In the words of barbecue, we all know that hundreds of thousands of BBQ lovers smoke their different kinds of meats regularly.
But do you know that many of them wish to preserve their meat for later use, which is why they often come up with the question, how long does smoked meat last in the fridge or freezer?
If you have the same question as well, this is the ultimate guide for you in which you’ll come to know what smoked meat is, its shelf life, how to store it professionally for better results, and many more.
So, let’s dive deep into this informative article.
Smoked Meat – A Quick Overview
Smoked meat refers to the meat that you prepare through an old and traditional cooking method called smoking.
People used this technique in times when there were no refrigerators because one of its major advantages is to extend the meat’s shelf life.
Smoking mainly uses smoke and heat from burning wood and charcoal to cook your meat thoroughly and infuse a unique flavor into it.
There are different smoking methods that you can use, like hot smoking, cold smoking, and smoke roasting. Each technique requires different steps, and it offers different outcomes.
Lastly, two of the most noticeable benefits you get from food smoking are imparting a delightful smoke flavor to your meal and preserving them for a longer time.
Therefore, a popular question among BBQ enthusiasts is how long does smoked meat last. So, let’s find out without any further ado.
How Long Does Smoked Meat Last In The Fridge Or Freezer?
Smoked meat stays in good condition for about four days, but putting it inside the fridge within two hours after you’ve finished smoking it is necessary.
But the preservation does not end here because if you find a proper way to store your meat, like wrapping it and placing it inside the freezer after smoking, your smoked meat can last for around three months without compromising on its quality.
But it is essential to mention here that the meat’s shelf life after smoking that I have shared with you depends on some important factors. Let’s have a look at these factors.
- Smoking Method: The way you smoke your meat, whether through hot or cold smoking, directly impacts how long you can store it in good condition.
- Internal Temperature: Cooking the meat to the right temperature, like 145°F for beef and lamb, ensures the destruction of harmful bacteria, ensuring that your meat remains safe to eat for a longer time.
- Meat Type & Its Quality: The quality and type of the meat you are smoking play a role in determining its shelf life after smoking. For example, ribs usually stay in good condition for longer than chicken or its parts.
- Storage Conditions: Lastly, the storing condition for smoked meat also affects how long you can keep it safe and in good condition.
How Can You Store Your Smoked Meat?
To store your smoked meat properly while ensuring its safety and maintaining its flavor, follow the steps I have highlighted below.
Wrap Your Meat
Once you’ve completely smoked your meat, wrap it tightly, for which I prefer using plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You can also use vacuum-sealed bags for the wrapping process.
Make sure you wrap them tightly and ensure that the moisture or air can’t find its way to enter your plastic or foil-made bag.
Place The Wrapped Meat Inside The Fridge
Before placing the meat inside the fridge or freezer, make sure that its internal temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once done, set your wrapped meat packages in the fridge and choose a spot where there is a noticeable difference between them and other foods.
By doing this, you can ensure that your smoked meat stays safe and doesn’t contaminate other items.
Most importantly, keep your fridge’s temperature (40 degrees Fahrenheit) constant for as long as you are going to store your meat in there.
Put Date Over Meat’s Package
I recommend putting a label with the date on the meat’s package when you smoked it and stored it inside the fridge.
This tracking process helps you know when you stored it so that you can use the oldest ones first. It’s like having a little reminder to keep your food fresh and safe to eat.
So, you have a complete idea of how to store your smoked meat successfully, but how do you extend its life from 4 days to 3 months?
Well, there is not pretty much difference as you just need to wrap the smoked meat tightly, like with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and then put it in the freezer instead of the fridge. This freezing process keeps it fresh and safe for a much longer time.
Different Meat Smoking Methods
Let’s quickly go through some of the most popular food smoking methods that you might want to try to enhance your outdoor cooking experience.
It is the most common smoking method, and during a hot smoking session, you need a temperature of around 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
This temp range is higher than the other smoking method, but still, it can take hours or a day to cook thick meat properly.
For example, smoking a brisket at 225 degrees Fahrenheit that weighs around 10 pounds can take 15 to 20 hours.
Most importantly, when people cook brisket or something through this method, their aim is to eat it immediately right after the resting procedure instead of storing it.
It is the opposite method of hot smoking in which the main goal is to preserve food for later use and add flavor to it without fully cooking the meat.
Typically the temperature remains between 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit when you are holding a cold smoking session.
This low heat lets the food absorb the smoky flavor over an extended period, enhancing its taste while maintaining the raw-like texture.
Cold smoking is more suitable for food items like cheese, sausages, bacon, salmon, and fruits and veggies.
It is a combination of smoking and roasting but is also pretty much the same as hot smoking, in which the cooking temperature remains 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
The primary advantage of smoke roasting is that it adds an extra layer of smoke flavor to the foods you are smoking.
If you have an oven and a tool that can hold wood chips or pellets, like a smoker box or pellet tube, you can easily smoke roast your meat.
Which Lasts Longer, Hot-Smoked Meat or Cold-Smoked Meat?
A meat cut that you cooked through hot smoking is easy to store and can last for up to three months if things go well, such as in air-tight conditions and stored inside the freezer instead of the fridge.
On the other hand, you can store cold smoked meat for a longer duration than hot smoked one because cold smoking is the cooking method that is more suitable for food preservation.
However, keep in mind that if you don’t correctly cold-smoke your meat or neglect its storage process, you may end up with unsafe or spoiled food.
Your smoked meat can last from 4 days to 3 months, mainly depending on whether you store it inside the fridge or freezer after smoking it completely and wrapping it inside a plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Frequently Asked Questions
What meat should you avoid eating?
If the meat has a brown and crispy texture, it’s safe to eat. If there is a greenish and yellowish spot on the surface. You should not eat that meat. It’s harmful.
How long does smoked brisket last?
Similar to other thick meat cuts like ribs, brisket can also remain safe to eat for four days in the fridge or for three months inside the freezer.
How long does smoked meat last without refrigeration?
You can’t store your smoked meat for too long without refrigeration. It will hardly stay safe for 2 hours if you don’t wrap it and set it inside the fridge or freezer.
Caspian James, the Founder and Chief Editor at FaveGrills, is passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise on the latest Smokers and Grilling Products along with mouth-watering barbecue recipes. He constantly researches new gear with a sharp eye for detail, providing the FaveGrills community with in-depth reviews.