I cook sausage at least twice a week, but I admit I’m guilty of occasionally leaving sausage in the fridge for too long.
As a culinary expert with a deep passion for food safety and preservation, I've dedicated countless hours researching how long sausage can safely last in your fridge.
My research included consultations with food safety specialists and extensive analysis of trusted sources, including the USDA and my meat provider.
In this article, I'll share my expertise and provide seven essential storage tips to ensure your sausages remain fresh and safe for consumption.
- The shelf life of sausage is short, and most sausages stay fresh in the fridge for two to four days.
- You need to properly store the sausages in the fridge to extend their shelf life.
- If the sausage changes its texture or smells sour, it’s a sign it’s spoiled.
How Long Does Raw Sausage Last in the Fridge?
Raw sausage lasts in the fridge for one to two days. Unopened fresh sausage from the supermarket usually has a use-by date, and eating the sausage before this date is best.
Note: If properly stored, the sausage is safe to eat after the sell-by date expires. Never leave sausage at room temperature for over two hours, or bacteria will grow rapidly.
Keep raw sausages in their original packaging in the fridge . This maximizes their shelf life. If you open the package, the sausage is exposed to air, and bacteria grows. You can also keep fresh sausages wrapped in butcher paper.
Pro tip: You can freeze raw sausages. They maintain the best quality for one to two months in the freezer, but you can also eat them after this time.
How Long Does Cooked Sausage Last in the Fridge?
Cooked sausage lasts in the fridge for four days. Some pre-cooked sausages only need to be heated, such as a hot dog or packaged breakfast sausage.
These pre-cooked sausages can last in the fridge for up to two weeks if unopened or one week if opened.
Dry sausage, such as pepperoni, is usually already cooked. You don’t need to keep it in the fridge if bought whole.
Store in a pantry for six weeks. You can also keep them in the fridge indefinitely if unopened and for three weeks if opened.
You should always read the label to check the shelf life of pre-cooked and dried sausages.
Finally, you can freeze a cooked sausage and keep its quality for six months.
“All sausages- except dry sausage - are perishable and, therefore, must be kept refrigerated or frozen. Uncooked fresh sausage can be stored in the refrigerator one to two days; after cooking, keep for three to four days refrigerated (40 °F or less).”
- United States Department of Agriculture
7 Tips on How to Store Sausage in the Fridge
Here’s how to store sausage in the fridge:
- Store uncooked sausages in the original package — If you don’t have to, don’t open the package of fresh sausages. This will keep them fresh for longer.
- Handle sausages with clean hands — Wash hands before and after touching sausages to prevent the spread of bacteria and cross-contamination.
- Store sausages in the coolest part of the fridge — Don’t leave sausages in the fridge door, but store them at the bottom.
- Keep the temperature below 40 degrees — The fridge temperature should be at or below 40 degrees to keep every perishable food item safe to eat.
- Wrap open sausages — If you open the package, rewrap unused sausage in plastic wrap or a sealed bag to avoid air exposure, which can lead to food poisoning. Also, wrap if you plan to freeze sausage to prevent freezer burn.
- Refrigerate raw sausages within two hours of purchase — Sausages can’t be at room temperature for longer than two hours, or the sausage has gone bad.
- Store cooked sausages in a container — Make sure your sausages have cooked properly, then cool them to room temperature, store them in an airtight food container, and place them in the fridge.
Signs to Tell Sausage Has Gone Bad
Here’s how to know sausage has gone bad:
- Sour smell — Fresh and cooked sausage has a fresh, meaty smell. If your sausage has a strong and unpleasant odor, for example, fishy or ammonia-like, it’s gone bad.
- Texture changes — If the sausage has a sticky or slimy texture, it’s spoiled. A lack of color and firmness usually follows changes in texture. Also, if raw sausages become dry, it’s a sign they aren't fresh.
- Color — Fresh sausages are pink or red in color, but if the sausage turns gray or greenish-gray, it’s unsafe to eat.
- Mold — If there’s mold on the surface of the sausage, throw it out. Also, if you see white or black spots on the sausage, don’t eat it. Don’t try to cut out the moldy parts, as there’s a high chance the sausage is unsafe to eat throughout.
If you’re freezing raw sausages, make sure they are constantly frozen. You shouldn’t thaw and refreeze again.
If you have eaten spoiled sausage and encounter food poisoning symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Food poisoning can result in severe complications, underscoring the importance of promptly consulting a healthcare professional.
Also Read: How Will You Tell If Pork Is Bad?
FACTORS AFFECTING SAUSAGE SHELF LIFE
The shelf life of your sausage, like many perishable foods, can be influenced by several critical factors, including:
Type of Sausage
Regarding how long sausagе lasts in thе fridgе, onе critical factor is thе typе of sausagе you'rе dealing with.
Frеsh sausagе contains raw meat, not curеd, smokеd, or fully cookеd. Frеsh sausagеs havе a rеlativеly short shеlf lifе, idеally bеtwееn 1 to 2 days of rеfrigеration.
A cookеd sausagе gеnеrally has a longеr shеlf lifе than frеsh sausagеs and can last in thе rеfrigеrator for up to 4 to 5 days.
Curеd sausagеs likе salami and pеppеroni havе an еxtеndеd shеlf lifе and can last for wееks or months whеn storеd propеrly.
Packaging your sausagеs also plays a crucial role in dеtеrmining thеir shеlf lifе in thе fridgе.
Sausagеs in thеir original, unopеnеd packaging bеnеfit from airtight sеals that hеlp kееp thеm frеsh for longеr.
On the other hand, thеrе arе instancеs whеrе you might nееd to rеpackagе sausagеs. In this case, use an airtight container or vacuum-sеalеd bag to prеvеnt air еxposurе and moisturе ingrеss.
Controlling thе tеmpеraturе of your rеfrigеrator is paramount in еxtеnding thе shеlf lifе of sausagеs.
Your rеfrigеrator should be at or below 40°F (4°C) . Maintaining this tеmpеraturе rangе is critical bеcausе it slows bactеrial growth and hеlps keep sausage fresh.
Can Sausage Go Bad in the Fridge?
Yes, sausage can go bad in the fridge. Sausage has a short shelf life. Raw sausages go bad after about two days in the fridge when stored in an open package.
Can You Eat a 7-Day-Old Sausage?
Sometimes, you can eat a 7-day-old sausage, but it depends on the kind of sausage you have. Cooked sausages shouldn’t be eaten after four days, but some pre-cooked and dried sausages, such as breakfast sausage and pepperoni, are safe to eat.