How Long Does a Smoked Ham Last? (And How To Tell If It’s Gone Bad)

This content contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking a link on this page, we might receive a commission at no cost to you.

Ham is a meat that many people like to keep stocked up on. Smoked ham is a popular variety that is taken from the leg of pork. Before it is exposed to heat, it is cured with spices and salt to give it lots of flavor.

As certain seasons approach, you may find that you consume more smoked ham than normal. For example, during festivities where you will regularly be dining with friends and family.

Because of this, it is easy to overstock on this meat, leaving you with enough leftovers that will eventually end up spoiling if they are not stored properly and eaten in a certain amount of time.

Now you may be wondering how long your smoked ham will last when stored both in and out of your refrigerator and we have provided you with the answers to this query below.

How long does smoked ham last in the refrigerator?

When discussing smoked ham there are a few varieties to be aware of. This includes fresh smoked ham, smoked ham lunch meat, and unopened smoked ham. You should expect a freshly smoked ham to last for up to 5 days when stored in the refrigerator.

Unopened smoked ham is going to last for significantly longer, with an estimated 2-week refrigerated shelf life. Smoked ham lunchmeat will also last for around 2 weeks when it is properly stored inside a refrigerator.

Aside from the type of ham, several other factors will affect how long it is going to last. For example, how it was prepared and the internal temperature of your refrigerator will all contribute.

To ensure that the temperature inside of your refrigerator is regulated, you may find it beneficial to invest in a probe thermometer. Using this device, you will be able to check that the temperature stays within the correct range for your meat.

The packaging of the ham will typically state a date by which it is recommended to be consumed. If you have yet to open your smoked ham, it is advisable to keep it in its original packaging until you are likely to use it. Doing so is going to maximize its shelf life.

How long does smoked ham last in the freezer?

It is possible to freeze smoked ham and you will find that it lasts significantly longer when you store it this way. If you decide to freeze your smoked ham, you must do so before it exceeds its refrigerator shelf life.

Impressively, fresh smoked ham can last for up to 6 months in the freezer just like unopened smoked ham. Smoked ham lunch meat will not last for quite as long when frozen as it has a 3-month shelf life.

Before freezing your ham, if it is open and has recently been cooked, you must allow it plenty of time to cool down completely. Double wrapping your ham is also recommended, even if you are yet to have used it. If it is still in its original packaging you can add a layer of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

If your smoked ham has been opened and removed from its original packaging, you will need to rewrap it in heavyweight foil, plastic wrap, or a freezer bag. Remember to wrap it a second time for an additional layer of protection.

Whilst smoked ham can last for up to 6 months and is safe to consume up until this time, it is going to be of the best quality when used within 1 to 2 months of freezing. It is also worth labeling it on the date that you are freezing it so you know how long it is going to last from that time.

You can thaw your ham in one of three ways. The first option is to defrost it inside your refrigerator. If you are dealing with a smaller joint of ham or you don’t have a lot of time to wait for it to thaw, you can defrost it inside a microwave. Alternatively, if the ham is still inside an airtight bag you can thaw it in cold water.

After defrosting your smoked ham inside the refrigerator it will keep for a further 3 to 5 days before you need to cook it. However, this does not apply to smoked ham that was defrosted in cold water or the microwave. Instead of keeping it inside your fridge for a couple of days, you must cook it immediately.

How long does smoked ham last at room temperature?

Smoked ham that is dry cooked and still whole can last for a year when stored at room temperature. Most other varieties of ham should not be stored at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

If this time has passed and it still has not been used, you will need to discard it. This is because bacteria tend to thrive at room temperature. As soon as you make a cut into the ham and expose moisture you must put it into your refrigerator straight away.

How to tell if your smoked ham has gone bad?

The most obvious way of identifying whether your smoked ham has gone bad is to use your senses and smell it. If it smells sour or there is a noticeable difference in the odor it has more than likely gone bad. Aside from this, you may also notice a change in the color of the ham.

Typically, meat tends to be a shade of pink but when it starts to spoil it may look rather grey and dull. Another change can be identified in the feel and appearance of the ham. You may find that it looks and feels quite slimy. If it isn’t slimy it may feel sticky. Either texture is a sign that the ham has gone bad.

Finally, if you have bitten into a piece of ham and notice that it tastes different from how it did previously, you shouldn’t continue to eat it because it has probably gone bad.