We’re coming up on the season where people will be smoking ham and turkey and preparing for family gatherings.
Cooler weather means cold-weather meals and you simply can’t beat a good smoked ham. Of course, smoke ham can be great in any season!
When you purchase a smoked ham or smoke a ham yourself, there tends to be a lot of meat to contend with. You might find yourself working with leftovers for days.
So how can you possibly know when the ham goes bad or what you can do to keep the ham good until you can get it used up?
How long does smoked ham last in the fridge? If your smoked ham was stored properly in an air-tight container, it should last 5-7 days in the fridge. Uncooked, well-sealed smoked ham may last 3-5 days, whereas smoked ham lunch meat can last up to 2 weeks.
In this guide, we will walk you through how long smoked ham will last in the fridge. We will share with you just what you need to know about how long the ham will last.
We will also share some tips for making ham last longer and how to understand when it’s time to just toss the meat out.
Keep reading to learn how long smoked ham lasts!
How Long Will Smoked Ham Last in the Fridge?
Smoked ham can come in many forms. You can also store it several different ways.
Another thing to know is that when you purchase a ham from the grocery store, it is quite possible that the ham is already cooked or even smoked so be sure to pay attention to what you purchased!
This part is only slightly relevant to the information here.
The timelines can change slightly depending on whether the ham is cooked when you purchased it. In this guide, we are primarily focusing on a smoked ham that you smoked at home or purchased already cooked and smoked for you.
Here is a quick reference table that denotes some variances in storage and ham types when it comes to storing ham in the fridge. We also included some freezer timelines in the table, although that is not our focus in this guide.
|Ham Type||Storage Type||Refrigeration Time||Freezer Time|
|Fresh smoked ham||Traditional storage||3-5 days||Up to 6 months|
|Smoked ham, unopened||Vacuum sealed at plant||2 weeks||Up to 6 months|
|Smoked ham, opened||Vacuum sealed at plant||3-5 days||Up to 3 months|
|Leftover smoked ham||Traditional storage||Up to 7 days||Up to 3 months|
|Smoked ham lunchmeat||Traditional storage||2 weeks||Up to 3 months|
What you will notice in this table is that the way in which the ham is stored or even purchased can make a difference. Notice that the packaging can make a significant difference in how long smoked ham will last in the fridge.
Here is the general rule of thumb. Most smoked ham will last up to 7 days. You can potentially vacuum seal even your cooked ham and potentially get longer use out of the ham.
Storing Smoked Ham to Keep It Fresh
We have what we hope will be some helpful tips for storing cooked ham in the fridge. There are two different categories to consider. The first is an uncooked smoked ham and the second is leftover smoked ham.
We feel it is important to look at both of these scenarios so we can cover all of the bases. Let’s start by talking about leftover smoked ham. If you’re looking for the details on uncooked smoked ham, it’s coming up next!
How to Store Leftover Smoked Ham
I’m sure that smoked ham was absolutely delicious! There is just something about that smoked flavor that really sets ham apart.
Of course, now you’re probably trying to figure out what to do with all of those leftovers. It seems like you have enough ham left to feed an army.
While you probably have some ideas for making meals with your leftover ham, like adding it to a broccoli cheese soup, you’ll need to know how to store it in the meantime. a
Our tips are primarily related to storing smoked ham in the fridge but we want to point out that you could potentially freeze your leftover ham if you need it to last longer than the fridge will provide for you.
Storing leftover ham in the freezer could grant you about 3 months of time. Storing leftover ham in the fridge will give you around 5-7 days total to get your ham used up.
Here are our recommended steps to store your leftover smoked ham in the fridge and keep it fresh:
- Wait for your ham to cool to room temperature. This is important for food safety!
- Wrap any unused ham in plastic wrap. A double layer of plastic wrap never hurts.
- Then follow up by wrapping the ham in a layer of foil or placing it into a storage bag or even a storage container. The key here is you want a double layer of protection to keep your ham fresh for as long as possible.
- Store for up to 7 days.
Here are a couple more tips. When you are slicing your smoked ham, slice only what you need and leave the remainder unsliced until you are ready to serve it. This can help to retain the natural moisture in the meat.
Next, we want to point out that with ham you do not have to let it cool to room temperature in order to store it. In fact, we recommend that you pack it up and store it as soon as possible after you’re finished serving.
How to Store Uncooked Smoked Ham
The good news is that an uncooked smoked ham fresh from the grocery store is pretty easy to store and keep fresh.
If the ham is unopened, it will last in your fridge for quite some time. In fact, it will last almost double what your leftover smoked ham might last!
Even though your ham is most likely vacuum-sealed into a package, if you plan to freeze it, you will want to take some extra precautions and maybe wrap it in another layer of freezer paper or plastic wrap just to be sure it’s fully protected.
As long as you leave the packaging unopened for your uncooked smoked ham, you should be able to store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It should stay fresh with no issue as long as it is unopened.
If you happen to open the vacuum-sealed packaging, we recommend that you wrap it up, similarly to the process we detailed above for cooked smoked ham.
You can use a layer of plastic wrap and then follow up with a layer of foil or a storage bag or container. An uncooked smoked ham is most likely going to be easiest to store with both.
When to Throw Out Smoked Ham
The most obvious way to know if it is time to throw out your ham is to check the “best by” dates. While these are not always an exact science they can be a clear indicator of whether or not your ham is going to be any good.
There are some types of ham that are known to last longer than this date but we recommend that you don’t risk it. There are also some clear indicators you can look for to really know if your ham needs to be tossed out.
Here are some indicators that your ham has gone bad:
- Slimy look or feel to the ham
- Color has started fading and maybe looks gray
- Odor seems noticeably off
If you see or smell any of these indicators, it’s time to just toss the ham out! Please do not risk your health by cooking or eating this meat. It’s time to let it go. Even if it’s only a little off! Don’t bother to taste it if you notice any of this.
However, if it seems fine but then you taste it and it seems off, discard the meat. We love ham, but why risk it?
We hope you have found this guide to understanding how long smoked ham lasts to be a valuable resource. There are several ways to keep your meat and fresh and some good information to know about when to toss the meat out.
We invite you to review our question and answer section for some additional information.
Does Smoked Ham Have to Be Refrigerated?
For the most part, your smoked ham will need to be refrigerated. There are some types of cured ham that may not require storage in the fridge but you should plan on fridge storage for the most part. Better safe than sorry!
Is a Smoked Ham Already Cooked?
If you purchased a cured, baked, or smoked ham from the grocery store then most likely it is what is known as a pre-cooked ham. This means it was cooked before you bought it.
However, you will probably need to reheat that ham or cook it to temperature for serving purposes.
Still, it’s good to check the packaging before assuming you have a pre-cooked smoked ham on your hands!