How Long is Corned Beef Good After the Sell By Date?

Corned beef is a flavorful, salty cured meat that’s a staple ingredient in many dishes like Reuben sandwiches, New England boiled dinner, and hash. It often comes with a sell by date printed on the packaging, which raises the question – how long after that date is it still safe to eat?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain exactly how many days corned beef stays fresh after its sell by date.

Overview of Corned Beef

Corned beef refers to beef that has been salt-cured or brined in a seasoned liquid solution known as “pickle”. The curing process gives it a distinct salty flavor and pink color.

There are two main types of corned beef

  • Unpacked corned beef – Flat cut brisket or round packaged in brine Needs to be cooked before eating

  • Canned corned beef – Fully cooked shelf-stable canned product. Just needs to be warmed before serving.

Both packed and canned corned beef will have a sell by date printed on the label. This is not an expiration date, but more of a guideline for peak freshness.

What is the Sell By Date?

The sell by date is the last date that stores are supposed to display the product for sale. The manufacturer recommends selling the corned beef by this date for best quality.

However, the product remains perfectly safe to eat for a period of time past the sell by date if it has been properly stored.

How Long Does Corned Beef Last After Sell By Date?

Here is how long corned beef stays fresh past the sell by date:

  • Unpacked corned beef: 5-7 days
  • Cooked corned beef: 3-5 days
  • Canned corned beef: 2-5 years unopened

The printed sell by date is simply a general guideline, not a hard and fast rule. Trust your senses – if the corned beef still looks and smells normal, it should be fine to eat.

Proper refrigerated storage is key to maximizing shelf life. Keep opened packages tightly wrapped.

Does Sell By Date Indicate Safety?

The sell by date is not a safety date. It is not an indication that the corned beef will become hazardous to eat after that date.

As long as unpacked corned beef has been continuously refrigerated and the package is not damaged, it is still safe to cook and eat for a week after the sell by date printed on the package.

Canned corned beef also remains safe for years past its sell by date as long as the can is not compromised.

Spotting Spoiled Corned Beef

Look for these signs that corned beef has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Strong, unpleasant sour or rotten smell
  • Moldy patches or sliminess
  • Foul odor when cooked
  • Off taste that persists after cooking thoroughly
  • Drastic color changes – greenish, dull grey

Trust your senses. If it smells bad, looks weird or tastes “off”, play it safe and throw it out. Don’t risk eating spoiled corned beef.

Maximizing Freshness of Corned Beef

Follow these tips to keep corned beef fresh for as long as possible:

  • Store unopened packages in the fridge.
  • Wrap tightly or reseal opened packages.
  • Use opened corned beef within 3-5 days.
  • Don’t let sit longer than 2 hours at room temp after opening.
  • Monitor for signs of spoilage.
  • Discard pouched corned beef if brine smells unpleasant.
  • Avoid introducing bacteria – use clean utensils.

Also, freezing can extend the shelf life. Freeze unpacked corned beef for up to 2 months.

Thawing and Cooking Frozen Corned Beef

It takes extra time to safely thaw and cook frozen corned beef. Here are some tips:

  • Thaw in the fridge, allowing 24 hours for a 3 lb package.
  • Avoid refreezing thawed corned beef. Cook within 3-5 days.
  • Rinse off brine thoroughly before cooking.
  • Cook to an internal temperature of at least 160°F.
  • Expect some moisture and saltiness loss. Supplement with broth or water.
  • Allow even more time if cooking from fully frozen.

Cook frozen corned thoroughly until piping hot. Check temperature with a meat thermometer.

Reheating Leftover Corned Beef

To safely reheat cooked corned beef:

  • Use shallow containers for quick, even heating.
  • Heat thoroughly to 165°F internal temperature.
  • Bring gravies, broth to a full boil.
  • Avoid reheating more than once.
  • Store leftovers in fridge and reheat within 3-4 days.

Reheated corned beef should be piping hot throughout. Don’t eat if it remains cold in the center.

