Hot dogs are a staple food in my home. Anniversaries, BBQ parties, or birthday celebrations can’t pass without these savory sausages.
However, hot dogs have a limited shelf life, like all perishable foods. Therefore, knowing how long they can last in the fridge is essential to ensure food safety and quality.
I checked what the USDA says, talked with my butcher, and closely followed the state of raw and cooked hot dogs in my fridge over several weeks.
In this article, I’ll discuss how long hot dogs can stay in the fridge and my tips on extending their freshness.
- Raw, unopened hot dogs can last up to two weeks in the fridge, one week if opened.
- Cooked hot dogs last for four to seven days in the fridge.
- To check if hot dogs have gone bad, smell for sourness, check for slime, and look for color changes.
How Long Do Raw Hot Dogs Last in the Fridge
Raw hot dogs can last in the fridge for up to two weeks if the package is unopened and one week if the package is open.
Keep opened raw hot dogs in a ziplock bag, remove any excess air, and seal it for maximum freshness.
Even if the sell-by date on the package expires during the storing period, hot dogs will remain safe to use if properly stored .
Generally, hot dogs last longer in the fridge than other kinds of meat because they contain preservatives and chemicals, which extend how long a hot dog stays fresh .
Pro tip: Check that the hot dog package is airtight because openings let the air in, and hot dogs can dry and spoil after one week.
Always check the expiration date on the hot dog package before storing them in the fridge. This also lets you know how long you can keep them in the fridge.
Note: You can also freeze uncooked unopened hot dogs. They’ll hold the same quality for two months. An opened package of hot dogs can be frozen for one month.
Keep in mind these timeframes are guidelines. Proper storing and a fridge temperature of 40 degrees or below are crucial for keeping uncooked hot dogs fresh.
“Packaged hot dogs can be stored in the refrigerator 2 weeks before opening. After opening a package of hot dogs, you can keep them for a week in the refrigerator (40 °F/4.4 °C or less).”
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
How Long Do Cooked Hot Dogs Last in the Fridge
Cooked hot dogs last for four to seven days in the fridge. When you cook hot dogs at high temperatures, you remove some preservatives the companies add. The hot dogs, hence, can’t hold up for a long time as uncooked ones.
The longer the leftover cooked hot dogs are stored, the worse their flavor and texture, so it’s always best to consume them immediately after cooking.
Also, you can’t leave cooked or fresh hot dogs at room temperature for more than two hours because bacteria develop at this temperature.
Pro tip: You can freeze cooked hot dogs. They’ll keep the quality in the freezer for up to two months.
Note: Hot dogs are fully cooked when they leave the factory, so you can safely eat them from the package.
When you cook them at home, you’re warming them up. Still, I don’t recommend eating hot dogs straight out of the package, as they’ll taste better if you cook them again at home.
3 Ways On How to Tell If Hot Dogs Have Gone Bad
You can tell if hot dogs have gone bad by checking their smell, color, and texture.
Listeria monocytogenes is hot dogs' most common type of bacteria . It’s also commonly found in other cold cuts and deli countermeats.
It causes diarrhea, stomach pains, fevers, and other symptoms. People who are at the highest risk of this bacteria are pregnant women, elders, newborns, and people with weak immune systems.
Ensure food safety by fully heating hot dogs before serving them.
Here’s how to know if bacteria has gotten hold of your meat:
Sniff the hot dogs when you open the package. Fresh hot dogs should have an appetizing, smokey smell.
But, if they smell sour or have a vinegar aroma, bacteria start to spoil them.
The same goes for cooked hot dogs. They'll taste sour if they smell sour, so you should throw them out.
Most hot dogs have some liquid in the package, making them slippery.
Fresh hot dog liquid has a water consistency and is slightly pink. However, if you notice any slime or milky liquid, they have gone bad.
All natural hot dogs are pink when in the package. If you see they’ve started to turn brown or gray, you have spoiled hot dogs.
Keep in mind some hot dogs are naturally darker at first. This is why you should check the color when you first buy them, so you’ll know if it has drastically changed since you bought them.
Apart from changes in color, a cooked hot dog commonly develops mold when it goes bad.
The Best Way to Store Hot Dogs
Store hot dogs in their original packaging in the fridge. It’s always best to keep them in an unopened package until you plan to cook them.
If you open the package, there’s no need to remove the hot dogs from it. Place the package in a resealable plastic bag or wrap it tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to ensure you maximize freshness and have a delicious hot dog.
Always store leftover hot dogs separately from raw ones. Ideally, keep them in different areas of the fridge.
In case you want to freeze hot dogs, you can do it in their original packaging because it’s airtight. You can also place the package in a freezer-safe bag, especially if the package is open, for extra protection.
Always squeeze out as much air as possible from the package to avoid freezer burn, as it can damage the texture and taste of leftover cooked hot dogs.
4 Tips on Extending the Shelf Life of Hot Dogs
Here’s how to extend the shelf life of raw and cooked hot dogs:
- Keep hot dogs at proper temperatures — Keep the fridge temperature at 40 degrees or below and the freezer temperature at 0 degrees or below.
- Dry out hot dogs — Drying hot dogs extends their shelf life. Dried hot dogs can last for six to twelve months. Slice your hot dog thinly and cook on low heat until it dries. Let it cool, and place it in an airtight container.
- Keep hot dogs in original packaging — Store hot dogs in original packaging for as long as possible.
- Don’t microwave— Cook hot dog burnt ends on a grill, or heat them on the stove to stay flavorful for longer.
Also Read: Vacuum-Sealed Meat Shelf Life
How Do You Store Hot Dogs in the Fridge?
If it's unopened, you store hot dogs in their original packaging in the fridge. If it’s opened, store them in a container.
How Fast Do Hot Dogs Go Bad in the Fridge?
Hot dogs go bad in the fridge after two weeks if kept in an unopened package or up to one week if opened.