Cooked pork can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. If you want the meat to last any longer, you’ll have to put it in the freezer.
I learned all about food safety in cooking school, and during my time as a pitmaster in a steakhouse, we used as much cooked meat as possible. That said, this isn’t always feasible for households that cook pork that can’t be eaten all at once. For this reason, learning how long you can refrigerate cooked pork is crucial.
Fortunately, I’ll discuss the answer to this question in detail in today’s article. I’ll also show you the best way to store cooked pork. So, let’s get started.
How Long Does Cooked Pork Stay Good in the Fridge?
Cooked pork should last in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. The precise shelf life of the meat will depend on the storage conditions. For this reason, you’ll need to follow proper storage procedures.
To begin with, never leave your pork out at room temperature for over two hours. This applies to both raw and cooked meat. At room temperature, your cooked pork is at risk of reaching the danger zone of 40 to 140 degrees.
Food bacteria that cause illnesses quickly multiply in the danger zone. The pork meat may still smell, taste, or look fine, but you should avoid eating meat that sat at the counter for that long. After the cooked pork has cooled, store the leftovers in sealable bags or sealed containers. Fill the containers or bags to the brim and force excess air out of the bags.
When storing the pork in the fridge, place it at the back of the fridge. This way, the meat will be protected from the warm blasts of air that enter the fridge when you open the door.
You can also wrap the cooked pork tightly in plastic wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil before storing it in containers to best preserve it. If you don’t have plastic wrap or aluminum foil, use freezer paper instead.
For larger cuts, such as a cooked pork roast, an airtight freezer bag is probably best. Also, ensure the temperature of your fridge is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can I Freeze Cooked Pork?
You can freeze cooked pork to make it last longer than 4 days. Freezing pork extends its shelf life by 2 to 3 months. I recommend you cook the frozen meat within 2 months or else the meat may lose all its unique flavor.
Before placing the pork in the freezer, you’ll need to store it properly. To do this, wrap the pork in a freezer wrap and put it in an airtight container before storing it in your freezer. You can also place the meat inside a heavy-duty freezer bag if you don’t have a container.
Signs That Cooked Pork is Spoiled
You can tell if cooked pork is bad by touching, smelling, and looking at it. If you perceive a foul odor in your pork, it is definitely bad.
A slimy or gooey texture is another sign of rotten pork. The meat should feel a bit oily to the touch. However, if you notice a slimy or gooey texture on the meat, you should throw it out.
Furthermore, pay attention to the color of your pork. If the meat’s color has changed from a brownish hue to a shade of gray, it is likely spoiled. Bear in mind that a change in color is usually accompanied by a sour smell.
If you notice a whitish substance on the meat, it’s nothing more than coagulated protein. The protein forms when the meat is cooked at a high temperature for a long period of time. Mold, on the other hand, has a fuzzy texture and can have green or white spots. If you notice mold, throw away the meat.
Make sure you throw away the refrigerated cooked pork when you notice any of these signs. So, thoroughly examine the cut before cooking, or else you will get sick.
What Happens if You Eat Spoiled Cooked Pork?
Eating bad pork can lead to symptoms of food poisoning. Food poisoning symptoms include nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc.
As you can see, eating bad pork isn’t fun! For this reason, it’s vital to check your cooked pork before eating it. Quick checks will save you from discomfort and, in severe cases, a trip to the doctor’s office.
How to Thaw Frozen Pork?
From experience, the safest way to thaw frozen cooked meat, including pork tenderloin, pork chops, and pork roast, is to place it in the fridge the night before you want to cook it. The meat would have completely thawed the next morning.
Thawing the frozen, cooked pork in cold water is another good option. Fill a large bowl halfway with water and add as many ice cubes as you wish. Next, place the meat in a sealable waterproof bag, and dunk it in the bowl. Let the frozen cooked pork sit in the water and remove it when the meat has fully thawed. You can change the water every 30 minutes if you want the pork to thaw quicker.
Frozen pork chops or pork tenderloin can also be defrosted in the microwave in 2-3-minute increments using the “defrost” setting. Moreover, modern convection ovens feature a defrost function that can thaw frozen foods with moderately hot air. Ensure you cook the meat immediately after defrosting with the microwave.
Another thing to keep in mind is that cooked pork should never be left out for more than 1–2 hours. This means that contrary to popular belief, countertop thawing is out of the question, or else it will be risky to eat leftover pork.
How to Reheat Leftover Cooked Pork?
You can reheat leftover pork, but you must heat it all to a 165°F internal temperature to help kill any bacteria that may be present. When reheating your cooked pork, remember that slow and steady wins the race.
You can reheat your leftover pork in an oven at 350 degrees. You can make the leftovers even more moist by drizzling broth on the meat. A quicker method would be to heat the meat in a cast-iron skillet. This method also produces tasty results. However, the meat will not be as tender as it would be if you heated it in the oven.
That said, you can serve the leftover pork chops with BBQ sauce for extra juiciness. Remember, don’t reheat pork that has been in the fridge for over four days. Simply dispose of the meat. Note that reheating meat that has been left out for too long will not make it any safer to eat. Even though the high heat from the cooker will kill the bacteria on the surface, the toxins from the bacteria may have seeped inside the meat already. Keep in mind that you should only reheat leftovers once, or else you risk getting sick after eating the meat.
How to Reuse Leftover Cooked Pork?
There are several recipes you can use for your leftover cooked pork chops before it goes bad. I personally love pork fried rice. Chopping the meat into tiny bits and using it as a garnish on rice tastes amazing.
You can also use the pork in soups and stews for an extra porky taste. You could also pull the leftover pork and use it as a filling for pulled pork tacos and sandwiches. Feel free to experiment with numerous recipes and eat cooked pork chops in different ways.
Now you know the answer to “How long is cooked pork good in the fridge.” Cooked pork will last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, so ensure you eat the meat within 4 days, lest you risk food poisoning. Remember to follow my tips for properly storing your cooked pork so you achieve the maximum shelf life possible instead of the meat rotting earlier than expected.