How do you store Spam after opening?

Spam, or canned cooked pork shoulder meat, is a versatile and popular food item that can be stored properly after opening to maximize freshness and minimize waste. Like any perishable food, there are some guidelines to follow when storing opened spam so it stays safe and delicious to eat.

Refrigerate after opening

The first rule of thumb when storing opened spam is to refrigerate it. Unlike some shelf-stable canned goods, refrigeration is necessary once the can is opened. This is because spam, like fresh meat, is prone to bacterial growth at room temperature which can lead to spoilage or foodborne illness. Refrigeration helps prevent pathogen growth by keeping the spam at cooler 40°F (4°C) temperatures.

After opening the can, remove the spam and store it in a sealed container or resealable plastic bag. Try to remove as much air from the container as possible before refrigerating. An airtight container is best to prevent the spam from drying out in the fridge. Refrigerated properly, spam will keep for 3-5 days after opening.

Freeze for longer storage

For longer storage, opened spam can be frozen. Freezing stops bacterial growth and slows down food spoilage significantly. Properly frozen and stored, spam can keep for 1-2 months in the freezer.

To freeze, remove the opened spam from the can and wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil or place in a freezer bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly. Label the package with the date before placing in the freezer. Use frozen spam within 1-2 months for best quality.

When ready to eat, thaw frozen spam overnight in the refrigerator. Do not thaw at room temperature as this allows bacteria to multiply rapidly. Once thawed, use within 3-5 days.

Proper storage temperatures

To recap, follow these proper storage temperatures for opened spam:

  • Refrigerator: Store at 40°F (4°C) or below for 3-5 days
  • Freezer: Store at 0°F (-18°C) or below for 1-2 months

Signs spam has gone bad

Even when stored properly, spam can still go bad eventually. Watch for these signs that indicate your opened spam has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Slimy or sticky texture
  • Grey, green or rainbow discoloration
  • Dull or faded pink color
  • Off-putting or sour smell
  • Mold growth

When in doubt, remember the old adage “When in doubt, throw it out” – discard spam at the first signs of spoilage.

How to use up spam before it goes bad

To help make sure your opened spam gets used up before spoiling, here are some tips:

  • Use within 3 days of opening
  • Store only what you plan to eat within a few days
  • Freeze remainder immediately in recipe-sized portions
  • Plan recipes and meals using spam ahead of time
  • Cook and freeze spam dishes for quick meals later

Safe spam storage tips

Follow these food safety guidelines when storing opened spam:

  • Wash hands before and after handling
  • Use clean utensils and containers
  • Refrigerate promptly after opening, within 2 hours
  • Store spam on lower fridge shelves to prevent juices from dripping onto other food
  • Avoid cross-contaminating spam with raw meats
  • Marinate spam in the refrigerator, not on the counter
  • Consume within 3-5 days of refrigerating and 1-2 months of freezing
  • Reheat cooked spam to 165°F until hot before eating

How to tell if unopened canned spam is still good

Unopened canned spam has a long shelf life, with best by dates typically ranging from 2-5 years after the packaging date. Follow these guidelines to tell if unopened spam is still safe to eat:

  • Check the “best by” date – consume by this date for optimum freshness and flavor
  • Check for dents, damage or rust – minor dents are ok, discard deeply dented cans
  • Do not eat spam from cans that are leaking, rusted, bulging or badly damaged
  • Store unopened cans in a cool, dry place
  • Typically fine to eat canned spam within 5 years, if the can is in good condition
  • Never taste meat from a can with a foul odor when opened

With proper refrigerated or frozen storage, opened spam stays fresh and delicious for later use in recipes, sandwiches and more. Follow the storage guidelines and food safety tips above, cook spam thoroughly when reheating, and enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does opened canned spam last in the fridge?

Refrigerated properly, opened canned spam will last 3 to 5 days in the fridge before going bad.

Can you freeze opened spam?

Yes, freezing is a great way to store the unused portion after opening canned spam. Properly frozen, spam can last 1-2 months in the freezer.

What happens if you eat spoiled spam?

Eating spoiled spam can cause foodborne illness leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and chills. The bacteria that cause spoiled spam can produce toxins that cause illness up to a day later.

How can you tell if unopened spam is bad?

Signs that unopened canned spam has gone bad include bulging or leaking cans, deep dents or rust. Also watch out for cans with foul odors when opened – these are signs the spam has spoiled and should be discarded.

Does cooking eliminate bacteria in bad spam?

Proper cooking can destroy bacteria in spam, but it does not get rid of toxins that bacteria may have already produced, which can still make you sick. Always discard spam with obvious signs of spoilage.


With some simple refrigeration and freezing, opened spam can be stored safely for continued use within a short window of time. Monitor the spam for any signs of spoilage and make sure to practice food safety when handling, cooking and eating spam. Follow the tips above to maximize freshness and minimize food waste.

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