Even when it’s stored properly, your bacon will eventually go bad.
If you haven’t opened the package yet, most bacon should last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, there are several caveats, including how the meat is packaged and if it’s already been cooked.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the tell-tale signs that your bacon has spoiled. We’ll also talk about some of the best ways to store bacon and how long you should expect your bacon to last in each case.
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How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last in the Fridge?
Cooked bacon should last in the refrigerator for about 5 to 7 days when packaged correctly.
This depends on how old the bacon was before cooking AND how long it stayed at room temperature before refrigeration. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule.
Store it in a sealed Ziploc bag or airtight container for the best results.
The shelf life of bacon depends on many factors, like the thickness of the strips, whether it was appropriately stored before cooking, how it was actually cooked, and even how it is stored after cooking.
Ensure the bacon cools down completely before transferring it to a bag or container. The best way to cool it is on a wire rack.
Always use an air-tight container or bag to store the bacon to avoid excess moisture and oxygen exposure. You may even consider vacuum sealing the bags. When using a rigid container, consider using one made of glass. It won’t absorb odors in the same way that plastic does in the refrigerator.
Always label the container with the date you cooked and stored the bacon. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people are left scratching their heads, trying to place the origin of an unmarked container. I think we’ve all done it.
For thicker slices of bacon, you may consider wrapping each strip in plastic wrap, followed by parchment paper, before you keep it in a container or bag.
However you wrap and seal it, all cooked bacon should be stored below 40°F. Even when you’re doing everything the “right” way, watching for signs of spoilage is still a good idea.
One Exception – Cooked Bacon that Lasts Longer
If you’re looking for a way to par cook bacon so it lasts a week or more in the fridge, you need to pasteurize it. The easiest way to do so at home is with a sous vide machine. Sous vide bacon can last well over a week in the fridge.
You can also freeze sous vide bacon for months. Just thaw it and pan fry it for a minute for fantastic and easy bacon. Here are ways to defrost bacon quickly.
How To Tell If Bacon Is Spoiled
Whether the bacon is cooked or uncooked, the signs of spoilage are very similar. Here are a few easy ways to use your senses to detect spoilage. You can see it, smell it, or feel it.
Uncooked bacon is usually bright red-pink, with the fat being white or slightly yellow, and cooked bacon has a shiny reddish brown hue. Excessive exposure to air causes a chemical reaction that can lead to a change in color.
If the bacon is of any color other than that, it’s safe to assume it is spoiled. Usually, you will notice that spoiled bacon fades in color and turns pink. But sometimes, it can also turn brown with a gray or greenish hue.
This discoloration or change in color is a clear sign that bacteria or fungi have colonized the bacon. So it should be thrown away immediately.
Sometimes the color of spoiled bacon does not change that evidently. Then you can check for a foul smell or an unusual sheen that it gets from turning slimy. That shine is a result of microbial growth.
Sour or Fishy Smell
Fresh bacon always has a natural meaty smell. If you feel that the smell is slightly off, it is best to trust your nose and err on the side of caution.
Bacterial growth or rancidity is what makes the bacon smell bad. I would recommend tossing it away immediately.
Like any other food, you can probably identify an off-putting smell with one whiff.
It doesn’t matter whether the bacon is uncooked or cooked. The smell will be evident either way. It is usually a pungent smell resembling that of vinegar, or it is a meaty smell like raw fish or similar to the smell of ammonia.
Sometimes bacon’s smoky smell can mask these bad odors. So, when in doubt, look for other signs of spoilage.
Good bacon is always soft, fresh, and slightly moist.
Spoiled bacon has a very sticky and slimy texture. Some people get confused and say this slime is just moisture the bacon releases. But that isn’t true. In reality, this happens because of the growth of bad bacteria, especially lactic acid bacteria. You may even notice that spoiled bacon strips often tend to stick to each other.
Alternatively, bacon can also turn tough and rubbery with a shriveled texture. Make sure you don’t cook or consume the bacon. It should be disposed of immediately.
Even cooked bacon loses its crispiness and turns soft and sticky when it goes bad. If it hasn’t turned slimy, you may also notice mold growing on its surface.
The Bottom Line
You can enjoy cooked bacon for a few days with proper storage and handling.
But when in doubt, it is best to err on the side of caution and throw it away. It is not worth risking your and your family’s health and well-being as consuming spoiled meat can be very dangerous for anyone’s health.
Cooked bacon lasts 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator when stored in an air-tight container or bag at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. It should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours, or it becomes unsafe for consumption.
In the long run, developing good handling, labeling, and storing practices will save you money. And possibly your health. Similar to bacon, steak can also get spoiled very easily.
Whatever you do, please don’t think you can eat raw bacon. No matter what the internet says.
All of the above applies to pork, turkey and beef bacon.
FAQs: How Long Does Bacon Last in the Fridge?
It depends on whether the bacon is cooked, uncooked, sealed, or open. Unopened bacon can last in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and up to 8 months in the freezer. On the other hand, bacon that has been opened but not cooked will last only around a week in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Cooked bacon can last in the refrigerator for about 5 to 7 days. But this holds true only if it is adequately cooled after cooking and stored in an air-tight container or a resealable bag in the refrigerator. However, it is still best to look for signs of spoilage before consuming. If you see any, then it is best to discard it immediately.
Before storing cooked bacon, it should be cooled down properly on a wire rack. Then transfer it into an air-tight container or reusable bag and seal it properly. Store this container in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. If you want to be even more careful, wrap the cooled bacon in plastic wrap, followed by parchment paper, and then store it in the container or bag.