Cooked pork can last three or four days in the fridge, according to USDA. You should consume cooked pork meat, regardless of the type, within this time limit when refrigerated below 40°F (or about 4.4°C). You’ll have to freeze the pork to make it last longer.
Food safety is part of the training I’ve received as a chef. However, at restaurants, we use all cooked meat as much as we can. This isn’t always practical for homes, like mine, that tend to cook more meat than everyone can eat.
So in this article, I’ll detail answers to burning questions like ‘how long is cooked pork good in the fridge?’ I’ve given a few tips (tried and tested by me) for preserving your cooked pork for longer periods without risking food poisoning. I’ve also included a couple of recipes for your leftover pork.
If you leave your cooked pork chops in an open container in the fridge, it will last a day or two before it smells sour. If you store the cooked pork right, you can keep it safe to eat for up to four days.
You should not eat cooked pork that’s been in the fridge for more than four days, as USDA recommends.
There are a few neat tricks to maximize the shelf life of cooked pork. I use these at home because I often end up with tons of leftover cooked pork. Here’s how you can keep that cooked pork roast last up to four days in the fridge:
To best preserve that cooked pork tenderloin, wrap tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap before you place cooked pork in containers.
You can substitute freezer paper if you don’t have foil or plastic wrap.
The more air your cooked pork roast gets, the more likely it is for spoilage bacteria to enter the meat. Therefore, store your cooked pork in shallow airtight containers.
You can use freezer bags if you don’t have airtight containers in the right size. For bigger cuts like cooked pork roast, it’s probably best to go with an airtight freezer bag.
Your cooked pork will last in the fridge for longer if you store it within two hours after cooking.
That’s mainly because when you leave cooked pork at room temperature, the chance of pathogenic bacterial growth is significantly higher. If you can wrap your carefully cooked pork chops within two hours off the smoker, your chance of food poisoning will dramatically decrease.
Some home chefs may find this difficult because most serve the food and only leftover pork ends up in the fridge. When I know I’ve cooked extra, say a pork tenderloin, I put it in an airtight container. If no one wants to eat the extra pork tenderloin, then it goes in the fridge.
If you want your cooked cuts of pork to last longer than three to five days, you can try freezing it. Frozen pork can last two to three months, according to the FDA.
To be on the safe side and avoid the danger zone, it’s probably best to eat frozen cooked pork within two months. You definitely don’t want to take it out of the freezer after three months only to find that it smells bad.
Here’s how to freeze your cooked pork safely and easily:
Wrap the leftovers in freezer wrap and place in a food storage container. Alternatively, you can use heavy duty freezer bags.
Now put it in the freezer for up to two months.
The wrapping would prevent the cooked pork from coming into contact with other food that might have been contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.
Useful tips for freezing pork:
There are a few obvious signs that your cooked pork roast has gone bad. If your cooked pork chops have a sour smell, then it has definitely gone bad.
Another tell-tale sign of spoiled pork is slimy texture. Your leftover pork should feel slightly dry out of the fridge. If it feels slimy and slippery, that’s a sign of mold growth.
If your pork chops have changed color, such as from brownish to grayish, this is a sign of spoilage. Color change is typically accompanied by a bad smell.
Sometimes, cooked pork has white stuff on it. This is actually not a sign of mold. It’s just coagulated protein. This phenomenon usually appears when pork is cooked too quickly at high temperature.
As mentioned earlier, cooked pork that’s stored properly won’t attract dangerous bacteria that make it inedible. Throw away bad pork at the first sign to avoid the risk of food-borne illness.
Cooked pork will go bad in four days. If it hasn’t been refrigerated properly, or if you leave your pulled pork at room temperature for prolonged periods, it will spoil sooner.
Uncooked whole cuts of pork can last in the fridge for up to 5 days. Ground pork, just like ground beef, will go bad within a day or two.
Sometimes, the packaging of pork contains and expiry date. You can probably keep pork for about a day past this expiry date but not longer.
Just don’t eat leftover pork that has a rancid smell or looks moldy, regardless of how long it’s been in the fridge.
As pork doesn’t last very long in the fridge, here are several easy recipe ideas so your leftovers don’t go to waste:
This is a sweet side you can make with pretty much any type of leftover pork. Here’s what you will need:
Once you have the above ingredients prepared, toss everything into a salad bowl with the olive oil and vinegar and mix. Then toss in your pork and mix again. You can serve this as a side salad, as a filling for baguette (my preferred choice) or a submarine bun.
For those who prefer savory dishes with meat, you can try Singaporean-style Asian noodles with your leftovers.
What you will need:
Mix in the scrambled egg, vegetables and herbs with the cooked noodles first. Then mix in your leftover pork. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste and mix it more.
You can alter the ingredients on this list depending on how much veggies you want in the dish compared to the pork.
You can serve this as it is or with some ketchup. This goes well with store-bought guacamole too. I serve the noodles with a tangy sauce made with soy sauce and apple juice as the base.
In conclusion, you can expect cooked pork to last in the fridge for up to four days, but not longer. Consider freezing leftovers to make it last longer. Frozen pork can last up to three months in the fridge. Otherwise, use your leftover pork in other dishes soon after cooking so it doesn’t go bad in the fridge.
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