Does Cholula Hot Sauce Expire?

by Charlie
Cholula Hot Sauce

Cholula hot sauce is rapidly becoming the hot sauce of choice for thousands of homes and restaurants across the country. This peppery elixir is spicy, smoky, and full of flavor without overwhelming the taste of your favorite food with too much heat.

Once you’ve tasted Cholula, it might tempt you to go ahead and purchase the 64oz big bottle, but there is one important question to answer first.

Does Cholula hot sauce expire? Cholula hot sauce does expire. Cholula hot sauce expires 6 months after opening when kept at room temperature. Unopened, Cholula is at its tastiest when consumed within the listed ‘Best By’ date. When refrigerated, most hot sauces can last between 4-5 years.

How to Tell if Cholula Has Gone Bad?

Even though Cholula has a decently long shelf life, there are instances when spoilage can occur. This can occur when Cholula isn’t properly sealed, when temperatures fluctuate too much, and if contamination of the hot sauce occurs.

Some of the telltale signs of Cholula having gone bad are as follows:

Smell

If you’re questioning if your Cholula has gone bad, a sniff test is a good place to start. Hot sauces are usually vinegar-based, so expect a vinegar smell.

If there are any musty notes to the scent of your hot sauce, this can indicate mold growth, meaning your hot sauce has spoiled and should be discarded.

Appearance

As hot sauces age, they tend to darken, and as long as your Cholula is within its ‘Best By’ date, this darkening isn’t anything to worry about. 

A change of appearance that is dangerous is the appearance of mold. With hot sauce, this can be even harder to discern, because mold can show up as little black dots resembling black pepper. 

If there is any fuzz or new black dots showing up in your hot sauce, it’s time to throw it away.

Taste

If your hot sauce has passed the smell and taste test, then the last line of defense is the taste test. Once you’ve determined there is nothing wrong when you look at or smell your hot sauce, it’s unlikely that you’re consuming anything dangerous.

This doesn’t mean you should ignore any strange tastes in your Cholula. Overly sour or sweet tastes, or even degradation of the taste altogether, isn’t unheard of for a hot sauce that is past its expiration date. 

If your Cholula is reaching the end of its shelf life and isn’t tasting as fantastic as it used to, you can still consume it without a problem, but any odd tastes are reasons to toss the hot sauce and crack open a fresh bottle. 

Is it Okay to Eat Expired Cholula?

Hot sauces, Cholula included, are almost all made with vinegar and peppers as the two key ingredients. Both of these ingredients have incredibly long shelf lives, which is why refrigerated hot sauce can usually last for multiple years.

With that being said, additional ingredients like garlic and other vegetables can pose a problem with spoilage. Vinegar will basically pickle the other ingredients, making them last much longer, but despite all the vinegar, your Cholula will eventually expire.

So, is it okay to eat expired Cholula? As long as your Cholula shows no signs of mold growth, you can often eat it for years after the listed expiration date if it has been properly sealed and refrigerated. 

This is especially true for an unopened bottle of Cholula. If stored somewhere cool, unopened Cholula can taste its very best for an incredibly long time. It’s highly unlikely that unopened Cholula will have any sort of mold growth, meaning that it can be consumed without a problem. 

Where to Find and How to Read Cholula’s Expiration Date?

The printed expiration date for Cholula is on the glass neck of the bottle. Since mid-2018, Cholula’s expiration date is listed as a ‘Best Buy’ date with a lot code number beneath. Before 2018, Cholula’s expiration date was printed in a Julian date code. 

Cholula’s website doesn’t recommend consuming any Cholula without a visible expiration date. Although it won’t have any health risks, no one wants less-than-stellar tasting hot sauce!

How Do You Read Cholula’s Expiration Date?

In 2018, Cholula changed the way they listed their expiration dates, so we’ll go over both types you may come across since unopened Cholula can last up to 5 years. 

Lot Number 

Cholula produced after mid-2018 will have an easy-to-read ‘Best By’ date followed by a lot number.

If the lot code begins with a letter, use the letters A through L to determine what the month is, starting with A for January, B for February, and so on. The numbers following the letter indicate the month, day, and year in which the item was manufactured in the xx:xx:xx format.

As an example, something labeled C031220 would have been manufactured on March 12th, 2020. 

Julian Date Code

Before mid-2018, Cholula labeled their products with a Julian date code, which is a 3-7 digit code showing the day of the year a product was produced. 001 stands for January first, and 365 stands for December 31st.

If there are 5 numbers, the first 2 will indicate the year. If there are 7 numbers, the first 4 numbers will indicate the year.

As an example, something produced on the 5th of January 2021 would read 21005 for a 5 digit code and 2021005 for a 7 digit code. 

Final Thoughts

  • Cholula is a delicious, spicy hot sauce that, when stored at room temperature, will expire 6 months after opening, and is recommended to be consumed by the ‘Best By” date listed.
  • Use sight, smell, and taste to check for spoilage in Cholula. The biggest risk for vinegar-based sauces is mold.
  • Expired Cholula rarely poses any health risks when eaten, as long as there are no signs of visible mold growth.
  • In mid-2018, Cholula switched from listing their expiration date as a Julian date code to listing it as a ‘’Best By’’ date with a lot number following. 

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