Weeknight dinners can be even quicker to prepare if you plan things in advance. Having cooked and flavored ground beef on hand can help you throw meals together in minutes, a must on busy weekdays.
But just how far in advance can you plan? For example, with things like cooked ground beef, how long can you keep them in storage?
How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in The Fridge?
Cooked ground beef lasts up to 4 days in the fridge. If it goes beyond that, it is best discarded. Ground beef that has discoloration, strange growths or mold, a bad smell, and one that feels sticky and slimy should be tossed, as well as ground beef that has been improperly left outside for longer than 2 hours.
How Long Can I Keep My Cooked Ground Beef in the Fridge?
Cooled properly and stored in an airtight container, your cooked ground beef can last up to 4 days in your fridge. This means that if you prepare this on a weekend, you can safely have your cooked ground beef all through the middle of the week.
However, it is also always best to be prudent and to always check your ground beef for signs of spoilage.
Is My Cooked Ground Beef Still Good? 5 Ways to Tell
Like raw ground beef, cooked ground beef will also exhibit physical signs that it has gone bad.
Here are some of the indications:
- Color and Appearance: Your beef should be brown in color and should not have any fuzzy growths. A gray or green color is an indication of spoilage.
- Smell: An ammonia smell, sour smell or rotten egg smell is indicative of spoilage. If it has an unidentified smell other than ground beef or the flavors and ingredients you used when you prepared it, toss it.
- Texture: Cooked ground beef should not be sticky or slimy. Toss it if it’s showing these signs.
- Left Outside: Make sure your cooked ground beef was not left out in the food danger zone, 40°F- 140°F for longer than 2 hours. If it has, it won’t be safe to eat anymore.
- Time Frame: Cooked ground beef that’s been in the fridge for a lot longer than 4 days is not safe to eat, even without visible signs of spoilage. Plan to consume your cooked ground beef within this 4-day period, or plan for longer storage.
How To Properly Store Cooked Ground Beef
To ensure that we get to enjoy our cooked ground beef in its best quality for a good number of days, it is important that we follow some proper storage procedures.
Ground beef less than 4 days old but that is not properly kept will suffer some texture and flavor loss, and may even go bad quicker.
To prevent this, make sure to remember the following tips.
HOW TO STORE COOKED GROUND BEEF
|Use clean utensils and covered containers|
|Use different containers for raw meat and cooked meat|
|Cook ground beef to at least 160°F|
|Do not partially cook meat|
|Do not put hot food in the refrigerator or freezer|
|Cool food down safely|
|Do not leave out for more than 2 hours at room temperature|
1. Use clean utensils and covered containers
This goes without saying but it is extremely important to practice proper hygiene and maintain cleanliness before, during, and after cooking. Make sure you are using clean containers to store your cooked ground beef and using clean utensils to handle it.
Cross-contamination can speed up the spoilage process, and especially if bacteria from raw meat have contaminated your cooked ground beef, it can make you seriously sick. Use different containers and utensils for raw meat raw and cooked meat, and use properly covered containers.
Exposure to oxygen can also cause food to deteriorate faster, and can make them lose moisture more quickly, so using covered containers will preserve your ground beef’s quality for a longer period of time.
2. Make sure you cook foods thoroughly to a safe temperature
Most people think that partially cooking food and storing it to finish later on is okay, but really, this should never be done. This is because the bacteria and pathogens that cause sickness are not fully neutralized or killed if you do not cook them up to safe internal temperatures.
Storing them in the fridge in this state will allow them to continue to act on the food, and potentially release toxins that can make you sick. Some of them will survive and continue to multiply up to a point that even fully cooking them later on cannot kill them anymore. Scary, right?
Even worse, the bacteria can migrate and contaminate all the other food in your fridge, especially if they are stored close to each other.
According to the USDA, the only way that it is acceptable to partially cook meat, for example, in the microwave, is if you will immediately finish it off via another cooking method. This way, bacteria do not have time to act and will be neutralized immediately.
Ground beef must reach a temperature of at least 160°F for it to be safely cooked. A meat thermometer will help you to accurately achieve this.
3. Cool your food properly before storing it in the fridge or freezer
We know that we should not leave food in the food danger zone for more than 2 hours, but it is also not advisable to stick it in the fridge or freezer right away after cooking.
This is because storing hot food right away in your fridge or freezer will raise the temperature inside your fridge or freezer, leaving all your other food vulnerable as well.
The USDA says that cooked food should be cooled down to 70°F within two hours, and further cooled down below 40°F within 4 hours to ensure that it will be safe to eat. This two-step cooling process factors in both the safety of the just-cooked food, and the safety of the food inside your fridge or freezer.
How To Reheat Cooked Ground Beef
The USDA states that cooked ground beef, and all leftovers for that matter, should always be reheated to a temperature of 165°F.
Here is how to reheat your ground beef in the microwave, stovetop and the oven:
- Microwave: Place ground beef in a microwave-safe container with a little bit of water, and then cover it. The water will give the beef some moisture and minimize the chances of it drying out. The USDA recommends venting the lid in order to let steam escape.
- Stovetop: Place ground beef on a pan and add some water, broth or sauce. Heat over low heat until it reaches 165°F.
- Oven: Preheat oven to 350°F, place beef in oven-safe dish, add a little water or stock and then cover with foil. Heat for about 10-12 minutes until it reaches 165°F.
In all three of the methods, it is important that the ground beef reaches the recommended temperature of 165°F. Investing in a meat thermometer allows you to easily determine this, and allows you to safely reheat all kinds of leftovers.
How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in The Freezer?
If let’s say you really can’t finish your cooked ground beef within 4 days, no matter what you do, you can also opt to keep it in the freezer.
The USDA states that ground beef that has already been cooked will still retain its quality and moisture for up to 3 months when properly stored in the freezer.
While technically they will last longer than that, for best quality, it is recommended to consume it within 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions to How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?
Is Cooked Ground Beef That Has Been in the Fridge for 7 Days Safe?
Cooked ground beef only lasts up to 4 days in the fridge. If it goes beyond this time frame, it is not safe to eat even if there are no signs of spoilage. It is best discarded.
How Long Does Raw Ground Beef Last In The Fridge?
Raw ground beef only lasts about a day or two in the fridge. They must be cooked within this time period or stored properly in the freezer, where they will maintain their quality for about 4 months.
Conclusion to How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in The Fridge?
With proper cooking and storage, cooked ground beef can last from 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
For longer storage, there is the option to store it in the freezer. In the freezer, cooked ground beef will maintain its best quality within 3-4 months.