How Long SPAM Is Good For After It's Been Opened

For decades, SPAM has remained a versatile pantry item for home cooks around the world. The product has its skeptics, but everyone should try it at least once — its salty, savory taste and dense-yet-soft texture makes it one of the best canned meats to stock up on, ready for use in fried rice, breakfast sandwiches, and Korean budae jjigae. A singular can of SPAM also contains multiple servings, making it an excellent thrifty option for feeding a crowd. However, you'll likely wind up with leftovers if you're only cooking for yourself, and you'll have less than a week to finish them off.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, canned meat products can stay in the fridge for up to four days after opening. To ensure that your remaining SPAM does not spoil prematurely, transfer it into an airtight container or sealed bag. This will not only prevent external pathogens from coming into contact with the meat, but it will also stop the cool air of the fridge from drying it out.

You also have the option of leaving your luncheon meat in its original container. You'll still need to shield it from bacteria and the cold fridge air, so use some aluminum foil or plastic wrap to tightly cover the top of the can. Don't toss out the metal lid just yet, though, as you can use it to cut and portion SPAM without the need to take it out of its can.

To make SPAM last longer, put it in the freezer

If four days doesn't sound like enough time to finish up your SPAM, feel free to freeze your leftovers. Since metal cans can swell or crack under frigid conditions, you'll want to transfer the meat to a freezer-safe container or airtight bag. If you only plan to use a portion of your frozen SPAM at a time, consider cutting it into slices in advance and placing wax paper between them before freezing. This will prevent them from sticking to each other, making it easy to take out and defrost the exact amount you'll need at a time.

Once your SPAM is frozen, the USDA recommends consuming it within two months. While freezing temperatures will halt the reproduction of bacteria and stop spoilage in its tracks, your leftovers are still susceptible to freezer burn and loss of flavor over time.

When you're ready to use your frozen SPAM, you have the options of transferring it to the fridge to let it thaw, or placing it inside a plastic bag and dunking it into cold water, leaving it there until it's softened up and ready to use. The former takes a significantly longer time than the latter, but it more effectively prevents pathogens from infiltrating your leftovers as they defrost.

Tips on using up SPAM before it goes bad

Before you use leftover SPAM, no matter how old it is, check it for signs of spoilage. Any discoloration, a sour smell, and/or visible signs of mold growth indicate that you should throw it out. To avoid premature spoilage, make sure to handle your SPAM with clean utensils. Using a dirty fork or knife to cut into your leftovers can introduce bacteria to the meat.

Use your SPAM creatively, and it will be much less likely to hang around in the fridge for days, forcing you to use the freezer as a last resort. When sliced or diced and fried in a pan, it can act as a salty mix-in or topping that elevates the flavor of pastas and rice bowls. Alternatively, use it as the main protein in handheld foods such as tacos, gyros, or an egg banh mi sandwich. SPAM musubi, an iconic Hawaiian snack, puts thick slices of the meat on top of blocks of rice and wraps the whole thing in nori seaweed. Making a batch can use up half a can in no time.

Lastly, make sure to label your container of SPAM with the date you opened the can. Nothing's more frustrating than having no idea how old your leftovers are, making it impossible to be certain if you should eat or toss them. Don't risk a bout of food poisoning by ignoring this small but crucial step.