Can You Refreeze Hot Dogs?

Published Categorized as Cooking Tips
Olga Yastremska and Leonid Yastremskiy/Depositphotos

How many times can you turn frozen hot dogs into… hot dogs? Here’s what you need to know about refreezing hot dogs safely.

Can hot dogs be refrozen? A simple question, really.

But even though it’s a simple question, we were surprised to find that many of the answers on the Internet were confusing, misleading, or just plain wrong. So we set out to write this guide and set the record straight once and for all.

In a word, yes. You can refreeze hot dogs, but only if you thawed them out safely and didn’t leave them out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, freezing food at 0°F (-18°C) prevents bacteria from growing, and so it makes the food safe to eat indefinitely. So, technically, frozen hot dogs stay safe to eat forever.

Food safety only becomes an issue if you thaw the hot dogs the wrong way, leave them to sit out on the counter for more than a couple of hours, or store them in the fridge for longer than you should. And this is where you will find the keys to answering your question.

Did You Thaw Them Properly?

An article on AskUSDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s consumer Q&A website, states that food is only safe to refreeze if it still contains ice crystals or is at a temperature of 40°F (4.4°C) or less.

This tells you three things:

First, if you take a package of hot dogs out of the freezer and leave them out or put them in the freezer just enough to take one or two out and put the rest back in, you should be fine.

Second, if you defrosted the hot dogs in the fridge overnight (the fridge keeps your food at a temperature of just under 40°F/4°C), then you can refreeze them safely. Another article on the Q&A website states that food thawed in the refrigerator is generally safe to refreeze, no matter if that food is raw or cooked, and clearly reaffirms this.

Third, if you thaw the hot dogs in the microwave or ice water, think twice about refreezing them. You will need to cook them immediately after thawing—in water, in a skillet, in the oven, or on the grill—and only then can you freeze them cooked.

When it’s safe to refreeze hot dogs:

  • After you’ve thawed them in the fridge;
  • Immediately after you’ve boiled, cooked, grilled them.

When it isn’t:

  • After you’ve thawed them in the microwave;
  • After you’ve thawed them in ice water.

Did You Store Them Properly?

Food safety is all about controlling the spread of bacteria on the food we eat. And bacteria are most active in the “danger zone”, the temperature range between 40°F (4.4°C) and 140°F (60°C), where they double in number roughly every 20 minutes.

The general rule of thumb is never to leave food out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (1 hour in summer, when the outside temperature is 90°F / 32°C and hotter), or disease-causing bacteria will grow to dangerous levels inside it and render it unsafe to eat.

Note: This time is cumulative. You need to add up the time that the hot dogs sat out raw and cooked.

For this reason, it isn’t good idea to thaw hot dogs by leaving them out on the counter. By the time the hot dogs are thawed, they may be overgrown with pathogens and cause food poisoning.

Heating the hot dogs through or cooking them won’t make them any safer to eat. Yes, the high heat will kill the disease-causing bacteria, but it won’t do anything about the toxins that they’ve left behind.

(According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of food poisoning include upset stomach, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.)

If you cooked the hot dogs, you shouldn’t let them sit out on the table for more than 2 hours, either. Leftovers should be cooled and refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible.

When it’s safe to refreeze hot dogs:

  • When the hot dogs haven’t sat out for more than 1 to 2 hours, cumulatively;

When it isn’t:

  • When the hot dogs have sat out for more than 1 to 2 hours.

In Summary

So, what’s the verdict?

It turns out you can safely refreeze hot dogs, raw or cooked, if you thawed them in the fridge and didn’t let them sit out for more than 1-2 hours at room temperature. Remember, it isn’t safe to refreeze hot dogs after defrosting them in the microwave or in cold water. You need to cook them immediately.

By Dim Nikov

Cooking for family and friends, one dish at a time. I love to make food that's delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare.

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