Bacon is a very popular breakfast food, ranging from traditional pork bacon to the more diet-conscious turkey bacon.
The smell is instantly recognizable to any bacon lover, but you may not be able to eat all of it straight away when you cook it.
This could be a problem if you don’t know how long you can safely leave it sitting out.
How Long Can Cooked Bacon Sit Out?
Bacteria will start to quickly grow when the temperatures are between 40-degrees Fahrenheit and 140-degrees Fahrenheit, and most room temperature ranges fall here.
You should toss out your cooked bacon if you let it sit out for more than two hours in these temperatures to reduce the chances of getting sick.
Bacon is cured, and this can give you a little leeway when it comes to allowing it to sit out at room temperature.
However, the quality, texture, and taste can get compromised the longer you leave it to sit out after you cook it. If you’re curious to know more, we’ll go in-depth on this topic below.
How Long Cooked Bacon Can Safely Sit Out
Any agency that sets standards for food safety has guidelines for how long your food can sit out because bacteria can start to grow on cooked food when it’s exposed to temperatures ranging from 40-degrees to 140-degrees. Ideally, you won’t let your bacon sit out more than two hours before you toss it out to prevent getting sick.
It’s one thing if you leave your bacon uneaten for a few minutes after you cook it, but you should follow these same general guidelines for any type of meat you cook, bacon included.
Uncooked bacon does have preservatives in it like sodium nitrate and sodium because it gets cured to help prevent bacteria growth.
When you fry your cured bacon, you’re removing the moisture from the strips of meat. So, most of the time, your cooked bacon won’t go bad if you let it sit out overnight.
Some people also claim that cooked bacon can safely stay out in room temperatures for several days without going bad, but you do run the risk of getting sick if you eat it. This rule also doesn’t apply to unpreserved or uncured bacon because it lacks nitrites.
It’s better to keep a close watch on your cooked bacon when you leave it out at room temperature for over two hours.
If it develops a slimy layer on it or starts to smell, this is a bad sign. It could also start to mold, and you should get rid of the bacon so your pets can’t accidentally get into it.
The fresher your bacon is when you eat it, the better it’ll taste. Leaving your bacon to sit out at room temperature will cause it to eventually get cold and change the texture to make it chewier.
If you reheat your bacon in the microwave, it can get leathery. So, even if it’s not unsafe to eat, the texture could be unpleasant.
You can also buy cooked bacon from the market, and it’ll be refrigerated or shelf-stable when you purchase it.
You can put both of these types of bacon into the panty and keep until the “use by” date comes without worrying about it. You should store it in a place that stays below 85-degrees Fahrenheit.
How Long Can You Keep Cooked Bacon in the Refrigerator or Freezer?
The most common way people store their cooked bacon is in the refrigerator, and you can keep it between four and five days without a problem. We’re talking about store-bought bacon that you unpacked and cooked.
Ideally, you’ll refrigerate your bacon as soon as possible, and you want to try and refrigerate it within two hours of cooking it.
Doing so will allow you to safely extend the shelf life of the cooked bacon, and you should wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap before you put it into the refrigerator for storage.
If you bought cooked bacon at the store, take a look at the package and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to find out how long it’ll keep in the refrigerator.
This goes for both refrigerated and shelf-stable bacon. Shelf-stable bacon can usually last between 5 and 14 days from the date you open the package without going bad.
You can also pop your cooked bacon into the freezer, and freezing your bacon is a nice way to extend the product’s shelf life for the longest period.
Cooked bacon will freeze and stay in the best condition for two to three months after you cook it. It also stays edible and safe beyond this freezing time, but the quality will slowly start to go down.
Signs Your Cooked Bacon Went Bad
Sometimes, cooked bacon can sit out on your counter overnight without going bad, and it stays safe to eat. However, it can go bad quicker, and you need to check for signs of spoilage before you eat it.
Use your nose, eyes, and touch to see if you notice any of the following signs. If you do, discard it.
- Smell – One of the biggest indicators that your bacon spoils is the smell. It will give off a very distinctive sour odor when you get close to it.
- Coloring – The color will turn green or grey, or it can develop white spots, mold, or black spots as it spoils.
- Texture – When your cooked bacon starts to go bad, it can get a very slimy texture to it. If you notice any of the signs, get rid of the bacon because it’s not safe to eat.
Can You Get Sick from Spoiled Bacon?
Just like any other spoiled food item, bad bacon can make you sick if you eat it. So, you don’t want to ignore the minor spoilage signs and eat it anyway because you can be in for an unpleasant surprise. One of the most common illnesses is food poisoning from pork.
You also never know when your symptoms will manifest because food poisoning can start immediately afterward, or it can hold off for a few weeks.
You can experience dehydration, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and severe pain or discomfort with a case of food poisoning.
Spoiled bacon is also a big source of E-Coli, salmonella, Yersinia, and other bacterial infections. It can have parasites like toxoplasmosis, tapeworms, and trichinosis.
You can end up with chest pain or fever from the infection, so it’s best to get rid of any bacon you even remotely think is bad.
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.
However, even if you choose to leave it to sit out on your counter, you want to take steps to secure it properly, so you don’t end up with cross-contamination.
You should check for spoilage signs before you eat it, and you want to follow the “use by” state on shelf-stable bacon before you eat it.
If you do, you’ll be able to eat your cooked bacon and enjoy it without fear of getting sick.