You’ve cooked a delicious batch of bacon rashers, but you’ve still got some leftovers and now you’re sitting there asking yourself, “how long is cooked bacon good for”? Well, bacon lovers, rejoice! You’ve still got time to make the most of everyone of those savoury strips of scrumptiousness.
The basics of cooked bacon storage
Proper storage is crucial to maintaining the flavour, texture and safety of your bacon. These are the basics to follow to maximise the lifespan of your extra cooked bacon:
- Cool the bacon: allow your cooked bacon to cool completely before storing it
- Choose the right container: use an airtight container, zip-top plastic bag, or heavy-duty aluminium foil to store the bacon
- Label and date: clearly label the container with the date, so you can easily track how long it’s been stored for
- Refrigerate or freeze: place the container in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on your how long you’d like to store your bacon for
How long does cooked bacon last in the refrigerator?
The shelf life of cooked bacon in the refrigerator really depends on the type of bacon, the storage conditions, and how well it was cooked.
In most cases, if stored correctly in a sealed container or airtight bag, cooked bacon can last for up to 5 days in the fridge – assuming that the bacon is not past its original expiration date.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines state that cooked bacon can be refrigerated for up to 7 days. But in our experience, the flavour and texture of the bacon are best when eaten within a day or two after cooking.
How to store different types of cooked bacon in the fridge
The shelf life of your cooked bacon will depend on the specific type and thickness of the bacon.
Cooked regular sliced bacon
To store cooked regular bacon slices, first let the bacon strips cool completely on a wire rack. Then place the rashers in an airtight bag or container, making sure to squeeze out any extra air before sealing. Label and date the package and place it in the fridge.
Cooked thick-cut bacon
For cooked thick-cut bacon, you’ll need a more robust wrapping process. Use several layers of wax paper, heavy-duty freezer bags, or freezer wrap to provide extra insulation for the bacon. This will give you up to 5 days in the fridge quite safely.
If you’ve made homemade bacon bits from real bacon, store them in an airtight plastic or glass container in the refrigerator. Properly stored bacon bits should last up to 5 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer if you wrap them as tightly as possible in aluminium foil before freezing.
How long is cooked bacon good for in the freezer?
Cooked bacon slices can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. To freeze cooked bacon, wrap it tightly in aluminium foil or place it in an airtight bag or container.
When you’re ready to reheat the bacon, I’d recommend choosing to reheat in the oven, to give it the best chance of regaining its original crunch.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius)
- Place the bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and bake for 10-15 minutes or until it’s crispy
Alternatively, place the frozen bacon in a frying pan or skillet over medium heat on the stove and cook for about 5 minutes, flipping the strips as needed.
If you’re short on time and need to reheat your bacon quickly, you could always use the microwave. Lay all the bacon rashers out separately on a double layer of paper towel, and place on a microwave-safe plate or paper plate. Cover with another sheet of paper towel to prevent splattering in the microwave and heat on high for 30-second intervals, until the bacon is heated right through and crispy.
For maximum safety, make sure you eat the bacon within 1-2 days of reheating.
The ideal temperature for storing cooked bacon
To prolong the shelf life of your cooked bacon, it’s essential to store it at a temperature that inhibits bacterial growth but doesn’t cause freezer burn.
The ideal temperature for refrigerating bacon is 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) or lower.
How long does pre-cooked bacon last?
Pre-cooked bacon has a similar shelf life to home-cooked bacon if you store it properly in the fridge.
You can expect pre-cooked bacon to last for 4 to 5 days, or even up to 7 days.
Remember that safety is always your top priority in the kitchen, so always follow the golden rule of not leaving cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Cooked nitrate-free, uncured bacon has a shorter shelf life
Uncured bacon (that hasn’t been cured with nitrates or nitrites, which are often added to bacon to help preserve its colour and prevent bacterial growth) has a shorter shelf life than the normal cured bacon you’d buy off the shelf at the store or your butcher.
In the fridge, nitrate-free uncured bacon should probably only last 3 to 4 days.
How long does cooked turkey bacon last in the fridge?
Turkey bacon is a leaner, less fatty alternative to regular bacon, but it also has a shorter shelf life.
When stored properly in the fridge in an airtight container or wrapped in foil, cooked turkey bacon will last for up to 3 days.
How to tell if cooked bacon has gone bad
You want to avoid bacon that’s gone off, at all costs. There are a few easy ways to check if your cooked bacon is no longer good to eat:
- Smell the bacon: fresh bacon should have a smoky, savoury aroma, so if the bacon smells off, it’s probably no longer safe to eat
- Inspect the bacon: look for any visible signs of mould or discolouration – if you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw the bacon out
- Check the texture: if the bacon feels slimy or excessively greasy, it’s probably past its prime and best not to eat
Can you cook bacon ahead of time and reheat it?
Yes, you can absolutely cook bacon ahead of time and reheat it later. I do this all the time!
After cooking the bacon, allow it to cool completely. Then wrap the bacon tightly in aluminium foil and store it in the refrigerator. For optimal flavour, reheat and finish the bacon leftovers within a day or two.
To reheat the bacon, place it on a baking sheet in a 350-degree Fahrenheit (175-degree Celsius) oven or in a large frying pan or skillet over a medium heat.
Delicious ways to use leftover cooked bacon
So with lots of ways to store and reheat cooked bacon safely and easily, you can double up on even more ways to enjoy the crispy critters next time you’ve got some bacon on the sizzle.
Try adding it to salads, omelettes, and scrambles. You can also use it as a topping on tacos, pizza, and burgers. For a unique twist, add cooked bacon to macaroni and cheese (one of my all-time favourites) or mashed potatoes.
If you’re looking for something sweet with your bacon, try making bacon brittle or a bacon-wrapped dessert using dates or figs. And of course don’t forget about classic dishes like bacon-wrapped asparagus and BLT sandwiches!
Now that you know how long cooked bacon is good for, you don’t need any excuse to get back to those leftovers!
Fire up the oven and put your bacon to good use with some of our delectable Cooking Clue recipes:
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