Does Bacon Grease Go Bad?

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If you love bacon and regularly eat it, you’re probably familiar with the delicious bacon grease residue that there always seems to be plenty of left in the pan.

You may already be an avid bacon grease recycler, adding it to later dishes to give them that salty bacon flavor.

Unfortunately, sometimes there’s more grease than meals to flavor it with. As the bacon residues pile up in your jar, you may begin to wonder, “Does bacon grease go bad?

Bacon has an incredible shelf life if you store it properly. We found experts who insist it can store indefinitely in the right conditions, but we recommend you try to use pure, unused bacon grease within 3 months of pantry storage or 6 months in the fridge.

Read on to see how to keep your bacon grease as long as possible.

How Long Does Bacon Grease Last?

It’s time to face the fats, and bacon grease is literally mostly fats. The great news is that bacteria can’t live in fat, so fats don’t technically go bad like most foods. They do go rancid though.

The below estimates assume you store your bacon grease in a tightly-closed opaque container.

Bacon grease lasts around:

  • 10 days by the stove
  • 3 months in the pantry
  • 6 months in the fridge
  • 1 year in the freezer

Rancidification is a chemical reaction caused when light, heat, or air attack fat molecules and begin to break them down. The more these substances hit your bacon grease, the quicker it will go rancid.

Related | Does Bacon Go Bad?

Bacon Grease In A Storage Jar

The problem with estimating bacon grease shelf life is that there aren’t too many scientists studying reused grease.

We found a study researching the oxidative stability of purified olive oil with many similar properties to bacon grease.

Related | How Long Does Olive Oil Last?

Neither of them contain antioxidants, but both have high monounsaturated fat content and low polyunsaturated fat content. They also respond similarly to heat and air exposure.

The study found that olive oil kept by the stove in temperatures around 100 degrees Fahrenheit stays perfectly stable for about five days. Between five and 10 days, oxidation byproducts slowly begin rising. After 10 days, there’s a sharp increase in rancidification.

As with many food products, there seems to be a spectrum of storage safety based on temperature. Stove-area temperature causes quick spoilage, room temperature works slower, and fridge temperature even slower.

From all the other estimates we read, you should be able to store your bacon grease in a cool, dry pantry for about 3 months and in the fridge for easily six months without any loss of quality.

Julia Child’s 1930s classic cookbook, “The Joy of Cooking,” actually states in an index that you can keep bacon drippings indefinitely. We want to keep you extra safe, so our recommendations will be conservative.

Does Bacon Grease Need To Be Refrigerated?

Bacon grease, like Crisco, doesn’t demand fridge space. Above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will start to liquefy, which will accelerate fat molecule breakdown.

As long as your pantry stays below 80 degrees, your bacon grease should be fine for a long time.

Can You Freeze Bacon Grease?

Bacon grease is tasty enough and lasts long enough at room and fridge temperatures that you’ll probably use it long before you need to freeze it.

If you do want to freeze it, it can keep its quality for over a year.

If you freeze it in an ice cube tray and then move the frozen cubes to an airtight container, you can then take it out and use one cube at a time. We don’t recommend thawing and refreezing bacon grease repeatedly.

How To Tell if Bacon Grease Has Gone Bad

To make sure your bacon grease is still edible, check for:

  • Mold
  • Discoloration
  • Metallic or fishy smell

It’s difficult for mold to grow in fats like bacon grease. You can make it easier by contaminating it with unclean, moist foreign objects. If you’ve been using random kitchen spoons to scoop out your grease, it can start to grow mold.

Discoloration is a sign of rancid bacon grease. If your grease starts to take on a blueish, greenish, or brownish tint, the fats might have started rotting.

Your nose is probably the best indicator of the quality of this particular food item. Bacon grease is more susceptible to going rancid than other kinds of spoiling, and the first sign of rancidification is usually a horrible smell.

A lot of people describe rancid bacon grease as smelling fishy or metallic. Others say it smells more like soap, and some people even say crayons. If it smells weird, toss it.

Don’t pour it down the drain, or you may clog your pipes. If you don’t want your sewage back, pour spoiled bacon grease into an old container or empty can, let it cool, and place it in the garbage bin.

Can Old Bacon Grease Make You Sick?

Eating small amounts of rancid fats may be gross, but it won’t do much immediate harm to your body.

We couldn’t find any official information specifically about the harms of spoiled bacon grease, but experts agree that occasionally ingesting small amounts of rancid oils is very low risk.

Closer to home, if it stinks, it will ruin the food you cook it with. If it doesn’t stink, it’s probably safe to eat.

How To Store Bacon Grease

To safely store your bacon grease as long as possible:

  • Strain it
  • Keep it in an airtight jar
  • Keep it below 70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Don’t double recycle

Let your bacon grease cool down a bit, and then pour it through a strainer into your airtight jar. Straining will remove leftover bacon chunks and any other food particles that could spoil the grease quicker and cause serious health problems.

Use a container that’s both easy to seal and easy to scoop from. Always close it tightly after using. If you decide not to keep it in the fridge, at least try to keep your pantry or storage location below 70 degrees Fahrenheit to slow down rancidification.

If you eat a lot of bacon and regularly save the grease, don’t keep adding to the same jar ad infinitum, or you may end up with ancient grease particles in the mix. A good rule of thumb is to change jars every six months or so.

Never double recycle your bacon grease. Once you’ve saved it and reused it once, don’t save it and re-re-use it again.

Not only will your food have a lot of weird mismatched flavors with overused bacon grease, but you increase the risk of ingesting harmful microbes.

Also, repeated heating and cooling wreaks havoc on fats at the molecular scale, which we recommend avoiding.

Final Thoughts

Recycled bacon grease has a long shelf life and a good safety profile. There are mixed opinions about its exact longevity, but all the experts we read agree that the risks are low.

The biggest problem with recycled bacon grease is rancidification, which increases with exposure to the usual suspects: heat, light, and air. You can identify rancid bacon grease mainly by its standout smell.

Avoid weird-tasting food and long-term health problems by properly disposing of foul-smelling bacon grease inside a can in your garbage.

Written By Justin Micheal

Justin is not just the creator but also an author and editor for KitchenSanity. He does the majority of the cooking at home with his wife. His friends and family look forward to eating his delicious creations, which often leads to many questions about how they can replicate his meals at home. In his writing, he shares his passion and knowledge as a home chef from his kitchen to yours.