How Long Can Cooked Sausage Sit Out?
Ever been in a situation where you have leftover sausages that have been sitting out for a long time? Wondering if you can still eat them, or if you’d be better off tossing the lot?
If you have ever wondered how long sausages can last outside of the fridge, then this guide will answer all your queries!
How long can cooked sausage sit out? Cooked sausages should not sit out for more than two hours at room temperature (68-72°F). If the sausages have been left out for longer, then you should always check for signs of spoilage before storing or consuming them.
Read more to learn about the proper storage protocols for cooked sausages and some important tips!
Cooked Sausages – The Danger Zone
Sausages are available in many different varieties but you can broadly categorize them as either fresh or cured sausages.
Fresh sausages pose the biggest risk. Since these sausages are made from freshly minced meat, seasonings, and other ingredients, they have the potential to go bad within two hours.
Why two hours? Bacteria are all around us and there is no escaping them. They easily outnumber us, but fortunately, we can also easily outsmart them!
These microscopic critters thrive at temperatures between 40-140°F — some thermophilic strains can even multiply at relatively higher temperatures, too!
Health agencies have standards set for food storage that are based on scientific data. Scientists discovered that the population of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses doubles roughly every 20 minutes under ideal conditions.
So, if you leave food out for longer, these dangerous bacteria can overthrow the balance of healthy bacteria and cause serious illness in humans!
The reason why you don’t get instantly sick from eating 20-minute old sausage is that it doesn’t have enough bacteria on it to cause a severe reaction and your body is very good at defending itself – up to a certain degree.
This is why it is important for you to time everything when cooking BBQs at home. It’s easy to forget about leftovers during parties, which can push the meat into the danger zone.
We’ll get to how you can slow down and even halt the process of bacterial growth on food – but first, let’s take a look at cured sausages, which many believe to be the safer option.
Cured Sausages – The Safer Option?
Cured sausages are made from a special process that aims to preserve the meat for longer.
It involves reducing the moisture content in the sausage by smoking the meat, which not only improves shelf life but also imparts a delicious flavor!
But are cured sausages resistant to bacterial growth? No! The truth is, cured meats are way better at resisting bacterial growth for some time – but they can also go bad if they are not stored properly.
Cured meats contain less water, and bacteria require moisture to survive. However, since it’s impractical to completely dehydrate a traditional sausage, cured sausages can become compromised within the 2-hour mark too.
Sure, the number of bacteria present on cured meat after some time will be less than in fresh sausages, but you can still get sick from eating the meat.
To put it simply, cured meats are not impervious to bacterial growth and have more or less the same tendency to go bad as cooked fresh sausages.
Raw Vs Cooked Sausage – Which Is Riskier?
Raw sausages are way riskier than cooked sausages due to a simple fact: cooked sausages are treated with high heat, which kills surviving bacteria already present on them – but this doesn’t give them lasting protection!
Raw meat is high in fat and rich in juices – two things that bacteria love just as much as we do.
Uncooked meat is so susceptible to bacterial contamination that if you were to leave out raw meat on a hot summer day, it would have the potential to go bad within 30 minutes!
Don’t bother cooking spoiled meat — even if you get rid of the active bacteria on it, you can’t get rid of the parasites or toxins left behind by the bacteria, which are equally as dangerous to us.
Luckily, once cooked, the sausages can survive up to the 2-hour mark.
However, there are still a few things that you need to keep in mind.
Here’s a handy time chart to help you remember the storage time:
|Type Of Meat||Time Before Requiring Refrigeration|
|Raw Meat||30 minutes – 1 hour at room temperature|
|Uncooked Sausages (Fresh)||30 minutes – 1 hour at room temperature|
|Cooked Sausages||1-2 hours at room temperature|
|Cured Sausages||2 hours at room temperature|
Storage Protocol For Cooked Sausages
Now that we know why we need to store our sausages, and at which times, here are the two ways you can store cooked sausages.
Move the sausages into an airtight container and store them in the fridge at 40°F. Try to keep the sausages at the back of the fridge so that they can remain unaffected by subtle temperature discrepancies.
You can also store the sausages in foil, but we recommend that you keep them away from strong-smelling food or other easily-compromisable foods like cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
Refrigeration will keep the sausages fresh for up to 1-2 days, but we recommend that you eat them as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture.
Always check the meat after 3 days for signs of spoilage (more on this in a bit).
Freezing sausages will keep them safe for a very long time, even indefinitely if you can maintain a stable temperature throughout the storage period.
To freeze cooked sausages, move them into a freezer-safe zip-top bag or container and store the sausages at the back of the freezer compartment.
Keep in mind that while the freezer method can bump up the shelf life to six months or even a year, the texture and quality of the food will decline after 2-3 weeks.
Freezing the meat will slowly cause the moisture to evaporate, which will greatly affect the characteristics of the sausage.
To thaw the sausages, just move them into the fridge and thaw them overnight. Do not refreeze thawed meat — try to consume it the same day for the best experience.
How To Tell If Sausages Have Sat Out Too Long
Make sure to keep an eye (and a nose) out for these signs before consuming sausages that have been left out at room temperature for longer than 1-2 hours. Nobody wants to eat a bad sausage!
This is the first thing that you should notice when dealing with leftover sausages.
Signs of bacterial growth aren’t usually visible at first, but the bacteria do start to devour the food as soon as they become active. Fortunately (or unfortunately), they release byproducts that produce a certain rotten smell that is easy to detect.
If you notice a slight or overpowering smell of sulfur or rotten meat then you should immediately dispose of all the meat.
While cooked meat can have a certain aroma, you should look for subtle aromatic notes that do not feel familiar, which could indicate that the meat has gone bad.
Cooked sausages have a smooth surface but can develop a very thin film of slime when they go bad. This is another subtle but important sign that you need to look out for after the 2-hour mark.
Slime is a consequence of bacterial growth and is a great visual indication of spoilage. Thoroughly check the sausage from all corners to see if there is any slime on it. If you do notice slime, then just discard the affected sausages!
This is a rather long-term side effect of spoiled meat. It is rare for you to see mold or other discoloration in meat after only 2-8 hours, but you might start to see some discoloration in meat that has been left to sit out overnight.
Fuzzy growths or color changes that range from white, gray, or green can all indicate bacterial presence.
Please avoid cutting the affected area – there is no way to salvage the food at this stage and the bacteria would likely already have compromised the sausages from within.
This applies to refrigerated and even thawed meat too!
Sometimes it is possible to not notice any of the above signs. This is when bacteria affect the food from the inside rather than from the outside due to varying factors.
If you don’t notice any of the above signs then we recommend taking a simple taste test. Chew a small piece of meat without swallowing it to determine its safety.
If you taste any bitter or foul notes then this would indicate that the sausage has gone bad. Simply spit out the sausage and thoroughly rinse your mouth.
Storing cooked sausages is easy if you follow the correct protocols. Just avoid leaving them out for more than 1-2 hours at room temperature!
Now that you know the spoilage time of cooked sausages, here are some related questions.
How long can you leave refrigerated sausages out?
Refrigerated sausages should never be left on the counter. Even though the sausages are cooler, there are a lot of factors that can expedite the growth of bacteria — mainly extra moisture!
Can cooked sausages last a week in the fridge?
This mainly depends on how long the sausages were left out to sit in the first place.
If the sausages spent 2-3 hours at room temperature before they were stored in the fridge, then you might have to eat them within 24 hours – but use precaution and look for signs of spoilage before consumption!
Promptly and properly stored cooked sausages should be able to last around 4-5 days, but even then, you should carefully inspect the meat before consuming it.