Can You Freeze Smoked Sausage?

For most of you, the humble sausage is a breakfast food, and it’s eaten traditionally with just about anything it can be paired with. The filling is typically pork, veal, chicken, beef, herbs, and spices. Sausages are super versatile and freeze well, but when it comes to sausages that have been smoked for flavor and preservation, can they be frozen?

Did you know sausages were originally a poor man’s food? But the sausage has come a long way over the past century, and today it can be as nutritious as other meats. Sausages contain fat, but scientists now realize that eating fat moderately is not bad for you. Fat does not register an insulin increase.

This article unveils how to store smoked sausages for longer, and if they can be frozen without damaging the delicate smoky flavors they are famous for. We answer many frequently asked questions, providing factual information to improve your culinary knowledge.

Let’s get deep into it.

Do smoked sausages expire?

Yes. You may be thinking that smoked sausages have an extended shelf life due to the nature of smoking foods for preservation. It has been a method of preserving sausages for more than 4000 years.

The shelf life of smoked sausages depends mainly on the moisture content of the sausages. The more moisture or water content, the shorter the shelf life will be.

When it comes to freezing smoked sausages, the moisture content can make or break how they react to be stored below 0℉. But more on that later. There is essential information to cover before we discuss freezing smoked sausages.

Smoked sausages should be stored in the fridge when they are store-bought from the meat aisle at the grocery store.

Smoked sausages must be kept cool; even though they are smoked, they are still susceptible to bacteria growth and mold spores which will inevitably spoil the smacked sausages.

Modern-day sausages are smoked to add complex flavor layers and not so much to preserve the sausage meat. Most are cold-smoked, so there is no cooking process involved during smoking.

American smoked sausages are usually smoked with a combination of woods, such as apple wood will be part of the combination of smoking material, which imparts a sweet, smoky flavor.

Does smoked sausage need to be refrigerated?

Yes. Never let sausage sit out for more than two hours. 

Store smoked sausage in a cool fridge at 40℉ or below. Smoked sausage can last from a week to a month in the fridge, depending on the quality of the sausages, the moisture content, and how fresh the smoked ingredients incorporated in the sausage are.

You should store smoked sausages in an airtight container. It will retain the smokey flavor profile while not smoking the other food stored in the fridge.

Cooked smoked sausages only last for 3 to 4 days when refrigerated.

Do smoked sausages need to be covered?

Covering smoked sausage is a good idea for a few reasons, it will contain any bacteria growth in an airtight container. It will prevent the sausage from drying out as it sits in a dry environment and prevents the smoky aromas from tainting other foods in the fridge.

You can store your sausages in the original packaging from the grocery store or place them into a Ziploc-style bag or a Tupperware container.

Can you put warm smoked sausage in the fridge?

It is not advisable.

You should always avoid placing hot food or warm food in the fridge. It’s bad housekeeping. Placing warm smoked sausage in the fridge could cause a bigger problem than you might have imagined.

Your fridge temperature will be 40℉ -18℃ or a little lower. Placing warm smoked sausage in the fridge will elevate its temperature while it radiates heat.

Your fridge may not be as efficient as you might have thought at removing heat. Most fridges take hours to come to 40℉ after being switched on after cleaning.

So, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that food sitting at a temperature of 40-140℉ is in the food danger zone. It’s not just your smoked sausage. It is the contents of the entire fridge.

Above 40℉-18℃ bacterial growth on perishable foods will accelerate exponentially. It should be discarded if the food remains at an elevated temperature above 40℉-18℃ for just two hours.

Seems harsh? According to the USDA, after two hours in the food danger zone, perishable foods contain enough bacteria to cause food poisoning.

Furthermore, the smoked sausage should be covered in the fridge so there will be no condensation!

How long can warm-cooked smoked sausage sit out?

