How long can open beef jerky last?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How long can open beef jerky last,” and discuss what makes beef jerky go bad, and does heat spoil beef jerky.

How long can open beef jerky last?

The shelf life of beef jerky depends on how you store it.

Unopened, jerky lasts for a year, but once you open the package and expose it to the air, the clock starts ticking. If you store it in a cool, dry place like your pantry, your jerky will stay good for about three months after opening. If you store it in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for several months longer.

If your jerky is stored in an airtight container or bag, a Ziploc bag is perfect for this, it will probably be good for even longer.

Why does beef jerky last so long?

Beef jerky lasts so long because of its low moisture content, and because it is cured. Beef jerky is a form of preserved meat that can last for months at room temperature.

How does it manage this?

First, the meat must be cut into strips and partially dried to remove moisture. This helps reduce bacterial growth since bacteria need water in order to thrive. When the strips are then cooked or smoked, the process kills off any bacteria remaining on the surface of the meat.

Finally, the strips are sealed in a moisture-free environment, which keeps new bacteria from forming and allows them to last for long periods of time without refrigeration.

Does beef jerky go bad?

Yes, beef jerky can go bad. While beef jerky can last longer than other meats when it is properly stored, beef jerky will eventually spoil.

The shelf life of beef jerky depends on a variety of factors, such as the sell-by date, the preparation method, and how the beef jerky was stored.

Beef jerky is a meat product that has been cut into strips, marinated in soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, and then dried. Beef jerky can last for a long time without refrigeration but must be kept dry to prevent mold growth.

Because of its low moisture content, beef jerky will generally stay at its best quality for about 3 to 4 months at room temperature; properly stored, it will maintain the best quality for about 6 to 12 months in the refrigerator.

If you eat beef jerky that has gone bad, it can make you sick.

It does have an expiration date. The food will still be edible for about 6 months after this date if stored correctly, but it will gradually lose flavor and get drier during that time.

How can I tell if beef jerky has gone bad?

The best way to check for spoiled beef jerky is to check the smell, color, and texture.

If the beef jerky smells bad or has an off-color (like yellow or brown), don’t eat it. If the texture is slimy or mushy, don’t eat it either!

What makes beef jerky go bad?

Bacteria makes beef jerky go bad.

Germs are everywhere, and they’re just waiting to get into your food. If you don’t want them there, then you need to keep them out!

When meat sits around for too long without being refrigerated or frozen, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. These types of germs can make you very sick if they get into your body through contaminated food products like beef jerky.

Does heat spoil beef jerky?

The short answer is no, heat does not spoil beef jerky. Not only that, but it’s actually a better flavor and texture when heated.

Traditionally, jerky is made by drying meat with a heat source. The most common method is to use the sun, but the meat can also be dried with the use of an oven or smoker.

While this drying process will kill bacteria on the surface of the meat, it doesn’t get into the center of it. This means that when you eat beef jerky, you are eating raw meat, and therefore at risk of food poisoning if any bacteria were present in your batch of jerky.

But as long as your beef jerky has been cooked thoroughly before being dried and packaged, there’s no need to worry about spoiled food poisoning.

What will happen if I eat spoiled beef jerky?

If you eat spoiled beef jerky, you may experience nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. The symptoms usually last for about a day.

If you have these symptoms and think that you might have eaten spoiled beef jerky, contact your doctor immediately.


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “how long can opened beef jerky last,” and other questions related to the subject, such as what makes beef jerky go bad, and does heat spoil beef jerky.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.