Do Hot Dogs Go Bad If Refrigerated, Uncooked, Or Left Out?

Hot dog leftovers are common occurrences, from the restaurant or the ones you made at home. What do you do with those leftovers? Do hot dogs go bad? If they do, how soon?

It is easy to assume that you can have your hot dog around for a long period because they do not contain many ingredients, and they come pre-cooked. But, before you make that assumption, there are a few things you should know.

Food preservation starts with knowing how long the food can last and the right food storage methods. Find out the shelf life and best preservation tips for your hot dog.

What is a hot dog?

A hot dog (or hotdog) is a sausage served between two sliced buns.

Hot dogs are long pressurized trimmings of meat. They are made of meat prunings, salt, garlic, and additives such as potassium erythorbate and sodium nitrite.

The most common types of meats used are pork and beef. However, there are also chicken and turkey hot dogs, which are less expensive than pork and beef hot dogs.

These meat encasings are then enclosed in two buns and served with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, cheese sauce, coleslaw, bacon, and olives.

Do hot dogs go bad?

Yes, hot dogs go bad. But, they will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.

A hot dog will spoil within hours at room temperature, especially when not stored properly. In contrast, the buns do not spoil as quickly as the hot dog.

Will a hot dog go bad in the fridge?

As long as you do not refrigerate a hot dog for too long and there is no power outage, it should remain fresh in the fridge.

Do not refrigerate your hot dog for more than 3 to 4 days. The longer it stays in the fridge, the softer and more unappetizing it gets.

Will a hot dog go bad if not refrigerated?

Yes, it will go bad. Do not leave hot dogs out at room temperature for more than two hours or one hour when the temperature is above 90°F.

Will hot dogs go bad if left out overnight?

Yes, they will. Leaving a hot dog out for long hours, such as overnight, will expose it to bacterial contamination. These bacteria trigger spoilage and make the hot dog unhealthy for you to eat.

Do hot dogs go bad once opened?

No, they do not go bad immediately. Opened packs of hot dogs should be consumed immediately or refrigerated for at least one week.

You can keep them longer if you freeze them. But you should not freeze them for more than 1 or 2 months for maximum quality.

Will an uncooked hot dog go bad?

An uncooked hot dog will remain fresh for two weeks if it remains unopened and refrigerated. But, you can extend the shelf life to two months if you freeze it in an airtight container.

Will an uncured hot dog go bad?

An uncured hot dog is raw meat and will go bad if left out for more than two hours. If you do not need the raw hot dog immediately, refrigerate or freeze it.

Do hot dogs go bad after their expiration date?

Hot dog that has been stored properly (in a refrigerator or freezer) and does not show any sign of spoilage yet will remain fresh for two weeks or more after the expiration date.

However, when you take it out, carefully inspect it for signs of spoilage. If you notice any sign of spoilage, throw it away.

Can you eat a hot dog cold?

Yes, you can. However, you must be sure it has been stored properly in the fridge.

Also, make sure you check hot dogs’ packaging to see if they have been thoroughly cooked before eating them cold. Otherwise, you may be eating raw meat.

The USDA recommends that hot dogs and other ready-to-eat foods should be thoroughly cooked to avoid food poisoning.

What is the shelf life of a hot dog?

An unopened pack of hot dogs will last for two weeks in the refrigerator. An opened pack, however, would last only a week in the refrigerator.

To extend the shelf life, freeze hot dogs. This way, they can last up to 1 to 3 months.

How to tell if a hot dog is bad

The signs that your hot dog is bad are quite noticeable. The following are tell-tale signs.

1. Rotten smell

You will know if your hot dog is bad from the smell. If it begins to give off a bad smell like something rotten or decayed, it has gone bad and should be trashed.

2. Sausage color changes

Bad hot dogs will have whitish particles scattered across the sausage. A good hot dog color should be pink and reddish.

When the color changes from reddish to brown or gray with white particles, it’s time to throw it out.

3. It becomes slimy

Slime is a sign that the hot dog has gone bad. A slimy and brittle sausage has gone bad and should be thrown out.

How to preserve hot dog

  • Put opened packs of hot dogs into an airtight bag or container and leave unopened packs as they are
  • Keep the bags or containers of your hot dog at the back of the freezer where it is the coldest
  • Keep the hot dog away from odorous foods
  • Do not keep bags or containers of hot dogs on the freezer door
  • Do not freeze the hot dog with the buns or sauce


Can eating an expired hot dog make you sick?

Yes, rotten hot dogs can cause food poisoning. Eating anything old and expired can make you sick.

How quickly do hot dogs go bad?

A hot dog will go bad as fast as 3 hours. If you do not plan to eat the hot dogs right away, freeze or refrigerate them.

How long are cooked hot dogs good for?

A cooked hot dog will last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator if stored properly. Cooked hot dogs can be frozen to extend their shelf life.

Freeze them in covered or sealed containers or freezer bags, then enclose them tightly in heavy-duty tinfoil or freezer wrap.


Hot dogs have a short life span. This is why refrigerating or freezing them is necessary to keep them fresh and prevent them from spoiling too quickly.

A hot dog can last two weeks in the refrigerator and three months in the freezer. However, do not be in a rush to eat your hot dog after taking it out of the refrigerator or freezer. Carefully inspect for signs of spoilage before eating it.

I hope you had a good read. Check out this article to know if all hotdogs are made from pork.

Thanks for reading.