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Can Meat Expire in the Freezer?

A pack of chicken legs are frozen.

Many of us use the freezer to store meats beyond their labeled expiration date. This can help with planning meals and helping keep grocery bills low… but how long can meat last in the freezer? Does meat expire in the freezer?

The answers to these questions are a little more complicated than a straightforward “yes” or “no.”

While meat technically won’t expire if kept fully frozen, the quality and taste of the meat can degrade over time. Most meats are good for up to a month in the freezer while some can last up to a year and a half. However, many factors can impact this.

28 Pieces Food Storage Containers with Lids

Keep all your frozen foods fresh with these freezer-safe containers.

It’s crucial that you store your meats in air-tight packaging when freezing or you’ll quickly subject them to freezer burn. This occurs when moisture in the meat evaporates, leaving it dry, discolored, and tasting strange—not necessarily spoiled, but funky.

Even when properly stored, frozen meat can develop an unpleasant taste and texture due to the breakdown of fats and proteins. Always ensure you store your meat in a freezer that maintains a consistent temperature.

Assuming everything is being stored properly, meats like shrimp, crayfish, and squid can keep their freshness for an exceptionally long time in the freezer (up to 18 months). Big cuts of pork, beef, or lamb can stay fresh for up to a year. A lot of other fish is good for up to 8 months.

To maintain the best quality of your frozen meats, always store them properly and follow safe food handling practices.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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