How Long Do Hot Pockets Last in the Freezer?

Hot Pockets have been with us for decades, and for many of us growing up, it was a staple food in the home and a great way to grab a tasty snack at lunchtime. You may think the hot pocket’s calzone appearance and somewhat surprising filling is an Italian iceman, but you would be wrong. The brainchild of two Iranian immigrants bought this delight into our homes.

The product is set to continue its iconic status. Can you believe Hot Pockets made their debut in 1980? How could we have lived without them with catchy jingles and Snoop Dog endorsing the product?

This article will answer many frequently asked but never answered questions, so you have the insight you need on Hot Pockets.

Let’s get into it.

Do Hot Pockets expire in the freezer?

You know, when freezing products, the expiration date becomes somewhat meaningless. Freezing products, if you like, places the product, in this case, Hot Pockets, into a state of constant equilibrium as long as it remains frozen.

The FDA and USDA state that a frozen product at 0℉ can remain frozen indefinitely. It sounds like a tall story, but if the government says it is true, it is true!

However, there can be changes in products that have been frozen for a long time, such as a degradation in flavor and texture, but the dough is pretty simple, and so are the fillings, so your Hot Pockets should be good until you want to defrost them from the freezer.

It is worth noting that freezer burn does not suggest a product is not edible or has expired. The USDA says it is edible and will not cause harm if ingested.

Are Hot Pockets shelf stable?

Yes, Hot Pockets have a long shelf life of up to 2 months, but there are some things you should be aware of.

If the packaging is damaged and the product is not edible and contaminated with bacteria, shelf stability relies on the packaging being in good shape.

Can you refreeze thawed Hot Pockets?

It is safe to refreeze thawed Hot Pockets if they are raw or cooked. However, it is not ideal to be freezing and thawing products from the freezer, so store your Hot Pockets so you can take what you need quickly and leave the other frozen.

In addition, once the Hot Pockets have been thawed and refrozen, you will need to seal them in an airtight container. It still may undergo some deterioration in terms of flavor profile and texture.

Can Hot Pockets get freezer burn?

Freezer burn results from being in the freezer for a long time. Technically Hot Pockets have an expiry date, so they should not reach the point of freezer burn, but with such a long shelf life, anything is possible.

White splotches can identify freezer burn on the surface of the dough, a formation of ice crystals that have scarred the dough, it can be worrisome but rest assured the hot pocket will be fine, and the freezer burn will not cause you any harm.

Can you prevent freezer burn on Hot Pockets?

Yes, you can prevent freezer burn easily. You just need to store and wrap the product differently and keep the Hot Pockets in their original packaging. And then, place them in a couple of zip-lock bags, which are placed within an airtight container.

This should do the trick.

Many people worry about freezer burn thinking the product has gone bad, but that’s not the case. In most cases, there is only a slight degradation in the texture of the cooked dough, which should be hardly noticeable, maybe a little more brittle.

Don’t think there is anything wrong with your freezer. This process is normal when freezing for extended periods, and it happens to pretty much any food in the freezer that has the opportunity to become exposed to the cold air in the freezer.

How unhealthy is a Hot Pocket?

It’s fast food for your home with a very long shelf life. They have 300 calories per pocket, and they have preservatives and stabilizers. But many other foods have the same ingredient, so what’s healthy and unhealthy?

It can’t be compared with a chicken salad or a few apples, but they are different products, and if you eat Hot Pockets, it’s because you like the flavor, the texture, and the convenience.

But here’s the rub. The FDA  regulates 75% of the foods eaten in the US, excluding meat, poultry, and some egg products.

These guys are not slouches. They are not paper tigers either, they have power and authority, so if you can buy Hot Pockets in your grocery store, you can assume they are more than safe to consume. 

Do Hot Pockets have real ham?

Yes. Nestle Hot Pockets ham and cheese are full of flavorsome hickory made ham and stuffed with cheese to make a deciduous hot sandwich.

Of course, you will have the additional luscious cheddar cheese and seasoning to make the perfect hot pocket.

Are Hot Pockets processed food?

Yes. Hot Pockets are highly processed and contain high levels of sodium and saturated fats. But many of these ingredients give Hot Pockets their yummy flavor, which beats the bland options you can find in the grocery store.

The truth is that many fast foods are not processed foods. Just about everything you buy to put in your freezer as an instant meal is processed when you buy ham for thanksgiving, is it processed? Yes, but do you still eat it by the plate? 

You are misinformed if you think Hot Pockets are a good source of vitamins and fiber. You are misinformed if you think your thanksgiving ham is not high in sodium.

If you are feeding your kids fast, convenient food, then do it in moderation. Hot Pockets can make the perfect meal when you have been busy and forgotten to get the chicken out of the freeze.

What is the white stuff in Hot Pockets?

Hot Pockets use whey powder in the production together with buttermilk powder. Occasionally you can see some powdered product, especially after freezing for a long time. It’s perfectly safe to eat.

Many of the products manufactured by big food companies, such as Nestle, search out ingredients that can achieve a high flavor profile and reduce costs. Whey is one of those products.

Most of you will have heard of whey, other than for little miss Muffet. Whey is a by-product when milk is processed and is high in protein and full of amino acid=s that are the building blocks for much of our body.

So the next time someone tells you Hot Pockets are bad for you, stand your ground and ask about the whey!

How long is a Hot Pocket supposed to be in the microwave?

It will depend on the power of the microwave, but the average is 2 to 4 minutes., for a soft-hot pocket microwave, for only two minutes.

Can you put a hot pocket in a toaster?

It sounds like a great idea, and there are pockets on the market that cook brilliantly in the toaster, but the Hot Pockets need something with more sustained heat behind them. Ovens and microwaves are great for cooking Hot Pockets. Just follow the cooking instruction guide.

If you cook Hot Pockets on a baking tray in a 350℉ oven, don’t use the crisping bag, just remove it and eat the hot pocket when cooked.

How do you know if Hot Pockets are bad?

There are telltale signs you should look out for, and just because Hot Pockets seemingly last for a long time, they can still expire and turn bad and become potentially dangerous to eat.

  • Trust your nose. If the hot pocket smells funky, it is funky and should be discarded.
  • If the packaging has expanded through gas created by bacteria, this is a sure sign the hot pocket is bad and should be thrown in the garbage.
  • Slime is the bacteria on the very dangerous dough. If a hot pocket is limy, it goes straight into the garbage. A visual check is enough, and no need to poke and prod. This will spread the bacteria that can be hard to kill.
  • Look out for mold. Mold can manifest in black spots, white spots, and green spots. If the hot pocket is moldy, it cannot be eaten.
  • Hot Pockets contain mozzarella and other cheeses. It can be hard to say when cheese goes bad, so break open the hot pocket and check for signs of discoloration and anything weird looking.

Final thoughts

Hot Pockets had a recall in 2021. Glass and debris found in the product is a big no-no, and the company would have paid the price for this mistake. But on top of the recall, which is clearly stated.

For transparency, here is the official recall notice from NestleUSA:

This recall only covers Hot Pockets Brand Sandwiches – Garlic Buttery Crust Pepperoni Pizza Value Packs (12-count) with specific batch codes of 0318544624, 0319544614, 0320544614, and 0321544614 and a best-before date of FEB 2022 on the side of the label.

The inevitable naysayers who like to bash Nestle at every opportunity came with the recall. But the truth is Nestle has been around for 156 years in the food business and makes terrific products that have been staples for our families for generations.

Hot Pockets last 14 months in the freezer and longer if you wish, so take advantage of this quick and easy meal substitute for those occasions when time is against you.

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