How Long Does Deli Meat Last? Fresh Shelf life Tips

And how this meal must be stored

Written by Elisa Chan. Updated on How Long Does Deli Meat Last

A meal would not be a meal without deli meats! Delicious cold meats fit any table and are perfect to be added to any main course.

How long does lunch meat last?

This is what we are about to figure out today!

What Is Lunch Meat? 

Deli meat also known as cold cuts are pre-cooked slices of different kinds of meat served hot or cold.

Traditionally, the slices are served on a plate or already included in sandwiches.

Such a “meat plate” is a perfect choice for any eating since everyone can choose what sort of meat they want and pick as many as they feel like.

For cold cuts, various sorts of poultry and red meat are used but fish is not popular.

Since this dish is served already cut, people often wonder: how long is lunch meat good for?

Let’s figure this out!

Related: How Long Does Cooked Sausage Last In The Fridge?

How Long Does Deli Meat Last?

Normally, we do not stock up our fridges with deli meat, but let’s agree on one obvious fact: if there is a sale in a store or if we are going to have a family party or holidays soon, most of us would want to buy extra (and often it’s a lot of extra!).

However, in this case, here comes another point of concern: how much time will that meat last?

And since we usually don’t buy deli meat in batches, we assume that quite few of us know for sure how long this foodstuff will remain edible if stored long enough.

And even if you are just wondering whether or not your opened salami will still be ok to eat in a day or two, knowing more about the deli meat shelf life is essential!

Since there are way too many types of deli meat out there, we will speak of them all in general today. While the shelf life of prepackaged lunch meat is different for various types, the package usually comes with a sell-by date.

And while the meat usually lasts a few days longer, we would not recommend you expect miracles.

Usually, once you open the sealed package of deli meat bought in a store, the cold cuts retain freshness for three and up to seven days. Obviously, it all depends on the type of meat you have and how you store it.

For instance, those that contain less moisture, such as pepperoni or salami, tend to last longer than ham or chicken.

When it comes to meat sliced at the deli counter, it usually lasts between 2 to 5 days. Again, that time depends on the type of meat and how well you stored it.

And of course, if you need to extend the shelf life of your deli meat, you can always freeze it. Only keep in mind that some types of it (e.g. salami) will freeze better than others!

And also, you must make sure that you pack the slices properly to prevent freezer burns!

How Long Does Deli Meat Last
Credits: AndreySt, via

Details About the Lifespan Of Bologna Deli Meat

Since most of us use deli meat for cooking and for making lunches in particular, we decided to provide you with some extra information on one of the most popular types of it which is called bologna deli meat slices.

Many of us enjoy this meat in our sandwiches or with toasted bread along with melted cheese, so no wonder that people often wonder whether storing it is any different from other types of deli yummies.

And below, you can find a few useful facts about these meaty slices:

  • Unopened fresh bologna deli meat will last for five to six days in a refrigerator.
  • Unopened pre-packaged bologna deli meat will last for seven to ten days in a fridge and six to eight months in a freezer.
  • Opened fresh bologna deli meat cannot be kept for more than two hours at room temperature! It will last five to six days in a fridge and two to three weeks in a freezer.
  • Opened pre-packaged bologna deli meat will last for less than two hours at room temperature. In the refrigerator, it will stay fresh for three to five days and in the freezer for one to two months.

But of course, these time frames are only possible to meet if you seal and store your deli meat according to the suggested recommendations.

Details About the Lifespan Of Bologna Deli Meat
Credits: bartekjaworski, via

How to Store Luncheon Cuts. Tips And Nuances

Before we proceed to the main subject, it would be useful to learn how this meal must be stored since it does indeed require certain skills.

No matter whether you have some slices left uneaten after the meal or you need to keep the recently purchased ones for the upcoming party, following the storage rules will definitely extend their lifespan!

