Can you eat canned enchilada sauce after expiration date?

Quick Answer

Canned enchilada sauce can usually be safely eaten after the expiration date printed on the can, as long as the can remains unopened and intact. However, enchilada sauce that has been opened should be consumed within 1-2 days for best quality. Look for signs of spoilage like mold, foul odor, or bubbles after opening. Use your judgment – if it looks or smells bad, throw it out. Expiration dates are simply guidelines and canned foods can often last much longer stored properly.

What is the shelf life of unopened canned enchilada sauce?

An unopened can of enchilada sauce can generally last 1-2 years past its printed expiration date if stored properly. The key is keeping the can in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cupboard. Enchilada sauce lasts a long time because it is shelf-stable and specially processed to prevent spoilage. Its high acidity also helps prevent bacterial growth.

As long as the can remains in good condition without rust, dents, or swelling, the enchilada sauce inside should retain optimal flavor and safety past its expiry date. Discoloration of the sauce may occur over time but is not harmful. Always inspect cans before opening them – look for bulges, leaks, pinholes, or deep dents which can allow bacteria to contaminate the contents. If the can is in good shape, the enchilada sauce should be safe to eat for a prolonged period.

How to tell if unopened canned enchilada sauce is still good

Here are some ways to check if unopened canned enchilada sauce is still safe and good to eat:

– Inspect the can’s condition – it should not be rusted, dented, or leaking/bulging, which can indicate bacteria growth. Minor dents along the seams are okay. Look for any pinholes as well.

– Give the can a shake – the contents should move freely with no bubbling or spurting sounds, which can mean built up gas and spoilage.

– Check the color – while some natural darkening over time is normal, any graying, greening, or unnatural colors may mean spoiled contents.

– Smell the can once opened – it should smell normal with no off odors like sourness or staleness. Rinse off any powdery residue.

– Taste a small amount – it should taste as expected with no bitterness, sourness, or mushy texture.

– Look at the consistency – it should be smooth with no separation of liquids or foamy/fizzy bubbles, which indicates fermentation.

As long as there are no signs of spoilage and the taste/texture is still good, old canned enchilada sauce should be perfectly safe to eat.

What happens if you eat expired canned enchilada sauce?

If you eat expired canned enchilada sauce that has spoiled, the worst that is likely to happen is some temporary stomach upset or discomfort. Symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and other gastrointestinal issues may occur. The high acidity of enchilada sauce makes harmful bacterial growth unlikely, though molds can occasionally occur.

Consuming a small amount of expired sauce that has started to degrade but not fully spoil may simply cause the sauce to taste stale or have an off flavor. The sauce may also look more faded or discolored. Unless mold is present though, it is not dangerous to ingest.

Of course, if botulism or another serious contamination did somehow occur, more severe illness is possible. But botulism is very rare from commercial canned goods. With canned foods, it’s generally the quality rather than safety you have to worry about beyond expiry dates.

In most cases with canned enchilada sauce, the expired product may simply not taste great but it is unlikely to make you sick. If in doubt, apply the visual, smell, and taste tests before eating. When refrigerated after opening, enchilada sauce only lasts about a week before going bad and must be tossed.

How long does opened canned enchilada sauce last in the fridge?

Once opened, canned enchilada sauce will only stay good for about 1-2 weeks maximum when properly stored in the refrigerator. Keep the leftover sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate after opening. Sauces can also be frozen for longer term storage.

The high moisture content of enchilada sauce makes it prone to faster spoilage once exposed to air. Make sure to reseal the can or transfer any unused sauce to a sealed container/bag. Look for any mold development, changes in texture, or sour odors which indicate spoilage.

To maximize the shelf life after opening canned enchilada sauce:

– Transfer to an airtight container or reseal the can tightly. Minimize air exposure.

– Refrigerate opened sauce at 40°F or below. Do not leave un-refrigerated.

– Use clean utensils to handle sauce and avoid cross-contamination.

– Consume within 5-7 days for best quality and safety. Discard if any off odors, textures, or appearance develop.

– Can also freeze extra sauce for longer storage. Thaw in fridge before using.

Following proper refrigeration guidelines allows opened enchilada sauce to retain its freshness and flavor for the recommended week or so after the can is initially opened.

Can you freeze enchilada sauce from a can?

Yes, enchilada sauce from a can can be frozen to extend its shelf life past 1-2 weeks. When frozen properly in an airtight container, canned enchilada sauce can last 6-8 months in the freezer before deteriorating in quality.

To freeze canned enchilada sauce:

– Transfer sauce to freezer bags, plastic containers, or jars leaving 1⁄2 inch headspace. Squeeze out excess air and seal tightly.

– Label containers with name and freeze-by date. Place in freezer set at 0°F or below.

– For best quality, use frozen sauce within 6 months. Discard if ice crystals, texture changes, or freezer burn develops.

– Thaw sauce overnight in the refrigerator before using. Do not thaw at room temperature or re-freeze after thawing.

– Once thawed, use sauce within 3-4 days and keep refrigerated. Do not re-freeze.

Freezing is a great way to save leftover enchilada sauce to use in future recipes. The freezer prevents bacterial growth and slows down negative chemical changes. With proper handling, frozen enchilada sauce stays safe and retains its flavor for many months, extending its usable life.

How can you tell if frozen enchilada sauce has spoiled?

Check frozen enchilada sauce for the following signs of spoilage before using:

– Ice crystals – Large ice crystals that form inside or on the surface can indicate freezer burn and diminished quality.

– Color changes – Unnatural darkening, greying, or fading of color may mean spoilage.

