How Long is Sausage Good for in the Fridge? (Finally Answered!)

April 20, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

The storage time I recommend for sausage in the fridge is between one to four days. But it depends a lot on factors such as how fresh it is, whether it’s cooked, cured, or not, and how low and consistent your fridge temperature gets. But beyond the fourth day, the risk of bacteria growth increases, which can lead to food poisoning.

Shockingly, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48 million individuals in the US fall ill every year due to contaminated food, with some cases resulting in hospitalizations or fatalities. For this reason, ensuring food safety is a top priority for me as a chef, not just for the enjoyment of my food by family, friends, or guests, but also for their health and well-being.

In this article, we’ll delve into refrigeration longevity for sausages and the steps to keep them safe. Let’s dive right in!

how long is sausage good for in the fridge

How Long Do Uncooked Sausages Last in the Fridge?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the recommended storage time for fresh uncooked sausage in the fridge is no more than two days

Uncooked sausage has a shorter storage life than cooked sausage because raw or undercooked meat get contaminated easily, according to the CDC. For example, the intestines of raw meat from warm blooded animals like cows contain salmonella. The raw meat may be contaminated during the slaughtering and butchering processes. 

So, it’s only a matter of some hours before they start to spoil. Even if they still look good to you after a day in the fridge, you’d notice a change in taste as it’s no longer the best quality. 

How Long Does Cooked Sausage Last in the Fridge?

Cooked sausage can last in the fridge for up to four days when stored at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less. They last longer in the refrigerator compared to uncooked ones.

Although I’ve seen folks consume cooked sausages after seven days of refrigeration. But I don’t recommend this even if they are properly stored in the fridge. If you want to keep it that long, simply have it constantly frozen. It’s safer that way!

Why Do Cooked Sausages Last Longer Than Uncooked Sausages?

Cooked sausage last longer than uncooked sausage because cooking them kills off harmful bacteria and pathogens that could cause spoilage and food poisoning. It’s pretty simple!

During the cooking process, the internal temperature of the sausage rises, which effectively eliminates any bacteria present in the meat.

In contrast, uncooked sausages are more susceptible to bacterial growth and spoilage because they have not undergone this heat treatment. 

As a result, uncooked sausages have a shorter shelf life than their cooked counterparts. So, they need to be stored properly to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading.

That said, even the cooked sausage can eventually spoil if they are not stored properly or is left in the fridge for too long.

Grilled Sausages with Tomatoes and Herbs

How Do You Know When Sausage Has Gone Bad?

It’s essential to know how to identify when your leftover sausage has gone bad to avoid any potential health risks. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Change in color: One of the most noticeable signs that raw sausage has gone bad is a change in color. The meat may appear gray or look dull. This indicates that the meat has oxidized and started to spoil. Generally, raw sausages should have a bright pink or red color, depending on the type of meat used.
  • Foul or sour smell: If you notice an off-putting odor coming from your raw sausage, it’s a sign that the meat is no longer safe to eat. Trust your senses, and if the smell seems off or strong, it’s best to dispose of the leftover sausage immediately.
  • Slimy texture: A slimy texture is another indication that your raw sausage has gone bad. Fresh, unspoiled meat should feel firm and dry to the touch. But if the meat feels slimy or sticky, bacteria have likely started to grow on the surface. This can signify that the sausage is no longer safe to eat, can cause food poisoning, and should be discarded.
  • Presence of mold or fungus: If you notice mold or fungus growing on your raw sausage, it’s a clear sign that the sausage has gone bad. Mold or fungus is a dangerous source of food poisoning because they produce mycotoxins. If you see them growing on your sausage, it’s best to dispose of it immediately and thoroughly clean the area where it was stored. Consuming this kind of food can make you feel sick from food poisoning. 

Factors that Determine How Long Sausage Lasts in the Fridge 

The number of days your sausage lasts in the fridge varies because of the following factors. 

1. Type of Sausage

Not all sausages are made in the same way. Fresh sausages made with raw ground meat have a shorter shelf life than cooked sausage, which can last longer due to their stability. Meanwhile, cured or smoked sausages have the added benefit of preservation methods, making them last even longer.

2. Storage Temperature

Did you know the temperature at which you store leftover sausages can affect their shelf life? Keeping it at or below 40°F (4°C) is ideal because colder temperatures slow down bacterial growth. If your fridge is too warm or frequently opened, you’ll notice that the sausage and other foods won’t last as long.

