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How Long Does Smoked Meat Last? [Shelf Life Guide]

Smoked meat is a delicious, slow-cooked cut of meat that has been cured with salt and various spices.

It can be cooked by smoking the meat over low heat using hardwood such as oak, pecan, or hickory woods.

Smoking adds flavor and improves preservation qualities by sealing in moisture with the salt and sugar that are often added to these foods before being placed in the smoker.

If you have any questions about how long smoked meat lasts, how to store it, or prepare it, this blog post will answer all your questions.

What is Smoked Meat?

what is smoked meat

Have you ever been to Montreal? If not, then it’s your chance.

The smoked meat sandwich is a staple food in the city.

It is often served on a crusty, fresh baguette with melted cheese.

Smoked meat is a type of meat that is cured and cold smoked.

It may be served hot or cold, depending on the preference of the eater.

Smoked meat has a very different flavor than pastrami because it’s cooked for nearly twice as long at lower temperatures to ensure all bacteria are killed off before it can spoil.

The result is tender — unlike some forms of deli meats that are pretty tough in texture.

It also doesn’t have any salt added until after it’s done smoking.

Hence, its natural fat stays intact while cooking instead of being liquefied by too much sodium chloride (regular table salt).

This means the sandwich retains some moisture and a few fatty bits, which smokies their signature flavor.

Does Smoking Preserve Meat?

does smoking preserve meat

If you’re a hunter, a smoker may be the perfect way to preserve your catch.

Like canning and brining, smoking is a way of keeping meat by using smoke to create an environment that inhibits the growth of spoilage organisms.

Smoking also has the added benefit of giving your smoked meats a delightfully smoky flavor profile – an acquired taste, but one well worth acquiring for sure.

Smoking meat can also add flavor and make it more tender than simply drying or salting the meat would do all by itself.

Smoke is used because of its preservative properties; smoking meats at low temperatures with plenty of sugar slows down bacterial growth, leading to spoilage while adding flavors from oak wood chips, hickory nuts, pecan shells, etc.

There are two processes to smoking meat.

The first is cold smoking which involves using cool temperatures and smoke for an extended period.

This process can take anywhere from 12 hours up to 72 hours, but the result is your smoked meats will have a light smoky flavor profile (think salmon).

The second process is hot-smoking, where you are heating at least one side of the smoker to cook your food with indirect heat – think ribs.

Hot smoking usually takes about six hours but produces more intense flavors due to this longer cooking cycle.

For best results, get your smoker to about 220 degrees and keep the smoking going for at least five hours.

If you’re looking for a lighter flavor profile, then go with cold smoking (12+ hrs) or if you want that sweet smokey taste, then go for hot smoking (six hours).

How to Store Smoked Meat?

how to store smoked meat

It would be best if you thought about which parts of the meat you want to store.

If it is a big roast, cut off some pieces before storing and freeze or refrigerate those for later use when you need them.

You can also cook up any leftovers after smoking so that they’ll last longer in storage.

It is essential to prepare smoked meats before storing them properly.

The first step involves removing any exposed fat and excess moisture, then wrapping tightly with foil or plastic wrap.

It’s best to store smoked meat in the fridge, not on the counter or freezer.

A vacuum sealer is a great way to extend storage time.

This can be done by adding an oxygen absorber and giving your food some extra protection from any airborne bacteria that might want to spoil it.

The longer you don’t open the package, the better preserved it will stay.

If you plan ahead of time (or have leftover cooked), then freezing is a good option for people who smoke large quantities of meat at once.

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last? Does Smoked Meat Go Bad?

how long does smoked meat last

Smoked meat will last about two hours outside of the fridge.

It would be best if you used those few hours to serve it before it becomes unpalatable or unsafe for consumption.

Smoked meat is not recommended if you’re looking to store it without refrigeration because bacteria may grow in that time frame and make stored smoked meats unsafe for human consumption.

If you want to keep it good and fresh, store it at a low temperature of 40 degrees or less.

It will last for about four days in the fridge before going bad.

Alternatively, if you want a longer-term solution, smoked meats can be frozen for up to three months.

Freezing may change the texture of your meat, but it will still taste good and is a great way to preserve all that delicious flavor.

It is best to keep smoked meat in its original packaging if you want it to stay fresh- sadly, air contact with your food could lead to bacteria forming and increasing the chance of spoilage or safety issues.

It would be best to store smoked meats away from other foods not to taint their flavors.

This includes fruits and vegetables as well as cooked proteins like chicken, beef, etcetera.

How Long Does Smoked Cured Meat Last?

how long does smoked cured meat last

The shelf life for smoked cured meat depends on the type of cut, how it was prepared and stored.

For instance, some types last much longer than others; a hunk of bacon can stay in your fridge or freezer for up to 12 months, while ham may only be good until six weeks.

Smoked cured meat is a type of food that includes salt, nitrates, and sugar.

The goal of these ingredients is to help preserve the smoked cured meats for as long as possible.

A good rule of thumb is to store smoked cured meat in the fridge, consume it within two weeks, or freeze it for up to 12 months.

How Long Does Smoked Brisket Last?

how long does smoked brisket last

Smoked brisket is often the star of a barbecue, but not many people think about how long it lasts.

When properly stored, smoked brisket will stay in the refrigerator for four days and indefinitely frozen.

To store smoked brisket: Place a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of any liquid surfaces that may have formed, and tightly seal it with an additional piece of cling film or use another airtight container like Tupperware to cover the dish.

It’s essential to store these meats on the bottom of a refrigerator to drip liquids onto other food.

It’s also best not to stack dishes more than two high because the juice from one dish could leak into another.

Smoked beef should be eaten within four days after being made, so it is important not to buy too much at once if you plan on saving some portion leftovers for later consumption.

How to Tell if Smoked Meat is Bad?

how to tell if smoked meat is bad

To tell if smoked meat is bad, you can first look at its color.

If the meat is brown and crispy, then it is likely safe to eat.

But if you notice that there are some green or yellow spots on the surface of the meat, this could be a sign of spoilage as well as bacterial growth, which will lead to an unpleasant taste in your food.

Secondly, one good way to test smoked meats for spoilage would be with smell tests.

Smoked meats should have a distinctively smoky flavor to them, but spoiled items can sometimes give off a different scent altogether.

Next, you can take a look at the meat’s texture.

It should be firm but not too hard or waxy in appearance.

Finally, you can check for dry spots and leaks, which would indicate that bacteria is growing on its surface.

Utilizing our senses of sight and smell when deciding whether or not something is bad may help us avoid ruining our meals by eating expired foods.


Whether you’re a fan of smoked meat or not, it can be challenging to know when your cuts will go bad.

In general, smoked meat, if done correctly, can last a long time.

If you’re looking for easy food to take on camping trips or picnics with the family, smoked meats are perfect.

They have a convenient shelf life and taste amazing.

does smoked meat go bad

How Long Does Smoked Meat Last? Does Smoked Meat Go Bad?

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Shelf Life
Servings 1 Serving


  • Smoked meat
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  • Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  • Label your container with the content and date and keep track of how much you’re using!
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).
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