Sausage Shelf Life: How Long Does Sausage Last?

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

Shelf Life of Sausage

Fresh SausageN/A1-2 Days1-2 Months
Cooked SausageN/A3-4 Days2-3 Months
Hard/Dry Sausage4-6 Weeks9-12 Months1-2 Months
Summer Sausage (Semi-dry)N/A3-4 Weeks1-2 Months

There is such an amazingly, broad spectrum of types of sausages.  By changing the ingredients, the way they are cooked, cured, or not, what you’re going to find in most markets are sausages made from all types of meats or a combination thereof.  However, in some cases, the contents are exactly what the label says.  


You need to check the packaging very closely to see if it says, “ready to eat”, “fully cooked”, “uncooked”, “cook before eating”, or something like that.  This will be your best indicator as to whether it’s raw sausage or pre-cooked sausage.

Most product labels are going to give you a “use-by” and “sell-by” and these should be observed.  In many cases, the label may also provide you with handling instructions and say, “Keep Refrigerated” or “Keep Frozen”.  

Nearly all sausage will go bad if left out and should be refrigerated to maintain quality, safety, and freshness.


In most cases, sausage is packaged in airtight packaging. When it’s not, you should put in plastic bags.  Of course, this should be done last when shopping. Since most of the sausage you will be handling is already cooked, it’s not going to be as prone to spread bacteria unless left out too long or in extreme conditions.  The packaging should offer consumers handling instructions.  In the instance of dry cured or semi-dry sausages like pepperoni, summer sausage, genoa salami where there is no actual cooking done, it is recommended that the young and the elderly not eat this sausage.


Observe all instructions on the package indicating if the product is raw or cooked.  This will tell you how much preparation is required.  If it says, “heat and eat” then it’s fully cooked.  If it says, “cook and serve” then it’s raw and needs to be cooked fully.  In all cases, uncooked sausage should be heated to 160 – 165 degrees F depending on its ingredients.