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How Long Does Pasta Sauce Last in the Fridge?

As all pasta fans know, the sauce makes any pasta dish. If you have a delicious sauce, your pasta dish will not disappoint.

However, after you spent the time to make your perfect sauce, many wonder; what do you do with the leftovers? Wonder no more as we will dive into all your questions on what to do with your extra pasta sauce.

Pasta sauce in a large bowl with tomatoes in the background
Marie C Fields / Shutterstock

How Long Does Pasta Sauce Last on the Counter?

Chunky tomato sauce in a pot.  Pasta sauce should not be left on the counter for more than two hours.
Elena Veselova / Shutterstock

As with most foods, you shouldn’t leave pasta sauce on the counter for more than 2 hours. Any longer than that you risk bacteria growth. You shouldn’t leave your sauce out for more than an hour if you are outside and the temperature is above 90 degrees.

This applies to both tomato based sauces, such as marinara, and cream based sauces, such as Alfredo.

How Long Does Pasta Sauce Last in the Fridge?

Pasta sauce in a pan with herbs and spaghetti in the background.  Depending on the type of sauce, spaghetti sauce can usually last from 3 to 7 days in the fridge.
Marie C Fields / Shutterstock

While the general answer is that pasta sauce can be stored in the fridge anywhere from 3 to 7 days, the answer varies depending on the type of sauce and whether it is homemade or store bought.

You can expect tomato based sauces to last 3 to 5 days in the fridge if homemade. Store bought spaghetti sauces have more preservatives to extend the shelf life and can last anywhere from 5 to 7 days. This, of course, is only if your sauce is sealed in an airtight container while in the fridge.

Alfredo sauce and other cream based sauces last about a day or so less than tomato sauces. Homemade Alfredo sauce will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge while store bought Alfredo sauce will last 5 to 6 days in the fridge.

As always, the sooner the better when eating leftovers.

If your store bought sauce came in a resealable jar, it’s not necessary to transfer it to another container provided the jar has a lid that seals back up.

Can Pasta Sauce be Stored in the Freezer?

Pasta sauce splattering in a bowl surrounded by tomatoes.
EcoPimStudio / Shutterstock

Tomato-based sauces freeze well and can safely be stored in the freezer.

Alfredo sauce and other cream based sauces can be stored in the freezer safely but they don’t always freeze as well. When thawing, the texture and taste of Alfredo sauce can be impacted so I don’t recommend making more Alfredo sauce than you plan on eating within a few days. However, I would freeze it over throwing out if you do end up having more Alfredo sauce than you can eat.

How Long Does Pasta Sauce Last in the Freezer?

Pasta sauce in a freezer storage container.  Depending on the type of sauce, you can expect your pasta sauce to last between 3 and 6 months in the freezer.
Octavian Lazar / Shutterstock

Marinara sauce, or other tomato-based sauces, will last up to six months in the freezer and still be just as good as the day you put it in, provided it is stored in freezer bags or an air-tight freezer container.

If you do decide to freeze Alfredo sauce (or another cream-based sauce), you can expect it to last 3 to 4 months, provided it is properly stored. However, the sooner you eat it the better, especially with Alfredo sauce.

What is the Best Way to Thaw Pasta Sauce?

Pasta with sauce in a freezer container.
Ahanov Michael / Shutterstock

Both tomato and cream based sauces can be thawed the same way. The best way is in the fridge overnight (or up to 24 hours if you are thawing larger quantities). Make sure to put the freezer container containing the sauce in a bowl just to avoid any sauce puddles in your fridge if you have a leaky freezer bag.

If you need a quicker option, you can soak the sauce in its freezer container in a cold bowl of water. You will likely have to change the water every 30 minutes or so to avoid the water freezing around your sauce. Depending on how much sauce you are thawing and the container you are using, you can expect your sauce to be thawed in 1 to 3 hours using this method.

If you need a faster method yet, you can thaw your sauce by placing it under running cold water. Freezer bags generally work better using this approach as they have more surface area that the water can run over.

You can also defrost in the microwave in a few minutes using the defrost function. I hesitate to suggest this with Alfredo sauce, as there is a higher chance of the taste and texture being impacted using this method.

Once defrosted, you can reheat in a sauce pan or microwave. I recommend heating in a sauce pan over the stove but the microwave works if you are pressed on time. Stir frequently for both methods. Both tomato and dairy based sauces heat unevenly and can burn easily if not stirred frequently.

How to Tell if Pasta Sauce has Gone Bad

Pasta sauce in a white bowl with garlic in the background.  Always use your senses when determining whether pasta sauce has gone bad.
Zoeytoja / Shutterstock

Like most foods, you can tell if a pasta sauce (Alfredo or tomato) has gone bad by its appearance, smell, texture, and taste (though I wouldn’t taste if your other senses raise red flags).

If there is any discoloration of the sauce or any noticeable mold, definitely don’t eat it. Also, if you notice the sauce is runnier or has an unappetizing change of texture, I would throw it out.

Any unusual or unpleasant smells coming from your sauce almost always spells trouble.

Finally, if you start eating your leftover sauce and notice it doesn’t taste right, spit it out and through it out.

It’s always better to be on the safe side when questioning whether your food is still good. As I always say, when in doubt, throw it out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pasta sauce good for you?

If you are eating a tomato-based sauce or meat sauce, then yes, pasta sauce is very healthy for you as they are low in fat and high in vitamins and fiber. Alfredo sauce and other cream-based sauces are higher in fat and generally not as healthy for you.

Is homemade pasta sauce healthier than store bought pasta sauce?

Generally yes, homemade sauce is better than store bought sauce. This is because homemade sauce uses fresher ingredients and does not contain the preservatives that store bought sauces have to extend the shelf life. These preservatives are usually in the form of salt, fat and sugar.

Final Thoughts on How Long Pasta Sauce is Good in the Fridge

Whether you have made the perfect pasta sauce from scratch or you just don’t want to waste the rest of your jar, pasta sauce stores well and can be safely kept to enjoy in future meals. I hope you have found the information in this article helpful. Happy cooking!

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How to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce: 8 Great Ways!

How to Thicken Alfredo Sauce: 12 Great Ways

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