How Long Can Ham Sit Out? (And Is It Safe to Eat?)

Are you planning to prepare a ham for dinner but are wondering how long it can sit out before it goes bad? You are in the right place because we have all the answers to your questions here.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How long a ham can sit out
  • Whether ham can sit out overnight
  • How to tell if a ham has gone bad
  • And much more!

How Long Can Ham Sit Out?

Maybe you are cooking a ham for a holiday get-together where much of the food will sit out while you are visiting with friends and family. How long can it safely sit out before it is completely ruined?

It is important to keep in mind that the USDA and CDC both recommend that cooked food should not sit out for more than 2 hours. Food that is exposed to temperatures between 40℉ to 140℉ is at risk for harmful bacteria to grow at an astonishing rate.

Many still wonder what they can do to prevent their ham from going bad.

In this article, we will discuss tips to keep in mind when you are preparing a ham and tips on how to store it properly.

Can Ham Sit Out Overnight?

When it comes to ham, whether it is pre-cooked or not, it is best not to leave it sitting out overnight. This is because when food sits out at temperatures over 40℉ for an extended period is at risk of developing harmful bacteria.

If you eat ham that has been sitting out overnight, you run the risk of being exposed to the bacteria that can then cause food poisoning. The symptoms of food poisoning can be quite unpleasant but can be prevented by not eating foods that have sat out all night.

The bottom line when it comes to ham sitting out overnight is that whether or not it was accidental, you should consider it a loss and toss it out. Since harmful bacteria grow on surfaces that have been left out of the fridge, it is best to ensure that you have put your ham and other side dishes away as soon as possible.

Related >> What Is Uncured Ham? 

How Long Can Ham Sit Out at Room Temperature?

Most food experts such as the USDA, or the United States Department of Agriculture, recommend that food, including ham, not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After this time harmful bacteria tend to grow at a rapid rate and can cause food-borne illnesses if eaten.

This can be somewhat challenging especially if you are having family and friends over for the holidays. Since you tend to eat at a slower pace during these gatherings, it is easy for food to be left out for long periods.

One of the best tips you can use is to be aware of how long the food is out at room temperature and store it properly within the 2-hour timeframe. This will ensure that you have ham leftovers for days after you serve it.

ham sitting out on the counter

How to Tell if Ham Has Gone Bad

There are many ways to tell whether or not your ham has gone bad including the usual sight and smell tests. The best rule of thumb is that if you leave it out overnight, it is safe to say that it should be tossed.

Ham that has gone bad typically will have obvious changes in appearance such as having a grayish tone. Additionally, the spoiled ham will often have a sticky and slimy residue that cannot be ignored.

In addition, when the ham has gone bad, you will be able to tell by the odor it emits. Ham, like other foods, tends to have a foul smell when it indicates that it is no longer safe to eat.

Related >> How To Smoke Fresh Ham

Tips on Storing Ham

Whether you are serving your cooked ham right away or not, you should be aware of the best ways to store it for safety. Depending on how soon you are serving it, you can either freeze it or store it in the refrigerator.

Since there are many ways to store your ham, you will first need to decide what you would like to do with it. Whether you choose to store them for lunches later in the week or to have for another full meal down the road, you should always follow certain guidelines to ensure your safety.

To learn more about some tips and tricks when it comes to preparing and serving ham, read on.

Keep the Ham Warm

Keep in mind that if you are serving the ham for dinner that may go on for several hours, you may want to consider using a chafing dish or slow cooker to keep it warm. Keeping the ham warmer than 140℉ will prevent harmful bacteria from growing.

If you decide to use a chafing dish or slow cooker to keep your ham warm during your dinner, there are a few things to consider. Making sure that the flames are out of reach of children and pets can help keep them safe.

Store in Fridge Safely

However, if you are planning to store your ham in the fridge, you should make sure that you are storing it safely. This means putting the cooked ham in an airtight container that is designed to keep bacteria from growing. 

It is also important to make sure that before you store your ham in the fridge, it should be cooled down. Allowing it to do so will prevent the temperature in the refrigerator from rising, which can cause harmful bacteria to grow.

Freeze Your Ham

If you want to save the ham for use at a later date, you may want to consider freezing it to keep it safe. Be sure to freeze the portion sizes separately so you do not reheat the dish too often.

When it comes to storing your ham in the freezer, you should always put it in an airtight container. This will prevent the cold air from touching the ham directly which keeps it safe from freezer burn.

24-Piece Glass Food Storage Containers with Upgraded Snap Locking Lids
Buy Now On Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
06/10/2024 11:03 pm GMT

How Long Can You Store Cooked Ham in the Refrigerator?

Now that you know that you should not leave the ham out overnight, you may be wondering just how long a cooked ham will last in the refrigerator. As with most foods, the answer to this question depends on a few factors including when you plan to reheat it to serve.

Cooked ham that has been in the refrigerator can typically last anywhere from 3-5 days as long as it is in an airtight container. This means that if you plan to eat it throughout the week, it will likely be good to go.

At the end of the day, if you have doubts about how long your ham has been in the fridge, you may want to use caution before eating it. The last thing you would want to do is make yourself or anyone else sick from expired ham.

You can read more about how long ham can last in the fridge in this guide.

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

Leave a Comment