Actor Adam McArthur said, “bacon is meat candy.” And writer Jasper Fforde famously said, “almost anything can be improved with the addition of bacon.” We agree with both these sayings.
In fact, we claim that this all-time favorite food is perfect when enjoyed as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack any time between!
But, no matter how you prefer to prepare your bacon, it is essential to know how to store it. You should also know how long cooked bacon can sit out. This will help keep you safe from foodborne illness and ensure that you can enjoy your delicious bacon-based meal as intended.
Read on to find out how to store cooked bacon properly, tell if it has gone bad, and when it’s not safe to eat it.
How Long Can Cooked Bacon Sit Out of the Refrigerator?
According to the USDA safety guidelines, the shelf life depends on whether you have cooked the bacon or whether you have purchased it. It also depends on the type of bacon you have.
If you have cooked the bacon yourself, you can safely store it in the refrigerator at temperatures up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 4-5 days.
Refrigerated purchased cooked bacon will last for up to the use-by date on the label. Opened precooked shelf-stable bacon can be stored for 5 to 14 days in the refrigerator.
It is unsafe to consume cooked bacon left in the “danger zone” temperature range of 41 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. This is the time that is necessary for the harmful bacteria to start growing on the meat.
The spoilage bacteria will grow at lower temperatures in the fridge, but they are less dangerous and grow slower.
It is highly recommended that you put any cooked bacon leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as possible after preparing the meal.
By leaving it out on the countertop at room temperature, you will risk getting unpleasant and sometimes dangerous foodborne diseases. These can be caused by e.coli, salmonella, or other pathogenic bacteria.
To prevent the cooked bacon from becoming tough and chewy, follow our instructions for the best ways to store cooked bacon.
How Long Can Cooked Bacon Be Stored In The Refrigerator?
According to the USDA, you can safely store the cooked bacon in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Check whether the temperature in the fridge is under 40 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to ensure that your food is not bacteria-ridden and dangerous to eat.
But to keep the texture, looks, and flavor of your cooked bacon, you will need to make sure to pack it properly before tucking it into the refrigerator.
For the best results, place the leftover cooked bacon in an airtight container, or wrap it tightly in foil or a sealed bag.
Remember to eat the leftovers within the next 4-5 days after cooking the bacon.
If you want to preserve your delicious cooked bacon for longer, you can go ahead and freeze it. Double wrap it or place it in a sealed container or bag and pop it into the freezer. Your bacon-based meal will remain tasty and fresh in the freezer for one or more months.
Does Fully Cooked Bacon Need To Be Stored in the Refrigerator?
Yes, just like any other type of non-cured meat, leftover cooked bacon needs to be stored in the refrigerator. To stay safe, make sure to put the cooked bacon in the fridge within two hours after cooking it.
The harmful bacteria will start growing quickly after the first two hours if left at room temperature or temperatures from 41 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the ambient temperature in your kitchen is 90 degrees F or higher, you should put the cooked bacon in the fridge within an hour from the cooking.
The Proper Way to Store Cooked Bacon in the Fridge?
How long can store cooked bacon in the freezer?
When it is wrapped or packed properly, you can store cooked bacon in the freezer for a month and even more.
After that, its taste, texture, and quality will start deteriorating.
To get the best of your cooked bacon, you will need to prepare it and store it properly.
Cook the Bacon
Cook the bacon according to your tastes and preferences. There are different ways to prepare bacon for main dishes, sides, snacks, and even for some sweet desserts.
Remember that once you open the package of bacon and cook it, its shelf-life will decrease dramatically.
In fact, for safety purposes, you should not store cooked bacon for more than 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
If you choose to freeze it, you can store it for a month or sometimes more.
Cool the Bacon Off
While leaving the cooked bacon out for more than 2 hours is not recommended, it is essential to let it cool down before storing the leftovers in the refrigerator.
Pack the Cooked Bacon Properly
Once the bacon meal has cooled down, you can proceed to wrap it or place it in a well-sealed airtight container or zipper bag.
Make sure to remove as much air as possible when wrapping the meat. This will limit the exposure to air and will inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria for about 4-5 days.
Use a thermometer to check the temperature in your refrigerator. Do this, especially if you are not sure that the temperature is lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the maximum safe temperature for storing cooked bacon.
How to Tell If the Cooked Bacon Has Gone Bad?
Use your senses of seeing, smelling, and touching to see whether the cooked bacon has gone bad. This is better than tasting the suspicious meat right away.
If the bacon is spoiled, you will be able to tell by its change in color, texture, and smell.
If the meat has developed a brownish or greenish color, then throw it away. If, when you touch it, the cooked bacon feels slimy or sticky, then it is a good idea to discard it.
Make sure to smell the bacon too. If it has a rotting or sour smell, then you should throw it out immediately.
1. A Bad Smell
Like other perishable foods, cooked bacon will develop a sour or nasty rotting smell once it starts spoiling.
2. A Change in Color
If the meat starts turning gray, brown, or green, you should immediately throw it away. Also, make sure to check for mold, which may appear as white or dark spots on the cooked bacon.
3. A Slimy or Sticky Texture
Touch the meat to see if it feels sticky or slimy rather than the desired moist and soft.
1. Can Any Bacon Be Stored Safely At Room Temperature?
Yes, but only some types of bacon. Dry-cured, smoked, canned, or other shelf-stable bacon can be stored in the pantry or elsewhere out of the fridge for months and sometimes even for years.
2. Can Cooked Bacon Sit Out Overnight?
No, it is not safe to eat cooked bacon that has been left out of the refrigerator overnight. In fact, you should make sure to place it in the fridge up to two hours after it has been cooked. When properly packaged, the cooked bacon will remain safe and delicious for up to 4-5 days at temperatures lower than or up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Is It Safe To Eat Cooked Bacon Which Has Been Out of the Fridge Overnight?
The answer once again depends on the type of bacon. Some bacon, as mentioned previously, can safely be stored outside the fridge at room temperatures. But once it is cooked, you will need to keep it in the refrigerator.
Other cooked bacon will start growing harmful bacteria such as e.coli and salmonella after two hours of sitting at a temperature of 41 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have left real cooked bacon out of the fridge all night, then you should avoid eating it.
If you have cooked with imitation bacon, you can safely eat it on the following day without storing it in the fridge.
It is essential for your safety and for the safety of your family that you store your raw and cooked bacon properly at all times.
You should always make sure that it is well wrapped or packaged and then stored in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking bacon.
Leaving cooked bacon out at temperatures in the “danger zone” ranging from 41 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit can lead to unpleasant and sometimes severe food poisoning.
If you prefer to save your leftover cooked bacon for longer, you can wrap it well and store it in the freezer.
Bacon freezes well and will taste and look enticing even after spending a month in the freezer.
Related: Is Bacon Bad for You? Here are the Actual Health Benefits of Eating Bacon