How Long Does Bacon Last In The Fridge?

One of life's most important questions.

Wasting good bacon is against the law in certain parts of the South—according to some people. So if you are reading this while sniffing or inspecting a package of bacon that's been in the back of your refrigerator for an indefinite amount of time, I'll get right to the point.

How Long Does Bacon Last in the Fridge?

An opened package of uncooked bacon will last up to one week in the fridge. That rule applies whether the bacon is thick-cut or thin, hickory or maple-smoked, the fancy stuff or the cheap stuff. You've got seven days.

Cooked bacon however, only lasts four to five days in the fridge.

An unopened package of bacon will typically last around two weeks, but you can also follow the sell-by and use-by dates. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it is not a federal requirement to include these dates, but most major brands voluntarily include them.

The USDA suggests using or freezing packs of bacon with a "sell-by" date within seven days of purchase. It is also a USDA recommendation that if your bacon has a "use-by" date, you observe it.

bacon on a paper towel
Photo: Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Store Uncooked Bacon

If you have leftover uncooked bacon, don't just put the opened package back in the refrigerator. Keep it from drying out (and making the other contents of your fridge smell like bacon) by storing it in a sealed container or resealable plastic zip-top bag, or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil.

Can You Freeze Bacon?

If you can't eat enough BLT Salads and Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon to finish a package of bacon in a week, your best bet is to freeze it. Although foods that are properly stored in a freezer are safe to eat indefinitely, the USDA recommends using frozen bacon within four months.

Prevent freezer burn by wrapping the unopened package in a layer of aluminum foil (and label it with the date).

If you tend to cook bacon in smaller amounts, flash-freeze individual strips so that they don't harden into a single slab and you can easily defrost as much as you need. You can also freeze extra cooked bacon to be used at a later time.

How To Tell if Bacon Has Gone Bad

If your bacon has been hanging out awhile, double check that it's safe to eat before cooking or freezing. These are four typical signs that your bacon is past its prime.

  1. Smell: Any off or sour smells are a good indicator that the bacon isn't safe to eat. The only smell you should detect from bacon is a faint smokiness.
  2. Slime: If your bacon is slimy, it's a sure sign that bacteria are present and spreading on the meat. Toss it out!
  3. Discoloration: Green, grey, or brown discoloration means that the bacon is no longer safe to eat. Time to buy a new pack.
  4. Mold: As with any food, mold is not a good sign. While you might be tempted to just cut off the chunks with mold, that's not recommended as the mold may have permeated other parts of the meat that you can't see.

Once you're sure that the bacon is safe to eat, brush up on your bacon cooking basics. And if you're in need of some recipe inspiration, I recommend these Bacon Pancakes.

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