How Long Do Hot Dogs Last in the Fridge? - Unlocking the Mystery

May 24, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Most hot dogs last for 1 to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. However, this duration may change depending on how you store the meat. For instance, unopened hot dogs typically last longer than opened or cooked hot dogs.

I learned how to prepare and store sausages in cooking school and the tips have worked for me ever since. Today, I’ll show you all I’ve learned and break down “how long do hot dogs last in the fridge.” Let’s get started!

How Long Do Hot Dogs Last in the Fridge

How Long Do Hot Dogs Last in the Refrigerator?

According to the USDA, unopened packages of hot dogs can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Make sure the package of hot dogs is sealed. If there are any holes in the packaging, the hot dogs will go bad in about five days.

Comparatively, opened hot dogs can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week, while cooked hot dogs last for up to four days in the fridge.  

Sausages won't last as long if they are not properly stored. Therefore, it's crucial to handle and store the meat correctly for food safety reasons.

To keep your processed meat fresh, your fridge needs to be set at an appropriate temperature of 40 degrees or lower. 

How to Store Hot Dogs in the Fridge?

Let’s discuss how to store unopened, opened, and cooked sausages in the refrigerator.

Unopened Hot Dogs

Luckily, storing hot dogs in their original package isn’t too much of a hassle. Store the unopened package of hot dogs in the fridge and consume them within two weeks.

Make sure you store the hot dogs immediately after you get home because they may start smelling bad after two hours at room temperature.

Opened Hot Dogs

After you open the package of hot dogs, you'll have to store it differently. The first step is to ensure the open pack is properly sealed before placing it in the fridge. Note that folding the package or using a rubber band isn't effective enough to keep moisture out.

So, I recommend placing the open package in a moisture-proof storage bag or container. Don't forget to label the bag or container so you're aware of how long the meat has been in the fridge.

Cooked Hot Dogs

When storing cooked sausages, wait until they are completely cooled before placing them in a sealable, airtight storage bag or container. Next, place the sealed package in the refrigerator. Once more, remember to label the date on the container to help you remember when to cook them and prevent spoilage.

Grilled Hot Dogs with Patties

How to Store Hot Dogs in the Freezer?

Storing hot dogs in a freezer guarantees a longer shelf life. Sausages stored in a freezer typically last for up to two months. Here’s how to freeze hot dogs.

Unopened Hot Dogs

When freezing uncooked hot dogs, ensure the package of hot dogs is wrapped in aluminum foil or wax paper to prevent freezer burn. This simple step will extend the shelf life of your hot dogs. The hot dogs should freeze in about 24 hours. Remember to mark the storage date on the freezer bags before freezing.

Opened Hot Dogs

Before freezing fresh sausages, make sure you put a sheet of wax paper in between each piece of sausage to separate them. You could also wrap each hot dog in wax paper. Afterward, place the hot dogs in a freezer bag.

Next, seal the container or bag to prevent exposure to cold air. If you don't do this, the fresh hot dogs may quickly lose their best quality. Don't forget to label it here too!

Cooked Hot Dogs

Bear in mind that you can freeze leftover hot dogs for roughly 2 months. Allow the meat cool and place it in a moisture-proof container or plastic bag to avoid freezer burn. Now, put the meat in the freezer. Cook the meat as soon as possible because sausages lose flavor the longer they remain in the freezer.

How to Thaw Hot Dogs?

Let me show you the best ways to thaw hot dogs so that you can enhance their unique flavor.


The simplest way to thaw sausages is in the refrigerator. Simply remove the sausage pack out of the freezer and place it in the fridge. Afterward, wait for it to defrost. Note that the sausages will completely thaw in about 24 hours.

Cold Water

You can also thaw a frozen pack of hot dogs by dunking it in a bowl of cold water. Make sure the sausages are kept in a moisture-proof bag before thawing them in cold water. Make sure you properly seal the storage bag. I suggest changing the water every 30 minutes if the package hasn't fully thawed.


Microwaving frozen sausages is the quickest method of the three. You'll only need to microwave the hot dog in a dish for about a minute using the defrost setting. If the sausages are still frozen, keep heating them at 1-minute intervals until the meat has completely thawed.

Bunch of Hot Dog Sausages in a White Bowl

Signs of Bad Hot Dogs

Here, we'll look at five signs that your hot dogs are spoiled. Paying attention to these signs will save you from eating sickness-inducing meat.


Feeling the sausages is an effective way to find out if they're bad. Avoid eating hot dogs if they feel sticky or slimy to touch. Unsurprisingly, sliminess or stickiness is one of the most obvious indications of spoiled food, and sausages are no different.


When hot dogs are no longer fresh, they lose their perfect pink color and turn brown or gray. If you notice these colors, I suggest you throw the meat out. Also, pay attention to any signs of mold on the meat. If you spot any growth on the meat, discard it immediately.

Freezer Burn

Freezing your sausages is one the most effective ways to extend their shelf life. However, sausages will have freezer burns on them if they are not properly stored. Freezer burns will make your hot dogs flavorless, watery, and dry. Even though this is not harmful to your health, the meat will be practically inedible, so it is preferable to throw it away.


If you perceive any off-putting smell as soon as you open the package, the meat is probably bad. Pay attention to any sour smell and throw the hot dogs out as soon as you smell it.

Expiration Date

Pay attention to the dates printed on your package of hot dogs. These dates indicate if your sausages are still safe to eat. Each hot dog brand writes dates on their package differently. Here's what these printed dates mean:

  • Packaging Date: This date indicates when the sausages were packaged.
  • Sell-by Date: This indicates the duration for which the meat store should display the sausages on sale.
  • Best-by/Use-by Date: This specifies the best time to eat the hot dogs. You can still eat the meat after this date has elapsed; however, the meat's quality will be greatly reduced. 
  • Expiration Date: This is the final day that the product can be used safely. After the date has passed, avoid eating the meat and throw it away.

So, look at the dates printed on your hot dog pack for insight into their freshness.

Raw Hot Dogs with Rosemary and Black Pepper

What Happens If You Eat Bad Hot Dogs?

Spoiled hot dogs contain illness-causing bacteria like Listeria, and Salmonella. These nasty bacteria can cause food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and headaches. That's why you must pay attention before eating hot dogs. Remember, if you're in doubt, throw the sausages out.


Hot dogs last in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks. If you’re not eating the sausages within that period, I recommend freezing the sausages. Your sausages should last in the freezer for about 1 to 2 months. Hopefully, you now know how long hot dogs last in the refrigerator. Feel free to buy packs of sausages and use them before they go bad.

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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