Can You Freeze Deli Meat? A Guide to Safe and Effective Freezing

As a lover of deli meat, you may find yourself with leftover slices that you can’t finish in one go. To prevent food waste and save money, you may be wondering whether you can freeze deli meat.

The good news is that you can! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about freezing deli meat, including how to prepare it, how to freeze it, and how to use it after thawing.

What Types of Deli Meat Can Be Frozen?

Not all types of deli meat freeze well. However, many common varieties do. These include:

  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Roast beef
  • Salami
  • Bologna
  • Pastrami
  • Corned beef

If you have a different type of deli meat, check with the manufacturer or consult with a food safety expert to see if it can be safely frozen.

How to Prepare Deli Meat for Freezing

Properly preparing deli meat for freezing is essential to prevent freezer burn and maintain the quality of the meat. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the deli meat from its original packaging.
  2. If the meat is in large pieces, slice it into the desired portion sizes.
  3. Place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure the slices are not touching.
  4. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 to 60 minutes, or until the slices are partially frozen.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and place the partially frozen slices into a freezer-safe ziplock bag or airtight container. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing.
  6. Label the bag or container with the type of meat, the date it was frozen, and the number of slices or weight of the meat.

By partially freezing the slices on the baking sheet, you prevent them from sticking together in the bag or container. This makes it easier to remove individual slices when you’re ready to use them.

How to Freeze Deli Meat

Proper packaging is key to preventing freezer burn and maintaining the quality of the deli meat. Follow these steps:

  1. Choose a freezer-safe ziplock bag or airtight container that is the right size for the amount of meat you want to freeze.
  2. Place the prepared deli meat slices into the bag or container, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing.
  3. Label the bag or container with the type of meat, the date it was frozen, and the number of slices or weight of the meat.
  4. Place the bag or container in the freezer. For best results, store the deli meat slices in the back of the freezer, where the temperature is most consistent.

Remember that deli meat, like all frozen foods, should be stored at 0°F or lower to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. If the temperature in your freezer fluctuates, it may affect the quality of the deli meat, so it’s important to check the temperature regularly.

How Long Can You Freeze Deli Meat?

Properly stored, deli meat can be kept in the freezer for up to two months without significant loss of quality. After two months, the meat may develop freezer burn or other off-flavors. It’s important to label the meat with the date it was frozen so you can keep track of how long it has been in the freezer.

However, some types of deli meat may last longer in the freezer than others. For example, cooked ham and turkey may last longer than salami or bologna. The quality of the deli meat may also be affected by factors such as how it was cooked, the amount of preservatives in the meat, and the temperature of your freezer.

If you’re unsure whether deli meat that has been in the freezer for a while is still safe to eat, use your senses to determine if it has gone bad. Look for signs of freezer burn, such as grayish-brown spots on the surface of the meat, or off-odors. If the meat looks or smells suspicious, it’s best to throw it away.

Thawing and Using Frozen Deli Meat

Thawing deli meat properly is important to ensure it stays safe to eat. The best way to thaw deli meat is to remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw slowly overnight. If you need to thaw the meat more quickly, you can place the bag or container in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until the meat is thawed.

Do not thaw deli meat at room temperature or in hot water, as this can promote bacterial growth and increase the risk of foodborne illness.

Once the deli meat is thawed, use it within three to four days. You can use thawed deli meat in sandwiches, salads, casseroles, or any recipe that calls for cooked or cured meat. However, it’s best not to refreeze thawed deli meat, as this can affect the quality and safety of the meat.


Freezing deli meat is a convenient way to preserve leftovers and reduce food waste. However, it’s important to prepare and package the meat properly, and to store it at the correct temperature to maintain its quality and safety. By following the tips in this article, you can safely freeze deli meat and enjoy it later in your favorite recipes.

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