How Long Does Hoisin Sauce Last After Opening? (Does It Go Bad?)

Hoisin Sauce is a popular sauce in Cantonese and Vietnamese cooking, with American chefs utilizing it in different applications as well.

It is primarily made up of fermented soybean paste and also includes water, sugar, sesame seeds, vinegar, salt, garlic, sometimes starches and other spices. 

Homemade hoisin sauce will last 7-10 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. Store-bought hoisin that is opened will last 12 to 18 months if refrigerated properly and 1 to 3 years when unopened and stored at room temp. 

Does Hoisin Sauce Go Bad

While hoisin sauce does have a relatively long shelf life, over time it will go out of date.

Its sugar content at some point will be an invitation for bacteria to grow, so abiding by the expiration date on the packaging and storing properly is the best way to avoid hoisin going bad. 

What Happens If You Eat Expired Hoisin Sauce

Eating out of date hoisin sauce is not recommended due to the fact that sticking with expiration dates on any packaged good is your safest option.

But when hoisin does expire, it is more of a flavor and color concern. 

Over time the texture, flavors and look of the sauce will not hold up and will degrade in value.

Food safety is less of a concern, although at some point each brand of sauce will go bad. It is best to abide by the expiration date and get a new product if it is expired.

How Bad Is Hoisin Sauce For You

Hoisin sauce’s major health drawback is the high sodium content.

In a bottle of Kikkoman Hoisin Sauce, for example, there is 510 mg for a 2 tablespoon serving, which is 21% of your daily value.

Those on a restricted or low-sodium diet should be aware of this before choosing to cook or eat with hoisin sauce.

Can You Leave Hoisin Out?

The biggest risk for leaving store-bought hoisin out is due to its sugar content.

Bacteria feed off of sugar so although it could last for some time out in theory, it is definitely not recommended.

Additionally, over time without refrigeration the taste and overall quality of the product drops drastically. 

How Hoisin Should Smell

When fresh, hoisin should have a sweet, plum-like smell to it. It should not smell off, sour, stale or vinegary.

If it does not have that sweet, dark fruit aroma and instead smells sour then it should be discarded. 

How To Tell If Hoisin Is Bad

The most obvious sign of hoisin going bad would be mold build up in the product.

Also, if the product becomes firm or loses its texture it should be discarded.

When purchasing, if the plastic cover on the jar is not present or torn then it should be discarded. 

Lastly, any off odors or flavors would be clear signs that it was time to get a new product.

How Long Hoisin Sauce Lasts After Opening

After buying a jar of hoisin sauce and opening, the product will last 12-18 months in the fridge.

If you freeze hoisin sauce it will last the same amount of time, but due to the long shelf life without freezing it is not recommended.

How Long Hoisin Can Be Left Out

After making a prepared food or opening a prepared food it is best to not leave out at room temp for more than 2 hours.

This is due to sticking to the “2 hour rule” and keeping foods out longer can cause bacteria to grow.

Most hoisin will last 1 month after opened at room temp, but is not recommended due to the different variables of food safety involved. 

Hoisin Sauce Should Be Refrigerated

The hoisin sauce needs to be refrigerated after opening in order to extend the shelf life. Hoisin sauce after being opened in the fridge will last 12-18 months.

If left out that shelf life drops drastically and is hard to say exactly how long it will last.

To preserve color, flavor, texture and shelf life, housing should be refrigerated after opening.

How To Refrigerate Homemade Hoisin Sauce

To store hoisin you have made yourself it is best to do so in an airtight container placed in the fridge.

The key is to ensure the product is tightly sealed so that it stays fresh and that it does not start to degrade in color or flavor.

If you store it in a condiment squirt bottle then be sure to have a cap or stopper that allows the container to be covered.

How To Freeze Homemade Hoisin Sauce

For storing homemade hoisin in the freezer, it is best to also store in an airtight container. You can store it as one bulk batch after you make it.

