We may earn commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products we back. Why trust us?

No food will last in your refrigerator forever, but today's fridges do keep chicken, pizza, eggs, and other foods fresher for longer than you might think. Some staples even last well past their expiration date. Follow this advice, gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other authoritative sources, and you'll never look in your refrigerator and wonder "to toss or not to toss?" again.

How Long Does Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Raw chicken: You want to use it pretty quickly after you bring it home. A whole chicken or turkey or cut-up pieces of either bird will last in the fridge for only one to two days, according to FoodSafety.gov. Freeze a whole bird, and it'll last up to a year; individual pieces can stay frozen for a little less time, around nine months.
Cooked chicken: No matter how you prep it, cooked chicken will keep for three to four days in the fridge. You can also freeze cooked chicken for two to six months. If you've got frozen chicken nuggets or patties, aim to use them within three months.

How Long Do Eggs Last in the Fridge?

Fresh eggs: Store fresh eggs at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler in their original carton, which will prevent them from inheriting the smell (and flavor) of other foods in the fridge if you have an older one with a less robust air-filtration system. Keep eggs on an interior shelf, never in the door. Otherwise, every time you open the door, you'll lower the temperature of those little oval packages of protein. As for that stamped-on date: You can safely use fresh eggs up to four weeks after the expiration date.

Cracked eggs: If you have cracked your eggs—for whatever reason—keep them in a tight lidded container, and use them within two days.

Egg yolks: If you’ve saved the yolk of an egg that’s been separated from its whites—say you're making cocktails and have a couple of yolks leftover—cover it with water to prevent it from drying out, refrigerate it, and then drain it before you use it within two days.

Egg whites: Separated whites will last for up to four days in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container, according to incredibleegg.org.

Hard boiled eggs: Keep them in their shells, and they'll last for up to one week in the refrigerator. Those that have been peeled should be used on the day they were peeled.

To freeze eggs: Bought too many? You can freeze them, but there are some rules: Never freeze eggs in their shells (or hard-boiled eggs, peeled or not). Take fresh, clean eggs out of their shells, beat them slightly, seal tightly in a freezer-safe container, and label with the date. Because egg yolks thicken when frozen, incredibleegg.org recommends beating in 1/8 teaspoon of salt or 1-1/2 teaspoons of sugar or corn syrup per four large eggs. You can use the salty ones for cooking and the sweetened ones for baking for up to one year after freezing.

seafood in a fridge
Cook the seafood quickly or store in the freezer

How Long Does Meat Last in the Fridge?

Once you get meat home from the supermarket, it’s on its way to spoilage. So, treat it carefully. Cook ground meats, chicken or turkey, fish, and other specialty meats—like liver or tongue—within one to two days. Or else freeze them. You’ve got a little more leeway with beef, veal, steaks, and chops, which may be kept in the fridge for three to five days. Lamb or pork roasts also last that long.

Have leftovers of any of these meats? Eat them within three to five days, according to the USDA.

How Long Does Pizza Last in the Fridge?

Finish off a pizza pie in three or four days (if it lasts that long!). Freeze leftover pizza slices, and they'll keep for one to two months.

How Long Does Milk Last in the Fridge?

Got milk? How long it stays good after you got it can depend on what type of milk it is. Most milk lasts for five to seven days beyond the expiration date on the carton once you open it, with whole milk going bad sooner than nonfat, which can last up to seven days past the date printed on the container, according to the website eatbydate.com. Buttermilk will last about two weeks.

To freeze milk: If you’re going away, you can freeze a gallon, and it will be good up to three months. To defrost, place it in the refrigerator for several hours. To defrost it more quickly, you can place it in a pot of cold (never warm) water, and change the water every 30 minutes until, when you squeeze the sides of the container, the milk is liquid-y. Warning: Due to the separation of fats, the consistency of frozen milk is not the same as when you put it in the freezer in the first place. You might not like drinking it! But it's fine for baking. To help restore the consistency, some chefs recommend putting it in a blender for 20 seconds or so.

How Long Does Cheese Last in the Fridge?

Cheese's duration varies by type. Soft cheeses, which include cottage cheese, or Brie can be refrigerated for one week. If you’ve got the hard stuff—cheese like cheddar or Swiss or a nice Parmesan—it can stay for six months in the refrigerator before you open it. Once you do, you’ve got about a month to eat it. Hard cheeses can also be frozen for six months. And though it seems like those individually wrapped slices of American cheese will last forever, get rid of them after one to two months, advises the USDA.

How Long Do Canned Goods Last in the Fridge?

Say you cracked open a can of tomatoes to pop into a stew last night but didn’t use them all. How long will the leftovers last? To preserve their flavor, transfer them to a plastic container and use those opened tomatoes (or any other high acid foods like tomato juice, fruit, or pickles) in five to seven days. Even canned beans should be canned after about four days.

How Long Does Simple Syrup Last in the Fridge?

Who hasn’t dabbled in some homemade craft cocktails? If you’ve been using simple syrup to make them, perhaps you’ve wondered how long you can store it. The answer is: It depends on how you made it. According to foodrepublic.com, simple syrup made in cold process lasts about a month in the fridge. If you’ve used the hot process, which takes a little longer, your syrup is good for six months.

How Long Does Bacon Last in the Fridge?

There’s nothing like the smell of bacon on a Sunday morning as it mingles with the scent of coffee and maybe even some cooked eggs. But will that opened package of bacon still be good next weekend? You’ll probably get two weekends out of a package of bacon, but that’s it, according to Healthline. Like many smoked meats, once it’s opened, you’ve got about seven days to eat it. But freeze it, and you could have it last for six months. You can refer to FoodSafety.gov for help in understanding how long each meat can be stored.

How Long Do Hot Dogs Last in the Fridge?

The package of hot dogs you opened for last weekend’s barbecue and put in a zip-top bag? Within three or four days, use them or toss them.

Other Questions?

The FDA has a hotline about food safety, which can come in handy when you’re wondering about something we may not have covered here. The meat and poultry hotline is 888-674-6954. For questions about other foods, call 888-723-3366.