How Long Does Pulled Pork Last in the Fridge or Freezer?

September 11, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

As someone who cooks and experiments with different recipes every other day, I can tell you cooked pulled pork is only safe for eating for up to four days in the fridge. However, I know it’s not always easy to finish an entire batch of pulled pork in just four days. Because I hate throwing away food, I’m often on the lookout for a way to extend the shelf life of my pulled pork leftovers without compromising their taste or safety. 

So, in this article, we’ll dive deep into the factors that affect the shelf life of pulled pork. We’ll explore some tips on how to store it in the fridge and freezer. Plus, we’ll cover the tell-tale signs that your pulled pork has gone bad so you can avoid getting sick from consuming expired meat. Let’s get started and learn everything we need to know about how long pulled pork last in the fridge!

how long does pulled pork last in the fridge

How Long Does Pulled Pork Last in the Fridge?

The official answer is 3 to 4 days, according to the USDA. 

But the question of “How long does pulled pork last in the fridge?” can be tricky to answer because it depends on many factors.

Yeah, it’s true. Cooked leftover pulled pork lasts in the fridge for up to four days if you store it properly in a container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.

However, there are a few factors, such as the storage temp, how well you cooked it, and more, that can affect the shelf life of leftover pulled pork.

It’s also important to note that the clock starts ticking on the shelf life of the shredded pork at the point after you cooked it. Not when it’s put in the fridge.

So, if you’ve left your pulled pork out at room temperature for more than two hours, it’s best to discard it to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.

How Long Does Raw Pulled Pork Last?

Pulled pork made from pork butt or pork has to be cooked before they’re shredded. 

But what if you plan to make pulled pork by the weekend and buy the raw pork butt by Monday. Will it meet up?

Well, as a general rule, fresh pork can be refrigerated for three to five days. But how long pulled pork lasts in the fridge depends on the storage conditions.

If you’re planning to make pulled pork by Saturday, it should be fine to buy the raw pork shoulder or pork butt on Monday as long as you store it properly. But there are conditions that affect how long they last. 

However, ensure the pork is wrapped tightly to prevent any air from getting in, which can cause the meat to oxidize and spoil faster. Later on, we’ll see the factors that can affect the shelf life of pulled pork.

Tasty BBQ Pulled Pork

How Long is Pulled Pork Good for in the Freezer?

If you have more pulled pork than you can eat in a few days, the good news is that you can freeze it to extend its shelf life.

Pulled pork can be frozen for up to six months. However, to avoid any significant loss of quality or flavor, as well as freezer burn, I’ll advise you to freeze it for a maximum of three months

I typically don’t fancy longer storage times. Instead of doing that, I always buy whatever I need for a month max.  

But if you’ve decided to do a marathon storage in the freezer, it’s important to freeze it properly to prevent freezer burn and ensure it stays safe to eat.

To freeze pulled pork, wait until it has completely cooled down before transferring it to a freezer bag.

I like to label the container or bag with the date to keep track of how long it’s been in the freezer. Later on, I’ll show you more tips on storing your pulled pork. 

Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Pulled Pork

I might tell you to store pulled pork in the fridge for four days max, and you could find out it’s gone bad after the second day. It’s technically possible. So here are some of the factors that can affect the shelf life of your pulled pork:

Storage Temperature

The refrigeration temperature is, of course, one of the most critical factors that can affect the shelf life of pulled pork.

You should store cooked pulled pork below 40°F (4°C). This is how to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

If the temperature in your fridge is higher than this, the pork can spoil faster.

So make sure to check your fridge temperature regularly.

Proper Storage

How you store your pulled pork can also affect its shelf life. Always wrap cooked pork tightly and carefully like a burrito so it stays fresh.

I recommend getting an airtight container or anything that prevents air from getting in. This will help prevent the growth of food-borne bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.

How It Was Cooked

The way you cook your pulled pork can also determine how long it lasts. If it’s cooked to a high enough temperature and handled correctly, it will last longer in the fridge.

Ensure you cook your pulled pork to an internal temperature of at least 200°F to ensure it’s safe to eat.

This way, you can store it safely for up to four days. 

Moisture Content

Moisture is another factor that can affect how long your pulled pork stays fresh in the fridge.

If there’s too much of it, it can cause your pork to spoil faster than you’d like. So, before you store your leftovers in the fridge, make sure you drain any excess liquid or juices from the pork.

You can even take a paper towel and blot it dry if needed. By doing this, you can help prolong the life of your pulled pork and enjoy it for days to come!

BBQ Pulled Pork on a Cutting Board

How To Tell If Pulled Pork Has Gone Bad? 

One of the worst things that can happen is discovering that your pulled pork has gone bad. But it’s not as bad as consuming it unsuspectingly, here are some clear signs to look out for. 

  • First, if your pork has a sour or off smell, it clearly indicates that it’s gone bad. Similarly, if you notice any mold growing on the surface of the pork, it’s best to throw it out.
  • Next, check the color of the meat. If it’s turned a grayish or greenish hue, it’s another sign that it’s gone bad. The texture of the meat can also be a clue – if it feels slimy or sticky to the touch, you have spoiled pulled pork in your hands. You should discard it.
  • Finally, trust your taste buds! If the pork tastes off or has a strange flavor, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away. Eating spoiled food can make you sick, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Remember: When in doubt, throw it out! It’s not worth risking your health over a few bites of pulled pork.

