How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last In The Fridge? – Tips and Tricks to Store It Properly
How long does cooked ground beef last in the fridge? This is a question that many people have, and it’s a good question to ask, especially if you’re like me and you like to cook ground beef ahead of time so you can have it on hand for quick meals.
The answer, unfortunately, isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Read on to find out more about how long cooked ground beef lasts in the fridge and some tips for storing it safely.
How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last In The Fridge?
It’s one thing to know the rules of ground beef safety and it’s another thing to actually follow them. But since, according to the American Meat Institute, an estimated 76 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses annually, we’re going to do our best to stick to the guidelines.
Let’s start with cooking: Ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. It’s not enough that it be brown all over—you’re going to need a meat thermometer to make sure your meat is safe.
And you’ll need to keep that thermometer handy for the next step: refrigeration.
After you’ve cooked your ground beef, you have two hours before it needs to be refrigerated. If you don’t make it in time, your ground beef will be in the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees for too long, and bacterial growth will occur.
So make sure you move quickly! Once your cooked ground beef is safely in the refrigerator, it can stay there for three or four days.
How To Store Cooked Ground Beef Properly
Don’t let cooked ground beef go to waste. Properly storing your leftovers will ensure that they remain safe to eat and maintain the best flavor and texture. Here’s what you need to know about storing cooked ground beef:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you store all perishable foods, including cooked ground beef, in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking to prevent bacterial growth.
If the temperature outside is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, place the food in a cooler or on ice inside the house until it can be refrigerated.
Once refrigerated, use your cooked ground beef within three to four days for optimal flavor and safety.
If you don’t need to use your leftover cooked ground beef within three or four days, freeze it instead.
Freeze ground beef in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to three months for optimal quality.
Defrost the frozen ground beef in the refrigerator overnight before using it in your favorite recipes.
How Do You Know If Cooked Ground Beef Is Bad?
If you’re questioning whether cooked ground beef is still good to eat, follow these steps to determine if it’s safe.
Smell The Cooked Ground Beef
Your nose knows best, so if the meat smells rancid or otherwise not right, you’re better off discarding it. A metallic smell is a definite sign that the cooked ground beef has gone bad. It’s not necessarily dangerous to eat, but since it has lost its freshness, it won’t taste great.
Look At The Color Of The Cooked Ground Beef
Ground beef that’s grayish in color could be safely eaten if it’s been refrigerated and hasn’t passed its expiration date, but you should cook and eat within one day for best results. If the meat starts turning dark brown or black, however, toss it in the trash right away because it has likely spoiled.
FAQs Related To How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last In The Fridge
What Happens If I Eat Bad Ground Beef?
If you eat raw or undercooked ground beef, you’re putting yourself at risk of becoming ill. Ground beef is especially susceptible to contamination by E. coli, which is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration.
Cooking ground beef to the proper temperature will kill E. coli, but if it’s left on the counter too long after it gets above 120°F (49°C), bacteria will start to multiply again and make you sick.
Eating ground beef that’s gone bad can make you seriously ill, depending on how much you eat and how much bacteria was in the meat. The symptoms of food poisoning include nausea and vomiting, stomach pain and cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headaches.
These symptoms usually appear within a few hours of eating bad ground beef, but they can start as soon as 30 minutes after ingesting contaminated food.
If you have a lot of symptoms—especially severe vomiting and diarrhea—you should see your doctor for treatment.
These symptoms could be caused by something other than food poisonings, such as the stomach flu or another infection, so seeing your doctor will help determine the best course of action to take in treating your illness.
Can Cooked Ground Beef Still Be Pink?
Yes, ground beef that’s pink on the inside can be safe to eat—but only if the meat’s internal temperature has reached 160°F throughout.
When ground beef is cooked to an internal temp of 160°F, any harmful bacteria present in the meat should have been destroyed and rendered harmless, even if the meat is still pink inside.
If you cook your ground beef to this temperature but are still concerned about eating it pink inside, there are a couple of things you can do.
First, you can use a digital instant-read thermometer to check the temperature at the very center of the patty. Ground beef must reach 160°F internally to be considered safe for consumption.
Second, you could also just cook the meat longer to make sure it turns gray or brown all over. This will take longer than cooking it to an internal temperature of 160°F and is more likely to dry out the meat—but if that’s your preference, go for it!
Since we’re talking about food safety here, please remember that ground beef should always be cooked thoroughly and never eaten raw.
Can You Eat Cooked Ground Beef After A Week?
Cooked ground beef will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. If you need to keep it for longer, it can be frozen for 2 to 3 months. However, it is important to thaw frozen ground beef safely before cooking it.
The best way to thaw ground beef is in the refrigerator, but if you are short on time, you can cook it from frozen. Just be sure to cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
Thanks for reading our blog post on how long cooked ground beef lasts in the fridge.
We hope you found this information helpful and are now able to store your ground beef safely.
Be sure to check back often for more food safety tips from our team in upcoming posts.
Have a nice day!