How Long Can Bratwurst Safely Stay in the Fridge?

How long does a bratwurst last in the fridge?

Bratwurst is a type of fresh sausage that requires refrigeration. It originated in Germany and has become a popular staple in many regions of North America. This article discusses how long bratwurst can last in the refrigerator, its characteristics, and the proper ways to store it.

What are bratwurst sausages?

Bratwurst sausages were created centuries ago in Germany and have since gained popularity in various parts of the world. While pork is the primary meat used in bratwurst, it can also be made with beef or veal, although this is less common. Unlike most other sausages, bratwurst is kept uncooked and stored in an animal-based casing. The recipe for bratwurst varies from region to region, resulting in unique flavors and seasonings.

Characteristics of Bratwurst

Bratwurst is known for its distinct flavor profile. The seasoning mix typically includes black pepper, allspice, lime, and fresh herbs. However, there is no definitive “original” recipe for bratwurst, as each region has its own interpretation. The American variety of bratwurst often contains numerous seasonings, resulting in a meaty, spicy, and umami-rich flavor.
Bratwurst is usually made with coarsely ground meat, although finely ground meat may be used in some varieties. When cooked properly, bratwurst has a smooth and slightly chewy mouthfeel. The casing of the sausage becomes crispy when cooked, especially when fried. Even when fried, the sausage develops a flaky coating with juicy meat inside.
Bratwurst can be used in a variety of ways, although it is not typically thought of as a hot dog sausage. It can be enjoyed on its own, served in hot dog buns with condiments such as onions and mustard. In addition, bratwurst can be cut into small pieces and added to salads or other recipes to enhance its flavor.

Storing Bratwurst

Due to its raw meat content and higher fat content, bratwurst requires constant refrigeration to prevent spoilage. Fresh sausages such as bratwurst should not be stored at room temperature for more than 2 hours. The FDA recommends storing fresh sausage in the refrigerator for no more than 3-4 days, with the best quality experienced within 2-3 days.
When storing bratwurst in the refrigerator, it is best to keep the sausages in their original packaging. Place them in the back of the refrigerator where the temperature is usually colder and more stable. Unopened bratwurst will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator, while an opened package should be consumed within 2-3 days. If you plan to cook the bratwurst within the next few days, separate the bratwurst according to serving size. Wrap the leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and store in a clear, airtight container.
Store in the freezer:
Bratwurst can also be placed in the freezer for long-term storage. To freeze bratwurst, wrap the leftover sausage in plastic wrap, keeping the links intact to prevent exposure to air or freezer burn. Place the wrapped sausages in a dry and clean freezer-safe bag or container. Store at a constant temperature of 0°F in the back of the freezer. When properly stored, brats can last up to 6 months in the freezer, although it is recommended that they be consumed within 2-3 months for the best flavor and quality. To thaw frozen bratwurst, place the container in the refrigerator and defrost overnight at 40°F or use the defrost setting on a microwave.

Bottom Line

Bratwurst is a delicious fresh sausage that can be enjoyed in many ways. Proper storage is critical to maintaining its freshness and quality. When refrigerated, unopened bratwurst can last up to 5 days, while opened packages should be consumed within 2-3 days. Freezing bratwurst extends its shelf life, with a recommended consumption period of 2-3 months. By following these storage guidelines, you can ensure that your bratwurst remains safe to eat and retains its delicious flavor.


How long does an unopened bratwurst keep in the refrigerator?

Unopened bratwurst will keep up to 4-5 days in the refrigerator at 40°F.

How long can opened bratwurst last in the refrigerator?

Once opened, bratwurst should be consumed within 2-3 days when stored in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze bratwurst for later use?

Yes, you can freeze bratwurst. It is recommended to wrap the sausages tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. Frozen bratwurst will keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

How should I store bratwurst in the refrigerator?

The best way to store bratwurst in the refrigerator is to keep it in its original packaging. If you have opened the package, wrap the leftover sausages tightly in cling film and store them in a clear, airtight container.

Can I store bratwurst at room temperature?

No, fresh sausages like bratwurst should not be stored at room temperature for more than 2 hours to avoid the risk of bacterial growth. It is important to refrigerate them immediately.

How do I defrost frozen bratwurst?

To thaw frozen bratwurst, move the container from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it defrost overnight at 40°F. Alternatively, you can use the defrost setting on a microwave to thaw them quickly.