Hot Dogs Shelf Life: How Long Do Hot Dogs Last?

What is the average shelf life of hot dogs? How long do hot dogs last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store hot dogs to increase their shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below:

Shelf Life of Hot Dogs

Unopened1-2 Weeks3-6 Months
Opened5-7 Days3-6 Months
Prepared5-7 Days3-6 Months

No matter what it’s called, i.e., frankfurter, hot dog, bologna, or wiener, it’s classified as a cooked, skinless sausage.  The meat and other ingredients that get included into the making of a skinless product such as this must be condensed and compacted into tiny, tiny pieces prior to being encased to give them their shape.  It is required that the package specify all ingredients.  The standards for grinding and preparing the meat for this delicacy enjoyed by millions is quite specific. All items should not contain more than 30% fat and a minimal amount of water. Of course, their cured and/or smoked to preserve and add flavor.  


You should go by the “use by” date on the package but, if there isn’t one, the unopened package is good for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  However, once it’s opened, the contents are only good for one week.  It’s key to remember that even though “hot dogs” are fully cooked, if left out too long, they are susceptible to the risk of foodborne illness.  

They can be frozen but, for best quality, no more than 1 to 2 months.  


Once you are done checking out at the grocery store and arrive home, the hot dogs should be put in the refrigerator as quickly as possible. If you are not going to be using them within the next 2 weeks, go ahead and freeze them.  

As with all processed meat, you should wash your hands and all surfaces with warm, soapy water to prevent the growth and spread of bacteria.


It is best if hot dogs are heated prior to eating.  Not only does it make them taste better, but it decreases the risk of foodborne illnesses.  They can be boiled, broiled, grilled, microwaved, and, yes, eaten cold.  

Hot dogs can be boiled by placing them in a saucepan of boiling water. For softer texture, boil them for 3 to 4 minutes for removing.  If you prefer a crispier texture, boil the hot dogs for 5 to 6 minutes before removing.

Oven roasting / broiling is done by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and baking the hot dogs for 15 minutes.  It is recommended that you slice the wieners lengthwise, so they can vent while cooking.  After they’ve baked, put the oven on broil and cook the wieners until they are brown for that grilled look and taste.  

To grill hot dogs, any grill any time will do.  Just keep turning them until they are brown evenly and heated throughout evenly.

When microwaving wieners, put them in a deep microwave safe dish and cover with water. Cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes.  Let them rest a few minutes before eating.  

Frying is always a good thing to do with hot dogs; whole or chopped.  A little oil in a skillet and brown on both sides the mix in your favorite ingredients like rice, onions, beans, etc.

Be mindful about leftovers and put them away promptly for safety and freshness.