How Long Can Ham Sit Out? Here’s What You Need to Know

ow Long Can Ham Sit Out

You’ve just bought a delicious-looking ham, and now you’re wondering how long it will last. As a popular food, you can serve ham with many side dishes, but that’s why you should also consider food safety. If you plan to bring out the delicious ham for your guests, make sure to serve it later. Well, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your ham doesn’t go bad. Below, I’ll go over the basics so you can enjoy your ham without risk. So, how long can ham sit out?

In general, you can eat ham that’s been out for up to two hours without hesitation. That depends on a few factors, such as the temperature and humidity of the room and how long the ham has been cured. It’s always better to be cautious and throw the ham away if in doubt.

How long can sliced ham be left out? How long can vacuum-sealed ham be left out? How long can smoked ham sit out? I found answers to these and some more questions and explained them all here.

How Long Can Ham Sit Out Before It’s Bad? 

The shelf life of ham is the same as that of other meats. Since you know that, you probably also know that high temperatures aren’t good for it at all. If you want a ham to last longer, you should store it in a cool environment.

So, it’s essential to store ham properly. You can keep the ham at room temperature for up to 2 hours, either on its own or in sandwiches, soups, etc. [1] After that, you should wrap it in foil or put it in a sealed container and store it in the refrigerator. Your ham will stay fresh for up to 5 days. If you freeze it, you can use it after 3 to 4 months.

So, ham can sit out for a few days before it goes bad. Any longer than that, and you’re risking food poisoning. Make sure to put it in the fridge as soon as you’re done with it, and eat it within three or four days.

RELATED: Slimy Ham but Not Expired: Is It Ok to Eat It?

How Long Can Sliced Ham Be Left Out?

Even sliced ham can only stay at room temperature for about two hours. After that, it begins to spoil and develop bacteria that can make you sick. If you do not want to eat the whole ham at once, you should store it in the refrigerator.

If you find sliced ham in the market with packaging that suggests a longer shelf life, they probably used MSG or above-average nitrites and nitrates to preserve it. Of course, always check the ham’s wrapping and stop consuming it if you notice the date has expired. It is recommended that you eat your ham within five days after you open it.

Can You Re-Cook a Ham that Was Left Out Overnight?

You might be tempted to just re-cook that ham that’s been sitting out all night, but you shouldn’t. 

If you need to thaw the meat overnight, you must keep it at a safe temperature, so don’t just leave it on the counter or in hot water. However, according to the USDA, cooked foods shouldn’t be kept at room temperature for a long time, and ham is no exception. 

Most hams must be kept out of the temperature zone where bacteria grow quickly. This “danger zone” is defined as a temperature range of 40 °F and 140 °F (4°C and 60°C.). [2]

How Long Can Vacuum-Sealed Ham Be Left Out?

Vacuum-sealed ham is usually good for 2 weeks. However, you should always check the label for the use-by-date information and lead according to that. 

If you have already opened it, don’t return the ham to the vacuum-sealed packaging because it is usually hard to re-seal once you open it. Opt to transfer it into another airtight or Ziploc bag or container. Still, once you open the package or buy a sliced ham at the deli shop, you should use it for between 3 and 5 days. 

Besides, if you need to keep ham for a more extended period, you should freeze it. 

Note that there are always exceptions, so, regarding ham, Prosciutto is that exception as it often lasts for over 2 months.

RELATED: How to Make Precooked Ham Better? 7 Amazing Ways

How Long Can Smoked Ham Sit Out?

Just like fresh and cooked ham, you should store smoked ham in the refrigerator or freezer and not leave it at room temperature for more than two hours. 

Some types of cured ham do not need to be stored in the fridge, but in most cases, you should plan to do so. Better safe than sorry.

If your smoked ham has been appropriately stored in an airtight container, it should keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Uncooked, well-sealed smoked ham will keep for 3-5 days, while smoked ham can last up to 2 weeks as a mid-day meal.

Signs that Your Ham Is Spoiled

If you’re unsure whether your ham has gone bad, there are a few signs you can look for. First, check the color of the meat. If it’s starting to turn green or brown, that’s a sign that it’s beginning to spoil.

Another sign is the texture of the ham. If it’s starting to feel slimy or tacky, bacteria is beginning to grow on it, and it’s time to toss it.

Finally, if your ham has developed a sour or off smell, that’s another indicator that it’s not safe to eat. 

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!