For health-conscious foodies, turkey bacon allows for the flavor of traditional bacon without all the bad fat. A delicious win-win! What’s the safest way to store turkey? How long does turkey bacon last? Do we treat it as traditional bacon? Is it fully cooked already, or is it raw when we buy it? How do we know when it has gone bad?
Smoked turkey bacon will last 1 week in the fridge and up to 2 months in the freezer. Raw turkey bacon will is good for up to 2 days in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer. After this, turkey bacon can go bad. Most turkey bacon is smoked and doesn’t require additional cooking for food safety.
Let’s take a look into how long turkey bacon lasts to have the best flavor, texture, and quality.
Turkey Bacon Storage Chart: Fridge and Freezer
Here are the varying time frames for safe consumption of turkey bacon.
|Original Packaging (Unopened)||Uncooked||Cooked|
|Fridge||Follow “Use By” date on package||1-2 days||1 week|
|Freezer||1-2 months||1-2 months||1-2 months|
How Long Does Turkey Bacon Last in the Fridge?
Turkey bacon will last between 2 days (raw) and 1 week (smoked) in the fridge.
Is it Raw or Cooked Turkey Bacon?
Is the turkey bacon you just purchased is precooked, fully cooked, or raw in its original packaging?
Most turkey bacon is made of cured and smoked turkey that is then chopped and formed into those wonderfully familiar strips to give it the appearance of traditional bacon.
Refrigerate turkey bacon quickly to prevent spoiling. This product can safely be consumed at room temperature if only left out for one hour or two, but why chance it.
In the original package, it should last up to one week or more. Look at the Best If Used By date as a judge of freshness and quality. Opened and stored correctly, uncooked turkey bacon should be cooked within 2 days.
How to Store Turkey Bacon
The best way to store turkey bacon in the fridge is to wrap it completely in plastic wrap and place it in a shallow air-tight container or a zipper top bag to preserve its flavor and quality.
Sealing the turkey bacon prevents cross-contamination in the fridge and keeps it tasting great.
Never store uncooked and cooked bacon together.
Is Smoked Meat Cooked?
The smoking process in effect “cooks” the meat to some extent; however, it is best to look closely at the packaging label to see if it actually says “fully cooked” or not.
It will be clearly labeled if it fully cooked. If you are not sure, treat it like you would raw poultry.
Smoking meat is a method of cooking and food preparation.
Hot smoking is the process where meat is slowly cooked and smoked at the same time. In a smoker, the air temperature is increased and carefully controlled to raise the meat temperature to produce a fully-cooked food product. Frequently, meat, poultry, and fish are brined in a salt water solution to help the meat retain moisture during the smoking process.Source: Michigan State University
If your package of turkey bacon is smoked and cooked, it will clearly display that on the package. Otherwise, it’s important to treat it like raw poultry and cook and handle it accordingly.
How Long Does Turkey Bacon Last in the Freezer?
If you are not planning on using the turkey bacon in a few days after purchasing, freezing is the best option to keep the flavor and texture at its best.
If you intend to use the product within ten days, storing it in the commercial package is fine. Just remember, it wasn’t designed for long-term storage. Of course, always follow the “Use By” date on the package.
Uncooked turkey bacon can be safely stored in the freezer for one or two months. Source: Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
The thicker freezer zip-top bags or vacuum sealer bags and the machine will open to prevent freezer burn from deteriorating the flavor, texture, and quality of the turkey bacon as opposed to standard storage bags you may use in the refrigerator.
Freezing Tip: A tip for freezing the strips so you can remove only the amount you need is to lay each piece out on freeze paper. Then gently fold it to fit inside a gallon-sized freezer bag and lay it flat until frozen solid. To remove the strips, simply unfold and take what you need for your dish.
Turkey bacon can be cooked from frozen with little to no problem or compromise to taste, but the texture may suffer due to extra moisture. If allowed to thaw completely before cooking, the texture will be closer to its original form.
To thaw, place the frozen turkey bacon still in the packaging you chose in the fridge. It should only take about 24 hours for a full package to defrost. Although thawing at room temperature is faster, that process also increases bacterial growth which causes spoilage to happen faster, too.
Of course, you could cook all of the bacon and freeze the strips. Also, use quality zipper-top freezer bags or vacuum-sealed bags for maximum freshness. Cooked thoroughly, turkey bacon should last up to four months and retain its quality.
No matter how or where you store it, always look for spoilage before consuming it. Following these tips will help you safely store turkey bacon for the best results.
How to Tell if Turkey Bacon is Bad: 4 Factors
With turkey bacon, determining if it is still good or has turned bad is relatively easy when considering four factors: appearance, smell, texture, and Use By date..
- Appearance: Fresh turkey bacon will be pink with white/yellow fat stripes or a consistent. Some turkey bacon has a sandy appearance with no visible fat. If your bacon has brown, gray, green, or blue in any amount means it has begun to spoil. If it looks fresh, move to the next factor. Any discoloration at all, no matter how slight, needs to be tossed.
- Take a sniff. If uncooked, does it smell like fresh meat? Perfect! Does it smell rancid or unpleasant to any degree? Take it to the trash outside. If smoked or cooked, you’ll also notice a sour smell. If it reminds you of your green compost bin, that’s where it should go.
- Texture: Good turkey bacon will be soft and moist to the touch. Bad turkey bacon will be slimy and sticky. Dispose of the spoiled meat and disinfect any surface it has come in contact with, including your hands.
- Best Before Date: While these other factors are useful, don’t consume turkey bacon that has passed the expiration date on the package. Meat begins to spoil before it is visible.
Following these four factors will help you to confidently determine if the turkey bacon is still good. If you have any doubts, throw it out.
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and blogger on Tasty Plate – and is working to make it the best food blog in the world.
Dena also blogs about coffee at Enjoy Java and travel at Storyteller.Travel
Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she started with her husband, Bryan.