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How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? Storage Duration and Tips

Written by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD on April 25, 2024


Not only is beef jerky an incredibly nutritious and convenient snack, but it also has a long shelf life. But how long is beef jerky good fort? Does it last forever, or can beef jerky go bad?

If you’re a fan and are wondering how long can it stay in the pantry until it goes bad, keep reading. We will discuss how long beef jerky typically lasts and stays fresh, including tips on storage to retain the best quality.

Does Beef Jerky Expire?

Yes, beef jerky does expire, but its longevity is what makes it so appealing as a delicious snack! While it doesn't spoil in the traditional sense, beef jerky comes with a "best by" date, which suggests when it might start to lose its quality and flavor.

After this date, your jerky might not taste as fresh. If it’s not stored properly, look for signs of spoilage such as odors, discoloration, or mold. Proper storage is key to extending your beef jerky’s shelf life well beyond the printed date.

Does Beef Jerky Go Bad? How to Tell if Beef Jerky Is Still Good?

Beef jerky technically doesn’t spoil, which is a big reason why so many people enjoy it as their snack of choice. Instead of an expiration date, beef jerky comes with a “best-by” date. 

If properly stored and sealed in its original packaging, your store-bought beef or turkey jerky can last up to several months after the best-by date on the label. This can allow you to enjoy a quality snack without worrying about such a short time stamp.

If you’re in doubt, there are a few telltale signs your jerky has gone bad. It will likely have a rancid smell, have visible mold, or be darker and harder than it should be. If you notice any of these signs, we recommend throwing the jerky out and starting with a fresh new batch.

Our CHOMPS jerky is a healthy and portable snack with a long shelf life. Follow these tips for proper storage to enjoy the freshest-tasting jerky any time your next craving hits.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?

Beef jerky is one of those convenient, nutritious snacks with an impressively long shelf life. But how long can you enjoy its savory, rich taste before it’s time to say goodbye? 

In this next section, we’ll dive into the lifespan of beef jerky in different conditions. Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, you’ll learn the secrets to maximizing freshness and flavor of your favorite jerky. 

How Long Does Store-Bought Beef Jerky Last?

The exact shelf-life of beef jerky varies depending on whether it’s homemade or store-bought jerky. In general, commercial beef jerky lasts longer than homemade and typically can be enjoyed for up to a year. This is good news if you enjoy the convenience of commercial beef and turkey jerky.

However, for the best results and quality taste, we recommend enjoying your jerky within six months of purchase.

How Long Does Homemade Beef Jerky Last?

Homemade jerky doesn’t last nearly as long as commercial jerky - typically up to two months maximum. This is mainly because homemade jerky lacks the salt and acid preservatives that extend the shelf life of  store-bought jerky.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last Unopened?

Whether you buy from the store or make it yourself, unopened beef jerky can last significantly longer when sealed in airtight packaging. 

Store-bought varieties are designed to last beyond a year unopened at room temperature, thanks to preservatives and vacuum sealing. Homemade jerky, meanwhile, might not fare as well but can still last several months if vacuum sealed properly.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last After Opening?

Once you open a store-bought beef jerky, we recommend eating them within a day or two — ideally as soon as possible! The clock on its shelf life starts ticking faster once it’s exposed to air and moisture. 

For homemade beef jerky, minus the commercial preservatives, this timeline can be even tighter. Just remember to keep it airtight and consume it as soon as possible so that you can enjoy freshness while it lasts in every bite.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last in the Fridge?

Storing unopened beef jerky in the fridge isn't a must. But doing so can extend its shelf life slightly, especially if it’s homemade. The cooler temperature slows down the degradation process, preserving your jerky's quality a bit longer.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last Vacuum Sealed?

Vacuum sealing your beef jerky can extend its lifespan significantly. Store-bought jerky can last beyond a year, and homemade jerky can enjoy a shelf life of up to 6 months. Vacuum sealing is a powerful method to maintain freshness, taste, and nutritional value by preventing air and moisture from spoiling the jerky.

How to Store Your Beef Jerky to Make it Last Longer?

The way you store beef jerky can help it last a long time. Proper storage not only maintains the delicious taste and texture of jerky but also ensures it remains safe to consume over time. 

Whether you’ve indulged in store-bought delicacies or crafted your own batch at home, understanding the optimal conditions to keep your beef jerky fresh is crucial. Here are a few tips on how to store your beef jerky once you’ve opened the package:

Keep it out of the hot sun 

Store jerky in dark, cool places away from direct sunlight. Leaving jerky in the sun can create condensation and moisture in the bag, which breeds mold. It’s also recommended to store at room temperature for best quality.

Keep it tightly sealed 

Tightly seal your jerky in an airtight container or keep it vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag. This helps keep it fresh. Removing as much air as possible from the storage container can significantly extend its shelf life by minimizing oxidation.

Don’t freeze

You may be tempted to freeze your jerky if you made a bulk purchase, but this will only alter the taste and dry it out. Instead, focus on proper room temperature storage as we’ve described for optimal preservation.

Buy the best quality

Look for a jerky that is free of harmful chemicals like nitrates, nitrites, fillers, additives, or synthetic preservatives. Our beef jerky is preserved naturally using a salt and celery juice mix, ensuring only the best quality and freshness.

Choosing high-quality jerky not only ensures better taste but also contributes to a longer shelf life. Premium ingredients are much less prone to spoilage.

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Beef Jerky Lasts Long When Properly Stored

Beef jerky's shelf life can extend by a lot with proper storage, whether it's store-bought, homemade, unopened, refrigerated, or vacuum-sealed. Its naturally low moisture content, coupled with a unique preservation process, allows it to last longer than most snacks. 

Just pay attention to storage conditions and packaging to guarantee you can enjoy your jerky in the best possible state. By keeping it in a cool, dark place and in an airtight container, you can help maintain your jerky’s quality and extend its shelf life, making it a reliable and tasty snack option for months and beyond after purchase.

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Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Melissa Mitri, RD Melissa is a health writer with over 12 years of experience in the field of nutrition. She specializes in helping women move away from restrictive habits that lead to vicious yo-yo weight cycles. Melissa enjoys writing about health, nutrition, and fitness with the goal of simplifying complex health topics for the reader. You can find out more about Melissa at www.melissamitri.com.