how long does smoked meat last

How Long You Can Keep Smoked Meat?

If you are a meat-eater, we bet it would be challenging to imagine a BBQ hangout without smoked meat. But have you ever wondered what the hype around smoked meat is all about? The reason for that is because smoking meat changes the way the meat cooks. Moreover, the smoking process changes the flavor and texture, since smoked meat is way more tender than regular grilled meat.

But, the question is – how long does smoked meat last? Can you just cook it and save it for later, or is it better to eat it right away? That is what we decided to investigate and finally figure out how long will smoked meat last.

Different Methods of Smoking Meat and How Long Does Such meat Last

How long is smoked meat good for depends on the type of smoking. Some of the most popular smoking methods are:

Hot Smoking

Hot smoking is the most popular and common way to smoke meat. In other words, it is a barbecue. And it can take hours and sometimes even a day, depending on the size and type of meat. The primary purpose of hot smoking is to add flavor. It is done through slow cooking and by transmitting smoky flavor on the surface. Just remember to stay within a safe temperature for smoking, which is between 225 to 300°F.

How Long Does Hot Smoked Meat Last?

Hot smoking is more about adding flavor than preservation. And unlike cold smoking, hot one doesn’t assume curing and drying of meat, which is essential for long term preservation. However, if you can ensure that the food doesn’t get contaminated before and during the process – feel free to keep it for at least four days in the fridge. In case you want to keep it for later, you can put it in the freezer, where it can stay up to three months.

Warm Smoking

Warm smoking is pretty similar to the hot smoking method, but the temperature is lower. When you want to warm smoke, the temperature should be about 77 – 104℉. This method is better for more delicate meats like fish or pre-cooked meat, like bacon. Just keep in mind that it is not advisable to warm smoke poultry or pork. The reason is that you will keep the meat for a long time at temperatures that are ideal for the growth of bacteria. So, if you want to avoid food poisoning, it is better to stay away from warm smoking.

How Long Does Warm Smoked Meat Last?

How long you can keep warm smoked meat in this situation varies from case to case. We would say that it is best to eat smoked seafood and fish immediately. But if you want to keep it for some days, it is recommended to think about how fresh it was, to begin with.

Cold Smoking

In this method, since the meat is raw during the entire process, you must first add a lot of salt. It is called curing, and the purpose of it is to dehydrate the meat. That is important to prevent the development of bacteria because the meat is smoked at rather low temperatures. The temperature in the room should not go over 80℉. Cold smoking may last from several hours to several months. It is interesting to say that this process is used for smoking other foods, such as cheese. A lot of pork sausages are cold smoked, so it is logical that a lot of people wonder how long is smoked pork good for when prepared this way.

How Long Does Cold Smoked Meat Last?

You may be wondering, does smoked meat lasts longer when prepared this way? Yes, IF it is cured and smoked adequately. Then the smoked meat shelf life extends. Some techniques can allow you to keep cold smoked meat for over a year. However, these usually require that a professional does the process of curing and smoking. Talking about smoked meat shelf life we can say that in this case, it is about 2-3 months.

Smoke Roasting

The taste of some meats is much better when they are smoked and roasted on a pellet smoker. Prime ribs are the best meats to smoke this way. Smoke roasting is similar to hot smoking because the primary purpose is to improve the flavor.

How Long Does Smoke Roasted Meat Last?

So, how long does smoked meat last in the fridge in this case? Well, if you are sure that the entire process is done correctly, it should be okay to keep it between 3-4 days.

Should You Refrigerate or Freeze Your Meat?

A lot of people wonder how to store smoked meat and whether they need to keep it in the freezer or fridge. If you know that you will eat the meat within 4 days, then you can easily keep it in the fridge. Just make sure that it’s properly packed. However, if you smoked more meat than you planned to eat within a couple of days, the best option is to put it in the freezer. Keep in mind that you need to prevent meat contamination before because low temperatures won’t kill the bacteria.

How To Prolong Your Smoked Meat Life

  • Don’t keep it in the fridge for more than 4 days
  • Make sure it doesn’t stay in the freezer for more than 2 months
  • Store it in small containers
  • Make sure that you are using vacuum packaging or sealed bags
  • Remember to refrigerate the meat within 2 hours


That’s all for today about how long does smoked meat last. Remember that unless it is correctly cured, it’s best to eat it within a few days.  Alternatively, you can put it in the freezer. However, even in that case, make sure that it doesn’t stay longer than 3 months. After all, food poisoning is no joke!

So, have you tried smoking meat by yourself? Perhaps you also have a couple of tricks you wish to share? We would be glad to hear from you!

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