How Long Can Cooked Sausage Sit Out? A Link in Time

September 21, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton
Edited by John Smits 

Cooked sausage can sit out for 2 hours at room temperature. If the temperature is above 90°F, they can only sit out for 1 hour before they need to be refrigerated.

Food safety was hammered into us at cooking school. Food should make us feel good. Not sick. If you leave cooked sausage out for too long, bacteria will start to multiply on the surface of the meat. These invisible organisms and their toxins can make people sick! Follow my instructions in this guide to keep your guests healthy.

I am going to explain how long cooked sausage can sit out. I will also provide tips on how to store the sausages properly. Let’s get started!

how long can cooked sausage sit out

How Long Can Cooked Sausage Sit Out?

Cooked sausages (or any cooked meat) can sit out at room temperature for 2 hours. After 2 hours, you need to eat the cooked sausage or store it in the refrigerator.

If it is a hot day and the ambient temperature is above 90°F, then the cooked sausages need to be refrigerated within an hour.

Should All Cooked Sausages Be Put Away Within This Time Frame?

Yes, all types of cooked sausages must be refrigerated or consumed in this time frame. In fact, this is true for raw sausage as well. (Refrigerate raw sausages; don’t eat them. Consuming raw meat is also a health hazard.)

So, if you are wondering how long cooked Polish sausage can sit out, it’s 2 hours at temps below 90°F and 1 hour at temps above 90°F.

How long can cooked sausage balls sit out? Are there different rules? Sorry, the 2-hour rule (1 hour if it’s over 90°F) applies to all cooked meat, including sausage balls. 

How Long Can Summer Sausage Sit Out?

An opened package of summer sausage also needs to be refrigerated or consumed within 2 hours if the temperature is below 90°F. If it’s 90°F or hotter, you’ve got 1 hour to eat or refrigerate that sausage. 

Summer sausage has been cured and fermented and is sometimes smoked. The curing process means unopened summer sausage doesn’t need refrigeration. Typically, such sausage is kept in the pantry or in another cool, dry, and dark area. These are ideal storage conditions. 

Keep in mind that you can only store summer sausages in the pantry as long as the container hasn’t been opened and the sausage hasn’t been cut into. Once it’s been opened, store that sausage in the fridge. If you have opened the packaging or cut into the sausage, then you have exposed it to air and the various microbes around. It needs to be refrigerated within 1 to 2 hours.

Smoked Sausages with Green Chili and Lemon Slice

How Long Can Smoked Sausage Sit Out?

The same rules apply to smoked sausage as other meats – sorry, no exceptions! Smoked sausage can sit out for 2 hours if it’s under 90°F or 1 hour if it’s over 90°F.

If the sausage has been cured, then you should check the label on the packaging to determine the best way to store the sausage. You may be able to store unopened, cured smoked sausage in the pantry. But once you open the packaging, stick it in the fridge.

Does Cooked Sausage Go Bad If Left Out?

Yes, cooked sausage goes bad if you leave it out for too long.

A lot of people see sausages as being an incredibly durable food. This is because many of them contain preservatives and other ingredients that prolong their shelf life. People also mistakenly think the curing process will allow some sausages to sit out indefinitely.

Ready for a quick science lesson? No pop quiz after, I promise! Bacteria are all around you. When these bacteria settle on your cooked sausages, they have the opportunity to multiply. This is more likely to happen when the cooked sausages are in “the Danger Zone” – a temperature range between 40°F and 140°F.

Within this temperature range, the bacteria multiply incredibly quickly. And, if you were to eat the sausages after they have been left out for too long, you are more likely to get sick.

This is true even if you were to refrigerate the food after this point. Reheating the cooked sausage isn’t going to help, either. The bacteria will have produced toxins in the cooked sausages. These toxins can’t be destroyed by high heat or refrigeration and can easily cause food poisoning in those who eat the sausage.

Bottom line: if your cooked sausages have been out for over 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s warmer than 90°F), you should throw them away. You can’t cook or refrigerate the bacteria and their toxins away.

How to Know Cooked Sausage Has Gone Bad?

The first sign would be the odor. Cooked and uncooked sausages should smell faintly of meat and whatever other spices or herbs have been added to the mix. Bad sausages, though, will have an off or sour odor. If your sausage smells bad, it is bad. Dump it.

They will also likely be sticky to the touch. You may also notice white, green, or grey discoloration on the sausages. Don’t mess with discolored sausage. Put it in the rubbish bin.

Keep in mind that if the sausages have only been left out for a few hours these signs may not be evident. This doesn’t mean that the sausages are safe to eat, though.

Grilled Sausages and Rosemary Leaves

How to Store Cooked Sausages?

It is important to store cooked sausage in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible. Wait until the sausages are warm but not hot before you put them away. Hot sausage can raise the temperatures of the food it’s stored around, which can cause spoilage.

If you will be reheating and using the sausages within the next 3 to 4 days, then you can simply refrigerate them. Just put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.

If you are going to need to store the sausages for longer, you need to freeze them. Follow these guidelines:

How to Freeze Sausage After Cooking?

If you dislike frozen sausages that are stuck together as much as I do, I’ve got the skinny for you – follow this guide!

Step 1

Arrange the sausages on a baking tray, making sure to keep plenty of space in between each sausage.

This way, the sausages will not freeze together, and it will be easier to separate them.

Step 2

Place in the freezer and wait until each sausage is frozen.

Take the tray out.

Step 3

Place the frozen sausages in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. If you are using a bag, make sure to squeeze out as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.

Write the date of freezing on the bag or container.

Place in the back of the freezer and store until needed. It’s best to consume the sausages within 2 to 3 months.

Juicy Sausages with Coriander Leaves

Wrapping It Up

Now you know how long cooked sausage can sit out and still be safe to eat. Say it with me: cooked sausage should be refrigerated after sitting out for 2 hours (or 1 hour if it’s 90°F or higher).

I’ve got you fully informed! Now, it should be a lot easier for you to practice food safety. You can seriously reduce the risk of your friends or family getting food poisoning! 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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