the number of days left until the soy sauce expires. Some products have both types of labels. Furthermore, there’s no standard way to read either type of label. Therefore, it’s important to understand what each means.

This kind of label indicates the amount of time remaining until the soy sauce goes stale. In general, most people think that once the use-by date has passed, the soy sauce becomes unsafe to consume. That’s why we recommend checking the use-by date first.

However, sometimes manufacturers change their recipes.

Unopened soy sauce

You shouldn’t worry too much about unopened soy sauce going bad. If you buy an unopened jar of soy sauce, then you’ll need to refrigerate it immediately. This helps prevent the soy sauce from getting warm or hot. The heat makes it easier for bacteria to grow.

Can Soy Sauce Go Bad ? Here's How Long It Lasts (+Storage Tips) - Foodiosity

Soy sauce that hasn’t been open has a very long shelf-life. It should last longer than you have time to consume it if maintained away from direct sunlight. If you’re looking at it at the end of June 2020 and the "Best By" date is April 2024, add two years to get April 2024 at the very minimum. For example, if it’s stored in the pantry, away from direct sunlight, and not opened until May 2025, it should still be fine. The flavor may be weak or off, depending on the quality of soy sauce, but that shouldn’t happen if it’s been well packed.

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Opened soy sauce

Once you’ve opened your soy sauce, keep it tightly sealed. Make sure to close it right away so as to avoid any contact between air and the soy sauce. Once closed, the soy sauce needs to stay cold. Ideally, it should remain chilled all day.

But don’t freeze it! Freezing causes damage to the soy sauce. Instead, just wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it into the refrigerator.

If you keep the soy sauce at room temperature, such at the kitchen table or on the countertop, it will last at least until the “best by date”. Keeping the soy sauce in the refrigerator or a very cool panty will allow you to use it for a few more months after opening. However, if you do not open the soy sauce immediately, the flavor will degrade over time.

How to tell soy sauce has gone bad

The smell can give you some clues. A strong odor might mean that something went wrong with the manufacturing process. But even when everything was done correctly, the soy sauce could start smelling funky. You can also test whether the soy sauce tastes good or not.

Does Soy Sauce Go Bad After Expiration Date? How To Tell For Sure -  Fitibility

It’s possible to detect a difference in the aroma before tasting. So, try sniffing the soy sauce. If it smells like vinegar, then it probably isn’t safe to eat anymore. Moreover, if the soy sauce starts to taste sour, then it’s definitely past its prime.

When using soy sauce, make sure to check the expiration date. Don’t forget to look at the backside of the container where the use-by date is printed. Also, take note of how old the soy sauce actually is. If it says "expired", then it’s already expired.

What happens when soy sauce gets older?

As mentioned above, soy sauce doesn’t go bad overnight. In fact, there are many factors that affect the aging process. Some of these include:

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Temperature – As we discussed earlier, keeping the soy sauce in the fridge or freezer slows down the aging process.

Light exposure – Light accelerates the degradation of food products. Therefore, storing soy sauce in dark places will cause it to age faster.

Oxidation – Oxidization occurs naturally during storage. When exposed to oxygen, foods lose moisture and become stale.

Soaking – This refers to soaking raw ingredients in water prior to cooking them. Water helps prevent oxidation and preserves nutrients. Unfortunately, this step makes soy sauce less salty.

Storing tips

There are several ways to store soy sauce properly. Here are three options:

Keep it refrigerated

This method works best if you plan to use the soy sauce within one week. Otherwise, it won’t survive much beyond that period. To ensure freshness, place the bottle inside an ice chest. The cooler temperatures slow down the rate of deterioration.

Store it in a dry area

Dry areas have lower humidity levels than humid ones. That means they’re better suited for preserving items. For example, you can put the soy sauce in a paper bag and seal it uptight. Then, hang the package from a hook near the ceiling. Alternatively, you can wrap the soy sauce tightly in plastic wrap and stick it into your oven. Heat speeds up the drying process.

Use it right away

You don’t need to wait around forever just because the soy sauce expires. Instead, you should consume it as soon as possible. After all, the longer you leave it out, the worse it’ll get.


In conclusion, soy sauce does not spoil easily. However, it may develop off-flavors over time. And, depending on what type of soy sauce you buy, it may be stored differently. For instance, Japanese soy sauces tend to stay fresher for longer periods of time. On the other hand, Chinese soy sauces usually expire sooner.

I hope this post helped you with all your food curiosities.

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