Creative Ways to Use Leftover Corned Beef

Try these tasty ways to repurpose leftover corned beef:

  • Corned beef hash – diced meat fried up with potatoes.
  • Eggs Benedict or breakfast tacos topped with sliced corned beef.
  • Stir into soups like potato, cabbage, or bean.
  • Filled omelettes or scrambled egg breakfast bowls.
  • Barbecue pulled corned beef sandwiches.
  • Corned beef & veggie fried rice or stir fry.
  • Pair with steamed cabbage for easy side dish.

Get creative in the kitchen and give leftover corned beef new life in fun, delicious dishes!

Storing Canned Corned Beef After Opening

Once opened, canned corned beef must be refrigerated. It will keep for 5-7 days in the fridge after opening.

Discard any unused portions rather than trying to re-can it. Re-canning can lead to bacteria growth.

Make sure to use clean utensils when taking portions out of the can. Never return previously removed meat back into the can.

Signs Canned Corned Beef Has Spoiled

Watch for these signs of spoiled canned corned beef:

  • Unnatural color changes
  • Strong, unpleasant sour smell
  • Off-tasting broth or jelly
  • Weird sliminess, stickiness or texture changes
  • Mold growth – discard entire can if spotted

When in doubt, remember it’s not worth the risk of food poisoning!

The Bottom Line

The sell by date on corned beef is not a hard expiration date. With proper refrigerated storage, unpacked corned beef stays fresh for 5-7 days and cooked corned beef keeps for 3-5 days past that date printed on the package.

Canned corned beef can safely be eaten for several years after its sell by date as long as the can is in good condition. Always inspect meat closely and rely on your senses to determine safety and quality. Stay savvy and enjoy delicious corned beef!

Survival Food Review: Expired Can Food – Part 1: Corned Beef!


How long does vacuum sealed corned beef last in the fridge?

Uncooked corned beef in a pouch with pickling juices which has a “sell-by” date or no date may be stored 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator (40 °F or less) unopened. Products with a “use-by” date can be stored unopened in the refrigerator until that date.

How can you tell if corned beef is spoiled?

If you suspect that your corned beef has gone bad, there are some key signs to look for, including a “bad ground beef taste,” “abnormal stool smells,” or a “rotten egg smell thing” that goes beyond the normal aromatic profile of corned beef.

Can you eat corned beef after 5 days?

Any corned beef left over from a meal should be refrigerated promptly-within 2 hours of cooking or reheating. Use cooked-ahead or leftover corned beef within 3 to 4 days or freeze 2 to 3 months.

How long does unopened canned corned beef last?

Shelf Life: Unopened canned corned beef typically retains its best quality for 3 to 5 years when stored in a cool, dry area. After this period, the color and texture of the beef brisket may change, although it may still be safe to consume if stored properly and the can is not damaged.

How long can corned beef be stored unopened?

Of course, these spices may vary regionally. Uncooked corned beef in a pouch with pickling juices which has a “sell-by” date or no date may be stored 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator (40°F or less) unopened. Products with a “use-by” date can be stored unopened in the refrigerator until that date.

How long can you keep corned beef after sell-by date?

Your beef is still safe even if it has passed its sell-by date. After its sell-by date, fresh beef will keep in the refrigerator for one to two days. As long as it is properly stored, it can be kept in the freezer for six to eight months. Corned beef will keep for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator and for 6-8 months in the freezer.

How long can you keep uncooked corned beef brisket?

Uncooked corned beef in a pouch with pickling juices which has a sell-by date or no date may be stored five to seven days in the refrigerator, unopened. Products with a use-by date can be stored unopened in the refrigerator until that date. Drained and well wrapped, an uncooked corned beef brisket may be frozen for one month for best quality.

Does corned beef have a sell-by date?

The sell-by date on corned beef can be confusing, but it’s important to understand that it is not an expiration date. The sell-by date is simply a suggestion for when the product is at its peak freshness. This means that you can still safely eat corned beef after the sell-by date, as long as you follow proper storage and handling guidelines.

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