It’s easy to end up with leftovers, especially when feeding a crowd. It can happen even for a well-loved food such as hot dogs. Wondering how long do cooked hot dogs last in the fridge? This is the type of information that can help you plan leftover meals and avoid waste. We’ve got your back!
Whether young or old, hot dogs are everybody’s favorite. People eat them everywhere, from backyard grills to ball games and city fairs. They’re easy to prepare for a quick snack or serve them with fancy toppings at a barbecue party.
More importantly, hot dogs go well with an impressive variety of foods. If you’re looking to enjoy them in different ways, try some of these creative sides for hot dogs.
Sometimes you end up with leftover cooked hot dogs and wonder how to store them properly for later use. We’ll show you that as well as how to tell if they’re safe to eat.
So, how long do cooked hot dogs last in the fridge?
When stored correctly, cooked hot dogs can last up to four days in the fridge before going bad.
Keep reading to learn more about hot dogs, their shelf life, how to store them properly, how to reheat them, and how to know if they’ve gone bad.
🌭 How Long Do Cooked Hot Dogs Last in the Fridge?
After cooking and enjoying a delicious hot dog, you probably have some leftovers.
Hot dogs are processed, which means that they contain preservatives. That’s why they typically last longer than their unprocessed counterparts.
Within one to two hours of cooking, put the hot dogs in an airtight container or wrap them in a saran or Press N Seal.
Then, store them in the fridge. They will be good to eat for up to four days.
The most critical thing to know is to never leave leftover hot dogs out at room temperature for more than two hours.
If they have been sitting out for more than that, they stand a higher chance of going bad. Don’t risk it, and just throw them out.
Note: The reason why cooked hot dogs don’t last long in the fridge is that the heat of the cooking process removes some of the preservatives. This causes cooked hot dogs to spoil quicker than raw ones.
💡 Other Storage Ideas
If you’re not planning on eating leftover cooked hot dogs anytime soon, you should pop them in the freezer.
Cooked hotdogs can last for up to two months in the freezer
Before you do, make sure to place them securely in an airtight bag to protect them from freezer burns.
The freezing time shown on the package is only for “best quality.” Cooked hot dogs, when frozen, can stay safe to consume indefinitely, but you’ll find they taste best if eaten within those first two months.
Finally, don’t forget to label all your stored food with the date and specific description.
After thawing in the fridge, cooked hot dogs should be good to eat for three to four days. However, if you choose to defrost them in the microwave, they must be consumed immediately.
How To Tell If They Have Gone Bad
There are a few signs to notice about cooked hot dogs that are a huge telltale they’ve gone bad.
Smell. Hot dogs should smell smoky and savory. If they smell vinegary or sour, you should throw them away.
Appearance. If you see any discoloration or mold growing on the surface, they’ve gone bad.
Touch. Hot dogs should feel moist, but never slimy. A slimy feeling is a sign of growing bacteria or fungi, and you shouldn’t be consuming them.
Taste. Spoiled hot dogs taste sour and unpleasant, so you’ll figure that out right away. Hopefully, the other signs flagged it as going bad before you bit into it!
Spoiled Hot Dogs
Hot dogs that have gone bad may cause you to get sick. I’ll include the worst cases below, but I have never seen this happen as long as you follow the few precautionary steps listed above.
Listeria is a type of bacteria that can grow in hotdogs, as well as other meats. It poses real danger to pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
There’s a small possibility of Listeria spreading to the blood circulation or brain system. In that case, it results in even more severe symptoms.
Bacteria like Listeria don’t withstand high heat. That’s why you must cook foods to the recommended temperatures before serving them.
Consuming spoiled or expired food causes serious food poisoning symptoms, which include:
The Overall Shelf Life
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends sticking to the “use-by” date.
On the other hand, the “best by” date is more generic. Hot dogs, when stored properly, can stay safe to consume for up to two weeks beyond that date, but I would definitely be checking on them to make sure they haven’t spoiled. It’s good to be a bit paranoid when it comes to food safety.
Packaged Fresh Hot Dogs
Fresh hot dogs in sealed packages, can be usually be stored in the fridge for more than two weeks beyond the “best by” date. The quicker you cook them, the better. Just recognize that you may have a bit of wiggle room here.
When stored in the freezer, packaged hot dogs can stay safe to eat almost forever. That said, it’s best to consume them within two months for better results.
Opened Fresh Hot Dogs
When removed from the sealed packages, hot dogs stay fresh and safe to eat for up to a week.
How To Thaw and Reheat
The best way to thaw frozen cooked hot dogs is to simply leave them in the fridge overnight. However, if you’re in a hurry, you can always opt for the microwave’s defrosting option.
After thawing, there are a few ways to reheat. You can grill, boil, or even steam them.
You can also wrap them in foil and reheat them in the oven. Do that until they’re sizzling hot inside and out.
Note: We made some amazing Hot Dog Burnt Ends. When we reheated the leftovers, we just scooped some into a covered bowl and heated in the microwave.
How To Reheat in the Oven
If you have several leftover hot dogs and you want to reheat them all at once, the oven is the best for this job.
- Preheat your oven to 325°F.
- Line the hot dogs in a row on top of a baking tray lined with foil.
- Cover them loosely with another layer of foil.
- Place the tray inside the oven.
- Let the hot dogs cook for five minutes.
- Check the internal temperature of each hot dog using a digital meat thermometer. Once they reach at least 165°F, they can be removed and served.
- Serve them on fresh buns with mustard and ketchup.
How To Reheat in the Microwave
Reheating leftovers in the microwave is easiest when you just have a couple. Here are the steps to follow:
- Wrap each hot dog in a dampened kitchen paper towel. This will help them remain moist.
- Place them on a microwave-safe platter.
- Put the plate inside the microwave and turn it on.
- Microwave them for 20 seconds on the highest reheat setting and make sure not to overcook them.
- Check the internal heat of each hot dog using a digital meat thermometer. They should be at least 165°F.
- Serve with your side dishes of choice and enjoy.
What To Know Before Reheating
There are a few things you should know before reheating your leftover cooked hot dogs:
Reheat the hot dog on their own without the condiments that are usually served over it. You can always add whatever you like to your hot dogs only after reheating them.
Don’t overcook your hot dogs. Heating hot dogs for too long can cause them to become stiff, rubbery, and tasteless. That’s why you should frequently check their internal temperature.
It’s essential to check the temperature of your reheated hot dogs before consuming them. It’s a good idea to invest in a digital meat thermometer for these scenarios.
Hot dogs are delicious, especially when you’re having them with friends or family. Just like for any food, hotdog leftovers need to be stored correctly.
Cooked hot dogs can last for three to four days in the fridge if wrapped properly.
Always remember that if you’re not going to eat those leftover hot dogs in the next few days, you should definitely store them in the freezer.
That way, you get to keep them safe to eat for at least a couple more months.