3. Packaging

How your sausage is packaged can also determine how long it will last in the fridge. Sausages that are vacuum-sealed or have airtight packaging are protected from external factors that can cause spoilage, like moisture and air. But if your sausage is packed in loose freezer paper or plastic wrap, it won’t last as long as it’s exposed to air.

4. Handling and Cross-contamination

Proper handling and storage practices are critical for prolonging the shelf life of sausage. Cross-contamination with other foods can introduce bacteria, and cause spoilage and food poisoning.

So it’s essential to store sausage separately from other raw foods. Don’t forget to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands and cleaning surfaces, to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Pan Fried Sausages with Slice of Lemon and

Best Ways to Store Sausage in the Fridge

Proper storage of sausages is crucial to ensure their freshness and avoid potential health risks. Here are some tips on how to store sausages in the fridge:

Store in the Coldest Part of the Fridge

To keep sausage fresh, you should store it in the coldest part of the fridge. This is usually at the back of the bottom shelf where the cooling element of many fridges is located. So, the coldest air tends to settle at the bottom due to its density. And this is often where I like to store perishable items such as meat or dairy products that need to be kept at a low temperature.

Avoid storing sausage in the fridge door, as the temperature can fluctuate more in this area due to frequent opening and closing of the door.

Keep It in Its Original Packaging

I like to store my sausage in its original packaging until I’m ready to cook it. The packaging is designed to protect the sausage from exposure to air and moisture, which can cause it to spoil.

So, it’s important to keep the sausage in its original packaging. Transferring it to a different container can expose it to bacteria and cause it to spoil faster.

Use Airtight Containers

If you’ve opened the original packaging of the sausage, transfer it to an airtight container before storing it in the fridge. This will help to keep the sausage fresh and prevent it from absorbing odors from other foods in the refrigerator. Airtight containers can also help to prevent the spread of bacteria and prevent moisture loss.

Label and Date Your Sausage

To avoid confusion, I like to label and date my sausage before storing it in the fridge. This helps me keep track of how long the sausage has been stored and when it needs to be used.

What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Sausage?

If you eat spoiled sausage, this can have serious health consequences. When food spoils, it can become contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses such as Salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus.

These can cause food poisoning or foodborne illnesses, ranging from mild stomach upset to severe illness or even death in some cases.

Symptoms of foodborne illnesses caused can include nausea, vomiting, watery or bloody diarrhea, belly cramps, headache, and fever. In severe cases, foodborne illnesses can lead to dehydration and other complications. People with weakened immune systems, such as young children, elderly people, and those with chronic illnesses, are particularly vulnerable to these types of diseases. So they should avoid eating spoiled sausage or any food that have stayed too long in the fridge.

If you suspect that you’ve eaten spoiled sausage, it’s important to seek medical attention right away, especially if you experience any symptoms of a foodborne illness. In some cases, you may need to be hospitalized for treatment.

Prevention is vital when it comes to avoiding the consumption of spoiled sausage. Always check the sell-by date or use-by date on the packaging before purchasing sausage. Avoid buying sausage that has a strange color or smell. 

Additionally, when it’s time to cook the sausage, make sure it’s cooked up to the USDA-recommended internal temperature of 160°F to ensure that all harmful bacteria are destroyed.

Toasted Bread with Grilled Sausages and Mustard Sauce Plus Tomato Sauce


1. Is Sausage Good After 5 Days?

Uncooked sausage is no longer suitable for consumption after five days in the refrigerator. As for the cooked sausage, I’ve seen folks consume them even after the fourth day, which is beyond the safe range. In this case, you’re either eating sausage that has started to spoil or whose taste doesn’t feel like sausage anymore. Just discard it after the fourth day. USDA recommends storing cooked sausage for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. 

2. Can You Eat a 2-week-old Sausage?

Nah! It’s not recommended to eat sausage stored in the fridge for two weeks or longer, even if it looks and smells fine. Sausage that has been stored for an extended period of time can develop harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. Also, to ensure the safety of your food, it’s important always to check the sell-by or use-by date on the packaging and to follow proper storage guidelines. If in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard any sausage that you suspect may be spoiled.

Final Thoughts 

Proper storage and handling of sausage are crucial to ensure its safety and freshness. I recommend consuming fresh sausages within one to two days and cooked sausage within three to four days of refrigeration.

So, it’s important to pay attention to the sell-by or use-by date on the packaging and to properly store sausage in the fridge to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

If the sausage exhibits any spoilage, such as a sour smell or slimy texture, discard it immediately. If you think you may have eaten spoiled sausage, get medical attention immediately. By following basic food safety guidelines and using common sense, you can enjoy delicious sausage dishes while keeping your health and well-being in mind.

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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