How Long Does Hickory Farms Beef Stick Last?

Hickory Farms beef stick is a delicious snack made of quality beef that is slowly smoked to bring out its signature robust flavor. But with its perishable nature, many wonder exactly how long it stays fresh and safe to eat.

As a longtime fan of Hickory Farms snacks, I was curious about the shelf life myself. So I did some digging on their website and reached out to their helpful customer service team. Here’s what I found out about how long Hickory Farms beef stick lasts, proper storage, and signs that it may be past its prime.

Overview of Hickory Farms Beef Sticks

For those not familiar with it, Hickory Farms beef stick (also called summer sausage) is a popular snack item they sell. It comes in a few flavor varieties:

  • Original Beef Summer Sausage
  • Hot & Spicy Beef Summer Sausage
  • Peppered Beef Summer Sausage

These thin sticks of cured beef are slowly hickory smoked to bring out a bold smokey flavor. The smoking process preserves the meat so it can be shelf-stable without refrigeration. But it still has a perishable nature.

I contacted Hickory Farms to ask specifically about the shelf life of their Original Beef Summer Sausage. But their guidance would apply to all their beef stick varieties.

Unopened Hickory Farms Beef Stick

If the Hickory Farms beef stick is still sealed in its original packaging, it has a decent shelf life. According to their customer service, an unopened, properly stored beef stick will last about 9 months from the production date printed on the packaging.

During that 9 month period the beef stick remains safe to eat. But its quality slowly declines over time. Toward the end of that timeframe you may notice the flavor and texture becoming less vibrant.

For best quality, try to eat Hickory Farms beef sticks within 4-6 months of receiving them. Then you can really enjoy the snacks at their peak freshness.

Opened Hickory Farms Beef Stick

Once you break the seal and open the beef stick, its shelf life decreases. This exposes the meat to more oxygen and moisture.

Hickory Farms recommends consuming opened beef sticks within 1-2 weeks. For optimal flavor and texture, try to finish opened sticks within 5-7 days.

If you don’t think you can eat the remainder quickly, consider storing it in the refrigerator or freezer to extend its shelf life (more details below).

Proper Storage of Hickory Farms Beef Sticks

To help your Hickory Farms beef sticks stay fresh as long as possible, be sure to store them correctly.

Unopened Storage

Keep unopened beef sticks in a cool, dry place away from direct light. An ideal storage spot is a kitchen pantry or cupboard.

Avoid storing them in hot areas like near the oven or in direct sunlight. High temperatures speed up the deterioration.

Opened Storage

Once opened, beef sticks are best kept refrigerated. This helps slow down bacteria growth and oxidation that can cause off-flavors.

Put opened sticks in a sealed container or bag before refrigerating. This prevents them from drying out or picking up odors from other foods.

Properly stored sticks keep about 1-2 weeks in the fridge. For longer storage of leftovers, consider freezing.


While Hickory Farms doesn’t recommend freezing unopened beef sticks, it can extend the shelf life of leftovers.

To freeze, first wrap any remaining pieces of beef stick tightly in plastic wrap. Then place in an airtight freezer bag or container.

Properly frozen, they’ll keep for 2-3 months before quality loss. Thaw overnight in the fridge before eating.

Freezing can slightly alter the texture, making it a little more soft or mushy. But it will still be safe to eat.

Signs Your Hickory Farms Beef Stick is Bad

Always inspect beef sticks before eating and rely on your senses. Here are signs that indicate it’s past its prime:

  • Mold growth anywhere on the stick
  • Slimy texture or watery appearance
  • Brown or gray discoloration
  • Dull, faded color rather than vibrant red
  • Strong unpleasant odors
  • Off tastes like bitterness or sourness

Beef sticks that show those signs of spoilage should be discarded. Don’t taste meat that has gone bad.

The Bottom Line

When properly stored, Hickory Farms beef sticks can stay fresh for quite a while. Unopened sticks last about 9 months, and opened sticks last 1-2 weeks in the fridge. For best quality, try to eat them within 4-6 months of receiving.

Keeping the beef sticks sealed until you’re ready to eat and refrigerating leftovers helps maximize shelf life. Freezing is another option if you won’t finish opened sticks quickly.

With proper handling, Hickory Farms beef sticks make a convenient, tasty snack you can enjoy for months. Just be sure to seal, store, and inspect them before digging in to ensure you get the very best flavor and experience.

Unbiased Review Hickory Farms Beef Summer Sausage 10 Ounce


Can you eat the casing on hickory farm summer sausage?

The casing is made of food-grade paper. We recommend removing it before enjoying the summer sausage, but it is perfectly fine to consume.

Does summer sausage need to be refrigerated?

If you’re not sure whether your sausage needs to be refrigerated, check with the manufacturer. You can also look on the packaging – if it says “Refrigerate after opening,” you’re safe to put it in the pantry until you’re ready to use it. If it says “Needs refrigeration,” toss it in your fridge.

Can you freeze a hickory farms cheese ball?

Freezing a cheeseball works great. Thanks to the cream cheese, classic cheeseballs keep a good texture through freezing and thawing.

Do you have to cook hickory farms summer sausage?

Yes, you can safely enjoy summer sausage without cooking or refrigeration. It’s typically served thinly sliced on its own or alongside accouterments such as cheese. Some Southerners like to make post-holiday sandwiches with summer sausage, or even chop it up and throw it into a casserole.

How long does Hickory Farms summer sausage last?

However, Hickory Farms says the shelf life of their beef and turkey summer sausage is nine months. Therefore, after opening, you can keep the summer sausage in your fridge for about three weeks. Hickory Farms states that products can last up to a year before opening when it comes to cheese.

Does Hickory Farms have a shelf life?

Hickory Farms puts detailed descriptions on its packaging. Along with a list of ingredients, you can find the shelf life and the recommended storage for each product. Whenever a product is marked as shelf-stable, it means you can keep it outside, at room temperature. If you keep it in a hot and humid environment, it might go bad.

How long does Hickory Farms cheese last?

Hickory Farms states that products can last up to a year before opening when it comes to cheese. If you’ve opened the package, you should put it in the fridge. Note that the time you can keep it in the refrigerator will depend on the cheese type. Hickory Farms puts detailed descriptions on its packaging.

Is Hickory Farms beef summer sausage dry?

Beef summer sausage is semi-dry, while dry salami is drier, but both are a type of cured, smoked meat. All our smoked meat selections are expertly curated and use high-quality ingredients to deliver excellent flavor every time. Hickory Farms beef summer sausage makes great holiday gifts, but it’s also great to have on hand in your own pantry.

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