Corned Beef Shelf Life: How Long Does Corned Beef Last?

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

Shelf Life of Corned Beef

Fresh5-7 Days1 Month
Cooked3-4 Days2-3 Months

In the market, if you were purchasing a large piece of corned beef to slice yourself, you would probably be buying a corned beef brisket.  To make corned beef, the selected cut, typically a roast, is treated in a curing process calling corning. The meat is soaked for approximately three (3) weeks in a mixture of water and spices that includes salt and saltpeter. Saltpeter is what causes the meat to have that reddish color inside as it acts as a preservative.  In the old days, the folks would use salt pellets the size of corn kernels in the marinade. Hence, the term corning was coined.  

Occasionally, pastrami and corned beef are confused with one another.  Pastrami and corned beef are both cured and are both usually made from the same cuts of meat. However, different spices are used on pastrami and its smoked when curing.  


It’s recommended to store raw corned beef in the refrigerator until the “use-by” date if it remains unopened.  After that, products should have the juices drained from them and they should be well wrapped prior to freezing.  For best results, these items should not remain frozen for over one (1) month.  The meat will still be safe to eat; however, it will no longer be as flavorful.  

Any leftover corned beef or corned beef hash needs to be placed in the refrigerator within a minimum of 2 hours of cooking.  It should be used within the next 3 or 4 days or placed in the freezer where it can safely remain for 2 to 3 months.  Use a cooking thermometer and reheat leftovers to 165 degrees F.  


Things to keep in mind when handling corned beef.  Although it’s been “cured”, it’s still considered raw meat and, therefore, all the food safety rules should apply.  Wash your hands in warm, soapy water before and after handling the meat. Make sure all surfaces get cleaned so that bacteria don’t grow and spread. Since the saltpeter has left the meat so colorfully pink/red, it may be hard to determine when it’s done. A food thermometer should be used to ensure the meat has reached a temperature of 160 degrees F.  Let the meat rest for 20 minutes.  



Corned beef can be prepared just like a regular piece of beef.  Just keep in mind that it needs to remain moist meaning that a liquid like water should be included in the pan with the meat before it is covered.  Suggested cook time is about an hour per pound depending on which cooking method you choose, i.e. oven, oven cooking bag, stove, slow cooker, or microwave.  Use a food thermometer to ensure an internal temperature of 145 degrees F has been achieved.  

Some people like to prepare the corned beef ahead of time, slice it into smaller pieces, and refrigerate it.