You can also divide it up into smaller containers. This will allow you to thaw only what you need, when you need it.

How Long Does Hoisin Sauce Last In The Freezer

If you are making hoisin sauce from scratch then freezing can be a great way to extend the shelf life on the product.

In order to freeze, ensure the product is stored in a container with a tight lid and one that is freezer safe.

The product will hold for around 3 months before losing taste and integrity. 

For store-bought hoisin, freezing is not really needed for the everyday home cook or even restaurant for that matter.

Due to the long shelf life of the product, hoisin keeps well in the fridge for long periods of time.

Freezing the product is not needed due to this prolonged shelf life in the fridge. 

How To Store Store-Bought Hoisin 

Unopened jars of hoisin should be kept in cool, dark storage and avoid high temperature variance.

Direct sunlight and warm temperatures will cause the product to go bad so do be aware of this when choosing a storage location.

Opened product can be stored in the jar it has come in, just be sure to screw the lid on tightly. 

One of the most well known makers of soy sauce also makes a great hoisin! Kikkoman Hoisin Sauce is one of the most popular on the market due to its emphasis on sweetness and acidity.

Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce is another brand known for other asian ingredients that makes a respectable hoisin. 

My personal favorite Hoisin though is Koon Chun Hoisin. The sauce is just very balanced in flavor, offering it to be great in a variety of dishes.

Also, the classic blue and yellow packaging always wins me over when scanning the grocery aisle. 

Fresh Roll with shrimp inside and chicken, tofu, bean sprouts, lettuces, mint leaf, cucumber, carrots wrap and tamarind hoisin sauce

Making The Choice Between Store-Bought and Homemade

If you are out to try your hand at Cantonese cooking and want to learn a new recipe, then making the homemade version is the best path forward.

If you want to try the sauce, have a favorite brand and want a really long shelf life then store-bought hoisin is your best bet. 

Below is a chart for hoisin shelf life periods

Hoisin SauceFridgeFreezerShelf
Homemade1-2 weeks3 months2 hours
Store-Bought (Unopened)1-3 yearsNot recommended1-3 years
Store-Bought (Opened)12-18 monthsNot recommended2 hours

The Difference Between Hoisin Sauce and Oyster Sauce

Those not used to using either hoisin or oyster sauces might see the same and become a little confused due to similar colors of the sauce.

But they are in fact very different, with hoisin being made from fermented soybeans and oyster sauce being made from oyster extract. (Hence the name.)

While Oyster Sauce will have the following attributed to it:

  • Briny
  • Salty
  • Mildly Sweet
  • “Fishy”
  • Light Brown Color

How Hoisin Sauce Is Used

Hoisin sauce can be used in a variety of applications. It is known to be used in marinades, stir-fry and grilled foods.

It is commonly used as a dipping sauce for many items.

You will also find hoisin as a topping in your local Pho restaurant. The sauce is very versatile and experimentation is recommended when using hoisin!

Is Hoisin Sauce Vegan?

Yes and no. It depends on the manufacturer making the product when it comes to if a sauce is vegan or not.

Some hoisin makers do use fish products in their hoisin, but there are quite a few brands that do not and can be considered vegan.

365 Whole Foods Market Hoisin Sauce and Lee Kum Kee Vegetarian Hoisin Sauce are both common brands you can find that are vegan. (Lee Kum Kee’s sauce is a vegan product which is labeled on their site.)

Final Words

The versatility hoisin can provide to the home cook is unparalleled in comparison to other condiments in your pantry.

When using it, the sweet, salty and umami aspects of the product are able to transform your marinades or stir-frys into authentic tasting dishes.

It is no wonder that many keep it on hand for dipping and topping foods as well. 

Hoisin is great for its long shelf life and ability to hold  in a shelf or in the fridge.

This long shelf life offers the convenience of the product being there when a home cook needs it most.

If you have not used hoisin much before, I urge you to now. This versatile, tasty sauce will soon become a staple in your kitchen.

Leave a Comment