Cooking ground beef is always a quick and easy way to get dinner on the table.
Also, it’s safe to eat if you cook it to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
But what about leftover cooked ground beef?
What does that mean for its safety and lifespan?
How long is leftover cooked ground beef good for in the refrigerator and freezer?
What are the signs that leftover cooked ground beef has gone bad?
Is there any way to safely preserve leftovers, or should you just try to use up all your leftovers within a few days of cooking them?
In this article, we’ll answer all these questions with expert advice from top chefs, food scientists and nutritionists.
We’ll also give you some delicious ideas for how to use up leftover ground beef so it doesn’t go bad in the first place!
How long is leftover cooked ground beef good for?
Cooked ground beef is good for several days in the refrigerator, or up to one month in the freezer.
If you have any leftovers from a meal, it’s best to store them in an airtight container and keep them in your fridge until you’re ready to use them again.
When you’re ready to eat your cooked ground beef again, simply remove it from storage and reheat it according to these instructions:
- Place your frozen cooked ground beef on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper (so cleanup will be easy) and place into an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with no convection setting turned on.
- Cook until heated through, about 15 minutes.
- If you need more time than that—or if your oven doesn’t go up far enough—you can also thaw out your cooked frozen meat by placing it into a microwave-safe bowl along with some water (no more than 1/4 cup).
- Microwave on high for one minute intervals until fully defrosted; allow 2-3 minutes per pound of meat for this method of thawing out food
Can I eat leftover ground beef after 5 days in fridge?
You might be wondering if it’s safe to eat leftover ground beef after 5 days in the fridge.
The short answer is no.
Ideally, you want your food to be fresh and delicious, not spoiled and unsanitary.
First, let’s talk about how long ground beef can safely be stored in the refrigerator.
According to USDA guidelines, cooked ground beef can stay fresh for up to five days when refrigerated at 40 degrees F (4 C) or below.
Once you’ve cooked this delicious meat, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before storing it in an airtight container (such as a Ziploc bag).
This will help prevent raw juices from leaking onto other foods in your refrigerator—and keep those other foods from spoiling prematurely too!
If your family has more than one cook working on dinner every night of the week (or if there are just lots of different dinners being made), then consider freezing some leftover cooked ground beef so that next time someone needs something quick-to-prepare they’ll have access already made up instead of having hunt down every last bit needed before starting again from scratch each time they decide what kind of dish they’d like tonight!
Is leftover cooked ground beef good after 4 days?
After four days, leftovers are still safe to eat.
However, if you have cooked ground beef, the chances of it starting to spoil increase.
This is because bacteria can grow on the surface of your food while it sits in your refrigerator.
If you keep the cooked ground beef at room temperature before refrigerating it, this will only accelerate this process.
But even so, if you have cooked ground beef after four days, don’t throw it out!
You can still eat it—just make sure that if you do decide to eat it after this time has passed (and especially with leftovers), there’s nothing else in your fridge that may have been contaminated by bacterial growth from another source in case there was any cross-contamination during storage or preparation of foods.*
How can you tell if leftover ground beef is bad?
If you’re not sure about whether your leftover ground beef is bad, look for these signs.
- Smell: If it smells bad, don’t eat it!
- It might have gone bad and is now giving off a foul odor that’s not normal for cooked beef.
- Color: Discoloration is also a sign of spoilage.
- If the meat looks discolored or has turned brown or green—it may have been contaminated with bacteria at some point during storage and prep or cooking procedures, which means you shouldn’t eat it either.
Mold growth means that the meat has gotten too warm and wet over time to keep bacteria growth at bay; if you see mold on your leftover ground beef, throw it away!
Remember, the best way to keep your food safe is to follow simple guidelines: never leave raw ground beef out of refrigeration for more than two hours, and never allow cooked ground beef to sit out for more than one hour.
When in doubt, always throw it out!