Can You Freeze Deli Meat?

Deli meats are tasty cuts of meat that are formed into slices for snacking or putting on party platters. 

Deli meats are most popularly consumed within sandwiches. And we know how much America loves its sandwiches! You can now visit deli counters and sandwich shops across the country. However, the great and noble sandwich was not created in the United States.

The sandwich was formed in the 1700s in Europe by the Earl of Sandwich, who has been widely considered to be the innovator of our most favorite lunchtime snack. The sandwich consists of two pieces of bread with fillings and most typically; deli meats. 

Deli meats are generally pre-cooked and cured meats that can be served in sandwiches or eaten cold. Deli meats are also known as cold cuts, luncheon meats, cooked meats or sliced meats. Deli meats are often found at the deli counter at a store, or pre-packed ready for purchase. 

One of the most popular deli meats is bologna, which has been enjoyed since the Roman Empire! This goes to show that deli meats are an important staple of our favorite foods. 

Deli meats are generally made by separating different cuts of meat and bonding them together into a cut that can be sliced and served easily for family gatherings or lunchtime sandwiches. 

Deli meats are great additions to your cupboards. You can purchase some meat and cheese from the store, and you have some easy snacks or sandwiches available to make for the whole family. 

Deli meats are a staple of grocery shopping because they are so versatile, but they can have a shorter shelf life. You can safely freeze deli meats to restore their freshness and longevity for later use! Then, you can stock up on your favorite deli meats and save yourself a few trips to the store. 

Although absolutely delicious, they do have a lot of salt and additives to maintain their flavor, so you should know how to properly store and prepare your deli meats.

Can you freeze deli meat?

We always say that generally you can freeze anything. The problem you have is will it be easily thawed and taste the same afterwards?

Products with higher water content will never freeze properly and maintain the original consistency. Our general rule of thumb is to only freeze products with a lower water content for the best results.

Deli meat is no different, so choose to freeze meats like pepperoni, bologna or sausage meat for ultimate results upon thawing.

The easiest way to freeze deli meat is to purchase the pre-packed versions, these can be placed straight into your freezer in its own airtight and sealed container for optimal freezing.

Unopened frozen deli meat can be kept frozen for up to 1-2 months before consumption!

How to freeze deli meat

Once you have purchased your deli meats, you must store them in the refrigerator before eating. These types of meats can be eaten safely within a week of opening. However, you can choose to freeze deli meats to improve their longevity and enjoy at a later date. 

Freezing your deli meats is a great way to improve their shelf life as the freezer’s low temperature will not promote the growth of bacteria and will ensure your meat is safe for eating.

If you are storing pre-packaged deli meats, you are in luck, these are super simple to home freeze, as they already come in an airtight container that will protect against freezer burn.

These types of deli meats often come ready vacuum packed, however, you can place these packages inside a freezer bag for extra protection.

If you are hoping to freeze sliced deli meats from a store or counter, then it can be a little tricker. To ensure that sliced deli meat is safe in your freezer you must first lay the individual slices on waxy or parchment paper. This will ensure that they do not stick together when frozen. 

You can then add the sliced deli meat to a freezer bag or airtight container and place within your freezer. 

Typically speaking, the longer you leave deli meat in the freezer, the quicker your food will reduce in quality. It is best to thaw and enjoy your deli meat for up to 1-2 months after freezing.

How to thaw deli meat

The safest way to thaw your frozen deli meat is to remove from the freezer and place in your refrigerator overnight. This should completely thaw the deli meat and it will be ready to consume the next day.

Another way to thaw your deli meat is to place it within a bowl of cold water until it is fully defrosted. You may have to change the water a few times so that it remains cold. Once defrosted, you should eat your deli meat within 2-3 days. 

If you are in a hurry, you can thaw deli meats in the microwave, but you must consume them straight away and cannot store them afterwards.

Our best tips

Always check that your food is safe for consumption both before and after home freezing. You cannot always trust the stores use-by date so you should always use your own initiative and instincts when checking your deli meat.

The first way to check if your meat is bad is to examine the color. If there is any discoloration then it is safe to assume that the meat may have turned bad. 

Your sense of smell is another great way to tell if your food has gone bad. If it smells foul in any way, then the deli meat may have gone off. 

Deli meat has a lot of additives that can maintain its longevity, however if you notice that the meat has gone hard or has a slimy residue on it, then it has most likely spoiled and you should throw it in the trash.


Hi there! My name is Caroline Stevens, and I am an American mom of three wonderful children. I started this blog to help everyday families be more sustainable and save money by preventing food waste. I currently live in Wisconsin, and enjoy crafting, cooking at home, and traveling. I have a degree in art and previously worked in the restaurant business.