How Long Does Meat Last in the Fridge?
We've definitely been guilty of leaving those chicken thighs in the fridge just a couple days too long. So how long does meat last in the fridge? Read on to learn how to store all kinds of meat safely.
Raw poultry, whether it’s chicken or turkey, lasts just a day or two in the fridge (at a temperature of 40ºF or colder), but up to a year in the freezer (at a temperature of 0ºF or colder). Raw chicken is best stored at the bottom of the fridge, to keep any leakage from affecting other foods. Cooked poultry lasts in the fridge anywhere between three to five days depending on the cut and should be frozen no longer than two to six months. If you’re worried, look for signs that your chicken has gone bad, like a sour smell or graying skin.
You can refrigerate red meat like pork and beef for up to five days and freeze it for four to 12 months. These are best stored on the bottom of the fridge, where it’s coldest, and should never be kept at a temperature above 40ºF. Meats like steak should be frozen tightly wrapped to reduce exposure to air and moisture. Leftover cooked meat will last three to four days in the refrigerator and two to six months in the freezer. If you’ve thawed your meat and have too much, it’s possible to refreeze meat—but it’s best to limit it. If your red meat has a pungent smell or is sticky or slimy to touch, it’s probably gone bad and should be thrown out.
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Ground meats such as beef, veal, pork or poultry can be refrigerated for one to two days and frozen for three to four months. Cooked ground meat will last in the fridge for three to four days and can be kept in the freezer for two to three months. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), if freezing, it’s best to wrap ground meat in heavy-duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer paper, or plastic bags made for freezing. If your raw ground meat has a rancid smell, is slimy to touch or has turned brown or gray, it’s not safe to use and should be thrown out.
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Hot dogs will last two weeks in the refrigerator unopened and should be eaten within three to five days of opening, though they may be able to go a couple of days longer. In the freezer, they’ll last one to two months. Once cooked, hot dogs will last about three to five days in the fridge and can be frozen for up to four months. If they smell sour, have a slimy texture or have milky liquid in the package, they’ve probably gone bad.
Sliced lunch meat from the deli, such as turkey, pastrami and ham, will last two weeks in the refrigerator unopened and should be eaten within three to five days of opening. You can also store them in the freezer for one to two months. If the meat is extremely slimy or has a smell like yeast, vinegar or ammonia, you should throw it away.
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Raw sausage should be kept in the fridge for no longer than two days, so if you aren’t planning to eat it anytime soon, you can freeze it for up to a month. Depending on the type of sausage, it can even stay good in the freezer for up to two months. Cooked sausage will last in the fridge for three to four days, and in the freezer for two to three months. If your sausage smells putrid or has developed a slimy coat, it’s probably best to throw it in the trash.
Bacon is safe to eat for up to a week in the fridge when raw, and can be safely frozen for a month. Cooked bacon can last for four to five days in the fridge, and can be kept in the freezer for two to three months. If your bacon smells fishy, sour or unpleasant, has a gray or brown color with tinges of green or blue, or feels slimy, it’s probably best to toss it.
Planning on whipping up some eggs with your bacon? Here’s how to store them properly. Eggs can be refrigerated for up to a month raw but no more than a week if they are hard-boiled. When raw, only egg whites or beaten eggs (yolks and whites) should be frozen (i.e., not whole eggs), and will last for up to a year. Egg substitutes and separated egg whites or yolks should be eaten within two to four days of refrigeration. You can freeze cooked eggs in a breakfast burrito or taco for up to a year, but hard-boiled eggs should ideally not be frozen. To see if eggs are still fresh, try the float test.
Deli salads such as chicken, tuna, egg or pasta salad will last three to five days in the fridge. While these can be frozen for up to a week in an airtight container, it usually isn’t recommended since freezing can change the texture greatly depending on the ingredients. Because salads often have several components, keep an eye on all the ingredients—if the meat looks slimy or smells rancid, or if the veggies look limp or discolored or develop mold, discard the salad immediately.
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You should store raw fish like salmon in the fridge for no longer than one or two days, but you can keep cooked fish in there for three to four days. You can freeze raw fish, and it’s best to use it within three to eight months—past that, it’ll start to lose flavor and texture. Cooked fish will last in your freezer for up to two months. Fresh fish glistens—if your fish has slimy, milky flesh or develops an overly fishy, rotten smell, it’s best to get rid of it.
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Shellfish like shrimp can be kept in the fridge for one to two days when raw. Shellfish that close their shells completely, like clams, can be kept in the fridge for up to seven days, with the exception of mussels, which should be kept no longer than three to four days. All raw shellfish should last in the freezer for up to three months without losing quality. Cooked shrimp can last in the fridge for three to four days and in the freezer for up to three months. If the bodies of the shrimp inside the shell appear loose or if there are black spots on the shell, it’s likely your shrimp has gone bad and should be discarded. In the case of shells that close tightly like clams and mussels, a slightly open shell, a smashed or broken shell or an overly fishy smell can indicate that your shellfish has gone bad.
Find out how long foods last in the fridge, from meat to produce to condiments.