How Long Can Hot Dogs Sit Out? [Useful Storage Tips]

When it comes to parties and get-togethers, hot dogs are a great meal choice. Barbequed hot dogs are delicious, and kids love them.

Sometimes we host a party and forget how long the food has been sitting. You have a tray of hot dogs and started to wonder, how long can hot dogs sit out?

Hot dogs can sit out for 2 hours at the maximum. The United States Department of Agriculture says that after 2 hours, food moves into the Danger Zone. If the temperature rises above 90˚F, it is advised that they sit out for no more than 1 hour.

This is the temperature area between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140˚F. Inside this Danger Zone is where harmful bacteria can quickly multiply and cause foodborne illness. 

The Best Way To Store Hot Dogs

You should store raw hot dogs in a package in the fridge or freezer. For the best results, you should keep the hotdogs in their original packaging.

Hot dogs are not the same as dry sausages. Their moisture level is high, so they can harbor harmful bacteria if they’re kept at room temperature for too long. 

Keep the package unopened when storing hot dogs in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them.

If you’re planning on freezing them, put the package in a ziplock or airtight container. Air can cause freezer burn, so it’s best to be double protected. 

How Long Will Hot Dogs Last In The Fridge?

An unopened package of hot dogs will last in the fridge for two weeks. Opened packages will last one week at the most.

Many brands come with a date on the package. We recommend adhering to their suggestion. 

Manufacturers sell their products in packages that prolong the hot dog shelf life. They know their product better than anyone. If they put a use-by date on the package, adhere to it.

Hot Dog

Some companies don’t date their products, so the longest is as follows. Two weeks for unopened hot dogs. One week if the package is open.

How Long Do Hot Dogs Last In The Freezer?

Bulk buying is one of the best options when you’re feeding a large family. If you’ve bought more hot dogs than you can use in two weeks, freeze them.

As we’ve mentioned, but the package is in a zip lock for extra protection. Just take them out and let those hot dogs defrost in the fridge in the packaging. 

Raw hot dogs will last up to two months in the freezer. They only take a short time to defrost, so freezing is a fantastic option. 

Don’t Defrost Hot Dogs On The Counter

This rule should be applied to all frozen foods. When you pull out a package of hot dogs and let them sit on the counter to defrost, you run the risk of foodborne illness.

How? It will take longer than 2 hours for them to defrost thoroughly. While the middles are still cold, the outside of the hot dogs will be in the Danger Zone. 

Defrosting hot dogs or anything should be done in the fridge. Move your package of hot dogs from the freezer to the refrigerator and leave them there overnight.

If you forgot, you could submerge the container in cold water. But don’t take them out of the package. The water will ruin the surface. 

Tip: When defrosting meat in the fridge, always put it on a plate and store it on the bottom shelf. Raw meat juices can contaminate the other foods below. 

Watch Out For Freezer Burn

If you let your hot dogs stay in the freezer too long, they can get freezer burn. This will appear as white stuff on the outside of the red hot. Once your dog has freezer burn, you should throw them away.

They won’t be flavorful, and you could be risking your health. Freezer burn is a result of moisture loss in the food. And it leaves a funny taste behind.

Access to air is the leading cause of freezer burn. Another reason to double seal your hot dogs before freezing. 

How Long Can Cooked Hot Dogs Sit Out At Room Temperature? 

There are so many fun ways to cook hot dogs. On the grill, in boiling water, the microwave, and the oven are just a few methods.

They’re good cut up in beans and even add flavor to mac and cheese. But, just because they’ve been cooked doesn’t mean they won’t become a haven for bacteria. 

Bacteria that grow in the Danger Zone are more likely to cause foodborne illnesses. Food poisoning can be severe and lead to painful symptoms. It’s always best to be safe. 

Cooked Hot Dogs

If those cooked hot dogs are out and you’re nearing that 2-hour window, check if people are still eating. If not, put them in the fridge. Hot dogs heat up perfectly in the microwave, and there’s no reason to make anyone at your party ill.

How Long Will Cooked Hot Dogs Last In The Fridge?

We always recommend airtight containers when storing food in the refrigerator. We do this for a good reason. Bacteria can still grow in the fridge, even though the temp is below 40˚F.

The takeaway is that bacteria can reproduce in cold, warm, and hot environments. But they don’t grow as rapidly as they do in the Danger Zone. 

Cooked hot dogs don’t have the same shelf life as raw. Once your frankfurters have been boiled, they will only be suitable for three or four days in the fridge.

This is why it’s important to date the food you store, so you have a “use-by” date. Dating your food will lead to less waste and more money in your pocket. 

It doesn’t matter how you cook your hot dogs. Their shelf life diminishes once they’ve been prepared, and you only have a few days to eat them. Otherwise, dispose of them and make more.

We all hate to waste food, but your health isn’t worth the risk. Nor is the well-being of your family and friends. 

How To Know If Your Hot Dogs Are Bad?

Not all bacteria are detectable to the eye or by smell. But hot dogs will start to leave you hints when they’re no longer suitable to eat. Raw hot dogs that have turned can give off a sour smell and feel slimy to the touch.

Also, if the water in the hot dog package looks cloudy or milky, that’s a sign of spoilage. 

If you notice any color changes on your hot dogs, it’s best to get rid of them. This goes for cooked hot dogs and raw. Meats are especially risky in the Danger Zone, so it’s best to throw it out. 

Tip: Keep a storage chart with dates. You can refer to it when you look through your fridge, freezer, or pantry.  

Eating Old Hot Dogs Will Make You Sick

This rule goes for most foods in general. Some foods, like dry oats, have a longer shelf-life than other foods.

Like poultry products, hot dogs have a shorter shelf-life. When it comes to meat, safe handling of food is imperative.

Raw meat, which includes hot dogs, may contain bacteria that can spoil and cause food poisoning. This likelihood rises when meats age, which is why there is a date on the package. 

Cooked hot dogs may have experienced high temperatures when cooking. Once that hot dog is removed from the heat, it begins to cool and age.

Bacteria-free food is never guaranteed after cooking. You must practice food safety regulations to ensure your safety and those you feed. 

Cooked Hot Dogs

I Left My Hot Dogs Out Overnight. What Do I Do?

Throw them away. Don’t risk illness just to save a few dollars. Raw meat that has all night to sit in the Danger Zone can be infested with harmful bacteria.

This goes for cooked, uncooked, fresh, processed beef, pork, and chicken sausage products.

Meat that has been contaminated can cause severe symptoms. When in doubt, throw it out. 

Tip: To avoid leaving food out overnight, take a sweep through your kitchen before hitting the hay. If you see anything out, try to remember how long it’s been there.

If it’s been out for longer than 2 hours, throw it away. Under 2 hours, cover it with aluminum foil and put it in the fridge. 

Can I Leave An Unopened Package Of Hot Dogs Out At Room Temperature?

You can, but if you leave them out for longer than 2 hours, you run a reasonable risk of getting sick.

Bacteria can grow at any temperature, but they are the busiest in the Danger Zone. This is the temperature that sits between 40˚F and 140˚F. Harmful bacteria love the Danger Zone, so don’t risk it. 

My Open Package Of Hot Dogs Sat Out At Room Temperature

Did that opened package sit out for longer than 2 hours? If it did, you should throw them away.

If you found that box sitting out and you’re under the 2-hour mark, they’re still good. You have to get them in the fridge right away, but you can still eat them. 


We love hot dogs because they remind us of baseball games and barbeques. Kids especially love them.

Parents appreciate that they come ready to eat. Fun foods can still get contaminated, so stick to the safety rules when it comes to your hot dogs.

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