Two hours. It’s not a long time, and when sitting around chatting with friends and drinking an aperitif, the time flies, but the truth is smoked sausage will become contaminated with bacteria and, after just two hours, could make you sick if eaten. 

Remember the food danger zone? According to the USDA, smoked sausages are highly perishable. Sitting out for two hours, the smoked sausages should be discarded.

The bacteria growth on the food has multiplied rapidly, making the food unfit for consumption.

Do unopened smoked sausages go bad?

Yes, except for dried, smoked sausage, dried sausage has a long shelf life and can sit in the pantry for 12 months.

Smoked sausages are typically sold in packs covered with cling film, with a shelf life of between 1 to 4 days. Even if the sausage has been vacuum-packed, have the same shelf life.

Why do they have a short shelf life? Essentially you are storing a tube of fine ground pork or chicken mixed with rusk herbs and flavoring in an intestine casing. It’s raw meat!

How long does smoked sausage last in the fridge?

1 to 4 days. However, it depends on the smoked sausage’s moisture content; if the sausages have a low moisture content, they can be stored for longer. Maybe some smoked sausages can last for a month if stirred in an airtight container.

We all know Salami has a long shelf life, but when you break it down, it is still only 3 weeks in the fridge, and that’s a fully cured sausage that has been hung for months, if not years.

Everyone’s favorite is andouille. It has a shelf life of 4 days in the fridge.

Do frozen smoked sausages go bad?

Smoked sausages will change over time when stirred in the freezer. According to the USDA scientists, foods stored in the freezer at 0℉ or below will last indefinitely, and they will, but there will be changes, they will not be bad as in the standard expectation of a bad sausage, but they may not be appetizing, to say the least.

If stored correctly, smoked sausages in the freezer last from 1 to 2 months. After that, the texture of the sausages can change, and the flavor profile will diminish.

Again the changes will depend on the quality of the smoked sausages and the moisture content. Smoked sausages with a high moisture content may become mushy or less firm.

The changes happen due to the ice crystal formation in the moisture content. Ice crystals can slice and crush the ground meat, further changing its texture.

However, by and large, smoked sausages freeze well on a short-term basis of 1 to 2 months.

Freezing smoked sausage

  • Remove the sausages from the packaging. At this time, you can separate the links to freeze the sausages in portions if you have a lot.
  • The smoked sausages should be dry before freezing, so pat them over with some kitchen towel to remove condensation and excess moisture from the sausage’s casings.
  • Place the sausage portion into a freezer bag. Something like Ziploc’s work.
  • When the sausages are packed in the airtight container, expel any remaining air in the freezer bag and seal the bag tightly to prevent leaks.
  • Mark the bags with contents and the freezing date, and also add the expiry date, which will be two months from freezing.
  • Place the sausages in the freezer.

If possible, place the sausages at the back of the freezer for the upright freezer. This will help to prevent freezer burn through sublimation.

If you go over the two-month freezing date, it is not going to be a big deal, but the sausages will be at their best quality if eaten within 1 to 2 months from freezing.

How to defrost smoked sausages?

In the fridge. When you retrieve the sausages from the freezer, they will be solid and consequently will take hours to thaw completely. 

Don’t be tempted to go from the freezer to the pan or pot. Allow at least 6 hours for the sausages to thaw fully before you cook with them.

Final thoughts

Who doesn’t like smoked sausages? They are a staple in many homes, but when it comes to storing them, the shelf life is limited to 1  to 4 days in the fridge.

Smoked sausages do freeze well and will be perfect for eating anytime between 1 and 2 months.

Below is a table for quick reference.

ProductRefrigerator (40 F)Freezer (0 F)
Sausage, raw – from pork, beef, turkey1-2 days1-2 months
Smoked breakfast links, patties1-4 days1-2 months
Hard sausageOpened: 3 weeks. Unopened: indefinitely1-2 months
Summer sausage labeled “keep refrigerated”Opened: 3 weeks. Unopened: 3 months1-2 months

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