  • Place the unopened packets to the fridge instantly after they were brought from the store
  • After the packet is opened, return the rest of the meats back to the refrigerator to avoid the spoiling
  • Remove the opened slices to the tightly closed packet or tank since air, moisture, and contaminants may cause their spoilage
  • For the extended storage, feel free to freeze the meat cuts
The 5 Things You NEED to Know About Deli MeatsThe 5 Things You NEED to Know About Deli Meats

As long as the product is already cut in slices, it is more predisposed to the impact of the harmful external factors (e.g. moisture or heat). For this reason, never leave deli meats on the counter for a long time.

If the leftovers became too dry after staying on the table, better discard them if you’re not going to use them somehow else, for instance, for frying.

Related: Can You Freeze Tortillas?

How Long Are Cold Cuts Good For?

How Long Does Deli Meat Last? Fresh Shelf life Tips
Photo by Lily Banse on Unsplash

How long is deli meat good for? This issue bothers many meat-lovers all over the world.

In general, the lunch meat shelf life hangs upon several things:

  • the sort of product
  • its sell-by date
  • the way of preparation
  • and the method of storage before served to the table
How Long Does Deli Meat Last? Fresh Shelf life Tips
Photo by Theme Photos on Unsplash

Counting on these nuances, we have prepared a comparative table for you to make it easier to check whether your luncheon cuts are still ok to consume!

Unopened Fridge Freezing camera
past expiry date past expiry date
Fresh deli  Unopened plastic wrap with meat slices will remain edible for 6 days at most However, it can’t be kept in the freezing camera
Pre-packaged slices This sort will remain fresh for 10 days easily As for freezing, the slices will stay eatable for nearly eight months!
Bologna  How long does Bologna deli meat last in the fridge? Bologna cuts are less durable being able to remain fresh for 2 weeks at most Nevertheless, frost extends their lifespan to 2 months
Salami This product is durable itself being able to stay tasty for one month easily But freezing will shift its lifespan to three months instead
Fresh slices How long can you keep fresh deli meat in the fridge? Once opened, keep them for a week but not longer Freezing, however, is not the best option for them
Packed meats Remains edible for 10 days No freezing possible
Bologna Store it opened for 2 weeks without hesitation... and feel free to freeze for 2 months
Salami 2-3 weeks in the fridge is the right term for this kind of meat foodstuff when opened And freezing will extend this period to 3 months
Pepperoni This one is among the most durable kinds since we can keep it opened for 3 weeks at most... and expose to frost for up tp eight months!

As you can see, deli meat cuts are quite durable but still, consider the different lifespan when serving and keeping them.

Related: How Long Do Hot Dogs Last?

How to Define That Cold Meats Are Bad?

Of course, like any meat product, deli slices tend to go bad.

Since consuming spoiled meat may end up badly, knowing the basic signs of spoilage is essential.

How long is deli meat good for
Photo by Sergey Orlovski on Unsplash
  • If the slices’ surface is wet
  • If the slices look moist and slimy
  • If meats smell off and sour
  • If color changed to grayish or brownish
  • If you noticed any traces of mold

Discard those products since they are impossible to consume any more and can be harmful to your health!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Is deli meat bad for our health?

Since this sort of product contains more sodium and nitrites (which serve as preservatives) and it is often fattier than ordinary meat, it is considered to be unhealthy.

⭐Is deli meat processed meat?

Yes, deli meats belong to the processed kinds of meat products that include smoked, salted, cured, and other preserved meats.

⭐Can deli meat cause cancer?

There’s no certain answer to this question, however, many scientists suppose that this sort of food may be one of the reasons why this illness appears in human bodies. However, consider that it refers to the excessive consumption of such products.

Read next: How Long Does Steak Last In The Fridge?

Written by
Elisa is a passionate cook who will advise you on healthy and delicious food topics! With her help, you will discover how to properly store and freeze food, as well as learn important nuances about preserving vitamins in your meals to make them stay nutritious.
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