| |

How To Tell If Sausage Is Bad

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Sausage is such a versatile food that can be used in a lot of different ways. You have sausage links, sausage patties, ground sausage, Italian sausage, and more.

You can enjoy breakfast, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and plenty of other dishes that incorporate different varieties of sausage into them. 

When it comes to meat like sausage, you need to know how to tell when it’s no longer any good.

Of course, there are recommendations for how long to store sausage and how long it is meant to be good for but if you’re not really sure about the timeline, you still need other ways to know if sausage is bad. 

How do you tell if sausage is bad? If the uncooked sausage has a grey or off-white color to it instead of a normal pink hue, as well as a rancid or sour scent, then the sausage has gone bad and must be thrown out. For cooked sausage, it’s much easier to tell if it’s bad by the smell. If it smells sour or off, throw it out.

In this guide, we will walk you through all of the ways to tell if sausage is bad. We will discuss different types of sausage as well as talking about cooked and raw sausage.

By the end of the guide, you should at least know the basic details to be able to check out your sausage. 

Stick with us to learn how to tell if sausage is bad and more. 

How To Tell If Sausage Is Bad – The Complete Guide

Sausage is a form of pork and pork can sometimes be challenging to tell when it goes bad. There is more than one way to tell when it goes bad and some of the ways to tell might differ for various kinds of sausage as well. 

In most cases, the best way to tell will be a visual inspection or a sniff test so let’s go over the general guidelines of those first

We do want to point out that every variety of sausage, whether it’s ground sausage, sausage links, or sausage patties can be given these same tests pretty much to determine if they have gone bad. 

Visual Inspection

When you look at the sausage, an indicator that it is bad or is possibly going bad might be that the color of the meat is turning slightly gray.

This is really specific to raw meat as sausage takes on a gray tone after it has been cooked but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is bad. 

If your raw sausage looks like it is gray or beginning to turn gray, you have two options. You can cut off the gray portions and go ahead and use the rest or you can toss it all.

Since it clearly is in the process of going bad, we recommend just tossing it at this point but if you choose to cut off the gray and use the remainder, it will probably be ok to do so. 

Another visual inspection detail that you might notice is sliminess. If the meat looks slimy to you or has a slimy coating on it beyond just the natural juices of the meat, it’s an indicator that the meat has gone bad. 

You definitely don’t want to use slimy meat so if you notice slime, use that as an indication that your sausage is bad and go ahead and toss it out instead of risking illness from consuming it. 


The next best way to determine whether meat is possibly bad is to do a quick sniff test. Here’s the thing, meat doesn’t always have a pleasant smell as it is but an odor for meat that has gone bad won’t just be that raw meat smell. 

The odor is going to have a sour or a rotten hint to it. Chances are if the meat is bad you won’t have to get your nose really close to it to be able to pick up on the odor either.

You’re probably going to notice the odor right away when you open the meat or start handling it. 

If your sausage smells sour or rotten in any way, it probably is bad and should be tossed out as it is not safe to consume.

Another good way to describe the odor is putrid. It will almost have a sulfuric smell that is often associated with rotting foods. 

If it smells bad, and it’s not just a raw meat smell, it probably really is bad so don’t chance it. 

How To Tell If Cooked Sausage Is Bad

Alright, we talked about raw sausage, but do the same rules apply for cooked sausage? Once sausage has been cooked, it will generally last maybe 3-5 days in the fridge. The longer it sits there, the more likely it is to go bad. 

If you store your cooked sausage in the freezer, it will last much longer and may stay good in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Of course, sausage is preserved in the freezer at whatever state it went into the freezer but 6 months or less is the recommendation for the best quality when you thaw it out. 

The rules for determining whether cooked sausage has gone bad is going to be very similar to telling whether or not raw sausage has gone bad, with some minor differences.

Just like with raw sausage, you can use the above-mentioned factors to determine whether any type of sausage you are working with has potentially gone bad. 

Visual Inspection

With cooked sausage, a grayish color is not necessarily a clear indicator because sausage tends to take on a light tone when it is fully cooked.

When it is raw, it will be tones of pink but when it is cooked it turns light or dark brown, or maybe even reddish for sausage links. 

The light brown colors might make distinguishing whether or not it is turning gray a little bit harder.

However, if you notice it looking white or the color looking off from what you remember when you cooked the sausage, this is an indication that the sausage has gone bad. In this case, go ahead and toss it out

Of course, on that same note, hints of green or black spots or anything that appears to be growing on the sausage is also a visual sign that your sausage has gone bad. Do not eat it when any of these are present! 

The other visual inspection piece is related to the texture of the meat and it’s again very similar to raw meat.

If you’re noticing that the meat looks slimy or maybe even slippery, this is a sign it has gone bad. This is true regardless of what form your sausage is in. 

Sausage that has gone bad may get either too slippery or too hard. If it’s hard, it definitely won’t be fun to eat anyway so you should assume it has probably gone bad.

If it is slippery, this is an almost definite sign that your sausage has gone bad and you should toss it out. 


Just like you did with your raw sausage, you can also do a sniff test for your cooked sausage. Again, the sniff test will be slightly different with cooked meat as compared to raw meat. 

Raw meat has a very specific scent and your cooked meat is not going to smell that way. However, it should smell like cooked sausage and potentially like any seasonings that you added to the sausage as well. 

If the cooked sausage has gone bad, this can typically be more easily noticeable. It will smell rancid or rotten. The smell will be sour and it will definitely stand out from your cooked sausage scent

If you catch a whiff of that kind of odor, you should toss out the sausage. 

Related Questions

We hope that you find this guide to determining whether sausage has gone bad to be helpful for you. It’s easy to tell if you know what to look for. 

We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information. 

What happens if you eat bad sausage?

Eating bad sausage could lead to food poisoning. This may cause things like vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and other symptoms. It’s possible to not experience any symptoms but it isn’t likely so it’s better not to take the risk. 

Why is my sausage slimy? 

If your sausage is noticeably slimy, this is an indicator that it has gone bad.

Sausage casings will sometimes feel slightly slimy to the touch and that is ok but if there is visible slime that is thicker and very obviously not natural slime from the juices of the meat, then toss out the sausage. 

Can you eat sausage after the use-by date? 

The use-by date is meant to be a guideline to guarantee the best quality by that date. It is not always a guarantee that something will spoil by that date.

If you have sausage and it’s past the use-by date, be sure to check the signs to see if it has gone bad. Otherwise, you should be able to eat it. 

Up Next: How To Strain Without A Strainer

One Comment


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *