Raw ground beef lasts for one or two days in the fridge before it goes bad. Cooked ground beef will last for three to four days in the fridge.
- How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?
- How to Tell if Ground Beef is Bad
- Side Effects of Eating Bad Ground Beef
- Best Products to Handle Ground Beef
- Frequently Asked Questions About Ground Beef
1. How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?
If you’ve found yourself searching for this question online, chances are you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that the raw ground beef you left in the fridge and forgot to use is still salvageable. I know this because I’ve been in this exact situation before, so I have some storage tips for you as well.
If that’s the case, I’m sorry to report that according to FoodSafety.gov, raw ground beef only lasts one to two days in the refrigerator (keep it in the bottom shelf if possible). And if you’re anything like me and you waited a day too long, you’re about to dispose of a good amount of food. But hey, you live and you learn. Food safety is important.
As to how long cooked ground beef lasts in the fridge? Thankfully it has a longer shelf life in the fridge. If you cooked up a pound of ground beef (let’s say for meal planning, or for a beef stew) you can store it in your fridge for three to four days. That comes from the United States Department of Agriculture, and they tend to know their stuff.
As you can see, ground beef isn’t one of those foods that keep for a long, long time; once you have it, you better use it as fast as you can. The best way to ensure that your ground beef lasts you for longer is to freeze it. If you keep it in your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below, ground beef (as well as other ground meats) will last for three to four months.
2. How to Tell if Ground Beef is Bad
Due to the danger of food poisoning, you want to make absolutely sure you’re not eating beef that has gone bad. We’ll get into the possible side effects in the next section. Thankfully, there are a few different ways to tell if ground beef has gone bad, and many of them are pretty obvious and hard to miss.
Our bodies are evolved to identify the tell-tale signs of bad meat, so this mostly comes down to trusting your senses. Here are a few signs you should be aware of that send up red flags about the state of your meat.
As with a lot of things in the kitchen, your nose is an important ally. The smell of bad beef is pretty hard to miss, depending on the meat’s state of decay. Ground beef that is safe to consume should not have a smell that is particularly noticeable or unpleasant, whereas spoilage bacteria that is multiplying often causes a strong odor.
Do keep in mind that this is not fool-proof, though; some pathogenic bacteria may not cause a bad smell. But if the ground beef is displaying any of the other signs of spoilage outlined below, then chances are your ground beef has gone bad and it’s a good idea to discard the meat. As they say, better safe than sorry.
Take a look at the color of the meat. Unspoiled, fresh ground beef should appear bright red on the outside. This bright red color is due to the oxygen from the air reacting with meat pigments called oxymyoglobin. Fun fact: oxymyoglobin is also the red liquid that leaks out of meat and many people mistake for blood.
The reason this happens on the surface of ground beef and not on the inside is because the inside has not had a chance to react with oxygen. This is why the inside is often grayish brown in color. Don’t worry – it’s still in perfect condition to eat if that’s the case.
However, if the ground beef is gray or brown on the outside surface of the meat, the USDA explains that it’s advisable to discard it. When meat starts to go bad, this discoloration is one of the first things that happens. Also, if you notice any mold on the surface of your ground beef, you should get rid of it at once, whether it’s raw or has been cooked.
While the thought of checking the texture of potentially spoiled raw beef might seem gross, this is also a good way to check whether the meat has in fact gone bad. Safe ground beef is relatively firm in consistency, breaking apart when you squeeze it.
However, if your ground beef feels sticky or slimy, this may be due to spoilage bacteria, which forms slime on the surface of the meat. This bacteria releases compounds that creates that slimy sensation on the surface of the meat.
And of course, it’s important to note that in order to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria, you should thoroughly wash your hands after handling ground beef.
For this one, instead of relying on our own senses we’re going to take a look at an external marker. That’s right, expiration dates – though some may scoff at them – serve as a pretty dependable guide on whether food is safe to consume.
Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration does not require there be an expiration date label on any food products except infant formula. However, there are certain localized rules surrounding these dates, so most food products do tend to feature an expiration date.
There is some confusion among consumers about what the labels mean. Some products feature a label that says “best before,” which is different from a "use by" date. The “best before” label refers to how long the product is going to keep its optimum quality and flavor, and it does not refer to safety.
Safely storing your meat is important. If you’ve done so, there’s no need to discard products just because they’re past their “best before” date. Generally, it is considered safe to consume refrigerated beef up to 2 days past this date. If you’re freezing your meat, it is advisable to eat it within 4 months.
3. Side Effects of Eating Bad Ground Beef
Eating spoiled ground beef is something you should take every precaution to avoid. It’s highly dangerous since it may contain pathogenic bacteria, the kind that is responsible for foodborne illnesses. So you may develop symptoms such as vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever. Yes, it is a highly unpleasant experience, and it may take several days for symptoms to appear.
