Do Anchovies Go Bad?

Anchovies are food that many people keep stashed away in the back of their pantry. People who enjoy anchovies will buy them to stock at home since they are versatile.

Anchovies are a salty, fishy, and flavorful addition to many broths and sauces. Because this fish is so tiny and powerful, it’s crucial to understand when it goes bad and how to eat it safely.

Do anchovies go bad? Anchovies do go bad, but because they are generally canned, they do not deteriorate for a long time. A can of anchovies will survive a year in a cabinet if it is covered and the jar or can is never punctured. The anchovies will keep for around two months once opened.

Check for a rotten odor, or observe if the anchovies’ scales have become gray or blue. If you discover it has, the anchovies have gone bad and the entire content should be discarded.

Do Anchovies Go Bad?

Yes, anchovies spoil and depending on how they’re stored, they might go bad sooner or later.

Many individuals grew up eating anchovies, so don’t be shocked if you chat to an older person who raves about how much they adore them.

Not only can you purchase a large quantity of anchovies for a few dollars at the grocery store, but you can also go out on a boat and catch anchovies for yourself.

How Long Do Anchovies Last?

So you’ve made the decision to keep anchovies at home. Depending on how you obtain them, they can either last for a long time or must be consumed quickly.

If you opt to go out and catch fresh anchovies for yourself, you have the option to store them in the refrigerator or the freezer. If it’s going to be longer than 5 days, freeze the anchovies. Frozen anchovies will last approximately a month in the freezer. If you keep the anchovies in the refrigerator, they will only survive around five days.

However, going to the grocery store and picking them up off the shelf is a better and more convenient option. All you have to do is head to the shop, get a bag of canned anchovies in oil, and bring it home.

At room temperature, a can of anchovies will last approximately a year. When you open a can of anchovies, however, the shelf life reduces to two months if kept in the refrigerator.

How Can You Tell If Anchovies Are Bad?

It’s simple to tell whether a jar of anchovies has gone bad since they have such a distinct scent and flavor. You should look for three characteristics: a foul odor, sliminess, and discoloration.

Discoloration – The silver scales of anchovies are well-known. However, when the anchovy becomes rancid and rotting, the scales change color. If the silver scales of the anchovies begin to turn blue or darken in color, this indicates that the bacteria surrounding the fish is causing the fish to deteriorate.

Slimy – When it comes to fish, the number one guideline is that they should not be slimy in any manner. This implies that it has already spoiled and is unfit for human consumption. So, if you open a can of anchovies, and they’re slimy, toss them out. If a fish is slimy, it will also have a bad odor.

Rotten Smell – Anchovies should not smell at all after you open the can or thaw them from the freezer. As a result, if you detect any odor, it is not safe to eat. When defrosted or unwrapped, any anchovy that is safe to eat should not smell like fish. When anchovies are being cooked, it should just smell like fish.

Are Expired Anchovies Safe to Eat?

This is a difficult question to answer. While it is true that just because food has passed its expiry date does not mean it is terrible, it is also true that just because it has passed its expiration date does not indicate it is harmful.

All goods, whether they expire or not, must bear an expiration date, according to FDA regulations. So, theoretically, you could eat anchovies as long as they look and smell decent. We do not, however, advocate eating aged anchovies.

The reason for this is that if the anchovies go bad and are over their expiry date, but you can’t tell how bad they are since you can’t see them, you might get serious food poisoning. Nothing is more unpleasant than developing a foodborne disease after eating a very powerful and greasy fish. As a result, it’s advised not to eat anchovies once they’ve passed their expiration date.

Substitutes for Anchovies That Have Gone Bad

It might be difficult, but not impossible, to find an anchovy substitute in a recipe. The ideal substitute is anything with a really strong taste.

If you don’t have anchovies, Worcester sauce is recommended because of the numerous similarities. Soy sauce, capers, or shrimp paste might also be used. All of these meals are highly salty and have a strong, unique flavor.

How To Store Anchovies

If you catch fresh anchovies, store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. However, you may only do this if you plan on eating the anchovies within a few days.

Place them in the freezer if you want to keep them for later. Make sure the container isn’t overflowing with anchovies. Allow for some room so that the fish can expand when frozen.

If you prefer anchovies in a can or jar bought from the supermarket, just keep them in your cupboard or cover them until you’re ready to eat them.

Once you’ve opened a jar or can of anchovies, you must keep them refrigerated. Do not put them back in the pantry or cabinet. If you do, they will rapidly deteriorate and emit an unpleasant rotten odor.


Anchovies are popular due to their versatility. Most people that enjoy eating the fish will stock plenty of them at home. Whether you bought them in a can or caught them yourself, anchovies will go bad sooner or later. How long they will last will depend on how you store them. For canned anchovies, if it hasn’t been opened, the pantry is the best place to store them. Once it’s opened, you’ll need to refrigerate it. For fresh anchovies caught, if you’re planning to keep them for longer than a couple of days, the freezer is the best method for preservation.