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How To Store Pulled Pork in the Fridge?

To ensure that your pulled pork stays fresh and tasty, it’s essential to store it properly in the fridge. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cool it down quickly: After cooking pulled pork, let it cool down as soon as possible to avoid bacteria growth. Then, divide it into smaller portions and place it in shallow containers.
  • Cover it tightly: Once your pulled pork has cooled down, cover it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. This will help prevent air from getting in and keep it from drying out.
  • Place it in the fridge: Store your pulled pork in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees. It’s important to store it in the coldest part of the fridge, such as the back or bottom shelf, to maintain a consistent temperature. Then make sure you use it within four days. Otherwise, you may have to throw it away 

How to Freeze Pulled Pork?

If you have leftover pulled pork that you won’t be able to consume within four days, freezing is a great option to extend its shelf life. Here’s how I freeze leftover pulled pork:

  • Let it cool down: Just like you’d do in the refrigeration process after you cook or reheat pulled pork, let it cool down to room temperature. This will help prevent ice crystals from forming during the freezing process.
  • Drain the cooking juices: I like to drain the juice that drips from the meat into a container and freeze it separately. Excess liquid can cause your pork to get spoiled quicker. You can reuse the drained juices in limitless ways, in soups, as meat sauce, or in pulled pork sandwiches. 
  • Portion it out: Before freezing pulled pork, divide it into smaller portions based on how much you want to use at a time. It’s a good idea to use No products found. or containers to store the portions.
  • Label and date: To avoid confusion later on, label each bag or container with the contents and the date you froze it.
  • Freeze it: Place the pulled pork portions in the freezer and there you go.
Pink Juicy Pulled Pork Meat

How to Properly Thaw Frozen Pulled Pork?

So, when you’ve had your pulled pork frozen and are now ready to use it, here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Remove it from the freezer: Take your frozen pulled pork out of the freezer and place it in a leak-proof container or on a plate to catch any drips.
  • Place it in the fridge: Place the container or plate with the frozen pork in the refrigerator. Make sure it’s stored on the bottom shelf so that it doesn’t drip onto any other food.
  • Wait patiently: Allow the pulled pork to thaw slowly in the fridge. This can take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, depending on the portion size.
  • Check for thawing: Once the pork has thawed completely, you can check for any icy bits or cool spots in the middle. If there are still frozen parts, give it more time to thaw.
  • Reheat and enjoy: Reheat pulled pork once it is fully thawed. Then enjoy it in your favorite dishes.

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How Do You Reheat Pulled Pork?

When reheating pulled pork, there are several options to try. It depends on your preference and what equipment you have available.

  • In the oven: Start by preheating your oven to 325°F. Then place the leftover pork in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 165°F.
  • In the microwave: Place the pulled pork in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid or plastic wrap. Heat on high for 1-2 minutes. Make sure you occasionally stir until it heats up.

Warning: When using plastic wrap, it’s important to make sure that the wrap is microwave-safe and does not touch the food. Some types of plastic wrap can melt, potentially contaminate the food, or even cause a fire. However, a good microwave-safe wrap you can use is the No products found.

  • On a stovetop: Place the pork in a large saucepan with a small amount of moisture or the juice. Heat over low to medium heat, stirring now and then.
  • Sous Vide: Put the leftover pork in a vacuum-sealed bag. Then heat in sous vide machine set to 165°F for at least 45 minutes.

Pro Tip: When reheating your pulled pork leftover, I highly recommend adding some moisture along with the pork, if your reheating method allows this. The moisture can be in the form of barbecue sauce, broth, or reserved cooking juices (recommended). This will help to prevent it from drying out and make it tastier. Note that your pulled pork won’t taste as good without the juice because it has all the flavors in the first place

FAQs 

1. Can I Eat Pulled Pork After 6 Days?

Pulled pork is safe for consumption after the sixth day if stored in the freezer. But if you’ve only refrigerated it the whole time, your pulled pork is best thrown away. Don’t eat it!

2. Is Pulled Pork Good After 5 Days in the Fridge?

I don’t advise consuming it after the fifth day. After the fourth day, a lot of bacteria would have grown inside, and you might get sick from consuming the pork. If you still think it looks good, it’s always best to use your senses to determine if it’s still safe to eat. If the pork has an off, rancid smell, strange texture, or unusual color, it has likely gone bad. 

Pulled Pork Meat with a Fork

Conclusion 

And there you have it! Now you know how long pulled pork lasts in the fridge and freezer and how to tell if it has gone bad. Remember to always store your leftover pork in an airtight container in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below, and consume it within four days of cooking. If you’re not planning to consume it within that timeframe, it’s better to freeze it for later use.

While it’s tempting to save leftovers out of the safe storage period, always use your sense to determine if they’re still safe to eat. If the pork has an off smell, strange texture, or unusual color, don’t take it. It may be hard to throw it away. But take it as a lesson for the next time you’re trying to store your leftover pulled pork.

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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