Hot dogs are an easy item to freeze and are a flexible option when needed for a meal. However, frozen hot dogs don’t last as long as most foods if you want to enjoy them at their highest quality.
Do frozen hot dogs go bad? Despite the high number of preservatives in hot dogs, frozen hot dogs go bad in the freezer after only two months, and this is if you’ve never opened the package and placed them in the freezer immediately after you get them home from the store.
For all you hot dog lovers out there, this article digs into the nitty-gritty of how to safely freeze one of your favorites. We’ll also discuss things to watch out for and how to thaw those dogs the right way.
How Long Do Frozen Hot Dogs Last?
All hot dogs have a “best if used by” date printed on their packages. This is a good benchmark to use, but don’t think you can extend it by placing hot dog packages in the freezer.
Technically, hot dogs that remain frozen indefinitely won’t cause food poisoning. However, after one to two months in the freezer, the taste of hot dogs begins to break down.
To enjoy the best tasting hot dogs, plan on cooking them after you’ve had them stored in the freezer for a month.
There is a caveat to this rule, though. Let’s say you bring a package of hot dogs home and cook them the same day. You’ve cooked too many by mistake, and don’t think you’ll be eating the leftovers anytime soon.
So, you decide to freeze them. You’re in luck because cooked hot dogs will last up to four months in the freezer if you package them correctly.
How Should You Store Hot Dogs in the Freezer?
Before placing hot dogs in the freezer, you should drain and clean any liquid that’s on them. Some people like to wrap the dogs in individual pieces of aluminum foil and then place them in a freezer bag or sealed container.
Whether you use a freezer bag or sealed container, be sure to seal it firmly. Your hot dogs will develop freezer burn and go bad faster than average when air gets in.
You’ll also want to write down the date you placed the container in the freezer. You can write yourself a note on the fridge, but it’s best practice to place the date on the container itself.
What’s the Best Way to Thaw Frozen Hot Dogs?
There are a few ways to thaw out frozen hot dogs: in the fridge, on the counter at room temperature, in the microwave, or in cold water.
If you thaw out frozen hot dogs in cold water, in the microwave, or on the counter, you’ll need to cook and eat them immediately. That’s why thawing out frozen hot dogs in the fridge can be more advantageous.
The hot dogs will thaw in an environment with controlled temperatures and will remain safe to eat for a few more days. You’ll extend the shelf life of those hot dogs for another meal or two. And you can thaw them without worrying about your family’s safety while you’re away at work.
What are the Signs Frozen Hot Dogs Have Gone Bad?
Bad or spoiled hot dogs give off three clues. The first one is a slimy appearance. If you notice that the top of those dogs looks mushy or slicker than usual, throw them out. Also, if you see any liquid pooled underneath, get rid of them.
A second clue is a sour or rancid smell. This is a sign you can’t ignore because it will overpower your senses. The third clue is freezer burn, which can look like ice crystals or built-up chunks of ice.
Can You Refreeze Hot Dogs?
Once you’ve thawed out a package or set of hot dogs, you can’t safely refreeze them. Go ahead and cook or grill them up! If you’ve thawed out too many, it looks like you’ll be in hot dog heaven for a few days.
In some instances, you can probably get away with refreezing the hot dogs once if the package hasn’t been opened or the hot dogs were cooked.
To get rid of them quicker, invite some friends over or surprise your neighbors will a home-cooked meal. Just make sure they like hot dogs, too!
What Will Happen if You Eat Bad Frozen Hot Dogs?
You’re probably not going to get past the awful smell, appearance, or taste. But in case you do, your greatest risk is infection from listeria. This is a type of bacteria that can grow within spoiled meat.
Although hot dogs contain a lot of preservatives, dangerous bacteria can still grow. This isn’t something you want to eat, as you could find yourself in the hospital with a life-threatening infection.
Does the Meat in Hot Dogs Impact Shelf Life?
No, the type of meat in hot dogs does not extend or shorten the average shelf life. Whether you buy turkey dogs, 100% beef dogs, or mystery meat dogs, the shelf life in the freezer remains one to two months.
If you place hot dogs in the refrigerator instead of the freezer, you should eat them within three to four days for the best taste. However, you have up to two weeks if you haven’t opened the package yet. If you have opened the package, you only have a week to eat them up.
What if You Left Hot Dogs Out on the Counter?
After sitting out on a counter for two hours, hot dogs spoil. So this isn’t really something you want to make a habit of. At the very least, plan on cooking and eating them as soon as possible.
Hot dogs left out on a grill can go bad within the hour if outside temperatures are hot enough. Make sure you’re keeping those dogs on ice in a cooler and only cooking up what you and your guests can stomach.
Frozen hot dogs are safe to keep in the freezer for up to two months, as long as you’ve never opened the package or sealed them in an air-tight container. Once you bring them out of the freezer to thaw, plan on cooking and eating them as soon as possible. Also, don’t try to refreeze your leftovers or eat hot dogs that look slimy or smell bad!