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How To Tell if Alfredo Sauce is Bad [Definitive Guide]

Universally loved due to its luxurious mouthfeel and inoffensive flavours, it’s the go-to sauce to introduce timid eaters to pasta; Alfredo sauce.

Quick and easy to make in larger batches, it reheats easily too. But do you know how to tell if your Alfredo sauce has turned bad?

This article will cover all the signs to tell if alfredo sauce is bad, both before and after being cooked, as well as questions around its storage.

How to Tell if Alfredo Sauce is Bad

Thick and creamy, it coats all pasta types easily when it’s freshly made. But, there are a few signs to indicate that something’s not quite right, or in fact outright wrong with your Alfredo sauce.

These signs can be spotted in both freshly made from scratch, or when heating canned/jars of Alfredo sauces that are commercially produced.

Here are some key signs on what to look for:

Appearance

Alfredo sauce, whether hot or cold, should be thick like a bucket of fresh white paint. There shouldn’t be any separation/splitting; that is you shouldn’t see secondary liquid floating on top of a creamy base.

Another visual tip is, it should never look like little chunks in a runny sauce, this curdled appearance will be easy to see, and if seen, discarded immediately. 

Smell

Like many cream sauces, when fresh, it should smell clean, like cream, and whatever flavourings and aromatics have been added to the sauce.  

Now, if the Alfredo sauce is bad, you should notice there’s a sour, or acidic smell. Spoilt Alfredo sauce has been likened to being similar in aroma to a baby’s post-meal up-spit. Yes, that gross, so you’ll definitely notice it!

Texture

In its perfect form, Alfredo sauce is thick, creamy, and a straightforward emulsion sauce that binds to other ingredients as well as the pasta. Alfredo sauce that has spoiled, however, does not. If it has split or appears to have curdled, it should be discarded immediately.

Taste

It’s worth noting here, there’s only one way to find out if it tastes right, but it’s ill-advised to suggest ‘trying’ more than a teaspoonful. With this in mind, carefully taste a small spoonful to determine if the sauce is still good.

A good Alfredo should taste like thickened and flavoured cream; notes of garlic, seasoning, Parmesan, and of course, fresh cream.

Bad, or spoiled Alfredo will have a few other flavours you may not expect; sourness or acidity, metallic, off cheese.

Mould

This should be the most obvious to you; if you see anything growing on your Alfredo sauce, it’s not safe to eat. Owing to the high protein content, Alfredo can spawn a wide variety of moulds; so do look carefully when you inspect your cream sauces.

How To Tell if Alfredo is Bad When Cooked

Hopefully, before you cook your Alfredo, you’ve spotted any of the above signs. But, what if you’ve cooked the sauce but something doesn’t quite look or taste right? It could be the seasonings are off, or something more sinister, here are a few clues:

Appearance

It should be thick and creamy, with no separation or curdled chunks. But, if the cream was off, or starting to turn, then you can get curdling happening as the sauce heats up.

Smell

Does it smell like creamy, garlicky, cheesy sauce? If not, you may have a problem. Whilst it’s common for each individual cook to add their own secret blend of seasonings, essentially the sauce should be just that; thick and creamy, with an inviting garlicky-cheesy aroma.

So, how does the sauce smell to you? Inviting, or repelling? If you happen to pull away from a spoonful of the Alfredo sauce, think about what’s made you react like that: does it smell sour, acidic, or something you can’t quite place? Exercise caution from here on…

Texture

Now your senses have been alerted, pay attention to what the cooked Alfredo sauce feels like. An Alfredo sauce that is in perfect condition is smooth, creamy, without any lumps or clumps.

An Alfredo sauce that has turned, however, can look and feel watery, thin and runny. It can have ‘bits’ in that thinned state, like small lumps of Parmesan cheese that haven’t melted, or larger clots of congealed cream/cheese. It can feel gritty in the mouth, unpleasant and disturbing.

Taste

As with the ‘texture’, the taste of a bad Alfredo will be immediately noticeable – deeply unpleasant and disturbing. Consuming spoiled dairy products, like Alfredo sauce, can lead to severe stomach aches, and even food poisoning.

