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How Long Does Spam Last? Shelf Life, Storage & Cooking

by | Apr 14, 2023 | Survival Food, Long Term Food Storage | 0 comments

How long does SPAM last? Spam’s shelf life depends greatly on how you store it. Renowned for its versatility and longevity, this iconic canned meat product is made primarily of pork, salt, and preservatives.

It’s an essential staple for anyone planning for the unexpected.

In this guide, we’ll uncover the secrets of SPAM’s longevity, best storage practices, and cooking pointers for survival situations. Now, let’s begin!

In This Guide

History Of SPAM

Spam was introduced by the Hormel Food Corporation on July 5, 1937, as a way to boost the sales of pork shoulder, a cut that wasn’t selling well.

During World War II, Spam became a food staple for U.S. soldiers, earning nicknames like “ham that didn’t pass its physical” and “Special Army Meat.” The military purchased over 150 million pounds of Spam by the end of the war.

It was also introduced into various Pacific islands during and after the war, becoming a part of their native diets and a symbol of U.S. influence.

The origin of the name “Spam” remains somewhat mysterious, with theories suggesting it could stand for “spiced ham” or “Shoulder of Pork And Ham,” but its true meaning is known only to a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives.

How Long Does SPAM Last?

This processed canned pork unopened has a shelf life of 2-5 years as long as it’s kept at room temperature.

But how long does SPAM last in the fridge? Refrigerated SPAM lasts for up to 7-10 days. Opened cans should be transferred to airtight containers before storing them in the fridge to preserve their flavor.

How To Store SPAM Properly

To store SPAM, a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, is often ideal. Storing SPAM properly is the cornerstone of maximizing its shelf life. Applying the right storage techniques helps maintain the meat’s flavor and texture.

Cans of SPAM stacked on top of one another. How long does SPAM last?


You should store unopened cans in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard, and avoid exposure to heat and direct sunlight.

An unopened can of SPAM has a remarkably long shelf life, thanks to the hermetic sealing process that locks in freshness.


Once the can is opened, the SPAM’s longevity drastically changes due to air exposure. Hence, SPAM should be quickly refrigerated.

Store it in an airtight container or resealable bag, and store it in the refrigerator to preserve its texture and flavor.

Opened can of SPAM on a plate.

Freezing SPAM

If you plan to freeze SPAM, use plastic wrap or aluminum foil to firmly wrap it before placing it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag.

Placing it in cold storage like a freezer will help maintain its texture and prevent freezer burn.

Can You Eat Expired SPAM?

The expiry date doesn’t definitively determine whether SPAM is safe to eat or not. So, depending on its current state, it could still be edible.

The expiration date, best by date or shelf life serve as guidelines, but when it comes to SPAM, using your senses might be the best approach.

While it’s possible to consume after the printed date, you must check its condition before consuming it.

However, its quality will gradually decline the longer it is from the “best by” date. For the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume SPAM up to 3 years past the best-by date.

What Are The Risks Of Eating Old SPAM?

Eating SPAM past its “best by” date can cause digestive issues, food poisoning, and foodborne illnesses like salmonella or botulism.

Other symptoms of foodborne illnesses associated with eating spoiled or rotten SPAM include the following: 

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Severe Diarrhea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Fever

If you suspect you’ve consumed spoiled or rotten SPAM, go to a licensed physician or seek medical attention immediately.

Plate of SPAM.

What Are The Signs Of Spoilage Of SPAM?

Recognizing the telltale signs of spoiled meat such as off-putting odors, discoloration, or a change in texture, can be the difference between a delightful meal and a regrettable experience.

Here are some indicators that your Spam may have gone bad:

  1. Unusual or off-putting smell. If the Spam emits a strong, nasty odor, it’s likely spoiled. Dispose of it immediately.

  1. Mold and discoloration. Visible mold or darkening of the Spam’s color indicates spoilage. Do not cut around the molded or discolored portions and avoid consuming the SPAM entirely.

  1. Slimy texture. A slimy or sticky surface is a dead giveaway that the SPAM is no longer safe to eat. Do not try to wash the SPAM to get rid of the slimy texture. Dispose of the SPAM immediately.

  1. Swollen, leaking, or bulging can. Any physical alteration or damage to the can of the SPAM can be a sign for spoiled or rotten SPAM.

Any compromise to the integrity of the can, such as bulging or excess air,  could be the by-product of bacterial growth, making the contents unsafe for consumption.

