How Long Does Beef Jerky Last in the Fridge?

Beef jerky is the perfect on-the-go protein snack. With its low moisture content and preservative ingredients like salt, beef jerky has an exceptionally long shelf life compared to other meat products. But jerky won’t last forever! Proper storage is key to keeping your jerky fresh and safe to eat. So how long exactly does beef jerky last in the fridge after opening?

Overview of Beef Jerky’s Shelf Life

The shelf life of beef jerky depends on whether it is opened or unopened and the storage conditions. Here is a quick overview:

  • Unopened beef jerky lasts for 1 year in the pantry and fridge.

  • Unopened beef jerky lasts for 2 years in the freezer.

  • Opened beef jerky lasts for 3 weeks in the fridge.

  • Opened beef jerky lasts 2 months in the freezer.

Beef jerky’s low moisture content and water activity prevent spoilage bacteria from growing. The salt and spices also help preserve the meat. Proper storage keeps oxygen and moisture exposure to a minimum to maintain freshness.

How Long Does Unopened Beef Jerky Last in the Fridge?

An unopened properly sealed package of beef jerky will stay fresh in the fridge for about 1 year past the printed sell-by/best-by date on the package.

The cool temperatures of the refrigerator around 40°F help slow down spoilage. As long as the packaging remains intact, the beef jerky inside will not be exposed to moisture or air.

Be sure to check for any visible signs of damage, leaks, or tears before consuming refrigerated jerky past its best-by date. If the packaging appears compromised, it’s best to toss it.

How Long Does Opened Beef Jerky Last in the Fridge?

Once opened, beef jerky will last for 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

It’s important to tightly reseal or transfer any leftover jerky into an airtight container or bag before refrigerating. This prevents foodborne pathogens and mold from growing.

Opened packages have greater exposure to oxygen and humidity. Storing opened jerky in the fridge helps extend its shelf life compared to pantry storage which only lasts 3-5 days.

For maximum freshness, use opened refrigerated jerky within 1-2 weeks. After 3 weeks, check for any off-odors, texture changes, or spoiled spots before eating.

Tips for Storing Beef Jerky in the Fridge

Follow these tips to help your beef jerky last as long as possible in the refrigerator:

  • Check that unused jerky packages are properly sealed with no damage prior to refrigerating. Damaged packaging accelerates spoilage.

  • Transfer any leftover opened jerky into an airtight container or ziplock bag, squeezing out excess air.

  • Position jerky on interior fridge shelves rather than in the door where temperature fluctuations are greater.

  • Avoid storing jerky in moist areas like the fridge crisper drawers. The low humidity of the fridge is ideal.

  • Consume refrigerated jerky within 1 week for best flavor and texture, and within 3 weeks for food safety.

How to Tell if Refrigerated Beef Jerky Has Spoiled

Although refrigeration prolongs the shelf life, jerky can still eventually spoil. Here are signs that refrigerated beef jerky has gone bad:

  • Unpleasant odors – Fresh jerky has a smoky, spiced aroma. Rancid jerky smells sour or funky.

  • Mold growth – Fuzzy spots or discoloration indicates microbial spoilage.

  • Very hard or mushy texture – Jerky dries out but doesn’t get overly soft when fresh.

  • Off flavors – Jerky tastes unpleasantly bitter, sour, or very dull in flavor.

  • Sliminess – Spoiled fat on the jerky surface causes a slimy texture.

When in doubt, remember the old adage, “When in doubt, throw it out!” Dispose of jerky that shows signs of spoilage. Don’t taste questionable jerky, as harmful microbes can cause illness.

Storing Unused Beef Jerky in the Fridge

To maximize the shelf life of beef jerky you don’t plan to eat right away:

  • Keep unopened packages in original packaging.

  • Place in ziplock bags or airtight containers if opened.

  • Store on interior fridge shelves, not in the door.

  • Label packages with the date if keeping for more than a few months.

  • Use jerky within 1 year for best quality.

  • Discard packages if sealing is compromised or jerky smells bad.

Enjoying Beef Jerky Safely

Beef jerky offers a tasty and nutritious snack full of protein. Proper refrigerated storage allows you to keep jerky on hand to enjoy for weeks. Follow the storage guidelines in this article, and your jerky will stay fresh and safe to eat. Discard any jerky with signs of spoilage.

For the freshest tasting jerky, opt for smaller portion sizes that can be eaten within a week after opening. And check out our wide selection of delicious gourmet beef jerky! We use only high-quality ingredients and age-old smoking methods to produce jerky with incredible flavor.

How long does homemade jerky last?


How long is dehydrated beef jerky good for?

Shelf Life of Beef Jerky
Unopened Manufacturer Sealed Bag
Vacuum Sealed at Home
Zip Lock Bag
1-2 years
3-6 months
1 week to four months

Leave a Comment