You cooked your baked beans and have some leftovers. How long do cooked baked beans last in the fridge?
Or there’s a can of expired baked beans in your pantry you’re unsure what to do about. Do unopened baked beans go bad?
Sounds familiar? If so, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we talk about the storage, shelf life, and spoilage of both canned and homemade baked beans.
How Long Do Baked Beans Last?
|Canned baked beans (unopened)
|Best-by + 3 – 6 months
|Canned baked beans (opened)
|3 – 4 days
|Baked beans (leftovers)
|3 – 4 days
An open can of baked beans keeps for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. The same is true for leftover baked beans, no matter if they’re homemade or store-bought.
If you need more time to eat the leftovers, you can freeze them.
Sometimes the producers recommend slightly shorter periods, like two to three days, but those four days is still a pretty safe bet. It’s also what the USDA recommends when it comes to storing leftovers.
You might be able to get away with storing the beans for a day or two longer, but it’s playing with fire at this point. It’s way better (and safer) to simply freeze those leftovers.
Unopened canned baked beans come with a shelf life of 1 to 3 years, but stay safe way past the date on the label if you store them properly. As long as the can is intact, all that can realistically happen to the food is the quality dropping a bit over time.
So, how long are baked beans good for after the expiration date?
It’s impossible to say exactly, but 3 to 6 months is a safe estimate. In most cases, the can should keep even for a couple of years past its date.
If you don’t feel like throwing those old baked beans out right when you see the date, give them a check. More on that in the spoilage section.
But if you’re not comfortable eating canned food that’s 2 years past its date, it’s okay to throw it out.
Besides, the date on the label isn’t an “expiration” date and it’s not related to food safety. Instead, it’s a best-by date, and it only has to do with quality.
These guidelines work for pretty much every other canned product. Canned tuna, which I write about in my Does Canned Tuna Go Bad? article, is another example.
How To Tell If Baked Beans Are Bad?
Checking your canned baked beans for spoilage is a two-part process.
First, you examine the can or jar, looking for any obvious signs of spoilage. If you can’t find any issues, you proceed to check the baked beans themselves.
If you only have the leftovers, only the second part applies (obviously).
Check the Can
If your can or jar of baked beans is still unopened, check if:
- the can is bulging or dented
- it’s leaking
- there’s visible rust
If either is the case, throw out the baked beans.
One of these happening usually means something went wrong in the production process, and it’s not your fault.
Check the Beans
When checking if your baked beans have gone off, look for the following:
- Mold or anything organic that shouldn’t be there. Look on the surface and the neck. Mold tends to show up after a couple of days of storage.
- Off smell. If it smells bad, it’s a sure sign it’s not safe to eat anymore.
- Odd taste. If everything seems fine up until now, it’s time for a taste test. If your baked beans don’t pass it, discard the dish.
Too long storage time is also something to bear in mind. If your leftover baked beans sit in the fridge for like a week already, throw them out. No ifs or buts.
One more thing regarding the quality of baked beans.
As I mentioned earlier, canned baked beans last years (the same is true for dry beans), but the quality slowly degrades.
That means a can that’s four years old probably won’t taste as good as a fresh one. That’s normal and expected. But you will hardly notice any difference in most cases, especially if you’re hungry and in a rush.
How To Store Baked Beans
An unopened can of baked beans should sit in a cool, dark place, away from heat sources. A cabinet in the pantry or a cupboard in the kitchen works well for that purpose.
To store leftover baked beans, spoon them into a resealable food container and refrigerate.
If your leftovers are still hot, cool them quickly so that they don’t sit in the temperature danger zone (between 40 °F and 140 °F) for too long. Once they drop to around room temperature, transfer them into the fridge.
To quickly lower the temperature of just-cooked baked beans, spread them over a large area, like a couple of plates or a cookie sheet.
How long can baked beans sit out, exactly?
You should refrigerate leftover baked beans, but if you left them out, the USDA suggests they shouldn’t sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is over 90°F (32°C).
Those recommendations are pretty strict, but you don’t have to follow them to a T if you don’t want to. Refrigerating your baked beans after 2 hours and 10 minutes on the counter will probably be okay too.
One thing’s for sure – if you left your baked beans out overnight, they need to go.
Last but not least, a bit of food hygiene. When you’re transferring the leftovers to a storage container, make sure you use a clean spoon, not the one you used for dinner.
Can You Freeze Baked Beans?
If you have some leftovers and don’t want to eat baked beans again within a couple of days, freezing is the solution.
Baked beans freeze well, and the whole process is dead simple and takes roughly 5 minutes.
Check out our article that answers the question: can you freeze baked beans?
Homemade Baked Beans
Homemade baked beans keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, no matter what recipe you follow. Make sure they’re in a sealed container or at least a pot with a lid on.
Again, transfer the leftovers into the fridge as soon as they cool down a bit.
Some recipes, like for example this one, suggest shorter storage time. I don’t see a reason why you shouldn’t be able to store these baked beans for the usual 3 to 4 day period. If you want to play it super safe, stick with what the recipe recommends.
If those 3 to 4 days period isn’t enough for your needs, you can freeze the excess and defrost and cook the meal whenever you feel like it.
Long story short, homemade baked beans aren’t that different from an open jar of store-bought baked beans, at least when it comes to storage time and practices.
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