A pound of ground beef can be used in a variety of ways. Not to mention that it’s a reasonably priced option. The only issue is that it has a short shelf life.

We’ve all bought a pound of ground beef only to have it turn brown and slimy in a couple of days. So, how long does ground beef hold in the refrigerator? What can we do to make it last longer? 

What is the shelf life of ground beef in the fridge?

We hate to break it to you, but raw ground beef is only kept in the fridge for one to two days.

To try to extend the shelf life of your ground beef, there are a few things you may do.

Ground beef quality affects shelf life. Therefore choose high-grade beef for the longest shelf life. Ground beef should be stored in its original package on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

The only method to ensure that your ground beef lasts longer than a few days is to freeze it.

Ground beef can be maintained in the freezer for three to four months.

How long does raw ground beef last?

According to FoodSafety.gov, uncooked ground beef only lasts one to two days in the fridge. There are, however, a few more steps you can take to extend the shelf life of your ground beef.

First and foremost, the quality of ground beef you choose will affect its shelf life.

The best chance for the longest shelf life is to buy high-quality ground beef. You’ll also want to consider how you’ll store it.

Store unopened store-bought ground beef on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, towards the back, in its original package.

Read our article on how to store uncooked ground beef in the fridge or freezer.

How long does cooked ground beef last?

cooked ground beef

How long will a pound of ground beef last in the fridge after you’ve cooked it up for taco night? Cooked meats, like any leftovers, will last three to four days in the refrigerator, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Refrigerator temperature

Cooked ground beef should be kept refrigerated at a consistent temperature of 40°F. Although thorough cooking at 160°F can eradicate bacteria, contamination or cross-contamination can still cause it.

That’s why it’s crucial to keep cooked ground beef in the fridge in sealed containers.

Let me emphasize that the freshness of ground beef begins with your retail purchase. When buying ground beef, it should be chilly to the touch. It should also be brilliant red, rather than brown or drab.

The package must be in excellent condition, with no rips or tears. Additionally, only buy grade A ground beef.

Preparation, storage, and handling

Cook the ground beef on a hot pan or grill to seal in all of the flavors and juices. Refrigerate your ground beef within two hours of cooking.

Refrigerate the beef within an hour if the temperature in your room is 90°F (32°F) or greater. After that, it can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Keep cooked ground beef in the freezer if you need to keep it for more than four days.

Here’s how to preserve cooked ground beef properly. It will be easier to take out as needed if you store it in different quantities according to your needs.

  1. Allow your cooked ground beef to chill in a bowl in the refrigerator if it is still warm or hot.
  2. Place the cooked ground beef in an airtight, leak-proof container once it has cooled. It’s also great to use some thick, freezer-safe, resealable bags.
  3. If you’re using a freezer bag, flatten it out and squeeze out as much air as possible. Make a good seal. You can save space in your refrigerator or freezer by storing the beef flat.
  4. The date you cooked the ground beef should be written on your container.
  5. Refrigerate or freeze the leftovers. If you’re using cooked ground beef from the freezer, defrost it in the refrigerator before reheating. Bacterial growth is less likely with this method.

Storage of cooked ground beef in the freezer

If you’re preserving ground beef for more than four days, whether you accidentally prepared too much or want to eat it later, freeze it. Cooked ground beef only lasts 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

It can last up to two hours at room temperature.

Cooked ground beef must be stored carefully in the freezer. Cooked ground beef should be stored in freezer-safe, leak-proof containers.

If you’re storing a lot of cooked ground beef, divide it into the amounts you want. Cooked ground beef can keep in your freezer for 3 to 4 days if stored properly.

What is the best way to freeze ground beef?

The only method to ensure that your ground beef lasts longer than a few days is to freeze it. Ground beef and other ground meats will last three to four months in the freezer at 0 degrees F or below.

  • To avoid freezer burn, keep ground beef in its original package and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and freezer paper, or place it in a freezer-safe plastic bag. If the package has already been opened, move the ground beef to a freezer-safe bag and label it with the date.
  • Place the packed ground beef in a large dish of cool water when ready to use. To keep the meat underwater, use a heavyweight.
  • Allow 5 to 10 minutes for it to defrost.

Ground beef that has been previously frozen should be utilized right away and not frozen again.

How to recognize spoiled ground beef

Stick to the two-day guideline since it’s better to be cautious than sorry. Whether you employ the old sniff and sight test, you can tell if ground beef has gone bad if it has a sour odor, a dull brownish-gray hue, and a slimy texture.