Do not consume SPAM from a compromised can and always check the packaging on your canned goods for any damage before putting them away for long-term storage.

SPAM Culinary Tips: Making the Most of Your Canned Meat

Using SPAM in your cooking can be a mix of classic methods and new ideas. With the right techniques, you can turn this simple meat into a gourmet experience.

Cooking SPAM in a frying pan.

Here are different ways to enjoy them.

  1. When frying SPAM, slice it thin for a crispier texture.

  2. Drain any excess oil after frying.

  3. SPAM can be very salty for some people. Use sweet or tangy ingredients to balance out some of the saltiness.

  4. There are many SPAM flavors to choose from. Experiment with different flavors and spices:

Creative Ways to Eat SPAM

There are many ways to prepare SPAM and create a variety of meals as its versatile to cook in the kitchen. Here are some recipes to incorporate SPAM into your meals:

Breakfast Options

For breakfast, SPAM can replace traditional meat options, like sausage and bacon.

  • SPAM and egg. Fry up some SPAM and serve it alongside your choice of scrambled, poached or sunny-side eggs.

  • SPAM breakfast sandwich. Fry thin slices of SPAM and a sunny-side-up egg, then layer them with cheese and your choice of condiments between two slices of toasted bread or an English muffin.

  • SPAM breakfast hash. Dice SPAM and cook it with onions, peppers, and potatoes, then season to taste and top it off with a fried or poached egg.

SPAM, eggs and rice for breakfast

Lunch and Dinner Ideas

SPAM is not only a pantry staple but also an incredibly versatile main ingredient for a range of lunch and dinner dishes. From quick sandwiches to hearty casseroles, this canned meat offers endless culinary possibilities.

Here are some examples:

  • SPAM fried rice. Sauté diced SPAM with garlic, onion, and vegetables in a hot wok or deep pan, and then add day-old, cooked rice and season with soy sauce, tossing until everything is well combined and heated through.

  • SPAM Fajitas. Sauté sliced SPAM with onions and bell peppers in a hot pan. Serve with warm tortillas and your choice of toppings, such as salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, for a Tex-Mex twist.

  • SPAM tacos. Dice and pan-fry SPAM with taco seasoning until crispy and serve on warm corn tortillas topped with fresh salsa, shredded cabbage, and a squeeze of lime for a twist on a classic dish.

Photo of a SPAM sandwich.

Sandwiches and Snacks

Turning SPAM into sandwiches and snacks is a delicious way to make the most of this versatile canned meat.

Whether you’re grilling, frying, or simply layering it cold, these quick and easy recipes will bring culinary delight to your kitchen.

  • SPAM sliders. Place thinly sliced pan-fried SPAM on a toasted slider or Hawaiian roll and top with your favorite condiments such as mayo, lettuce, tomato, and cheese.

  • Grilled SPAM with pineapple. Skewer alternating pieces of SPAM and pineapple chunks and grill until slightly charred and caramelized.

  • SPAM musubi. Pan-fry slices of SPAM and place them on top of compacted sushi rice brushed with a teriyaki glaze, and wrap with a strip of nori seaweed.

Woman eating SPAM Musubi

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Store Spam

Can I freeze SPAM to extend shelf-life?

Yes, freezing SPAM can extend its shelf life by up to six months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before use.

Can I eat SPAM straight from the can?

Yes, SPAM is fully cooked and can be eaten straight from the can without heating.

Is SPAM good for emergencies?

SPAM’s long shelf life and high protein content make it an excellent choice for emergency situations, such as natural disasters or survival scenarios.

Photo of SPAM fries with a side of rice and seaweed.

Key Takeaways Of How Long Does SPAM Last?

SPAM is a convenient and versatile food option for survivalists, military personnel, or anyone seeking a long-lasting protein source.

Understanding SPAM’s longevity and versatility allows you to make the most of this unique canned meat.

With countless recipes and alternatives, there’s always something new to try with this iconic canned meat.

Bill Montgomery
Bill Montgomery


Bill Montgomery is the co-founder of Modern Day Prepping. He and his wife Angie have been dedicated to the self-reliant lifestyle since 2008. When he’s not working on the homestead, he enjoys tinkering with electronics and family movie nights with Angie and their two boys. To learn more about Bill, visit the About Us page.

If you want to know how to keep your family safe in the modern world, visit Privacy For Patriots, a sister site that Bill started to help fellow Patriots stay “off the radar” from bad actors and big tech.


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