Do you love bacon but always end up cooking more than you can eat in one go?
You’re not alone – fellow over-cooker of bacon right here!
As much as I enjoy bacon for breakfast, my eyes are often bigger than my stomach.
That of course leaves me with a dilemma: what to do with the leftover bacon?
The obvious answer of course is to store it for later! Cooked bacon is a great addition to sandwiches, salads and a bunch of other delicious recipes.
However, it’s also a food that should be handled with care and attention. It holds potential safety risks if not stored correctly.
So that you can enjoy your cooked bacon without worrying about inflicting food poisoning on yourself or others, I’m sharing the two best methods to store it.
Read on to learn how to properly store cooked bacon so that each delicious piece of crispy goodness stays crunchy until you’re ready to enjoy it!
Why Storing Cooked Bacon Properly is So Important
First, let me hammer home the importance of proper storage.
Like all meat products, bacon is prone to becoming harmful if allowed to go bad.
The reason for this is that cooked bacon can become a breeding ground for bacteria such as listeria and salmonella.
These bacteria pose serious health risks if consumed and can cause food poisoning or even more severe illnesses.
Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that you store your cooked bacon correctly to prevent any contamination.
With the serious stuff out of the way, let’s dive straight into the best methods for storing cooked bacon and maximizing freshness!
Method #1 – Refrigeration
Storing cooked bacon in the refrigerator lets you enjoy the delicious leftovers up to several days after you cooked them.
If you’re after a way to make your life easier whilst maintaining both taste and safety, then look no further—refrigerating your cooked bacon might just be the best choice!
How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last in the Fridge?
Stored properly, cooked bacon lasts in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
That word – properly – is all important here!
You can’t just slap your cooked bacon on a plate in the fridge and expect it to stay fresh.
So let’s take a closer look at how to do it right…
How to Store Cooked Bacon in the Fridge
The great news is that ensuring the freshness of your bacon in the fridge is simple.
You just need to follow a couple of basic steps to maximize its shelf-life and quality.
First, you should get rid of any excess grease on your bacon.
With your bacon on a plate, use paper towels to dab both sides to absorb as much grease as you can. This is a personal preference, but I’ve certainly found that removing grease here makes the bacon much better to use later on!
Next, protect your bacon. We want to make sure we keep out moisture or odors from other foods, as well as prevent any airborne bacteria from contaminating it.
There are a couple of ways you can do this:
- Pop your cooked bacon into a sealed airtight container.
- Wrap the cooked bacon in wax paper, aluminum foil, or parchment paper before putting it into the fridge.
Of course, if you want to be really careful, there’s nothing stopping you from using both of these methods together.
And that’s all there is to it!
Pop it in the fridge and be sure to use your bacon before 5 days is up so you don’t have to throw it away.
Method #2 – Freezing
But what if you have your meals planned out for the next few days, none of which involve bacon?
No fear – you still don’t have to toss it out!
Freezing cooked bacon is a great way to extend its shelf life if you have a feeling you won’t be using it in 5 days or less.
How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last in the Freezer?
The freezer gives you a much longer timeframe to enjoy your bacon – you can enjoy it at its best for up to one month after freezing.
It is still safe to eat for longer than this, but beyond that point you will start to notice a dip in quality.
How to Freeze Cooked Bacon
Before you freeze cooked bacon, it’s important to prepare it properly. As you would if you were storing it in the fridge, start by dabbing both sides of the cooked bacon with paper towels to remove excess grease.
I’d actually suggest that this is more important for the freezer than the fridge. Trust me on this – freezing too much grease with your bacon is a great way to spoil it!
Next, wrap your cooked bacon tightly in either wax paper, parchment paper, or aluminum foil.
Once it’s wrapped up, pop it into an airtight container or freezer bag. If you’re using a bag, make sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing.
Label the bag/container with the date and contents and stick it in the freezer.
And there you have it! You’ve now successfully frozen cooked bacon and you can use it within a month.