Even if it has been stored in the refrigerator or freezer, food might spoil. So, how will you know if your cooked ground beef is bad? Here’s how to do it:

A bad or rancid odor

Even if food appears safe to eat, it may not be. If you’re still not convinced, smell it. Cooked ground beef that has been spoiled will stink.

It will also have a stale odor. If this occurs, the meat should be discarded. It is not to be tasted. Foodborne infections can be spread by even a little amount of spoiled ground beef.

Slime is present

Cooked ground pork that has been soiled will feel slimy and sticky to the touch. You may also notice sticky stuff covering your ground beef on occasion.

It’s a solid sign that your cooked ground beef has gone bad. When this happens, toss it out. Make sure to thoroughly wash the ground beef container as well.

Mold is present

When food spoils, it can become infected with mold. If your cooked ground beef has layers of mold on top of it, don’t consume it. Simply throw away the entire batch.

Some people will use the mold to try to remove the components. You’ll never know how much of it was polluted if you do this. Mold can also cause foodborne diseases.


Look for any discoloration in your cooked ground beef. Throw it away if you see it has turned gray, brown, or even black.

If it’s accompanied by a sticky coating or a putrid odor, it’s almost certainly spoiled.

All of the mentioned indicators point to rotten meat. It is never worthwhile to take a chance. So, if you’re unsure if your ground beef is ruined, toss it out.

Consequences of bad beef consumption

If people believe that ground beef is contaminated, they should be cautious. People who consume potentially rotten meat risk contracting food poisoning.

Food poisoning symptoms are as follows:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloody stools
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Dehydration

In the United States, dehydration from food sickness due to ground beef is rather prevalent. Salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Campylobacter are some of the bacteria that can trigger these events.

While many of the illnesses caused by these bacteria are minor, they can be fatal in some situations.

How to cook ground beef correctly.

It’s crucial to prepare your ground beef properly so that it lasts longer. The key, however, is usually found in the cooking procedure.

If you have raw beef in your refrigerator, you can cook it quickly before it spoils. Here are some pointers on how to properly cook ground beef:

Step 1: Before cooking, thaw frozen ground beef.

Cooking frozen ground beef should be avoided as much as possible. It’s fine to do so, but it’s not advised. Ground beef’s inherent fluids turn to ice when frozen.

If you cook the beef frozen, the fat and fluids will almost certainly drain. You’ll be reducing the beef’s flavor by doing so. To maintain all the tasty fluids in the beef, defrost it completely before cooking it.

Step 2: Avoid shrinkage by using lean ground beef

Beef shrinks dramatically when cooked. Purchase lean ground beef to reduce shrinking. The fat content of lean ground beef is lower.

Because the fat in beef is rendered down during cooking, there is increased shrinkage.

Step 3: To reduce fat, use a filter or warm water.

Beef is high in fat. Fat will render from even the leanest ground beef. You can strain the ground beef to remove the fat to reduce the fat content.

You can wash it under warm tap water if you’re worried about the grease. Simply run it under running water for a few minutes to burn fat.

However, this procedure will dilute the beef’s flavor.

Step 4: Cook on a medium heat setting.

Over medium heat, brown the ground meat. Cooking your ground beef over high heat may cause it to shrink even more. Ground beef that has been overcooked will be dry, tough, and flavorless.

Before I put ground beef in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, I always slow cook it. The beef is then used in salads, tacos, pasta, and other dishes.

Step 5: Soak your hands in cold water for a few minutes.

When you handle ground beef with your bare hands, it sticks to your fingertips. Soak your hands in cold water before shaping your burger patties or meatballs to avoid this.

Also, don’t overwork the ground beef by mashing or combining it.

Step 6: When grilling beef patties, use ice cubes.

Make burger patties by pressing the middle of the patty before cooking; also use a burger press. As the burger cooks, place a small ice cube in the center of the patty.

While grilling, this method will keep the burgers moist and juicy.

Step 7: When cooking beef patties, do not press them down.

Cooking burgers should not be flattened using a spatula. You are effectively pushing out all of the fluids from the meat by doing so.

Also, do not use a fork to poke them, as this will have the same effect. To flip the steak, use tongs or a spatula.

Step 8: Preheat your grill or frying pans.

Before adding your ground beef, make sure your pan or griddle is extremely hot. This ensures that your meat sears evenly and retains all of its juices.

Last words

Ground beef is such a versatile meat. There are numerous delicious ways to eat it, but safety should always be the priority.

Utilize the methods in this article to help you avoid foodborne diseases.