How Long You Have To Eat An Open Package Of Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are one of the most economical proteins available to the American home cook. Just one package of ten frankfurters typically costs less than $10, but the large amount of hot dogs in a single bag also makes it easy to end up with leftovers, especially when you're not feeding a crowd. Franks aren't exactly similar to fresh meat, either, so you might wonder how long an open package can last in the fridge. 

Unfortunately, unsealing this product cuts its original shelf life in half. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an open package of uncooked hot dogs will last up to seven days in the fridge. By comparison, a sealed bag of franks takes about two weeks to go bad, if properly stored. If you find yourself unable to use up all the remaining links in a week, feel free to transfer them to the freezer instead. 

Cold storage will preserve your hot dogs indefinitely, but try to consume them within two months to get the best flavor. You don't need to defrost franks before cooking, either, making this method just as convenient as regular refrigeration. To find out how to make them last as long as possible in the fridge, though, read on.

How to keep your hot dogs from spoiling

Hot dogs are a cured (and often smoked) product, but they can still go bad early when not stored correctly. If the original packaging of your franks is not resealable, foodborne pathogens living in your fridge can creep their way in and cause spoilage. Keeping your hot dogs in an open package also puts the rest of the items in your fridge at risk, as the meat's juices could leak out and contaminate produce or other products.

Transferring hot dogs to an airtight container not only circumvents these issues, but keeps the cold, dry air of the refrigerator from muting their flavor, as well. Whether you're storing them in the fridge or freezer, use some masking tape and a marker to label the container. Write down the date you opened the dogs and the expiration date from the original package.

The amount of time your franks have spent outside the fridge can also affect how fast they spoil. Regardless of whether they've been opened or not, you never want to keep a package of hot dogs that have sat at room temperature for over two hours. Leaving them out for this period or longer gives bacteria time to multiply into illness-causing quantities. Refrigerate perishable goods immediately after every use, whether it's hot dogs or something else.

Ways to use up hot dogs before they go bad

A week might not seem like a long time to finish a full package of hot dogs, but it can be easily done, if you add them to recipes beyond the usual. Tired of just sticking a link in a bun? Casseroles, stews, and even pizza can be dazzled up with sliced wieners, as they provide the perfect amount of meaty savoriness and a boost of protein. In fact, Ina Garten uses hot dogs as a breakfast item by wrapping them in puff pastry and garnishing them with Dijon mustard.

Another way to prepare these sausages (without getting bored of them) lies in changing up the way you heat them. Air frying hot dogs and their buns results in a delectably crispy meal, while slow cooking keeps the franks juicy and soft. Since sausage casings are also quite porous, you can change up the liquid used to boil your franks. This is a great low-effort way to elevate their flavor and texture. Using meat broth will create a richer, more savory taste, while beer can introduce the undertones of your favorite ale or lager (which you should definitely serve alongside the dogs).