– Texture changes – Sauce should still be smooth. Separation, graininess, or mushiness signals degradation.

– Off odors – Sauce should not smell sour, rancid, fermented, or unusual when thawed.

– Mold – Check for fuzzy mold spots which indicate spoilage.

– Packaging integrity – Freezer bags or containers should still be tightly sealed with no air exposure or freezer burn.

– Long frozen storage – Sauce stored frozen longer than 6-8 months is more prone to quality loss.

Discard frozen enchilada sauce if any of the above spoilage signs are present. Ideally, frozen foods like enchilada sauce are best eaten within a few months for optimal flavor and texture. Properly stored frozen sauce should remain safe indefinitely though.

How do you know when canned enchilada sauce is bad?

Here are the signs that indicate canned enchilada sauce has gone bad and should be discarded:

– Bulging or leaking can – This can indicate gas production and bacteria growth. Never eat from a bulging can.

– Damaged can – Severe dents, rust, or pinholes can allow pathogenic bacteria to contaminate the contents.

– Mold – Fuzzy mold spots anywhere in the sauce mean it is spoiled.

– Curdling – Sauce has separated with clear yellowish liquid on top of thick chunks.

– Unnatural colors – Odd gray, green, or yellow hues instead of typical red sauce color.

– Off odors – Smells sour, rotten, fermented, or unusual instead of tomato-based aroma.

– Change in consistency – Sauce is no longer smooth. Instead it is thick, slimy, or has particles.

– Fizzing, bubbling, or spurting – Pressurized air release when can opens signals contamination.

When canned enchilada sauce shows any of the above characteristics, it has most likely spoiled and may be unsafe to eat. Always discard the sauce if it displays signs of deterioration, just to be safe.

Can spoiled canned enchilada sauce make you sick?

Yes, consuming canned enchilada sauce that has gone bad can potentially make you sick. Spoiled canned foods may contain bacteria like mold, salmonella, clostridium botulinum, staphylococcus aureus, or Bacillus cereus that can cause food poisoning symptoms. Typical symptoms include:

– Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
– Abdominal cramping, pain
– Fever, headache
– Muscle weakness
– Difficulty breathing (botulism)

In severe cases or for those with compromised immune systems, dangerous complications from foodborne illness are also possible though rare. Always discard spoiled enchilada sauce instead of tasting or eating it.

While foodborne botulism from canned goods is extremely unlikely, it poses life-threatening risks if toxin-producing bacteria is present. Take strict precautions with bulging, leaking, damaged, or long-expired cans. When in doubt, throw it out.

What are some substitutes for canned enchilada sauce?

Some suitable substitutes for canned enchilada sauce include:

– Homemade enchilada sauce – Mix tomato sauce, broth, spices like cumin, chili powder, oregano, garlic, and optional vinegar or lime juice. Simmer until blended.

– Jarred enchilada sauce – Look for prepared tomato-based enchilada sauce sold in jars or plastic containers near the Mexican foods.

– Taco sauce or chili sauce – Works well as a replacement for the seasoned tomato flavor of enchilada sauce.

– Salsa or taco salsa – Combines tomatoes, chilies, and spices for similar flavor profile as enchilada sauce.

– Tomato sauce with added seasonings – For milder flavor, use plain tomato sauce with cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.

– Chicken or beef broth and spices – Provides moisture if only need a small amount of sauce. Season with cumin, chili powder, paprika, and garlic.

Substitute in a 1:1 ratio for best results. Adjust spices to achieve desired enchilada sauce flavor. Consider thickening salsa and other replacements to reach ideal sauce consistency if needed.


Canned enchilada sauce retains its safety and quality long past printed expiration dates as long as the can remains in good condition. While the sauce may eventually fade in color or develop stale flavors, it is generally safe to eat for 1-2 years or more after expiry if properly stored. Once opened, enchilada sauce will last about 1-2 weeks refrigerated or 6 months in the freezer before going bad. As with any canned goods, inspect closely and use your senses before consuming to check for any signs of spoilage. With safe handling, canned enchilada sauce can often be enjoyed well within reasonable limits after its suggested expiry date as manufacturers build in a wide safety margin.

Storage Method Estimated Shelf Life
Unopened in Pantry 1-2 years past expiry
After Opening in Fridge 1-2 weeks
Frozen 6-8 months

Frequently Asked Questions

Can expired canned enchilada sauce make you sick?

Expired canned enchilada sauce is unlikely to make you sick if the can is still in good condition, but it can cause illness if the sauce has spoiled and contains dangerous bacteria. Always inspect cans thoroughly and look/smell for signs of spoilage before consuming expired foods.

How long can you use canned enchilada sauce after opening?

Opened canned enchilada sauce will stay good for about 1-2 weeks if properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For optimal freshness and flavor, use opened enchilada sauce within 5-7 days.

What happens if you eat enchilada sauce that has gone bad?

Eating spoiled, bad enchilada sauce could cause foodborne illness symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The sauce may also simply not taste good if it has started to go off. Moldy enchilada sauce in particular should always be discarded.

Can you re-freeze thawed enchilada sauce?

No, thawed enchilada sauce should never be re-frozen. Refreezing increases the chance of quality loss and dangerous bacteria growth. Only refreeze sauce that has never been thawed. Once thawed, enchilada sauce should be used within 3-4 days.

How do you know if canned enchilada sauce is still good to use?

Inspect that the can is in good condition with no damage or abnormalities. Open carefully and look/smell for any unpleasant odors, color changes, texture changes, or mold that could indicate spoilage before using. If it looks and smells normal, the sauce should still be good.

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