This Is How Long Hot Dogs Take To Go Bad

Hot dogs are one of those fun handheld foods we connect in our minds with certain events such as baseball games and other sporting events with concession stands. They are standard fare at holiday gatherings like Memorial Day and July 4th cookouts during which we sling burgers and franks on the grill. There are even hot dogs associated with certain cities including the Chicago-style dog, typically an all-beef Vienna wiener on a steamed bun slathered in yellow mustard and packed with a kosher dill spear, chopped onions, spicy peppers, tomatoes, and neon green relish (per Tastes of Chicago).

These sausages might be a great accompaniment to a game or a celebration, but unless you're sampling a veggie or vegan version, they are generally loaded with fat and sodium, so be careful to partake in moderation (via Verywell Fit). And let's face it, as a heavily processed food, there are some things you don't want to know about hot dogs. But one thing you definitely do want to know about hot dogs, if you plan on eating them or serving them to your fellow humans, is how long they take to go bad.

Safely storing and handling hot dogs

As with many other foods, how long hot dogs can last before they spoil can vary based on different factors, including how and where you store them. If there is an expiration date or "Best if used by" date, it is recommended that you follow those guidelines on when to discard them. If there is no listed expiration date on a package, you can refrigerate hot dogs for up to two weeks if unopened, and up to one week in the fridge after opening (per Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center).

You can also store hot dogs in the freezer to extend their usage, but you shouldn't keep them frozen beyond one to two months in order to retain their quality. It's important to note that for safe and proper handling, you should never leave hot dogs out at room temperature for more than two hours (a rule that applies to all refrigerated foods, per USDA). Plop them on the grill as soon as possible once they have been removed from the package.

And lest you think it's okay to consume hot dogs raw since they're pre-cooked, the FDA cautions you to think again. That's because some hot dogs can become contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes after being processed and packaged at a plant, which can cause a serious infection (via the CDC). The FDA recommends reheating your dogs until steaming hot to protect against listeria infection.