How long does cured bacon last?

Cured bacon can last for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator after opening the package, and up to 6 months in the freezer. However, there are some variables that can affect how long cured bacon stays fresh and safe to eat.

What is cured bacon?

Cured bacon is pork belly that has been cured and smoked to preserve it and add flavor. The curing process involves soaking the pork in a brine solution, which has salt, spices, sugar, and preservatives like sodium nitrite. This curing process draws out moisture, which makes it difficult for bacteria to grow. Smoking further preserves the bacon by coating it in compounds that have antimicrobial effects.

The curing and smoking process results in bacon that is shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration until opened. Once cured bacon is opened, it must be stored properly to retain freshness and prevent bacterial growth.

Refrigerator (after opening)

Once opened, cured bacon will last for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. The exact shelf life depends on a few factors:

  • Package date – Freshly packaged cured bacon will last longer than bacon that has been sitting in the store for weeks.
  • Storage temperature – Storing at a consistent 40°F or below maximizes shelf life.
  • Package seal – Re-wrapping or sealing the package prevents oxygen exposure after opening.
  • Fat content – Lower fat bacon lasts slightly longer since fat can go rancid faster.

Properly stored, opened cured bacon will generally stay fresh for 7-14 days past the package date or when first opened. Follow the “use-by” date for maximum freshness.

Signs cured bacon has gone bad

Look for these signs that indicate cured bacon is spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Slimy texture and dull or slippery appearance
  • Rancid smell
  • Mold growth
  • Discoloration (green, blue, black)


For long term storage, cured bacon can last 4-6 months in the freezer past the package date. Follow these tips for freezing cured bacon:

  • Wrap opened package tightly in plastic wrap or place in zip top freezer bag. Squeeze out excess air.
  • Freeze bacon slices flat in single layer until solid, then stack.
  • Divide package into smaller portions if not using all at once.
  • Avoid repeated freezer thaws/refreezes.

Frozen cured bacon remains safe indefinitely, but quality declines after about 4-6 months. It may suffer some textural changes like drying out but will remain edible.

Signs frozen cured bacon has spoiled

Look for these indications that frozen cured bacon is past its prime and should not be eaten:

  • Unusual dull or faded color
  • Dry, crumbly texture
  • Extreme freezer burn (dry, icy coating)
  • Noticeable rancid smell when thawed
  • Significant mold or sliminess when thawed

How to maximize cured bacon shelf life

Follow these tips for maximizing how long cured bacon stays fresh in the fridge or freezer:

  • Purchase quality bacon – Higher quality bacon with less water content and preservatives will have a longer shelf life. Look for thick cut bacon with good marbling.
  • Check package date – Select packages with furthest from expiration or freeze-by date for longest shelf life.
  • Seal package – After opening, rewrap unused bacon tightly in original packaging, plastic wrap, or zip top bags.
  • Monitor fridge temperature – Store bacon on lower fridge shelves at or below 40°F. Use refrigerator thermometer to verify.
  • Use oldest first – Follow “first in, first out” system, using oldest bacon within 1-2 weeks.
  • Freeze for longer storage – Freeze bacon for 4-6+ months storage. Thaw overnight in fridge before use.

How to tell if cured bacon is still good?

Here are some ways to determine if cured bacon is still safe and good quality to eat:

  • Check sell-by or use-by date – Bacon is likely fine if still within 1-2 weeks of this date when refrigerated.
  • Look at color and texture – Good cured bacon is slightly pink to deep red. It should not look dried out, very dark, or have fatty sections with unnatural colors.
  • Smell – Fresh cured bacon has a distinctive smoked meat smell. Rancid or “off” odors mean it has spoiled.
  • Feel packaging – Vacuum-sealed packaging should not have air bubbles or feel puffy, which indicates bacteria growth.
  • Do the float test – Place raw bacon strip in cup of cool water. If it floats, it’s gone bad from gases produced by spoilage.
  • Cook small piece – If bacon smells and tastes normal when cooked, it is likely still fresh. Safely discard piece tested.

When inspecting bacon, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Use your best judgment, and if in doubt, throw it out.

Raw bacon vs. cooked bacon shelf life

Raw and cooked cured bacon have different maximum shelf lives:

Raw bacon shelf life:

  • Refrigerator: 1-2 weeks after opening package
  • Freezer: 4-6 months in airtight packaging

Cooked bacon shelf life:

  • Refrigerator: 5-7 days
  • Freezer: 1-2 months

Cooked bacon lasts shorter since contaminants are not destroyed during cooking. Always refrigerate cooked bacon within 2 hours and reheat fully before eating for food safety.

Shelf life of bacon bits and defrosted bacon

Bacon bits: Unopened shelf-stable bacon bits last 1-2 years at room temperature. Once opened, they last 4-6 months refrigerated.

Thawed and refrozen bacon: Bacon can be safely thawed and refrozen, but quality declines. Use thawed bacon within 1 week for best quality.

How to store cooked bacon

Follow these guidelines for storing cooked bacon:

  • Let cool for 15-20 minutes before refrigerating.
  • Store in airtight container lined with paper towels to absorb grease.
  • Use shallow container and single layer to prevent stacking.
  • Refrigerate within 2 hours and use within 5-7 days.
  • For longer storage, wrap cooked bacon slices individually and freeze.
  • Cooked bacon frozen properly lasts 1-2 months.

Other frequently asked questions

How long can you keep bacon grease?

Bacon grease stored covered in the refrigerator lasts up to 1 month. Keep no longer than 3-6 months in the freezer. Discard if grease smells rancid or looks darker and cloudy.

Can you eat bacon while pregnant?

Bacon is safe to eat when pregnant if cooked thoroughly until steaming hot and crisp. Limit intake to occasional moderate portions, as excess salty, cured, or fatty meats may increase health risks.

Why does my cured bacon smell bad but not look spoiled?

Bacon can develop an off or rancid smell as fats start to break down while still looking normal. Do not eat bacon with an unpleasant or “off” odor, even if appearance seems fine. Bad small indicates spoilage.

Is white spot on bacon bad?

White or grayish spots on raw bacon are salt deposits from the curing process. They are harmless, but the bacon should still be discarded if it smells bad or has a slimy texture or unnatural colors.

Can you eat bacon with black spots?

Black or dark spots on bacon indicate it may be spoiled and potentially unsafe to eat. Discard any bacon that has black, green, blue, or other discolored areas.


Following proper storage methods and using your senses is key to maximizing cured bacon’s 1-2 week refrigerated and 4-6 month frozen shelf life. Cook and eat bacon within 5-7 days for safety and best quality. With optimum storage conditions, cured bacon can retain freshness and flavor for extended periods.

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