The Definitive Guide to Storing Cooked Bacon Safely

Crispy, salty bacon is a staple breakfast food for many people. While raw bacon needs to be refrigerated, many wonder if cooked bacon requires the same level of cold storage. Can cooked bacon safely be left out at room temperature? How long can cooked bacon go unrefrigerated before bacteria become a concern?

Understanding bacon’s shelf life and the science behind foodborne illnesses allows you to store leftovers properly. Here are some guidelines on how long cooked bacon can be left out along with tips to enjoy bacon safely.

How Long Can Cooked Bacon Be Left Out at Room Temperature?

In general, cooked bacon should not sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours total before being refrigerated or frozen. The USDA recommends refrigerating all perishable foods within 2 hours of cooking.

This 2-hour window includes

  • Time sitting out during and after cooking.
  • Time for the cooked bacon to cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
  • Any other time the cooked bacon is left out, like when adding to a sandwich.

Total all time spent between 40°F and 140°F, and discard bacon if it exceeds 2 hours unrefrigerated. Bacteria grow rapidly in this temperature danger zone.

Why You Should Refrigerate Cooked Bacon

It’s important to refrigerate cooked bacon leftovers because dangerous bacteria can begin to multiply on the meat:

  • Pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus can grow.
  • Toxins released by bacteria can’t be destroyed through cooking or reheating.
  • Even if bacon is cooked to a safe internal temperature, bacteria growth after cooking poses risks.

Once these harmful bacteria reach high enough levels, they can cause foodborne illness if the bacon is eaten. Refrigerating prevents additional bacteria growth.

What Happens If You Leave Cooked Bacon Out Overnight?

Leaving fully cooked bacon out on the counter overnight is risky. Bacteria counts can climb to unsafe levels in that time frame at room temperature.

Potential risks of leaving cooked bacon out overnight:

  • Salmonella levels can double every 30 minutes between 40-140°F.
  • Standing overnight gives bacteria an extended window to multiply.
  • Toxins produced by bacteria are not destroyed by reheating.
  • Foodborne illness resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, and fever could result.

The longer bacon sits out past the 2 hour cutoff, the more likely it is that dangerous pathogens may be present. Refrigerate cooked bacon leftovers within 2 hours.

How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last in the Fridge?

Cooked bacon properly stored in the refrigerator will last much longer than room temperature storage.

Refrigerator shelf life for cooked bacon:

  • 5-7 days is best for quality.
  • Up to 1 week if continuously refrigerated below 40°F.
  • 10-14 days if absolutely needed but quality declines.

Make sure cooked bacon leftover is sealed in an airtight container or bag before refrigerating. Monitor fridge temperature to keep it consistently below 40°F.

Can You Eat Bacon After It Turns Slimy?

No, you should never eat cooked bacon after it develops a slimy texture. Sliminess occurs when bacteria have multiplied and produced slime that breaks down the fat and tissue.

Discard cooked bacon if it looks wet, slimy, or feels excessively sticky or tacky. The slime cannot be cooked off or made safe to eat again. Slimy bacon likely contains high levels of bacteria and poses a food poisoning risk if consumed. Stick to enjoying bacon within the refrigerated shelf life.

How to Store Leftover Cooked Bacon

Follow these guidelines to safely store cooked bacon in the refrigerator or freezer:

  • Let cooked bacon cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, before refrigerating.
  • Place cooled bacon in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.
  • Remove as much air from container as possible.
  • Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
  • Use within 5-7 days for best quality and food safety.

To freeze:

  • Cool bacon completely before freezing.
  • Portion pieces onto a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze solid.
  • Transfer frozen bacon pieces to an airtight freezer bag or container.
  • Press out excess air and return to freezer immediately.
  • Thaw refrigerated overnight before reheating.

Tips for Reheating Cooked Bacon

When ready to enjoy leftover cooked bacon:

  • Unwrap refrigerated bacon and place in a skillet over medium-low heat.
  • Cook until heated through and sizzling, 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Microwave in 10 second intervals just until hot.
  • Bake refrigerated bacon in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes, flipping halfway.
  • Bring bacon to 165°F internal temperature when reheating.

Only reheat bacon that has been continuously refrigerated within the safe 5-7 day window. Discard bacon that has sat at room temperature for more than 2 hours total.

Why Does Crispy Bacon Last Longer Unrefrigerated?

Crispy fried or baked bacon has a slightly longer safety window than soft or limp bacon when left out. Why? The crispness indicates:

  • Less moisture – Bacteria need a moist environment to thrive. Crisp bacon has less available moisture.

  • Higher fat content – More fat means less protein for bacteria to feed on.

