How Long Can You Store Cooked Beef In The Fridge?

Beef in all of its many forms and varieties is a great thing to keep around the house. A nice steak can make a quick meal feel special, and ground beef can quickly turn into hamburgers for a crowd. It might also be tempting to make more than you need and use it as meal prep for the weeks ahead, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ground beef can also easily become a breeding ground for different types of bacterias even after it's been cooked.

Beef is vulnerable to spoilng from both pathogenic and spoilage bacteria. The USDA says that spoilage bacteria is the kind that will turn your meat green, or give it a rotten smell which are obvious signs of spoilage. Pathogenic bacteria on the other hand, typically doesn't affect the qualities of the food, though Boston University School of Public Health says that it is still highly dangerous. This includes the likes of E.Coli and Salmonella. It's important to ensure that food is safely and correctly stored for this reason. Even properly stored food can go bad after a certain amount of time though, and for ground beef that safe period might be shorter than you expect.

Cooked beef can be stored for three to four days safely

Southern Living says that the best way to store cooked beef is to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and store it in the refrigerator. It's best to do this within two hours of cooking the meat. Bacteria will multiply quickly on the meat's surface if it's left at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees fahrenheit (what's referred to as the "danger zone") for much longer than that. It's possible that food left out under these conditions has become a breeding ground for bacteria, and should be thrown out immediately. The USDA recommends consuming the leftover beef within three to four days after it has been cooked. It also recommends that you do not taste foods to determine if they are safe for consumption. Any cooked beef or steaks should appear and feel the same as when it finished cooking. If any cooked beef smells foul or looks and feels different then it is likely not safe to eat.

If you want your beef to keep longer than this it will likely be necessary to freeze it. The USDA says that cooked beef will keep safely in the freezer for up to three months. It may still be safe to consume after that time period, but the quality and texture will also start to deteriorate.