Have you ever experienced the rare, almost-unheard-of phenomenon of having leftover bacon, and wondered, “How long does cooked bacon last in the refrigerator?”
You’re smart to research the answer, because the last thing any of us want to do is waste one morsel of tasty, delectable bacon.
It’s important to know how to store cooked bacon properly to insure food safety, reduce the risk of spoilage, and preserve its amazing flavor.
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If you happen to have a windfall of leftover bacon, you may be wondering how long it will last in the refrigerator. Should you use a plastic wrap to cover it?
Can you use a paper towel or heavy-duty aluminum foil? Is it a good idea to store cooked bacon in the freezer? What about uncooked bacon and pre-cooked bacon?
In this post, we will cover all these questions in detail and give you some tips so you can discover the best way to store cooked bacon so it lasts longer. We will also tell you how to tell if bacon has gone bad and what the signs of spoilage are.
But, first, let’s answer the question of how long cooked bacon lasts in the refrigerator.
How Long Can Bacon Be Kept Once Cooked?
In general, if stored correctly in a sealed container, a zip-top plastic bag, or an airtight bag, cooked bacon will last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator — as long as it’s not past its original expiration date.
USDA guidelines say that cooked bacon can be refrigerated up to 7 days, but in our experience the flavor and texture are best when the tasty strips are eaten within a day or two after cooking.
How To Store 3 Types of Cooked Bacon
There’s no one answer that fits all when it comes to how long you can store bacon. The shelf life of bacon depends on the type and thickness of bacon, how thoroughly it was cooked, and the storage conditions.
Here are three of the most common types of cooked bacon and how long they will last in the fridge:
Cooked Strips of Regular Sliced Bacon
The first step is to allow the bacon strips to cool completely on a wire rack. An airtight bag or container is key for freezing or refrigerating cooked bacon, as you want to eliminate as much surface area being exposed to oxygen as possible.
Squeeze all the air out of the bag before sealing it, or use a vacuum air sealer. Label and date the package, then place it in the fridge or freezer.
Cooked Thick-Cut Bacon
If you have thick-cut bacon, you’ll need a more substantial wrapping than a single layer of plastic wrap. Use a few layers of wax paper, heavy-duty freezer bags, or freezer wrap to insulate the slices.
By storing it this way, you can expect your thick-cut bacon to last for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Home-cooked bacon bits that are made from real bacon should be refrigerated in an airtight container like a glass jar as well, and will last up to five days.
(Note: Bacon bits freeze well, and can last up to six months if you wrap them tightly and store them in the freezer.)
The Right Temperature for Storing Home-Cooked Bacon
To extend bacon’s shelf life, you need to store it at a temperature that is low enough to prevent bacteria growth but not so low that it causes freezer burn. The ideal temperature for refrigerating bacon is 40 degrees F or lower.
If you have any doubts about your fridge’s cooling abilities, you can use a refrigerator thermometer to keep an eye on the precise temperature.
For more information, be sure to read “How to Store Cooked Bacon.“
Storage of Cooked Bacon Products
According to the USDA, refrigerated cooked bacon products should be checked out at the grocery store right before you’re going home. Immediately refrigerate at 40 degrees F or below.
Shelf-stable, cooked bacon should be stored in a cool cupboard that is 85 degrees F or lower, and used by the package expiration date or within 3 months of purchase, whichever is sooner.
When in doubt, read the product label for proper handling instructions.
How Long Does Pre-Cooked Bacon Last?
The time frame for how long pre-cooked bacon will last in the fridge is very similar to that of regular bacon cooked at home. If stored properly in the fridge, you can expect precooked bacon to last for four to five days or even up to seven.
When it comes to cooked bacon, safety is always the top priority. The general rule is that cooked food shouldn’t be left out at room temperature for more than two hours.
If the bacon has been sitting out longer than that, it’s best to play it safe and discard it. When storing, you may want to consider dividing the bacon in individual portions which may be easier to wrap tightly and avoid excess air.
How Long Does Cooked Nitrate-Free, Uncured Bacon Last?
Nitrate-free may be a new term for some people when it comes to bacon. So, let’s break it down.
Uncured bacon is bacon that has not been cured with nitrates or nitrites, which are often added to bacon to help preserve its pink color and to prevent the growth of bacteria.
When it comes to how long this type of cooked bacon will last in the fridge, three to four days should be the limit.
How Long Can I Keep Cooked Turkey Bacon in Fridge?
For all you bacon lovers out there who are looking for a healthier alternative, turkey bacon might be a good option. When stored tightly wrapped in the fridge, cooked turkey bacon will last for up to three days.
It’s important to keep in mind that turkey bacon has a shorter shelf life than regular bacon because it is leaner and doesn’t have as much fat.
That being said, it’s still a good idea to store it in an airtight container or wrapped in foil to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
You can keep your cooked turkey bacon longer than three days (the USDA says it’s safe to refrigerate for up to 7 days), but in our experience there may be some deterioration in quality such as taste, texture, and appearance.
For more information about storing turkey bacon, be sure to check out “How Long Does Turkey Bacon Last?“
How Do You Know When Cooked Bacon is Bad?
The easiest way to tell if your cooked bacon is less than prime is to take a sniff. The bacon should smell fresh and smoky.
If the bacon smells “off,” looks shriveled, or has any visible signs of mold or spoilage, you should discard it. Check out “How to Tell When Bacon Is Bad” for additional information.
Can Bacon Be Cooked Ahead and Reheated?
Yes! First you’ll need to cook the bacon using your favorite method. We love cooking bacon in the oven, and we also sometimes cook it on the grill or make bacon in the pellet smoker.
Cool it completely, and then wrap the tasty strips tightly using the tips above and refrigerate. For the best flavor, plan to use it in a day or two.
Reheat the bacon on a baking sheet in a 350 degree F oven until hot, or in a large skillet over medium heat.
How to Use Leftover Cooked Bacon
Cooked bacon can be used to flavor so many tasty dishes. Here are a few of our favorite recipes:
Mini Quiches with Cheddar and Bacon (shown above)
BLAT – Bacon Lettuce Avocado and Tomato Sandwich
Chicken Bacon Wraps with Ranch Mayo
To maximize your bacon enjoyment, it’s crucial to know how to store it properly to avoid any safety issues.
Knowing where, when, how, and what to use to store your bacon can help you to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
When in doubt, always err on the side of caution and throw it away. Then cook up some fresh, tasty bacon and enjoy its incomparable flavor!