Does Pre-Cooked Bacon Need To Be Refrigerated? The Key Facts

Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple that many people enjoy. But what happens when you have leftover bacon or pre-cooked bacon that you’re not sure how to store?

Does it need to be refrigerated, or can it sit out at room temperature?

In this article, we’ll explore the guidelines for storing pre-cooked bacon and answer the question of whether or not it needs to be refrigerated.

So, let’s dive in and find out!

Does Pre-Cooked Bacon Need To Be Refrigerated?

The answer to this question is yes, pre-cooked bacon needs to be refrigerated. According to the USDA, cooked bacon that needs to be refrigerated if it is not going to be consumed immediately. Once it is cooked, bacon should go into the fridge in an airtight container.

Shelf-stable bacon can be stored at 85 °F and below, but it is still recommended that it be refrigerated after opening. This type of precooked bacon can last for about 10 days, unrefrigerated, and up to 4 weeks when refrigerated.

However, if you have pre-cooked bacon that is not labeled as shelf-stable, it should always be refrigerated within 2 hours of sitting at room temperature. This type of bacon is still susceptible to bacteria growth at temperatures between 40°F-140°F.

It’s important to note that even though pre-cooked bacon is technically a cured meat, it still needs to be refrigerated once it has been cooked. This will help prevent any harmful bacteria from growing and keep the bacon fresh for longer.

The Importance Of Properly Storing Bacon

Properly storing bacon is essential in maintaining its freshness and flavor. When it comes to cooked bacon, refrigeration is key. Cooked bacon should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and it should be consumed within 4-5 days. If you have excess cooked bacon, it’s best to freeze it until you’re ready to use it. This will help preserve the taste and texture of the bacon.

When it comes to bacon grease, proper storage is just as important. Bacon grease should never be poured down the sink, as it can cause plumbing issues. Instead, strain the warm grease through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter into a heat-proof container, like a Mason jar. Store the container in the refrigerator or freezer for optimal freshness.

It’s important to note that storing bacon grease at room temperature is not recommended. While some may remember their grandmothers keeping a jar of bacon grease on the countertop, this can cause the fat to go rancid quickly. Storing bacon grease in the refrigerator can extend its shelf life up to 6 months, while storing it in the freezer can extend its shelf life up to a year.

Understanding The Difference Between Raw And Pre-Cooked Bacon

When it comes to bacon, there are two main types: raw bacon and pre-cooked bacon. Raw bacon is the traditional form of bacon that is sold in grocery stores and requires cooking before consumption. Pre-cooked bacon, on the other hand, is fully cooked before it is packaged and sold.

Raw bacon is typically salt-cured pork that is cut into thin strips. It is taken from the back portion of pork or from the pork belly, which are both less fatty parts of the pig. Raw bacon can be cooked in a variety of ways, such as frying, baking, or grilling, to achieve the desired level of crispiness.

Pre-cooked bacon, as the name suggests, is fully cooked before it is packaged and sold. It is usually sold in a vacuum-sealed package and can be found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Pre-cooked bacon can be heated up quickly in a microwave or on a stovetop, making it a convenient option for those who are short on time.

While pre-cooked bacon may seem like a convenient option, there are some downsides to consider. For one, pre-cooked bacon often contains preservatives and additives that may not be present in raw bacon. Additionally, pre-cooked bacon does not have the same sizzle and aroma that comes with cooking raw bacon in a pan.

In terms of taste and texture, there may also be differences between raw and pre-cooked bacon. Some people prefer the texture of raw bacon when it is cooked to their desired level of crispiness, while others may prefer the convenience and consistency of pre-cooked bacon.

Guidelines For Storing Pre-Cooked Bacon In The Refrigerator

If you have pre-cooked bacon that needs to be refrigerated, follow these guidelines to ensure it stays fresh:

1. Allow the bacon to cool: Before storing your pre-cooked bacon in the refrigerator, allow it to cool to room temperature. This will prevent any condensation from forming inside the container, which could make the bacon soggy.

2. Use an airtight container: Store your pre-cooked bacon in an airtight container to prevent air and moisture from getting in. This will help keep the bacon fresh for longer.

3. Label and date the container: Be sure to label the container with the date you cooked the bacon so you know how long it has been in the fridge. This will help you avoid eating bacon that has been sitting in the fridge for too long.

4. Keep it at the right temperature: Store your pre-cooked bacon in the coldest part of your refrigerator, which is usually the back of the bottom shelf. The ideal temperature for storing pre-cooked bacon is 40°F or lower.

By following these guidelines, your pre-cooked bacon should stay fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. If you have any leftover bacon that you don’t plan on eating within this time frame, it’s best to freeze it instead. Pre-cooked bacon can last for up to a month in the freezer.

Can Pre-Cooked Bacon Be Stored At Room Temperature?

No, pre-cooked bacon should not be stored at room temperature. When left at room temperature, cooked bacon can enter the danger zone, which ranges from 40°F-140°F. Bacteria multiply exponentially in the danger zone, so if bacon is left at room temperature for too long, it will become tainted with so many bacteria that it is unsafe to eat. Typically, cooked bacon can only sit out for 2 hours. If your room’s temperature is above 90°F, the bacon will only be good for 1 hour. After 1-2 hours, the bacon will have so many bacteria on its surface that it is no longer safe for you to consume.

Even though pre-cooked bacon has gone through a curing process, it still needs to be refrigerated once it has been cooked. This is because bacteria can still grow on the surface of the meat, especially if it has been left out at room temperature for too long.

How Long Can Pre-Cooked Bacon Be Stored In The Refrigerator?

If pre-cooked bacon is stored correctly in an airtight container or zip-top plastic bag, it can last for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. However, according to USDA guidelines, it can be refrigerated for up to 7 days. It’s important to note that the flavor and texture are best when the bacon is consumed within a day or two after cooking.

If you have pre-cooked bacon that you won’t be able to consume within the next week, you can always freeze it. Frozen, cooked bacon will keep its delicious flavor and texture for about a month. To freeze pre-cooked bacon, wrap it tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or store in a covered airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag.

When thawing frozen pre-cooked bacon, it should be done in one of three ways: in the microwave, in the refrigerator, or under cold running water. Once thawed, it should be heated all the way through to an internal temperature of around 145 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming.

Tips For Reheating Pre-Cooked Bacon

If you have pre-cooked bacon that needs to be reheated, there are several methods you can use to ensure it’s heated through properly and maintains its flavor and texture. Here are some tips for reheating pre-cooked bacon:

1. Use the oven: The oven is a great option for reheating large amounts of pre-cooked bacon. Preheat your oven to 350°F and place the bacon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cover the bacon with another layer of foil and bake for 8-10 minutes until heated through.

2. Try the air fryer: If you have an air fryer, it’s a quick and easy way to reheat pre-cooked bacon. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F and cook the bacon for 3-4 minutes until hot and crispy.

3. Use the stovetop: The stovetop is another option for reheating pre-cooked bacon. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and place the bacon in a single layer. Cook for a few minutes until heated through and crispy.

4. Be careful with the microwave: While the microwave is a convenient option for reheating pre-cooked bacon, it can also make it chewy if not done properly. To avoid this, place the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, checking frequently to avoid overcooking.

5. Store properly: To ensure your pre-cooked bacon reheats well, make sure it’s stored properly in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This will help prevent any bacteria growth and keep it fresh for longer.

By following these tips, you can easily reheat pre-cooked bacon while maintaining its flavor and texture. Just remember to store it properly and choose the reheating method that works best for you.