Just thinking of the deep, smoky, and slightly spicy flavor of chorizo is making my mouth water already (writing this article while hungry was definitely a huge mistake!) Whilst it’s similar to pepperoni in that they’re both spicy pork sausages, the flavor profile is totally different. Chorizo is, in my view, one of the best cured meats out there and the world has Spain to thank for it.
Various types of chorizo exist in countries that have a link to Spain. You can find great varieties in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and many other Latin American countries.
If you don’t live in one of the countries, chances are that if you want really good chorizo you’ll need to special order it. Perhaps in large quantities if you want a decent supply on hand! This of course gives rise to the question: “what do I do with all of this chorizo I can’t eat right now? Can you freeze chorizo?”
Wonder no longer – today we’ll go through how to can keep your chorizo better for longer.
Can You Freeze Chorizo?
The answer to this isn’t a straightforward one. One thing to note is that the Spanish would seldom consider freezing cured chorizo.
As long as you don’t mind the collective judgment from Spanish people, yes you can certainly freeze chorizo!
However the answer also depends on what type of chorizo it is. There are 3 main types – fresh, semi-cured, or cured.
Whilst all varieties are delicious, they’re not equal in how well they freeze. Some are easier to store and deal with than others.
Before I go into the specifics of freezing and defrosting chorizo, it’s important to know the differences between the three types, or ‘curations’, of chorizo so you know how to store it properly. Additionally, there are considerations depending on where your chorizo comes from. Mexican and Spanish chorizo have differences which impacts how they should be stored.
The differences between the curations of Spanish chorizo come from the amount of time that they’ve been allowed to cure.
For ‘fresh’ chorizo, the curing time is only a couple of days. This type of chorizo needs to be cooked and has the most moisture of the three types.
Next comes ‘semi-cured’ chorizo. This also needs to be cooked, and is usually cured for a week or two.
Lastly, is the ‘cured’ chorizo that has been allowed to be cured for a month or longer and it doesn’t need to be cooked.
Mexican vs Spanish Chorizo
The other key consideration is whether you have Spanish or Mexican chorizo. Both varieties are made of pork, but there’s a couple of differences in the preparation and the additional contents of the Mexican variety.
Whereas Spanish chorizo uses pimentón for its red color, Mexican chorizo gets its red color from red chili peppers. They’re usually of the Guajillo, New Mexican, or Ancho chili pepper variety.
The preparation of the meat is also different. In Mexican chorizo the pork is usually ground rather than chopped. Vinegar is also added when making the chorizo.
Lastly, Mexican chorizo is usually sold fresh and needs to be cooked before eating. Whilst it’s sold both as a ground meat mixture and in the sausage casings, the latter is more common. So, you’ll need to remove it from the casing before cooking it in most cases.
Does Chorizo Freeze Well?
The drier the chorizo, the less of a good idea it is to freeze it. So, the chorizo that freezes the best is fresh chorizo.
The next best variety to freeze is semi-cured chorizo.
Fully cured chorizo doesn’t freeze so well. Fortunately, since it’s fully cured there’s no real reason to freeze it anyway as it has a very long shelf-life if it’s stored correctly.
So, if you’re going to freeze chorizo, you’ll get the best results from freezing the fresh or semi-cured varieties due to the higher water content in the meat.
Though fresher chorizo does freeze well, you should only freeze it if it’s necessary. Storing it in the fridge is the better choice as this stops it from becoming too dry. You safely keep chorizo in the fridge for up to 6 months.
In summary, for the Spanish variety, the fresh or semi-cured versions freeze the best as freezing it will keep it soft. The Mexican variety almost always freezes well as it usually is sold fresh.
How to Freeze Chorizo
You will need to follow some different steps depending on the type of chorizo it is. The approach will be different for Spanish (fresh, semi-cured, cured) or Mexican (only fresh) Chorizo.
Freezing Spanish Chorizo
First, let’s look at the two Spanish varieties that freeze well – semi-cured and fresh, since they have the same method of storage. This is what you should do:
- Put them in freezer-safe Ziploc bags and remove as much air as possible – vacuum sealing is the best.
