How to Store Hot Dogs After Opening (So They Stay Fresh)


Hot dogs are one of the most popular summer foods in the United States with 20 billion hot dogs getting eaten every year. As we go into the summer, there are plenty to be had, and preparing for barbecues can be a daunting task, especially when trying to cut down on food waste.

Hot dogs should be stored in a sealed container or an airtight bag after they’ve been opened, then refrigerated. You can also keep hot dogs in their original package and put them inside a Ziploc. If the bag that they came in is resealable, it’s best to store them in it.

Alternatively, if you or your family eats a lot of hot dogs, you may want to pick up one of these containers, which is specifically designed to keep hot dogs fresh. My kids seemingly live on hot dogs for days at the time, so I find this is especially handy for easy access.

There is a lot of conflicting information about how to store hot dogs. Let’s clear that up and make a handy dandy guide to how you should adequately keep your hot dogs once you’ve opened the package.

Opened Hot Dogs Storage Guide

Fortunately, making sure your hot dogs don’t go bad is fairly straightforward.

Refrigerating Opened Hot Dogs – The Best Way

The best way to store opened hot dogs is to make sure they are stored in a container that you can seal. An airtight bag is best, but larger plastic containers that have sealing lids can also work well. Make sure you can pressurize it to the best of your ability.

Choosing the Best Storage Container for Opened Hot Dogs

If the bag that the hot dogs came in is resealable, it’s best to use that package to store them. These are specifically made for storing hot dogs and are recommended by the manufacturer. 

Alternatively, you can use a Ziploc bag if the hot dog bag doesn’t reseal. You can even keep the hot dogs in their original package and put that inside the Ziploc for an extra layer of security, like how GLAD suggests.

Another great option is a hot dog storage box like this one. I also recommend picking up an airtight fridge storage container, as well. These containers are designed for storing hot dogs or other deli products.

When selecting a container, it is also essential to choose one that will mark the storage date. Writing down the date will help you remember when they were stored so you can avoid spoilage.

Can You Freeze Hot Dogs After Opening?

You can freeze hot dogs after opening. Freezing is a great way to store large quantities of hot dogs and keep them fresh for long periods. However, if you had frozen the hot dogs before you thawed them, refreezing them isn’t recommended as it can cause the quality to drop.

What Is the Best Way to Freeze Hot Dogs?

For unopened hot dogs, put them straight into the freezer. However, if the raw hot dogs have been opened, drain the liquid from the packaging before keeping it in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag or container. Keep cooked hot dogs in a freezer-safe bag or container before freezing.

Frozen hot dogs (cooked or uncooked) are effectively safe to eat indefinitely. AgriLife suggests that for the best quality, don’t store them for more than two months.

Do Hot Dogs Go Bad in the Fridge?

Just like any other food, hot dogs can go bad in the fridge. You should throw away your hot dogs if they have been in the fridge for more than a week. A few dollars worth of hot dogs is worth nothing when someone could end up in the hospital or die from meat that is gone.

How Can You Tell if Hot Dogs Have Gone Bad?

When hot dogs are no longer fresh, they’ll have a sour, ammonia-like smell. You may also notice mold on the hot dogs. To check if your hot dogs have gone bad, cut off a tiny bit and taste it. If there’s a sour or unpleasant taste, that means they’re bad.

You should dispose of hot dogs that have gone bad. Rancid meat can be hazardous.

It’s important that you carefully inspect your hot dogs for mold. If there are black spots that aren’t supposed to be there or little bits of fuzz, throw them away immediately. If mold has begun to form, the hot dog is beyond saving.

If you decide to taste the hot dogs — to see if they’re expired or not — make sure not to swallow the little bit you tried if it tastes terrible; you don’t want to ingest rotten hot dogs!

Can You Get Sick from Eating Old Hot Dogs?

You shouldn’t eat old hot dogs because rancid meat has a very high chance of causing illness. While there is also a chance that you won’t become ill, you should be very cautious and avoid it when possible.

Hot dogs and other meat products are a perfect breeding place for all kinds of food-borne illnesses. When the meat has been left out, bacteria are just waiting for the chance to make it their home.

The USDA advises that if your hot dogs have been in the fridge for more than a week, cooked or uncooked, they are at risk of carrying dangerous bacteria and viruses. Throw them away as soon as possible.

Are Hot Dogs Good if Left Out Overnight?

Hot dogs should not be left out overnight. Regardless of the type, any meat should not be used if it has been left out overnight. When raw meat is left outside for more than two hours, in temperatures between 40℉ (4℃) and 140℉ (60℃), it may harbor all kinds of dangerous bacteria and viruses

These can range from stomach bugs or indigestion up to potentially deadly bacterium like listeria or norovirus.

The best thing to do is make sure all of your meat products are promptly and correctly stored in a refrigerator or freezer, especially after cooking. If the package says to refrigerate after opening, do so as soon as you can!

Why Are My Hot Dogs Slimy?

Hot dogs usually become slimy when they start to rot. When the meat reaches a particular part of decomposition, liquids can be pushed out of the meat. This causes a slimy feeling. If the meat feels slimy and the residue stays on your fingers, dispose of them immediately.

Sometimes, the liquid your hot dogs are packaged in can be slimy. However, it shouldn’t be good, and it should be more hot dog water. Be sure to drain this water before you cook your hot dogs.

Why Is My Hot Dog Gray?

Hot dogs become gray as they age, which is a natural process that also occurred in many other cuts of meat. Many brands of hot dogs have preservatives to make sure that the color doesn’t change. Organic or artisanal hot dogs may not have those, so their color may vary naturally.

As long as the hot dogs do not feature the other signs of decay, they are safe to eat. However, this is not common.

Can You Eat a Hot Dog Cold?

You can eat a hot dog cold if it has been handled safely and refrigerated.

Pro Tip: Cold hot dogs are popularly used in dishes like cold macaroni salad and were a common additive in vintage recipes like this hot dog pie. Some people enjoy them that way!

If you want to eat hot dogs cold, make sure to check the packaging to see if they have been thoroughly cooked before eating. Otherwise, you’ll be eating raw meat!

However, if you or a loved one are susceptible to food-borne illnesses, such as being pregnant, this isn’t a good idea. The USDA suggests making sure to cook hot dogs and any other ready-to-eat foods all the way through. This will make sure that there is no chance for any bacteria to survive and hurt someone.

Final Thoughts

Safely storing hot dogs is easy as long as you know the proper steps. With careful date-marking and consistent refrigeration, you can get the most out of your hot dogs and save money while avoiding food waste.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, check out How to Tell When Brats Are Done on Grill | The Best Way.

Anne James

Hi, I'm Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page. I hope your visit here has been a sweet one.

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