How Long Can You Store Shredded Beef?

Since shredded beef teems with flavor and lusciously tender textures, we won't fault you for making a bit extra during meal prep. Don't fret if your eyes prove to be bigger than your stomach and you can't finish it all, leftover meat can easily be packed away for another day. The big question is, how long can shredded beef be stored? Well, that depends.

Shredded beef from tonight's slow cooker Italian beef sandwiches, braised birria tacos, or roast chuck can all be safely kept in the fridge or the freezer. The timelines, however, will vary. For instance, the USDA reports that cooked beef will last for no longer than a maximum of four days in the fridge. In contrast, freezing can extend that time frame by up to six months, as stated by the HHS. Just bear in mind that both of these guidelines only apply to shredded beef that has been stored correctly with care.

Whether shredded beef is destined for the fridge or the freezer, it must first be cooled (preferably) within a two-hour window to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria. At this point, the cooled meat can be portioned into containers or resealable bags along with some reserved cooking liquid — this will make reheating all the more successful. Lastly, don't forget to label the leftovers with the date to ensure the beef is used well before it goes bad.

The dos and don'ts of reheating leftover shredded beef

The sooner you consume leftover portions of shredded beef, the better. Although it may still be safe to eat, taste and texture will deteriorate over time. That said, should you notice any discoloration, mold, or sour aromas, this can indicate that the meat has spoiled, which means it must be tossed. However, if there aren't any negative changes within the given storage timeline, shredded beef can be enjoyed without worry.

As for how to handle leftovers, shredded beef that's been kept in the fridge can be reheated either in the oven or on the stovetop. For the best results, remove the beef from the fridge and bring it to room temperature, before reheating at a low temperature with a splash of liquid to maintain moisture. In contrast, frozen meat needs to be thawed beforehand. Again, a slow approach is ideal, we recommend gradually defrosting the shredded beef in the fridge overnight. Once thawed cook the meat immediately, and refrain from popping it back into the fridge or freezer as this can wreak havoc on quality.

Ultimately, the way you decide to store shredded beef will depend greatly on how soon you intend to dine on leftovers. As long as it's packaged properly, know that the meat will last for days in the fridge or months in the freezer — although, we doubt that succulent shredded beef will rest idle for long!