Are you wondering, “How long does turkey bacon last?” and more importantly, how to keep turkey bacon fresh? We have the definite answers! The good news is that by following these techniques for storing raw, cooked, and frozen turkey bacon you can keep it fresh much longer.
Turkey bacon is another way to enjoy a bacon-like eating experience. Some people eat it because it has a lower fat content than traditional pork bacon, and turkey bacon may fit in more special diets than “real bacon.”
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Turkey bacon has fewer calories and grams of fat than regular pork bacon, making it a slightly healthier alternative, but it’s still a processed meat product with an expiration date.
That’s why it’s important to know how long turkey bacon will last and how to store it without causing bacterial growth. This post will help you learn just that! Read on to discover how you can enjoy the crispy strips with your meals in the safest way possible.
Want to get right to the good stuff? Click on any of these headings to jump ahead:
- What Is Turkey Bacon?
- How Long Does Raw Turkey Bacon Last?
- Storing Uncooked Turkey Bacon
- Safe Handling Tips for Raw Bacon
- How to Know When Turkey Bacon Has Gone Bad?
- Cooked Turkey Bacon Shelf Life
- Making Cooked Bacon Last Longer
- Safe Handling Tips for Cooked Turkey Bacon
- Refrigerate or Freeze?
- Tips for Safely Handling Frozen Bacon
- More Bacon Handling and Storage Tips
- Save for Later
What is Turkey Bacon?
As you probably know, turkey bacon isn’t really bacon at all. It’s a product made from ground turkey that is mixed with seasonings and preservatives and formed into bacon-shaped strips.
Like pre-cooked deli ham, turkey bacon is usually cured using sodium nitrite. Some producers also use light and dark turkey meat to mimic the stripes in traditional bacon.
How Long Does Raw Turkey Bacon Last?
The first step is to look at the package and check the sell-by date. Unopened turkey bacon in a sealed package can safely be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or seven days past the expiration date, whichever comes first.
Once the package is opened, it can be stored in the fridge, tightly wrapped, for up to one week.
Also, when you’re preparing turkey bacon be sure you don’t leave it out on the counter for more than one hour. Wrap and refrigerate any unused bacon right away to avoid spoilage.
Storing Uncooked Turkey Bacon
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shares that you can store any type of bacon raw in a refrigerator at 40 degrees F and below for a week, and in a freezer below zero degrees F for up to four months.
For the best flavor, however, we recommend cooking and eating an open package of turkey bacon within two to three days, or freezing it. See complete directions below.
Safe Handling Tips for Raw Bacon
- Keep raw bacon away from other food items. Wash any surface it touches with soap and hot water, including your hands and utensils.
- Never serve or eat turkey bacon that isn’t fully cooked. Eating raw bacon carries high chances of food poisoning. Make sure the strips are thoroughly cooked over medium-high heat before consuming.
- Don’t undercook raw meat and then store it for future use. This won’t kill the bacteria in the product, and may still cause food poisoning.
How to Know When Turkey Bacon Has Gone Bad?
Begin by visually inspecting the turkey bacon. It should have a subtle pink color. If it has any hint of a gray or brown tint to the slices, discard it.
Next, try the smell test. Never use bacon that has a sour smell coming from the raw meat.
Finally, perform a touch test. If it has a slimy texture, this means you have some bad bacon on your hands and it should be disposed of immediately.
Cooked Turkey Bacon Shelf Life
Do you prefer your turkey bacon slices cooked in a skillet, deep fryer, conventional oven, microwave oven, or air fryer? No matter your preference, if you end up with leftover cooked bacon, the good news is that you don’t have to throw it away.
If you wrap it tightly and store leftover cooked bacon in the refrigerator, you can extend its shelf life for up to three days. If you freeze it, you can maintain its flavor for up to three months.
Making Cooked Bacon Last Longer
The secret to preventing food poisoning caused by lactic acid bacteria is to store your leftover bacon with a side of caution.
After cooking turkey bacon, drain the grease from it on a paper towel and cool to room temperature.
Once the leftover slices are cooled and drained, the easiest way to store it is to wrap individual servings in aluminum foil or cling wrap. (Storing the bacon in individual servings is a good idea since it’ll make it easier to reheat as needed.)
Store the tightly-wrapped portions in a heavy-duty freezer bag for up to three months.
Safe Handling Tips for Cooked Turkey Bacon
Always refrigerate cooked bacon within two hours of cooking.
If you leave your bacon at room temperature for longer than two hours, you risk causing bacteria growth. Refrigerating it afterward won’t kill the germs; it’s just bad bacon at that point and needs to be discarded.
Only take out the bacon portions you’re going to eat. Just as you shouldn’t leave cooked meat products out, room-temperature thawing is also not safe for longer than two hours, so the best option is to thaw frozen bacon in the fridge.
Refrigerate or Freeze?
If you want to save time and money, you can buy large packs at bulk stores like Costco to get a whole turkey’s worth of bacon and stash some away. Bacon freezes well, and can add flavor to any dish, from pasta to sandwiches to salads.
The best method for extending the life of your bacon is to freeze it. If you wrap it and freeze it properly at the right time, it can keep for up to four months.
You can just stash the entire shrink-wrapped packet of raw bacon in the freezer. (We usually put it inside a heavy zip-top bag for additional insulation.) The only drawback is that storing it in the original package will make it difficult to thaw as needed.
Instead, we recommend that you first separate the package of bacon in two or three portions. Next, wrap the stacked slices in parchment paper, aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
Afterward, store the bacon in zip-top freezer bags or shallow airtight containers before you put it in the freezer. Label with the date. Then you can easily thaw just a few slices whenever you’re having a craving.
Thaw the frozen bacon overnight in the refrigerator the night before you plan to eat it for best results.
Tips for Safely Handling Frozen Bacon
You can defrost the frozen slices in the refrigerator, tightly sealed in a cold water bath, or on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave oven. Never thaw it on the counter at room temperature.
Your bacon will only be as fresh as when you freeze it. The process will prevent bacterial growth, but it won’t kill the germs already in the meat. If your thawed bacon has a rotten smell, throw it out right away.
While we don’t recommend re-freezing the bacon, you can safely do so within 2-3 days of thawing bacon in the refrigerator. The texture will likely change from the refreezing process, but the bacon will still be safe to eat.
More Bacon Handling and Storage Tips
If you’re like us and want to do everything humanly possible to preserve the incredible flavor of tasty bacon, check out these articles:
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