If you’re like me, then spaghetti sauce is a pantry staple. Whether it’s a simple pasta dinner or maybe a chili, pasta sauce can be used in so many different ways. Here are my best tips and tricks for preserving any leftover sauce in the fridge.
I love spaghetti sauce because I can use it in so many dishes. A meat sauce is the way to my heart with the tender ground beef, fresh tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and a kick of red pepper flakes.
But unless you’re feeding a large group, it’s hard to use up a whole jar in one go. Chances are, you’ll get up to three meals worth of sauce from just a single jar!
Check out how long spaghetti is good for while you are reading.
How Long Spaghetti Sauce is Good For?
What’s interesting about jarred pasta sauce is that, when unopened, it has an extremely long shelf life. Unopened jars of grocery store bought tomato sauce can last on the shelf at room temperature for about one year.
This fact is true for homemade sauces as well. As long as the sauce is sealed in an airtight container like glass jars, your sauce can safely last 1-2 years and be completely safe to eat.
If the sauce is heavy cream based, like Alfredo sauce, it can still last in the pantry unopened for up to 8 months. The acidity in tomatoes helps preserve tomato based sauces. Cream based pasta sauces do not have the same advantage, meaning they do not last as long.
Once a jar of spaghetti sauce is opened, though, that’s when the clock starts ticking. Store in the fridge immediately after opening. Opened jars of sauce will only last about a week in the fridge. Tomato based sauces are good for up to 10 days, while cream sauces last for up to 7 days after opening.
Follow along to learn how to extend the shelf life of your spaghetti sauces in the fridge.
|Pantry (Store-bought)||8 months – 2 years|
|Refrigerator||7 – 10 days|
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How Long is Spaghetti Sauce Good for in the Fridge?
Once a jar of spaghetti sauce is opened, it should be used quickly. The best way to keep it fresh is to Immediately store spaghetti sauce that you know you won’t be using in the fridge.
Once the sauce is in the fridge, store bought sauce will be safe to eat for 5 to 10 days, depending on the ingredients used. Tomato based sauce can last up to 10 days, while cream based sauce is good for up to 7 days.
Homemade pasta sauce, though it has an equal unopened shelf life as store bought, will not last as long. As a general rule, homemade spaghetti sauce will only last 3-5 days in the fridge.
Tomatoes are highly acidic, which resists some bacterial growth (and keep it out of the danger zone) but does not totally protect it from spoilage. Homemade tomato sauce has a shorter shelf life because it is not made with the same preservatives as store bought sauces are made with.
Cream based sauces do not last as long as tomato based sauces because they do not have the same acidity to preserve them.
How to Tell if Spaghetti Sauce Has Gone Bad?
Mold is the only visible sign that spaghetti sauce is bad. Unless your sauce contains dairy, like alfredo sauce, there will be no smell or taste indicators of spoilage.
Even mold can be difficult to spot since tomato sauce, especially meat sauce, naturally varies in texture. The mold can also resemble seasoning or herbs used in the marinara sauce.
If your sauce has cream, there could be a sour smell accompanied by visible mold. If any of these are present, it’s a good idea to toss it.
To practice top quality food safety, you can reheat the spaghetti sauce in a pan to kill any bacteria present in the sauce and avoid food poisoning.
How Long Does Pasta Sauce last in the freezer?
If you don’t think you’ll be able to finish a refrigerated jar of open sauce, you can also freeze it to preserve it for months rather than weeks.
Take any leftover sauce and transfer it to a freezer safe plastic container. Avoid using glass jars as they can break if the sauce expands.
I personally prefer heavy-duty freezer bags. Ziploc bags are my favorite for storing leftovers in the freezer, but your favorite food storage method will also work. Spread them flat to save space in the freezer.
The great thing about freezing pasta sauce is that it can last a long time and still be safe to eat. Frozen sauce can last up to 6 months in the freezer.
Unfortunately, any cream or cheese based sauces cannot be stored in the freezer, so this option only works for tomato based sauces.
What If The Sauce Hasn’t Expired Yet?
An important thing to keep in mind when reading the expiration date on store bought pasta is that it measures quality. The date on the jar also refers to the shelf life when its unopened at room temperature.
Once you open a jar of spaghetti sauce, the expiration date printed on the opened jar no longer applies.
Whenever I open a jar of pasta sauce, I make sure to write the date I opened it. That way, I can track how long it has been in the fridge.
The date of opening the jar is a much better measure of how safe the sauce is to eat than the printed date. Be sure there are no unpleasant odors present.
How Do I Reheat Leftover Pasta Sauce?
A great way to reheat leftover sauce is in a pan. I think this method ensures the best quality because it kills any bacteria from mild spoilage, and it makes the sauce taste fresh.
If the leftover sauce is in the fridge, simply pour the contents into a pan and reheat it on low. It may take longer for thicker sauce. Homemade sauce tends to be thinner because it doesn’t have the preservatives that increase the length of time it’s shelf stable which can thicken the sauce.
If you are reheating frozen sauce, I recommend submerging the bag of sauce in hot water to help thaw it before reheating it in the pan.
To make sure your leftover sauce lasts as long as possible, I would make sure to only reheat the amount of sauce you will need for a particular meal. Heating, cooling, and reheating can cause bacteria to grow more rapidly.
What Can I Make With Leftover Spaghetti Sauce?
There are so many recipes that use marinara sauce, which is why it makes such a great leftover. One jar of sauce can easily last for 3 or more meals if you are only preparing a single serving.
Not only does a single jar of sauce last so long, but you can also make a completely different recipe with it each night. I love when ingredients create many different dishes.
- For a simple dinner, spaghetti and meatballs is a classic favorite. If you want to get more creative with your leftover sauce, combine the tomato sauce with tomato paste and use in a chili.
- The options are pretty much endless when it comes to spaghetti sauce. Some other favorites of mine include lasagna, ravioli, stuffed peppers, and eggplant parmesan.
- Cream based sauces are great in fettuccine Alfredo, chicken Alfredo, or casserole. Check out my Chicken Spaghetti and my Southern Baked Spaghetti recipes!
The amount of ways you can use leftover spaghetti sauce is truly amazing. I have yet to run out of new ways to use this staple ingredient.
Check out this homemade sauce recipes: Marinara sauce recipe, Red Clam Sauce Recipe, and Pizza Sauce!
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If you store your leftover spaghetti sauce according to these tips, I can assure you that you’ll enjoy countless meals for days to come!
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