How Long Do Cooked Brats Last in the Fridge?

It’s summer barbeque season, and I just hosted a big party last weekend. We grilled up burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and of course, bratwursts. There are plenty of leftover cooked brats still sitting in my fridge. Now I need to know – how long do cooked brats last in the fridge?

Properly storing leftovers is important to make sure I don’t end up with a nasty case of food poisoning. I want to keep enjoying those brats for as long as possible without getting sick. Let’s take a look at bratwurst basics, fridge shelf life, freezer storage, and signs of spoiled brats.

What Is a Bratwurst?

Bratwurst is a fresh German sausage made from finely ground pork, veal, or beef. It gets its name from the German words “brät” meaning finely chopped meat, and “wurst” meaning sausage. Bratwurst has its origins in 13th century Germany.

There are many varieties, but bratwurst is usually seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, coriander, or other spices. It has a smooth texture and intense flavor from the fresh meats used. Bratwurst sausages are uncooked when purchased and must be fully cooked before eating.

You can find raw fresh bratwurst links in the meat section at the grocery store. There are also pre-cooked bratwursts sold refrigerated or canned which just need to be quickly heated up before serving.

How Long Do Cooked Brats Last in the Fridge?

For the best safety and quality, leftover cooked brats that you prepare at home should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. Place them in a sealed container or resealable plastic bag.

In the refrigerator, cooked bratwursts can be kept for 3 to 4 days before going bad. Make sure your fridge temperature is set to 40°F or below.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also provides storage guidelines for store-bought pre-cooked brats:

  • Unopened pre-cooked bratwurst can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks before opening.
  • Once opened, an opened package of pre-cooked bratwurst will last up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

So in summary:

  • Home cooked brats: 3-4 days
  • Store-bought, unopened: 2 weeks
  • Store-bought, opened: 1 week

For maximum freshness and flavor, I recommend eating any leftover cooked brats within 3-4 days.

How to Store Brats

How to Store Brats

Freezing is a simple, affordable way to preserve brats for longer storage. Here are some tips for freezing bratwursts:

Preparing Brats for the Freezer

  • Place individual bratwurst links on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze them in a single layer to prevent sticking.
  • Pre-freeze brats for 1-1/2 to 2 hours before vacuum sealing or storing in freezer bags.

Labeling

  • Clearly label packages with contents, quantity, date packed, and cooked or uncooked status.

Packaging

  • For best results, vacuum seal brats in freezer bags. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, press out excess air and seal zipper bags.
  • Leave at least 2 inches of space at the top of bags so brats have room to expand as they freeze.

Preventing Freezer Burn

  • Individually wrap each brat in plastic wrap before placing in a non-vacuum seal bag to prevent freezer burn.

Freezing Process

  • Place filled bags or containers against the walls of the freezer, where it’s coldest.
  • Once solidly frozen, usually within 24 hours, you can relocate packages to your freezer’s interior.

Properly frozen, brats can keep for 2 to 3 months in the freezer before quality starts to decline. Always thaw brats in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

How to Tell If Brats Are Spoiled

It’s important to know the signs of spoiled brats, so you don’t accidentally eat anything unsafe. Here’s what to look for:

Appearance

  • Slimy or sticky exterior
  • Inconsistent coloring or flecks of varying color throughout

Consider Processing Date

  • Gives you a rough idea of how long brats can be stored before risking spoilage

Trust your senses too. If cooked brats smell bad or just seem “off,” it’s better to be safe than sorry. When in doubt, throw it out.

Conclusion

Brats are such a tasty staple of summertime grilling. Knowing how long cooked bratwursts last in the fridge helps me get the most out of my leftovers safely. Storing them properly frozen can really extend that shelf life too.

Now I can relax knowing my leftover brats should still be good for a few more days. That gives me time to think up some new recipes to use them in. Grilled brats one night, brats and sauerkraut the next? The possibilities are endless for enjoying these juicy sausages.

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