Does Prosciutto Go Bad? How Long Does Prosciutto Last?

Prosciutto is an uncommon and expensive item, so if you intend on using it you should know how to make the most of it. Prosciutto has a short shelf life so knowing how long it lasts and how to store it are important.

Quick Answer

Prosciutto can take up to two weeks to go bad in the refrigerator and three months in the freezer, or it can go bad overnight depending on where you keep it and whether or not is has packaging. When storing prosciutto, you should think of it like a lunch or deli meat and keep it stored in the refrigerator or freezer where it won’t spoil.


This article will go over how to keep prosciutto from going bad by showing you how to inspect and store it.

Does Prosciutto Go Bad? How Long Does Prosciutto Last?

You need to be careful when storing prosciutto because depending on where you put it the meat can last from a few months to a few hours.

How Long Does Prosciutto Last Outside

Prosciutto will only last a few hours at most on the counter, assuming you leave the meat somewhere cool, dry, and dark where it won’t spoil even faster.

Once you buy your prosciutto you should get it home and into either the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible to keep it from going bad, since deli meats like prosciutto spoil quickly at room temperature.

If you have to take prosciutto a long distance without refrigeration then you should use a portable cooler and ice to help keep the prosciutto fresh until you reach a place where you can properly store the meat.

How Long Does Prosciutto Last in the Fridge

Prosciutto’s shelf life in the refrigerator depends on what type of meat you bought and how it was packaged since both have an impact on how well the prosciutto has been prepared.

Pre-packaged prosciutto will come in an airtight container and can last up to two weeks past the best-by date on the label as long as the container remains sealed.

Once you open the prosciutto, or if you buy prosciutto fresh from a deli, it will only last four days at the most since the meat is not protected by a vacuum seal, meaning that it will spoil much faster even in the refrigerator.

How Long Does Prosciutto Last in the Freezer

Regardless of what type of prosciutto you buy or how it is packaged, prosciutto will last up to three months in the freezer as long as you freeze the meat properly.

Freezer burn can cause food to go bad just as quickly as being left out on the counter, so you should always take care when freezing meat like prosciutto to make sure you won’t accidentally spoil it.

Both deli bags and supermarket lunchmeat containers are not freezer safe, so if you plan on freezing prosciutto, you’ll need to remove it from the original package and put it in something safer.


Prosciutto should never be left out on the counter but it can last for weeks in the refrigerator or months in the freezer as long as it is not open.

How To Tell If Prosciutto Has Gone Bad / How To Know Prosciutto is Fresh

While there are many ways to tell if prosciutto has gone bad, sometimes spoiled prosciutto looks, smells, and even tastes the same as regular prosciutto. So, in addition to looking for signs of spoilage you should always throw out prosciutto that has been sitting unsealed for more than a week, regardless of how fresh it seems.

Color. Normally prosciutto is either a deep red or a light pink color depending on what type of prosciutto you buy, where you buy it, and how fresh it is. If the meat ever starts to turn grey, darken, or turn a different color altogether you should throw the meat out and wash the container as soon as possible.

Smell. Another strong indicator that your prosciutto has gone bad is smell, since fresh prosciutto smells slightly sweet when uncooked and like deli ham when cooked. If your prosciutto has a particularly bad smell, or if the smell of the prosciutto starts to change dramatically, then it has likely gone bad.

Mold. Dark patches, white spots, fuzzy growths, and discoloration are all signs that food is infested with mold, which is very dangerous to your health. If you find any sign of mold on your prosciutto or in the packaging, you should not only throw the meat out immediately but wash or throw out the container as well.

How to Store Prosciutto?

Given how short prosciutto’s shelf life is, knowing how to properly store the meat is essential if you want to get the most out of it. Even with a refrigerator or freezer on hand for preservation, if you don’t store your prosciutto the right way it can go bad in a matter of hours even inside an appliance.

You need an airtight container. Prosciutto goes bad incredibly quickly when exposed to air so the more airtight and secure the container, the longer the meat will last. Supermarket prosciutto already comes in airtight plasticware, but deli prosciutto comes in a bag so you will need either an airtight bag or a plasticware container to put it in.

Can You Freeze Prosciutto? How?

Yes, prosciutto can be frozen but in order to prevent freezerburn and other damage you need to take certain steps to make sure the meat freezes safely. Deli meats like prosciutto, being thin sliced and designed to be stored in a refrigerator, require a few extra steps to make sure they can survive in a freezer.

Use a freezer safe container. As previously stated, supermarket plasticware and deli bags are not designed to go into the freezer, so you will have to unpackage your prosciutto and put it in a new container if you want to freeze it. Make sure whatever container you use is both freezer safe and airtight to prevent freezerburn.

Insulate the prosciutto slices. Beyond making sure you have a freezer safe container, you also need to insulate your prosciutto from the cold so it won’t be damaged. You can do this by wrapping the slices in freezer paper or in freezer-safe plastic bags to help ensure the prosciutto survives being frozen.

How to Thaw Prosciutto?

Thawing prosciutto is much simpler than freezing the meat, since all you have to do is put the meat in the refrigerator and let the pieces defrost overnight.

You should not try to heat the meat up or leave it out on the counter to thaw, as the change in temperature might cause the meat to go bad.

Frequently Asked Questions About Prosciutto’s Shelf Life

Once you understand the nuances of how to keep sliced prosciutto, it is actually quite simple to know how long prosciutto should last and how to get the most out of your slices. Still, there are some common questions about buying and keeping prosciutto, two of which will be answered here.

How do you pick good prosciutto? When you are buying prosciutto, you should look for meat that has a slightly sweet smell and taste, assuming you can sample the meat like this. If not, look for prosciutto that is either deep red or bright pink, since these are both signs that the meat is fresh and well made.

How long do prosciutto legs last? Prosciutto legs are large hunks of prosciutto meat that you can slice pieces off of whenever you want, and are generally dry-cured. Prosciutto legs generally last twelve months while they are still sealed but only two months once they are opened, and they need to be refrigerated just like slices.

Wrap Up

Prosciutto is both a rare deli meat and a delicious one, but its short shelf life means you need to know how to store it if you want to get the most out of it. Unopened prosciutto can last for weeks in the refrigerator and months in the freezer, but will go bad in a matter of days after opening.

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