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Can Store-Bought Pasta Sauce Be Frozen?

You ate pasta and now you have some leftover sauce you bought from the grocery store. It turned out to be a tasty sauce and you aren’t a fan of food waste. But if you put it in the fridge, you’ll need to eat it in the next 5 days. 

What if you don’t really feel like eating the same kind of pasta dish as soon?

Can you freeze the jarred pasta sauce instead?

You can freeze store-bought pasta sauce (tomato- and cream-based) for long-term storage. Frozen food will stay safe to eat indefinitely as bacteria doesn’t grow. However, pasta sauce will keep its best taste and texture for up to 6 months in the freezer.

One of the things I love about sauces is that you can buy or make them in large quantities, then portion them and put them in the freezer, saving you time to cook up easy and tasty meals for months on end.

Don’t leave an opened jar of pasta sauce at room temperature for more than 2 hours. As soon as you’re done cooking with it or eating it, put it in the fridge for safe storage. Bacteria grow quickly between 40°F and 140°F. The longer you leave food at room temperature, the less safe it is to eat.

Don’t freeze store-bought pasta sauce in the glass jar that you bought it in. As you put the jarred sauce in the freezer, the liquids contained in it will solidify, which may cause the glass jar to crack or shatter. Pour the sauce into a freezer bar or airtight container instead.

If you bought a big jar of pasta sauce, you can use freezer bags or airtight containers to portion it into small servings the size of a single meal. That way, you will only have to thaw as much pasta sauce as you can eat at a time—maximizing the storage life of the rest.

How Long Will Pasta Sauce Last Opened?

Here’s a neat pasta sauce storage chart that I prepared for you:

StorageAvg. TemperatureMax. Time
In the open68 – 72°F (20 – 22°C)2 hours
In the fridge40°F (4°C)5 days
In the freezer0°F (-18°C)6 months
Storage times for an opened jar of store-bought pasta sauce

An opened jar of pasta sauce will stay safe to eat for up to 2 hours at room temperature and for up to 5 days in the fridge. If you smell any unpleasant odors or notice any mold, throw the sauce away since it’s no longer safe for you to eat.

Though frozen food will remain safe to eat indefinitely according to the USDA, its characteristics and nutritional value will continuously degrade over time. Pasta sauce will keep its best characteristics and nutritional value for up to 6 months in the freezer.

How to Defrost Pasta Sauce

Are you planning to eat some of that frozen pasta sauce? Here’s two ways to defrost it; one that works overnight and one that takes you about 5 minutes.

Defrost Pasta Sauce Overnight in the Fridge

The safest way to thaw pasta sauce is to transfer it from your freezer to your fridge 24 hours before you plan to eat it. This will give the liquids and ingredients in the pasta sauce enough time to defrost and become ready for reheating.

If you used freezer bags to freeze the pasta sauce, put the bags on a soup plate or inside a small bowl. Just in case any liquids leak out of the bag as the sauce defrosts, this trick will keep them confined inside the plate or bowl—instead of letting them drip all over the food in your fridge.

The smaller the quantity of pasta sauce that you’re thawing, the faster it will defrost. Which is why I recommend freezing large quantities of store-bought pasta sauce in portions; it’s just one of those simple hacks that makes home cooking so much easier.

Defrost Pasta Sauce in the Microwave

If you’re in a hurry, you can also defrost pasta sauce in the microwave.

Put the frozen pasta sauce in a microwave-safe container. Make sure there’s enough space for the sauce to defrost without any liquids or food particles overflowing.

Depending on the amount of pasta sauce that you’re trying to defrost, defrosting it in the microwave should take you anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes.

How to Reheat Pasta Sauce

Are you done thawing the pasta sauce? Here’s my two cents for how to reheat it.

Reheat Pasta Sauce in a Saucepan

Coat your saucepan with just enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover its cooking surface. You can use your fingers or, if you’d like to keep them from getting oily, you can also use a basting brush or paper towel.

On your cooktop, preheat the saucepan over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour the sauce into the pan and let it reheat for 10 minutes, stirring it occasionally and calmly.

As I recently wrote in “Do You Have to Cook Store-Bought Pasta Sauce?”, pasta sauce comes pre-cooked and there’s no need to cook it before eating it. However, you can use a couple of tricks to improve its smell, taste, and texture.

My favorite trick is to scoop out 1 soup ladle of salty and starchy pasta water, adding it to your sauce as it reheats. It helps to turn up the heat to medium in that case, which will allow the sauce to thicken as it absorbs the taste and texture from the pasta water.

A trick that works great for tomato-based pasta sauces is to add 3-4 fresh basil leaves in the last 1-2 minutes of reheating. Stir the basil leaves with the sauce, letting them release their aroma and flavor in it.

Check the rest of my tips out in the post that I linked to above.

Reheat Pasta Sauce in the Microwave

Pour the pasta sauce in a microwave-safe plate, bowl, or container.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of tap water to the sauce and stir it, so that the water blends well together with the sauce.

Set your microwave to high and reheat the pasta sauce in 30-second intervals. It should take you 1-3 intervals to reheat the sauce (depending on the amount that you’re reheating).

The Bottom Line

Yes, you can freeze store-bought pasta sauce. Simply pour the pasta sauce into single serving-sized freezer bags or airtight containers and place them in the freezer. 

Kept in the fridge, pasta sauce will keep its best qualities for up to 6 months (but remain safe to eat indefinitely).

Know your author

Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.