Bison Shelf Life: How Long Does Bison Last?

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

Shelf Life of Bison

Ground1-2 Days4 Months
Large Cuts3-5 Days6-9 Months
Cooked3-4 Days2-3 Months

When purchasing this savory meat, you would want to take two factors into consideration: the age of the meat and the cut you are buying. Proportionally, the meat cuts of a bison are identical to beef. Because the meat from active muscles and the meat from mature animals will both contain more connective tissue, these cuts will be naturally more tender.  The meat from a bison is usually leaner than other meats and has a lot less or zero marbling.  Any fat on the meat from grass-fed bison will be yellow and, although most consumers prefer the fat to be white, the yellow is good as it means it contains beta-carotene.  Bison meat is lower in calories and in fat, but is higher in protein than most other popular meats such as beef, chicken, or fish.


The recommended method to store bison meat is to follow any instructions printed or stamped onto the original packaging including to purchase by the “sell-by” date. If the meat is fresh, keep it in the original packaging until you are ready to use it. If you purchased the bison online and received it frozen, keep it in the original packaging until you are ready to thaw and prepare it.  If you are going to keep the meat frozen for longer than 2 months, it is recommended that you wrap the meat with it still in the original package in freezer paper or another approved freezer packaging.  

Bison cut into smaller pieces like ground meat or stew meat should be prepared or frozen within a couple (2) of days of purchasing.  However, larger pieces of meat should be cooked or placed in the freezer within 3 to 5 days.  Freezer storage time varies on the cut size and ranges from 4 to 9 months. Meat already cooked and leftover from meal should be eaten or frozen within 3-4 days.  


If you are purchasing the bison meat fresh from the market, this should be one of the last items to go into your basket so it would stay as cold as possible until you get home to put it in the refrigerator or freezer.  Hopefully, the market where you shop provides plastic bags for you to secure your meat items so the juices from them won’t leak onto the other items in your basket and cross-contaminate them. The bison meat should remain in its original packaging until you’re ready to prepare your meal which should be within 3-5 days of the purchase.


If the bison meat is frozen, there are three best-advised ways to thaw bison meat: 1) in the refrigerator, 2) in cold water in a water-tight bag changed every 30 minutes to ensure the meat stays cold, and 3) in the microwave.  No other method of thawing is recommended.

Since the meat is so lean and innately tender, you want to use low heat of 325 degrees and be careful not to overcook it.  A food thermometer is recommended checking to be sure the meat reaching at least 120-140 degrees. Typically, bison cooks in one-third less time than beef.  You can test less tender cuts by seeing if a fork will slide in smoothly.  The meat should rest several minutes before cutting.