The most common harmful bacteria in ground beef are Salmonella and E.coli. In order to destroy them and reduce your risk of food poisoning, ground beef should be cooked thoroughly. To be extra safe, use a food thermometer to verify that its minimum internal temperatures is 160°F (71°C).
4. Best Products to Handle Ground Beef
Ground beef is a great ingredient, even with its short shelf life. Below is a list of Dalstrong products you can use to ensure you’re cooking it to its fullest potential.
This 9” piece of cookware will do a fantastic job at braising and browning any ground meats, be it beef, chicken, or other types of meat. This is because of its materials (3-ply aluminum core with fused layers of stainless steel), which have fantastic heat conductivity and ensure that the meat is cooked evenly.
- As mentioned, its high quality materials make this a fantastic tool for any home cook.
- Has the world's longest lasting PFOA & APEO-free non stick coating.
- An extremely durable, low-maintenance nonstick skillet.
- Its lid features a vented hole which serves as a pressure release, preventing the food from boiling over and keeping the pan from rattling.
- Some home cooks might prefer a skillet that features 2 side handles, allowing for a better grip.
- A 9” skillet is great for cooking ground beef for 1 person, but if you’re feeding a family or a large group you might want to look into getting a larger sized skillet.
A wok pan is one of the best things you can buy for your kitchen, especially if you’re a fan of stir-frying. This is a great choice for working with ground beef, featuring 3-ply aluminum and stainless steel.
- A nonstick wok that is oven and broiler safe (up to 600 degrees F)
- 3-ply aluminum core fused with thick layers of non-reactive stainless steel.
- Also has layers of satin and nylon polish which provide it with additional scratch resistance.
- Comes with a perfectly fitted glass lid.
- Some traditionalists might scoff at the idea of a nonstick wok, but it’s an extremely useful tool for cooks of all experience levels.
- It has an elegant look, but it’s also very understated and traditional in its design.
This beautiful 12” sauté frying pan is a total home run, featuring looks and performance at a great price. And since it’s a wide, 12” pan, you’ll get to easily brown large quantities of ground beef.
- Made of 3-ply aluminum core with thick fused layers of 18/10 stainless steel, which will ensure this cookware lasts you a long, long time.
- Features the Eterna nonstick coating, which maintains its nonstick properties 26X longer than the leading competitor.
- Comes with a thick, extra-strong 4mm tempered glass lid to let you have full view of the cooking process.
- Fantastic value for a 12” sauté pan of this quality.
- If you’re looking for 5-ply aluminum core instead of 3-ply, check out some of the other skillets listed here.
- At 12”, this sauté pan is great if you’re serving large groups of people, but might be a little too large for some home cooks. There are some smaller options available elsewhere on this list.
This gorgeous skillet is the ideal combination of design and performance. Its elegant and eye-catching design perfectly matches its performance. It features premium conductivity that heats 5x better than iron and 20x better than stainless steel.
- A great size for a skillet, especially if you cook for family or friends often.
- Has additional interior layers of smudge-free aluminum & 18/10 stainless steel above and below the copper forged foundation.
- Features two handles, giving the user a better grip when transferring from the stove to the oven or the dining table.
- A stunning and eye-catching design.
- Comes with an all-steel lid which aids during the cooking process. But if you are someone who prefers a glass lid so you can keep an eye on the food, there are other options available here.
- This is towards the top of the price range represented in this list, but it’s worth it for a premium piece of cookware.
This sturdy frying pan from the Avalon series is built to last. Not only is it a fantastic vessel to brown ground beef, but it’s an extremely versatile kitchen tool that can aid in all manner of kitchen tasks such as searing, sauteing, deep-frying, and more. The painstaking craftsmanship and engineering that went into this item is on full display.
- Features a gorgeous all-black hammered finish.
- 5-ply copper forged foundation with added layers of aluminum & 18/10 stainless steel for premium heat conductivity and retention.
- True heavy gauge cookware that won’t dent or warp under prolonged heat.
- Very easy to store, even for those home cooks with limited kitchen space.
- This excellent skillet is a premium product and an investment in your overall wellbeing and enjoyment, but it does come with a price. Maybe not the first choice for some home cooks who are just starting their culinary journey.
- Some folks would prefer a skillet that comes with a transparent lid, helping you keep track of the food that’s cooking inside.
5. Frequently Asked Questions About Ground Beef
Is ground beef good after 5 days in the fridge?
Raw ground beef will only last in the fridge for one or two days before it goes bad. Cooked ground beef, as with any leftover cooked ground meat, lasts for three to four days in the fridge.
How do I know if my ground beef is bad?
There are various ways to check if your ground beef has gone bad. Trust your senses. If it smells off, it’s better to be safe and discard it. Spoiled ground beef will also have discoloration on its surface and a slimy, sticky texture.
Is ground beef good in the fridge for 2 weeks?
As we mentioned, raw ground beef will only last in the refrigerator for one or two days, up to four days if it’s cooked. Keeping raw ground beef in the fridge for two weeks is definitely not safe.
Written by Jorge FarahBorn on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.