Is It Safe To Eat 2-Year-Old Frozen Meat?

For people who love cooking at home and shop in bulk, the freezer has got to be one of the greatest kitchen appliances ever invented. It first gained widespread adoption in America in the 1940s, and provided immediate benefits to families across the country. It helped eliminate food waste by keeping items safe to eat for much, much longer. Suddenly you could buy more food at once and not worry about nearly as much of it spoiling. Fruits, vegetables — even butter — all of it could stay edible for much longer than ever before.

But what about frozen meat? Many people, even those who maintain well-stocked freezers, often wonder about the freezer shelf life for these proteins. Do you have some years-old ground meat, steak, or chicken in the back of your freezer right now? If you're wondering how long your frozen meats will remain safe to eat, the answer depends on what type of meat it is.

Frozen meat should be tossed after a year at most

Frozen meat, like other frozen ingredients, will last a very long time in the freezer — but the exact amount of time depends on the protein. According to the handy cold storage chart located at, ground meats have the shortest freezer shelf life, at three to four months. Fresh cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork — including steaks, chops, and roasts — will last for between four and 12 months. Whole chickens and turkeys will last for up to a year, while cut poultry pieces will last for up to nine months. What about already cooked and prepared meats? According to, bacon can last up to a month and cooked sausages up to two months.

While years-old frozen meat might technically be safe to eat, its quality deteriorates over time, suffering changes to its color, flavor, and texture (via Almanac). The bottom line? The maximum amount of time meat can last in the freezer is one full year. After that, it's time to toss those freezer-burned hamburger patties.