How long does Beef Jerky last? From production to consumption

how long does beef jerky last

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If you’re searching for a protein-packed snack that’s easy to take with you on the go or simply delights in the distinct taste of cured beef, then Beef Jerky is a great choice! It’s enjoyed by millions worldwide due to its unique flavor and crunchy texture.

However, one of the questions that often comes up is how long does beef jerky last? From the time it is produced right up to when you are consuming it, knowing how long beef jerky will stay fresh is essential in making sure that you are consuming a safe and enjoyable product.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How long does beef jerky last?
  • How to prepare beef jerky
  • How long does it last in the fridge?
  • And more!

Does Beef Jerky Go Bad?

Beef jerky is a dried and preserved meat product, which means that it has a longer shelf life than fresh meat. The preservation methods used in the production of beef jerky are what give it its long shelf life, but that doesn’t mean that beef jerky never goes bad.

dried beef jerky

With its long shelf life, beef jerky is a convenient snack that can stay fresh for weeks; however, this doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to expiration dates. The preservation techniques used during the production process are what give it longer-lasting properties, yet like any other food product – eventually, it’ll go bad.


drying beef jerky

Delicious, protein-packed beef jerky is prepared through a combination of drying, curing, and smoking. Drying drains the moisture from the meat so bacteria cannot grow on it. Curing safeguards against spoilage additionally by using salt or other preservatives to inhibit bacterial growth.

To give your jerky an extra layer of flavor and extended shelf life, you can also opt for smoking which adds that unmistakable smoky taste while simultaneously preserving it.

Although these techniques do help to protect beef jerky, it is still important to be aware of the expiration date on the packaging and its storage environment. If you keep your beef jerky in a setting that is either too hot or humid, it can spoil sooner than expected.

Another factor that can affect the beef jerky shelf life is vacuum sealing. Beef jerky has a longer shelf life when it is vacuum-sealed. The oxidation process is slower due to the lack of oxygen, thus making the beef jerky stay fresh for an extended period.

For the longest shelf-life, beef jerky should be stored correctly; it can remain safe to consume for up to a year. However, if you are questioning its freshness and quality, trust your senses: look out for discoloration or mold on the product as well as an off smell – if either of these signs is evident, then discard it immediately.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last in the Fridge?

You can store your Beef Jerky at room temperature, with a shelf life of several months up to a year. You can also keep it in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Storing it in the fridge can extend its shelf life by a few months.

homemade beef jerky

When kept in the refrigerator, unopened beef jerky has a shelf life of around 6 to 12 months. This timeframe, however, depends on numerous factors, such as the kind of beef jerky, its production method, and its storage environment.

If you store opened Jerky in the fridge, one of the factors that can affect the shelf life is the level of humidity. Moisture and air can cause the beef jerky to spoil faster. To avoid this from happening, it is advised to store the jerky in an airtight container or resealable bag.

If you want your beef jerky to last longer in the fridge, it is essential that its storage location has a consistent temperature. Constant fluctuations in temperatures can cause the meat’s expiration date to come sooner than expected. To avoid this issue, make sure to store your beef jerky in an unchanging environment within the refrigerator for maximum preservation.

For optimal flavor and health safety, it’s essential to consume beef jerky before the expiration date printed on its packaging – even when stored in a refrigerator. This way, you can enjoy great taste and quality while avoiding any risks!

How to Store Beef Jerky?

dried beef jerky

Proper storage is important to ensure that your beef jerky lasts as long as possible and remains safe to eat. If you want to preserve the quality of your beef jerky, here are some tips on how to correctly store it:

  • Storing: Preserve the flavor and quality of your beef jerky by storing it in an airtight container or resealable bag. This will prevent moisture and oxygen from seeping in, which could cause the beef jerky to spoil.
  • Cool and dry area: To maintain that delicious beef jerky flavor, it’s essential to keep your snack in a cool and dry area. Anywhere from the pantry to the kitchen cupboard or even your refrigerator would work perfectly! Moisture and warmth will only accelerate spoilage, so be sure to store them appropriately for optimal freshness.
  • Keep out of direct sunlight: Prolonged exposure to light can cause the flavor of beef jerky to degrade. To ensure that you get the most out of your snack, it is best to store it in a place where no sun rays can reach it.
  • Vacuum sealing: Vacuum sealing is the ultimate way to preserve beef jerky, as it eliminates air from the container and decelerates oxidation. This will help your beef jerky stay fresh for an extended period of time!
  • Monitor the storage condition: Always keep an eye on the storage conditions to ensure that it stays within the recommended range. Make sure to check the temperature and humidity levels.
  • Note the production and expiration date: Always keep an eye on the production and expiration dates and consume them within the recommended shelf life.

These tips will ensure your beef jerky remains fresh and safe for you to eat. To ensure the highest quality product and avoid potential health risks, beef jerky should be consumed within the recommended shelf-life.

Can You Freeze Beef Jerky?

It may seem like freezing jerky is a good idea; however, it’s important to understand the effects freezing will have on both its texture and flavor. If frozen for too long, your beef jerky could become brittle and dry with an unappetizing taste. Therefore, take caution if you plan to freeze it!

moldy beef jerky

If you decide to indulge in frozen beef jerky, it is recommended that you thaw it overnight or for a few hours in the refrigerator. Do not leave your meat out at room temperature – this could lead to bacterial growth.

It should be noted that beef jerky loses its freshness after thawing and, therefore, should be consumed within one week. If discoloration, bad smell, or mold is noticed on the beef jerky, discard it immediately for safety reasons.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last in the Freezer?

Beef jerky can last for longer when stored in the freezer if it is properly sealed and packaged. The recommended shelf life of beef jerky in the freezer is around 6 to 12 months. However, it can last even longer, up to 2 years. For safety reasons, it’s always best to check the expiration date and make sure to determine if the jerky has gone bad; look for discoloration, mold, or bad smell.

It’s important to always ensure that the Jerky is consumable, especially if 12 months have passed.


Understanding the shelf life of beef jerky is crucial to ensure that you are consuming safe and delicious products. Many factors affect the shelf-life of beef jerky from production to consumption. These include storage conditions, preservation methods, and expiration dates.

When it comes to beef jerky, the quality of your snack depends on how you store and consume it. Thus, proper storage is essential for making sure that your meaty treat lasts as long as possible and remains edible.

Keep in mind that even with careful preservation methods, you should always eat within its recommended shelf life to ensure a safe eating experience and get the most out of your food item’s flavor!

While storing beef jerky, look out for any discoloration or odd smells – these signs can indicate spoilage; if consumed past this stage, health hazards may arise, too, so be mindful when enjoying this tasty delicacy!

Freezing beef jerky is another option to extend its shelf life, but it’s essential to understand that it can affect the texture and flavor. It is advised to correctly seal and package the beef jerky prior to freezing it in your refrigerator, then allowing it to thaw.


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Tom Wilmer

I'm Tom Wilmer, an award-winning pitmaster and BBQ judge. I share my passion for barbecue through my blog, BBQ Soldiers, offering recipes, tips, and smoker reviews. Let's grill together!

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