We all love hot dogs! Whether it’s at home on the grill, at a party, on a campingtrip, or simply as a quick dinner alternative for the kids, hot dogs are cheap, easy to make, and tasty.
Because of their versatility, low price, and popularity, people always seem to have a pack or two of frozen hot dogs at home. Naturally, many of us wonder how long they can be stored in the freezer and if they go bad when frozen.
While you can keep fresh, uncooked frozen hot dogs in the freezer for up to two months, you can defrost and keep them in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days before they expire. At room temperature, frozen hot dogs can sit out for a maximum of 2 hours.
Keep reading this article and find out how to best keep your hot dogs in the freezer and fridge, how to know if they’ve gone bad, and if spoiled hot dogs can make you sick.
How Long Do Hot Dogs Last in the Freezer?
Whether it’s an unopened pack of fresh hot dogs or a pack of frozen ones, you can safely store them in the freezer for quite some time.
For best quality, you should freeze fresh, uncooked hot dogs for more than 1 to 2 months and cooked ones for about 2 to 3 months. That means that if you store them correctly in the freezer, you can generally eat opened and cooked frozen hot dogs even if they’re past their expiration date!
However, as frozen food pretty much lasts indefinitely, you can keep them frozen for much longer. Just be aware that their taste and texture quality might decrease over time.
That said, generally, you shouldn’t keep them frozen for more than 6 months or so, as hot dogs contain a lot of water and hence have a shorter freezer life than other foods.
Over time, that water will turn into more and more ice, causing the hot dogs to develop freezer burn.
So it is essential that you keep them at a constant temperature of 0° F or less and store them both airtight and away from any moisture.
You can do this by either keeping them in their original, unopened package or putting them in a sealable Ziploc freezer bag.
How Long Can You Keep Frozen Hot Dogs in the Fridge?
While you can keep fresh hot dogs in the fridge for up to 1 week, frozen hot dogs should only thaw for a maximum of 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
To ensure they’re completely thawed, leave them in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, depending on the number of hot dogs you want to defrost. The more a package includes, the longer it’ll take to defrost them.
After those initial 12 to 24 hours, it’s generally best to cook them as soon as possible, as their quality will decrease with every additional day in the fridge.
Of course, you can stretch that time by storing them the right way!
Don’t just place them on a plate and put them in your fridge without covering them. That will only make them dry and possibly cause discoloration (they sometimes get a little pale and gray, which doesn’t look too tasty).
Instead, you can either keep them in their original packaging or freezer bag or put them in an airtight container (for example, tupperware).
It might take a little longer for the hot dogs to thaw, but then you plan to cook them later anyway, so this doesn’t matter, does it?
How Long Can Frozen Hot Dogs Sit Out?
If you instead want to express-defrost your frozen hot dogs, you can let them sit out in the kitchen.
As always, though, when it comes to foods kept outside the fridge, time is an essential factor!
At room temperature, meaning a temperature range between 68 and 86° F, you can leave them for a maximum of 2 hours.
PRO TIP: You can defrost them faster in a bowl of cool water. Just make sure to keep them in a sealable Ziploc bag when doing so, as you don’t want to expose them to any moisture! Replace the water every 30 minutes. Typically, your dogs should be fully thawed and ready to be cooked within the hour!
However, if the temperature is at 90° F or higher, that window shrinks to just 1 hour!
After that, you must either cook them or put them back in the fridge or freezer.
The risk of foodborne illnesses is simply too high, especially regarding meats. Never take that risk for a pack of hot dogs!
Can Frozen Hot Dogs Make You Sick?
Eating hot dogs that have expired or have been sitting out for too long can definitely make you very ill, which is why it’s so important to handle food correctly, inside and outside the fridge and freezer!
Eating spoiled hot dogs can lead to food poisoning, an illness that ranges from mild to extremely severe.
More specifically, you can get listeriosis, a serious bacterial infection.
The bacteria responsible for listeriosis is called Listeria monocytogenes. It is common in ready-to-eat foods such as dry sausages, luncheon meats, and hot dogs, and it keeps growing even at refrigerator temperatures.
So putting your hot dogs back in the fridge won’t do any good if it’s already too late!
People at risk of getting listeria include:
- pregnant women
- children and newborns
- people with a weakened immune system
The symptoms of listeria can include:
- an upset stomach
- abdominal pain
How Do You Know if Frozen Hot Dogs Have Gone Bad?
It’s not always easy knowing if your foods have gone bad, and fresh or frozen hot dogs are no exception to this rule.
Luckily, there are a few ways to check if your hot dogs are spoiled:
Look – The easiest and least disgusting way of checking if your hot dogs have turned is by simply investigating their appearance. Look for any discoloration or mold. For example, hot dogs tend to develop small black spots when spoiled. If you detect any sign of spoilage, toss them immediately!
Touch – A little grosser, but still not too horrible! Pick up your hot dogs and see how the surface and texture feel. Are they mushy, somewhat sticky, or even slimy? If so, do not eat them!
Smell – Now it’s definitely getting more disgusting! Sometimes, your hot dogs will feel and look okay, so you’ll have to smell them to know if they’re still okay. If they still have their meaty, savory, and smokey odor, they should be fine. If, on the other hand, they smell sour, rotten, or otherwise off, it’s time to throw them away.
Taste – If all else fails, unfortunately, you’ll have to taste your hot dogs! It’s not very pleasant if they are spoiled, but it is the most reliable way of telling! If they have a bitter or sour taste, you can be sure they have gone bad! Spit out the piece of hot dog you have tasted and toss the rest!
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