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Can you freeze a ham for 2 years?

Freezing a ham for 2 years is possible, but the quality and safety may be compromised. There are some factors to consider when freezing a ham for that long.

How long can you freeze ham?

The USDA recommends freezing an uncooked fresh ham for no more than 6 months and a cooked ham for 1 to 2 months for best quality. Freezing for longer periods isn’t recommended as the flavor, texture, and moisture content will degrade over time.

However, the USDA notes that frozen foods remain safe indefinitely. So while freezing a ham for 2 years is not recommended, it is considered safe from a food safety standpoint if stored properly at 0°F or below.

Factors affecting ham quality during long freezing

There are a few main factors that can affect ham quality during prolonged freezing:

  • Freezer burn – Long freezing times increase the risk of freezer burn, which dries out the ham.
  • Texture changes – The texture may become tough and dry.
  • Flavor changes – The flavor dulls over time.
  • Fat oxidation – Fat turns rancid faster at freezing temperatures.
  • Color changes – Pink ham color fades.
  • Moisture loss – Freezing causes moisture loss.

Tips for freezing ham for 2 years

If you plan to freeze a ham for 2 years, here are some tips to help maintain quality:

  • Choose the freshest, highest quality ham possible.
  • Trim excess fat to reduce rancidity.
  • Wrap the ham tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and foil.
  • Place in moisture-proof, freezer-safe packaging.
  • Remove as much air as possible.
  • Freeze at 0°F or below.
  • Avoid freezing and thawing more than once.
  • Use within 3-4 days after thawing.

Signs of spoiled ham after long freezing

Here are some signs that a ham may be spoiled after freezing for 2 years:

  • Unusual odor – Rancid, sour, or unpleasant smell.
  • Discoloration – Grayish or greenish tint.
  • Dry, shriveled appearance.
  • Moldy spots or icy crystals.
  • Slimy texture.

If a long frozen ham displays any of these signs, it’s best to discard it.

Safe thawing and cooking long frozen ham

To safely thaw and cook a ham that has been frozen for 2 years:

  • Thaw in the refrigerator, allowing 5 hours per pound. For example, a 10 lb ham would take 50 hours to thaw.
  • Avoid thawing at room temperature or in standing water to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Cook to an internal temperature of 145°F as measured by a food thermometer.
  • Discard any ham that has an unpleasant odor when thawing or cooking.

Uses for older frozen ham

While extended freezing will degrade eating quality, older frozen ham that has thawed safely can still be used in some dishes:

  • Chopped in soups, stews, casseroles.
  • Diced in fried rice, pasta dishes, omelets.
  • Added to beans, greens, potato dishes.
  • Used in ham salad sandwiches.

The additional ingredients and cooking can help mask any textural or flavor issues. But it’s best to use older frozen ham within a day or two of thawing.

Can you freeze a ham after cooking?

Yes, cooked ham can be frozen as well. Here are some tips:

  • Allow cooked ham to cool completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil.
  • Portion into usable sizes to avoid re-freezing after thawing.
  • Freeze for up to 2 months for best quality.
  • Thaw refrigerated, allowing 5-7 hours per pound.
  • Reheat fully to 165°F until hot.

Can you freeze a spiral cut ham?

Spiral cut hams can also be frozen, but there are some extra considerations:

  • Freeze before the expiration date for maximum freshness.
  • Wrap very tightly in plastic wrap, then foil, to prevent freezer burn on the exposed cut surfaces.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator 2-3 days to prevent excess moisture loss from the spiral slices.
  • Reheat in a 325°F oven until warm throughout.
  • Use foil to prevent over-browning if needed.
  • Consume within 3-5 days as the cut edges will degrade faster.


While it’s possible to freeze a fresh or cooked ham for up to 2 years, the flavor, moisture and texture will decline over time. For best quality, ham should be frozen no more than 2-6 months. Proper freezer storage and safe thawing methods are essential. An older frozen ham can still be used in some cooked dishes, but may not be ideal for serving fresh.