The Best Way to Thaw Frozen Cooked Bacon
The good news is that thawing frozen cooked bacon is very simple!
There are a couple of different methods you can use, depending on how much time you have.
The best method, and the one I try to always use, is to thaw it in the fridge.
Simply take the desired number of strips out of the freezer, place them onto a plate, and leave them in the refrigerator overnight.
The bacon will be defrosted and ready to enjoy in the morning!
The beauty of this method is that you don’t need to eat your defrosted bacon right away. It will actually keep for another 3 days in the fridge after thawing.
Thawing in the Microwave
If you need a faster option, you can thaw your frozen bacon in the microwave.
I should stress this isn’t something I like to do as there’s the constant risk of overdoing it and ending up with chewy, flavorless bacon.
But, if you must…
Simply place the bacon in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a paper towel. This will help to stop it from drying out.
Next, heat for 30 seconds. Check on your bacon and continue to heat for 10-second increments until it reaches the desired temperature. These short bursts will help to make sure you don’t overcook it and dry it out.
When you defrost cooked bacon with a microwave, you need to eat it right away – you can’t put it back in the fridge!
Can You Refreeze Cooked Bacon after Defrosting?
We’ve all made plans and had something (usually just life!) interrupt them.
So what happens if you’ve defrosted your cooked bacon but something comes up and you can’t eat it?
Should you just throw it out, or can you freeze it again?
I recommend that you don’t refreeze.
When bacon is frozen, defrosted, and frozen again, its texture can become soft and mushy, making it unappetizing to eat.
So while you technically can refreeze cooked and defrosted bacon, for me it’s better to admit defeat and toss it out. You’re far better off cooking up some more – it will certainly taste much better!
Note: Never refreeze bacon that was defrosted in the microwave.
Can You Store Cooked Bacon in the Pantry?
The quick answer?
The slightly longer answer?
No, unless you enjoy food poisoning!
Once you’ve cooked bacon, store any leftovers in either the fridge or freezer using the steps above.
Storing meat at 40°F or above is in the FDA’s “danger zone”. At this temperature, bacteria will thrive and multiply rapidly.
This can cause food poisoning and create a health hazard for you and your family. The bacteria can also spread to other cooked foods, resulting in further contamination and potential illness.
So I’ll say it again – don’t store your cooked bacon in the pantry!
Use the fridge or freezer instead.
How Long Does Cooked Bacon Last?
The length of time you can still eat cooked bacon depends on how you stored it.
If you keep it in the fridge in an airtight container, it will stay good for up to 5 days.
In the freezer, cooked bacon can last for one month.
Finally, frozen cooked bacon that has been defrosted in the refrigerator can be stored for up to 3 days before you need to toss it out.
|How it's Stored||How Long it Lasts|
|In the Fridge||Up to 5 Days|
|In the Freezer||Up to 1 month for best quality|
|In the Fridge After Thawing||Up to 3 Days|
|At Room Temperature||0 Days|
How to Tell if Cooked Bacon Has Gone Bad
Even if you followed all the steps to store your bacon properly, it’s still important to check whether it’s still good to eat.
But what are the signs that it’s gone bad?
There are 4 big signs you should look for:
- Discoloration – does the bacon look grey or a faded green?
- An ‘off’ smell
- Unpleasant texture – is it gooey or slimy?
If you notice any one of these signs, you should consider it bad and throw it away.
It’s just not worth taking the risk of getting food poisoning from dodgy bacon.
For more information, check out our guide on how to tell if cooked bacon has gone bad.
How to Use Cooked Bacon After Storing
Once you’ve taken your bacon out of the fridge or thawed it, what next?
The only limit to what you can do with your bacon is your imagination!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Add it to salads and sides
- Use it in a breakfast sandwich
- Use it for appetizers that call for cooked bacon
- Enjoy it for breakfast!
- Drop it into soups or stews
- Use it as a pizza topping (one of my favorites!)
- Make candied bacon
- Add your cooked bacon to sandwiches and wraps