How Long Does Smoked Meat Last?

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People used to smoke meat not just to prepare or add smoke flavor to their meal, but this method is also used to preserve meat or fish. Despite being an old-fashioned technique, people have adopted this as a hobby.

The question arises: if smoking meat is also a preservation method, how long does smoked meat last? 

Smoked meat can last longer than other meat types with or without a refrigerator, but it depends on your handling and storing habits.

This article will help you improve your smoked meat handling and storing habits so that it can last longer than usual.

What Is Smoking?

When the meat is exposed to direct smoke for flavoring and cooking the meat, this is called smoking. Smoke can be produced from burning hardwood, wood pellets, sawdust, or any other combustible material, or combinations. This technique is also used for preserving meat. Smoking is very much prevalent across the world because it creates a smoky and juicy flavor.

Check out the best woods for smoking here.

Today’s smokers are very advanced and provide you with more control over temperature and help you in slow and even cooking. Proper wrapping techniques can help for longer preservation of meat. There are three different types of smoking.

Types of Smoking

Hot Smoking

This kind of smoking is usually done in a smokehouse or smoker ovens where you can control overheat adjustment. The temperature that requires hot smoking ranges from 50 to 85 °C. First of all, the coating of protein is needed to be produced on meat. 

It can be achieved by hanging meat in a dry environment. Once a protein coating called pellicle is achieved, meat must be cooked for a minimum of 1 hour or a maximum of 24 hours as per your requirement. Cooking at a high temperature eliminates any further cooking need before eating because the meat is already very much prepared with a smoky and juicy taste. 

Cold Smoking

Unlike hot smoking, cold smoking is not used for cooking meat but for getting the best smoky flavor, or this technique is adopted as the best preserving method. Temperature ranges from 20 to 30 °C, is required in this kind of smoking. Salt is also used for cold smoking. Like hot smoking, meat is required to hang in a dry environment to produce a protein coating called the pellicle. Then the meat is smoked at low temperatures over several days. It is then required to cook or roast the cold-smoked meat before eating. The cold smoking method requires specialists for it or safety standards that need to be strictly followed. Otherwise, end food is hazardous to health. 

Liquid Smoking

It is one modern type of smoking that is generally used to create a juicy and smoky flavor in the meat. There are several other names for this, such as wood vinegar and condensed smoke. Because it is made by condensing hardwood smoke and many food spices, it is a yellow to a red color liquid that can easily be dissolved during the preparation of meat.

This wood vinegar is widely prepared all around the globe. Food and drug administration (FDA) by the USA has taken its valuation and concluded that it’s safe to use the way it is in practice.  

How Long Will Hot-Smoked Meat Last?

Hot smoke is a slow and time-consuming technique, and it adds a deep tangy flavor to your meat. Some people consider drying or smoking a similar process, and that is not true. It is also a fact that some Aldehyde present in the smoke, which quenches moisture from the meat in a similar way to drying or salting, but it is also the fact that this smoking technique is not a replacement for drying or salt curing. 

So, the question arises, do we can store our smoked meat? If yes, then how long does smoked meat last for an extended period? Let me tell you all about proper hygiene and bacterial control. Here are a few tips which can help you immensely in preserving your smoked meats for an extended time.

  • First of all, you have to follow the proper food safety guidelines, such as avoiding your meat’s cross-contamination. don’t use dirty utensils or chopping boards because most of the contamination comes from stained chopping boards and knives
  • Wash your hand and knives frequently and transfer the smoked meat in a clean try.
  • Don’t forget to clean your smoker before and after smoking the food. It is also a better idea to use a separate smoker for meat and other food items to avoid contamination. 
  • Ensure that meat reaches the minimum safe temperature to kill the microorganisms as advised by the Food Safety Authority. You can use a food thermometer for this purpose. Usually, people check the internal temperature with the help of a food thermometer.
  • Don’t try to smoke meat at very high temperatures because, in this way, meat remains undercook from inside. Slow and low is the key to hot smoking.
  • It is also crucial to ensure that meat should be in a freezer or fridge just being taken out of the smoker. Try to store the smoked meat in small chunks in an airtight container to reduce contamination chances.
  • To maximize the storage life of smoked meat, you can use a vacuum sealer and then you can reheat it at a later date. 

 If you follow the guidelines mentioned above, you can store your meat for up to four days in the fridge for up to four months in the refrigerator. Improper handling and careless smoking of meat reduce its storage life.

 How Long Will Cold-Smoked Meat Last?

Cold smoked meats can last for a more extended time as compared to hot smoked meat. The reason behind this extended storage is the process of cold smoking. As you know, the cold smoking process includes curing, airing, and then smoking meat. Cold smoking creates an environment that is unfriendly to bacterial progression. Properly cured cold smoke meat can last for months.

While adequately cured and smoked, cold-smoked meat can remain edible for months, but if you don’t follow the cold smoking guidelines properly, it can go downside. Yes, you can ruin all the meat by improper handling.

In cold smoking, meat is usually raw, and after curing, the airing process should be done carefully to avoid bacterial growth. There are also chances that due to animals’ mass farming, these bacteria come along with your meat, and cold smoking does not allow high temperature, so these bacteria can again cultivate.

Pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid cold smoked meat to stay on the safer side. Cold smoking requires skill and considerable practice, so if you are new to cold smoking, start with smoking tofu, cheese, and nuts until you become skilled. I advise you to learn cold-smoking techniques first and then cold smoke your meat under experts’ supervision.

Read Also: Foods you didn’t know you could smoke


Hot-smoking is an excellent technique to give an exquisite flavor to the meat. On the other hand, Cold smoking also adds the same character but extended storing period.

In both cases, the best way to increase meat’s storage life is to follow the safety and smoking guidelines and requirements. You can store hot-smoked meat in refrigeration for four days in the freezer for three months before it becomes a risk.

Cold-smoked meats can be stored for several months, but these meats can also cause some nasty bacterial infections if you ignore the requirements. It is aloe impotent that smoked meat should not be kept or used beyond the recommended periods. If you have forgotten the meat’s storing date or doubt the meat, don’t try to consume it. Always write the storing date on your container to remember the exact time.

About The Author

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James is a writer who is a self-confessed kitchenware and coffee nerd and a strong advocate of Sundays, good butter, and warm sourdough.