How Long is BBQ Good for in the Fridge?

In this brief article, we will answer the question of how long is bbq good for in the fridge, what precautions you must take when storing BBQ, and how to tell if the stored BBQ is no longer edible. 

How Long is BBQ Good for in the Fridge?

Leftover BBQ can be stored in the fridge for three to four days IF it was refrigerated within two hours of being taken off from the flame. If there is a great amount of leftovers, they should be divided into small containers to assure fast cooling (1). 

Always store BBQ in an airtight container to preserve moisture and the quality of the meat. 

When Must BBQ be Safely Stored?

Similar to other hot foods, the moment a BBQ is taken off the heat source and its temperature falls below the required 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it should either be immediately consumed or refrigerated within a minimum of 2 hours. Bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40° F and 140° F, so if the food has been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, throw it away (1). 

Moreover, if the average temperature where the BBQ is cooked is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, it must be consumed or stored within an hour. Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked at a temperature of 145 °F, poultry to 165 °F and ground meats to 160 °F. If not, they are not safe to store (1). 

How to Store BBQ for Longer?

If you don’t plan on consuming stored BBQ within a maximum of seven days, you should freeze it inside freezer containers or zip-lock freezer bags where it can last for as long as three months. 

With vacuum-sealed freezer bags, leftover BBQ can be stored for even longer in the freezer, since vacuum bags remove any air from inside the bags and preserve the quality of cooked meat for as long as two to three years. Although safe for a longer period, frozen leftovers can lose moisture and flavor when stored for longer times in the freezer (1).

Always label your bags/containers with the name of the product inside them and the date they were packed so that you can assess the best-by date once you decide to reheat them.

What Are The Tips To Store Bbq In The Fridge?

Regularly check the temperature of the fridge and/or freezer. The fridge must register 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, while the freezer must register 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. 

You can also purchase a refrigerator/freezer thermometer for when there is a power outage – they are affordable and very convenient to use. If the temperature of the fridge falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, you should discard the leftover BBQ along with any other perishable food items. 

Leftovers in the freezer, however, will remain fine for at least 24 to 48 hours, but this also depends on how packed it is. 

How Should You Defrost Frozen BBQ?

BBQ stored in vacuum-sealed freezer bags must be defrosted in the fridge, followed by reheating it inside the bag. Refrigerator thawing takes the longest but the leftovers stay safe the entire time. After thawing, the food should be used within 3 to 4 days or can be refrozen. It can also be thawed in the microwave. Microwave thawing is the fastest method. When thawing leftovers in a microwave, continue to heat it until it reaches 165° F as measured with a food thermometer. Foods thawed in the microwave can be refrozen after heating it to this safe temperature (1).

How Should You Reheat Refrigerated BBQ?

A slow to moderate oven heated to 300-325 Fahrenheit works best for reheating refrigerated BBQ. Make sure the BBQ is covered so that it doesn’t become dry. Flip it over occasionally. 

You can also reheat refrigerated BBQ in a skillet over a mild flame. A one-pound vacuum-sealed bag of BBQ takes at least 15 minutes to cook in simmering water at about 190 degrees Fahrenheit. You can give it some additional time if it still appears frozen. Stir occasionally. 

The third option is the microwave; however, it will heat the meat unevenly. If you still want to use it, keep turning the meat in the container frequently. Check it in different places using an instant-read thermometer to ensure it is at 165 Fahrenheit, which is the lowest ‘safe’ temperature for leftovers.

Re-smoking meat is not recommended, since this will make them bitter. 

And since it takes very long to attain the ‘safe’ temperature, never use a slow cooker to reheat leftover BBQ.

How to Tell if Stored BBQ Has Gone Bad?

The common signs that your stored BBQ has gone bad include:

Change of Smell: a foul or strange odor is probably the fastest and easiest way to confirm whether your BBQ has gone bad. 

Change of Texture: accompanied by an unpleasant scent is a change in texture; the BBQ will feel sticky or slimy on touching.

Change of Color: lastly, bad BBQ will feature a slight color change, and may also have some white or green moldy growth on its surface.

What Happens If You Eat BBQ That Has Gone Bad?

Lipid-derived reactive oxygen species and oxidized myoglobin byproducts initiate oxidation of meat and drastically reduce quality attributes like color, flavor and nutritional values of meat. Also, meat tenderness, juiciness, myofibrillar swelling, and solubility quality is diminished due to protein oxidation (2). In addition, deterioration can occur by bacterial growth. Some foodborne microorganisms that can be found in pork, as well as other meats and poultry, are Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Yersinia enterocolitica and Listeria monocytogenes. (3). 

Trichinosis (Food Poisoning) is a food-borne illness caused by eating raw, undercooked, or stale meats, particularly chicken and pork products with bacterial growth or worm infestation (3).

Common symptoms of food poisoning include:

  • abdominal discomfort
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headaches 

Always store the meat within two hours of cooking it, and store it properly in an airtight bag or container. Check for spoilage before reheating to avoid health problems, and make sure your storage appliances are working correctly.


In this brief article, we answered the question of how long is bbq good for in the fridge, what precautions you must take when storing BBQ, and how to tell if the stored BBQ is no longer edible. 

Please comment below for any more questions.


  1. Leftovers and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture. 
  2. Seo, JK., Parvin, R., Yim, DG. et al. Effects on quality properties of cooked pork sausages with Caesalpinia sappan L. extract during cold storage. J Food Sci Technol, 2019, 56, 4946–4955.
  3. Fresh Pork from Farm to Table.  United States Department of Agriculture. 

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