You cooked a big pot of baked beans, or opened a can, and you want to know how many days you can refrigerate the leftovers. How long do baked beans last in the fridge?
Or you’re wondering if you can double your recipe and freeze the rest for later. Can you freeze baked beans?
If either of those has brought you here, great. That’s because in this article, we’re going to cover shelf life, storage, and spoilage of baked beans.
Interested? Let’s get started.
How Long Do Baked Beans Last?
Cooked baked beans last for about 4 to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. If that’s not long enough for your needs, freezing is the solution you’re looking for.
The USDA recommends storing the leftovers for no longer than four days:
A general rule of thumb for refrigerator storage for cooked leftovers is 4 daysUSDA
But from my experience, cooked foods often keep for an extra day or even two. That’s why I recommend finishing the baked beans within five days.
Of course, if there’s something wrong with the dish (more on that later), you should toss it immediately. That’s true even if you cooked it only yesterday.
When it comes to canned baked beans, those things last for years as long as they’re unopened.
Sure, there’s a best-by date on the label, but it only informs you how long the product’s quality should be top-notch. It’s not an expiration date and has nothing to do with food safety.
In other words, canned baked beans don’t really go bad.
As long as the tin is intact and you feel comfortable cooking those beans (e.g., they aren’t like 10 years past their date), they should be alright. Give them a thorough check before cooking and eating to make sure of that, though.
As usual, to ensure your baked beans don’t spoil prematurely, you should follow good and proper storage practices. Let’s talk about what those are.
How To Store Baked Beans
An unopened jar or can of baked beans should sit in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight. A cupboard in the pantry works great for that.
Once you open it up, refrigerate the leftovers in a sealed container. You can reuse the original container if it’s resealable or transfer the beans to a food container. If you made the beans from scratch, you go with the container, of course.
Besides the basics, there’s a couple of things to remember.
First, use clean spoons and ladles if you expect leftovers.
Double-dipping is an easy way to introduce microbes to your baked beans. And that might result in the leftovers going moldy after only a day or two of storage.
Next up, remember to refrigerate the dish within two hours of cooking. And make sure it’s not hot anymore before you put it in the fridge.
Cooked a big pot of baked beans that won’t cool down to a reasonable temperature in two hours? Divide the leftovers into a couple of large plates and let them sit on the counter. The whole thing will be cold in no time.
Can You Freeze Baked Beans?
Yes, baked beans freeze just fine, and the process is as simple as it gets.
Here’s how to do it:
- Divide the baked beans into meal-sized portions. This way, you don’t have any leftovers once you thaw and reheat your baked beans.
- Transfer each portion to a separate container. Add a label with the name and date if you like.
That’s it. The whole procedure takes a few minutes tops.
Those frozen baked beans can sit in the freezer for at least a couple (like 3+) months. They might lose a bit of flavor over time, but that’s it.
When it comes to defrosting, there are two popular options:
- Overnight in the fridge. Transfer the container into the refrigerator and let it sit there for 6+ hours until the beans thaw.
- Defrost and cook in one go. If you forgot to start thawing the baked beans the day before, not all is lost. You can thaw them on the stovetop. Anything with a non-stick surface works great for that purpose, but a regular pot will do as well. Watch and stir the defrosting beans often so that they don’t burn.
When To Toss Baked Beans
If canned baked beans is what you have, take a closer look at the tin. It should be intact and look the same way it looked the day you bought it. Maybe it has gathered some dust, but that’s about it.
What you don’t want to see is any bulging, rusting, or leaking. If you notice either, toss it.
Next up, check the contents of the can. If there’s anything off about the baked beans, like the dish smells off, the texture is changed, or anything else doesn’t seem right, discard it.
When it comes to leftover baked beans that sit in the fridge for a couple of days already, do the following:
- Check storage time. If it’s in the refrigerator for more than 5 days, it’s time for it to go.
- Look for mold and any discolorations. If you notice any, toss the dish. Please note that if your baked beans contain meat (like bacon or sausage), there might be some spots of fat on the surface. Don’t mistake those for mold.
- Give it a whiff. A putrid or “funny” smell is a clear indicator something is wrong. You know what to do with such baked beans.
- Check the taste. If those beans sit in storage for like 4 days already, check their taste before cooking them. Once again, if anything seems off, err on the side of caution and discard them.
As you can tell, the process I outlined above is short and simple. And chances are you already do something similar for all your leftovers.
Once you’ve make sure everything else about the food seems okay, feel free to eat those baked beans.
- Cooked baked beans last for 4 to 5 days in the fridge. Freeze them if you need more time.
- Canned baked beans last for years after the date on the label. If the tin is okay, the beans most likely are too.
- If your leftover baked beans sit in the fridge for more than 5 days, toss them. Same if there’s mold, they smell off or taste weird.