- Wrap it loosely with paper towels – this helps to keep moisture in.
- Place that wrapped “package” into a larger container or freezer bag that is airtight.
- Place it in the freezer.
The quality will be good for up to a year. So it’s important that you label and date it so you know how long that is has been in the freezer. Also, don’t forgo the wrapping step. Keep as much moisture in as possible is key to preventing the meat from becoming too dry, especially if it will be stored for a longer period of time.
Freezing Mexican Chorizo
Next, let’s see how you should freeze Mexican chorizo. But first, it’s important to reiterate that Mexican chorizo is raw meat so it needs to be cooked before eating and it also needs to be constantly refrigerated to prevent it from going bad.
This also means that it should be frozen like other raw meats.
To freeze Mexican chorizo you should follow these steps:
- Put the chorizo in a freezer-safe bag or container that is airtight. Again, vacuum sealing is the best option if possible.
- Date and label the container.
- Put it in the freezer.
This process is much more simple. Since it isn’t cured you don’t need to treat it differently than you would other ground meats.
How Long Does Chorizo Last in the Freezer?
Like other meats, chorizo – both Mexican and Spanish – is a pretty strong food that can last in a freezer for quite a long time.
Both varieties can last in the freezer for up to 12 months without losing any quality. Of course, the earlier you eat it, the more of a chance there is it will be at the highest quality.
Whilst it will still be safe to eat after 12 months, you can expect the quality to start to decline after that.
Additionally, the way it’s stored also matters. The complete removal of air through vacuum sealing can help to keep the chorizo at the highest quality longer.
How to Defrost Chorizo
There are three recommended options you can choose from when defrosting the chorizo: in the microwave, in the fridge, or in cold water.
In the Fridge
One of the easier options is putting them in the fridge. To do this keep them in the packaging if possible and put them on a plate and place it in the fridge until they’re defrosted. The exact time to defrost will depend on the temperature of your refrigerator.
The benefit of this method is that it slowly brings up the temperature of the chorizo. This makes it safer and also ensures that the chorizo retains its quality. Of course, the downside of this method is that it takes a bit longer, so it’s best suited if you’re able to plan ahead.
Using Cold Water
The other and only slightly faster method is by cold water. To defrost the sausages this way keep, them in a tightly sealed bag and place in a sink or large pot full of cold water. Leave them there until they’re fully defrosted.
This method and the previous method – in the fridge – are the best to get evenly defrosted sausages which I believe is worth the longer wait time.
Defrosting Chorizo in the Microwave
The last method is by microwave. This is the fastest method but it can affect the quality of the chorizo as it might start to get cooked in the defrosting process.
If you’re set on doing it this way, put the chorizo in a microwave-safe container or plate. Defrost according to the approximate weight and microwave settings.
To keep the chorizo from defrosting unevenly, monitor it and move it around if possible.
If the sausages have frozen together, defrost until they can be separated and then rearrange them every minute or so until they’re completely defrosted for the best results.
How to Tell if Chorizo Has Gone Bad
Fortunately, chorizo is quite a hardy food and can stay good for a while if stored properly.
However, there may be cases in which you’ve forgotten all about it. Perhaps it’s been hiding in the back of the freezer, fridge, or pantry for too long and you simply didn’t see it. You may be wondering if it’s still safe to eat.
Like most meats, the easiest way to tell if chorizo is off is by having a look at it and also smelling it.
If you notice a significant discoloration and/or a pungent smell then it should be discarded.
However, according to The Tapas Lunch Company, if you notice a bit of white mold on your cured Spanish chorizo, you shouldn’t fret. This is normal and it’s still safe to eat. You simply just need to wipe it off with a cloth and a bit of olive oil.
It’s a kitchen crime to let delicious chorizo go to waste, so make sure to keep an eye on it and do your best to enjoy it before it goes bad!
Hopefully, by following these storage tips you can keep your chorizo better for longer.