Mould

Needless to say, you should not see any mould on freshly cooked Alfredo. However, you may notice small growth spores if reheating pre-cooked Alfredo. In this case, discard the sauce immediately; it is no longer safe for consumption.

How Long Does Alfredo Sauce Last

Have any leftovers from that big batch of Alfredo? Great, you can enjoy it later! But how much later? That depends on where you leave your leftover sauce.

How Long Does Alfredo Sauce Last in the Fridge

Fresh, homemade Alfredo will easily last 3-5 days in your fridge at home. So long as you’ve used ingredients that are fresh and in their prime, there’s no reason why with proper cooking and hygiene you won’t be able to enjoy that sauce later in the week.

Commercially produced sauces, either fresh from the chilled section or from a jar/can, can last longer once they’ve been opened. This is due to the preservatives and additives they use to increase shelf life. For commercial products, you can expect an extra couple of days, 5-7 days is reasonable.

How Long Does Alfredo Sauce Last in the Freezer

Whether homemade or commercial, Alfredo will keep quite safely in your freezer for 4-6 months; as long as the freezer is kept at or below -0˚C/-32˚F. See the directions below on how to ensure your sauce can keep this long.

How Long Does Alfredo Sauce Last on the Countertop

This is the worst option for retaining your Alfredo’s longevity; remember all that protein, time’s ticking. Ideally, you’re not going to leave your Alfredo on a countertop, as the ambient temperature and high protein means it’s an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and the sauce will spoil very quickly.

If you must keep it on the countertop, as short a time as possible that you can manage before getting it into the fridge. 5-10minutes is safe, in order to transfer the sauce to a suitable container before refrigeration.

But, if the sauce has been left out for longer than an hour, and exposed to airborne contaminants, it should be carefully examined for spoilage.

Sauces kept at or above 5˚C/40˚F for more than three hours should be thrown out without question.

How To Store Alfredo Sauce

The good news is that you can batch cook Alfredo, and then keep some for later. But, depending on how you store that sauce will have a huge impact on how long it’s safe to keep.

How to Store Alfredo Sauce in the Fridge

This is the most likely place you’ll keep your sauce; when brought home from the supermarket, after making a batch and saving some for later, or the separate ingredients.

No matter which stage you’re at, keep the sauce in an airtight container and preferably at the back of the fridge. It’s best kept here as it’s less likely to be caught in warm draughts when the fridge door is opened and thus keeping it nice and cool and unable to go bad.

Just remember, kept safely in the fridge, it’s only safe to consume the fresh from-scratch sauce for 3-5 days, and if it has no signs of spoilage.

How to Store Alfredo Sauce in the Freezer

This is the best option for larger batches of Alfredo sauce; as you’ll be able to enjoy it for months ahead. Each portion or serving of sauce should be placed into an airtight container, preferably with thick sides, or a vacuum-sealed freezer-proof bag.

Once in a sealed container, place the Alfredo sauce deep within the freezer, where it cannot be affected by warm draughts whenever the freezer door is opened.

Warm draughts that repeatedly heat and chill the sauce can cause it to spoil, even if the sauce is in a freezer. Given the high protein content of the sauce, it’s also important to prevent freezer burn, as this can spoil the sauce whilst frozen, and then during the thawing process.

How to Store Alfredo Sauce on the Countertop

As mentioned above keeping Alfredo sauce on the countertop is far from ideal, so this should be a last resort. It’s fine to have it out for a few minutes before reheating, but it should not be left for longer than that.

Leave the sauce in its airtight container, as you’ve taken it from the fridge or freezer, and don’t open the container until you’re ready to use it – each time you open the container, you risk airborne contaminants making contact with the sauce.

To Sum Up

Alfredo is a fantastic and versatile sauce; easy to make, and able to be kept in the fridge for 3-5 days without a problem. Just pop it in an airtight container, and in the back of the fridge where it’s nice and cold.

Need longer? No worries, just pop that container in the freezer for 4-6 months! Just don’t leave it on your countertop, or it will spoil quickly.