  • Potentially higher temperature straight from cooking.

However, the 2 hour guideline should still be followed for safety. Don’t let crispy bacon linger longer than 2 hours unrefrigerated before putting it away.

When to Throw Out Leftover Bacon

Discard any leftover cooked bacon that:

  • Sits out for more than 2 hours cumulatively at room temperature.
  • Has an unpleasant odor.
  • Appears slimy or feels excessively sticky or tacky.
  • Shows mold growth.

Always monitor the quality of cooked bacon closely. When reheating, it should still look, smell, and taste pleasant. If anything seems off, play it safe and throw it out.

Storing Other Types of Cooked Bacon

The same refrigeration guidelines apply to cooked turkey bacon, beef bacon, and veggie bacon. Seal leftover portions in air-tight containers and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. Use within 1 week for best safety and quality.

Key Takeaways on Cooked Bacon Storage

Proper storage preserves cooked bacon safety and quality:

  • Refrigerate cooked bacon within 2 hours after cooking, including cooling time.
  • Store in sealed airtight containers with minimal air exposure.
  • Use refrigerated cooked bacon within 5-7 days for optimal freshness.
  • Discard cooked bacon left out for over 2 hours at room temperature.
  • Monitor for sliminess, odor, or other signs of spoilage.

Following safe bacon handling and refrigeration allows you to enjoy the leftovers for a week. With proper chilled storage, cooked bacon stays fresh and delicious well beyond its brief room temperature shelf life.

how long can cooked bacon be unrefrigerated

How Long Can Cooked Bacon Sit Out?

You already know that bacon is a tasty ingredient that can be used in many different dishes if you like it. Cooked bacon, in particular, is a popular choice for breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and more. But how long can cooked bacon sit out before it becomes unsafe to eat?.

The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the temperature, humidity, and exposure to air. In general, cooked bacon should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. After that time, bacteria can start to grow and multiply, which can lead to foodborne illness.

It’s important to follow some simple rules for storing and reheating cooked bacon so that it stays safe to eat. Today, we’re going to talk about how to store cooked bacon properly and how to tell when it’s going bad. We’ll also give you some tips on how to safely and deliciously reheat and use up leftover cooked bacon.

how long can cooked bacon be unrefrigerated

The best way to tell if cooked bacon has gone bad is to use your senses.

Here’s how:

  • Check the smell: If cooked bacon smells sour or rancid, it’s bad and should be thrown away.
  • Smell: Cooked bacon that is slimy or sticky, its color is dull or faded, or it has mold growth on it is bad and should be thrown away.
  • Do not eat cooked bacon that feels slimy or sticky when you touch it. This means that it has gone bad and should not be eaten.
  • When bacon is cooked, if it tastes bitter or metallic, it means it has gone bad and shouldn’t be eaten.

How Long Can You Leave Food Out?

How long can cooked bacon stay unrefrigerated?

As we have already mentioned a couple of times, the USDA has safety guidelines that say perishable food can sit out for only two hours before becoming dangerous to eat. Because of that, cooked bacon can stay unrefrigerated for not more than two hours to be entirely safe to consume. Is it safe to leave cooked bacon at room temperature?

How long can Bacon sit out after cooking?

When it comes to your cooked bacon, it’s always a good idea to follow the same general guidelines that you would with any other cooked food and refrigerate or eat it within two hours of cooking it. However, since bacon is technically a cured meat, it can theoretically sit out for hours at a time without a problem.

Does cooked bacon go bad if left at room temperature?

However, cooked bacon, like most meat products, can spoil and go bad if left at room temperature for too long. At temperatures of 40°F and above, bacteria start to rapidly multiply and will contaminate your cooked bacon. Cooked bacon must be discarded if it has been left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Can you leave cured bacon out at room temperature?

Curing the bacon will prevent bacteria from developing. Cured cooked bacon will not spoil if you leave it at room temperature overnight. Some people even suggest that cured bacon can sit out for a few days without contamination. However, I would not recommend leaving bacon out at room temperature.

How long does cured bacon sit out?

Bacon is a cured meat. This means the raw bacon is cured with salt and sodium nitrates. Curing the bacon will prevent bacteria from developing. Cured cooked bacon will not spoil if you leave it at room temperature overnight. Some people even suggest that cured bacon can sit out for a few days without contamination.

Can you freeze cooked bacon?

Yes, you can freeze cooked bacon. Freezing cooked bacon is a great way to keep it fresh for later. Just wrap the bacon in plastic wrap or place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to eat it, thaw the bacon in the fridge overnight and cook according to your recipe. How Long Will Bacon Grease Last?

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