Does Hoisin Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated? Does It Go Bad?

Does Hoisin Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

Salty, tangy, just a tad sweet, packed with umami, and absolutely unique. This is hoisin sauce, one of the staples in Asian cuisine. It gives a huge lift in flavour to many dishes, and it is super versatile. You definitely want to check out, learn more, and adopt it in your daily meals. Let’s take a look at does hoisin sauce needs to be refrigerated.

What Is Hoisin Sauce?

Hoisin sauce is a Cantonese sauce used in lots of recipes, such as stir-fries and marinades, as a dipping sauce, or even for glazing meats. It’s pronounced “hoy-sn,” and the word comes from Cantonese, meaning “seafood.” Even though it doesn’t have any seafood products in it, nor is it usually consumed with seafood. It doesn’t contain any animal products, so it’s vegetarian and vegan-safe.

How Long Does Hoisin Sauce Last?

If unopened, the sauce can last for a very long time, from 3 years to indefinitely, depending on storage conditions. Although, after a while, it won’t have the same qualities as its peak. It’s good to check the “Best By” date. It will be safe to consume given it doesn’t have any signs of mould or an off smell, but the flavours won’t be as strong.

What Does Hoisin Sauce Taste Like?

The sauce is a perfect balance of salty, sweet, and tangy flavours. Sometimes it can be called “Chinese barbecue sauce,” but it’s saltier and less sweet than the American sauce. The flavour isn’t really comparable though. Hoisin sauce it’s its own thing. The comparison comes from its physical characteristics: a dark, thick sauce.

The main component is fermented soybean paste, which is why the sauce has its thick consistency, as well as a deep tangy flavour. Other ingredients can vary due to regional differences. But the classic composition is fermented soybean paste, garlic, Chinese five spices, chilies, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar.

Is Hoisin Sauce Healthy?

As with most things, it depends on the dosage. Be aware that it has a high content of both sodium and sugar, so pay attention to your portion sizes. On the other hand, the sauce has antioxidant properties and it’s a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, and manganese.

Does Hoisin Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated?

Hoisin sauce could keep well unrefrigerated due to its high salt content. If you finish your bottle or jar fast enough (within a month or so) it should be okay. But like most condiments, refrigerating extends its shelf life.

It should last from 12 to 16 months in the refrigerator after opening. To preserve it better, try to clean any residues on the bottle cap or lid to prevent bacteria growth.

Also read: Does Tahini Sauce Need To Be Refrigerated? Does It Go Bad?

Does Hoisin Go Bad?

Yes, the sauce can go bad. But it could take a long time, especially if you take care of it well. Always be aware of bacteria or mould growing inside the bottle or jar. A change in the odor or any discolouration in the sauce are sign that it is spoiled.

What Is An Alternative To Hoisin Sauce?

Given that hoisin sauce is very unique, it’s difficult to find a good substitute. Possible candidates could be oyster sauce (despite big flavour and texture differences) or American barbecue sauce (maybe seasoned with five spices and a bit of hot sauce).

Your best alternative is to make the sauce at home. Here’s a quick recipe adapted from the internet for you to make at home:

Combine in a bowl

  • ¼ cup of light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon of honey or molasses
  • 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper

And, if available, 1 teaspoon of miso paste (or ½  teaspoon spicy fermented bean paste, or ½  teaspoon gochujang + ¼ teaspoon five-spice powder, or 1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce + ¼  teaspoon five-spice powder.)

Mix well until all ingredients are fully incorporated and it has a thick consistency.

Can You Freeze Hoisin Sauce?

Yes, the sauce keeps very well in the freezer. This will extend its shelf-life even longer.

Also read: Does Sriracha Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated? Does It Go Bad?

Do I Need to Refrigerate Hoisin Sauce and Oyster Sauce? How Long Do They Last?

Yes, you should refrigerate both hoisin sauce and oyster sauce after opening. Hoisin sauce can last for about 6 months in the fridge, while oyster sauce can last for up to a year. For longer shelf life, follow oyster sauce storage tips to keep it fresh.

How to Store Hoisin Sauce?

If the sauce comes in a bottle, this is the best way to store it. Remember to clean any residue that might stay in the cap to prevent mould. The same applies if it comes in a jar. However, if it comes in a metal can, it’s best to change it to a mason jar or a tightly sealed plastic jar.


Even if relatively unknown in the West compared to other Asian sauces like soy and oyster sauces, hoisin sauce is delicious, flavorful, fragrant, and an amazing tool to give a kick to your recipes.

It’s packed with flavor and it’s certified to make your taste buds scream with joy. It’s also a good way to introduce new flavourings to your everyday meals. There’s a reason why this sauce is so loved by billions of people. You should try it too.


What Happens If You Don’t Refrigerate Hoisin Sauce?

Like any other food product, it will eventually expire with time. However, due to its high sodium content, which prevents bacterial growth, it will be kept for a short amount of time outside of the refrigerator or frozen. The sauce will lose flavour more rapidly if unrefrigerated, though.

Can Hoisin Sauce Be Kept At Room Temperature?

Yes, it can, especially if you finish it fast enough. However, it’s best to refrigerate it. It will last longer, preserving its best features.

Can I Use Hoisin Sauce Instead Of Worcestershire?

Both sauces aren’t really a good substitute for each other, but they can work well if needed. Hoisin sauce is much thicker and has very different flavour notes.

In direct use, soy sauce would be a better alternative, given their similar uses in each of the condiments’ respective culinary. However, it’s known that mixing equal parts of hoisin and soy sauce, along with a splash of apple cider vinegar, achieves a much closer result to the original English sauce.

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