How long are meatballs good for in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long are meatballs good for in the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of meatballs in the fridge. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of meatballs in different mediums and ways to spot bad meatballs.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long are meatballs good for in the fridge?

Cooked meatballs last for about 3-4 days when stored properly in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It is recommended to store meatballs in shallow containers so that they can cool evenly and quickly in the refrigerator. Always store the meatballs on one of the shelves of the refrigerator rather than the door as there are a lot of temperature fluctuations at the door of the fridge. 

It is worth mentioning that the figures mentioned above are the estimated shelf life of meatballs.

What is the optimum temperature to store meatballs?

You should always store your meatballs at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore it is always advised to store your meatballs at a lower temperature to preserve their freshness for a long time.

How long do meatballs last at room temperature?

The meatballs last for about 2 hours when kept at room temperature. 

You should discard the meatballs that have been left in the open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the meatballs being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard meatballs that are left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long do meatballs last in the freezer?

Properly stored cooked meatballs stay good for about 3-4 months in the freezer.

It is recommended to add meatballs in plastic freezer bags or wrap them in aluminum foil before storing them in the freezer to prevent freezer burns.

Thus, the shelf life of meatballs increases owing to the cold temperature of the freezer that halts the microbial growth on it.

How to thaw frozen meatballs?

The recommended way to thaw the frozen meatballs is to leave them in the refrigerator overnight and let them thaw there. The meatballs thawed this way can stay in the fridge for additional 3-4 days before reheating.

Conversely, you can thaw the frozen meatballs in a bowl of cold water but you should reheat and use it immediately after thawing. 

Moreover, if you are thawing and reheating the meatballs in the oven or microwave it is recommended to use them immediately. 

You can read how to make meatballs here.

How to tell if the meatballs have gone bad?

Certain indicators point out bad meatballs. You can tell whether or not your meatballs have gone bad by considering their appearance, texture, and smell.

Appearance

If you can see some off-color or if you can spot molds or dark spots on the surface of the meatballs then it is the indication that it has gone bad and the best thing to do in this scenario is to discard it.

Texture

If you can feel something slimy or gooey while touching the meatballs then it means that it has gone bad as the fresh meatballs have a firm texture.

But keep one thing in mind that rinsing the meatballs won’t help you in this scenario as you won’t be able to get rid of the bacteria. Rinsing the bacteria-laden meatballs will put you at risk of cross-contamination as the bacteria will spread in the utensils and other food items that will come in contact with the water from the meatballs that has gone bad.

Smell

If you can smell something acidic, or some ammonia-like or sulfur-like putrid smell while taking a sniff test of your meatballs then it means that your meatballs have gone bad and you should discard it. 

Thus you should consider the indicators discussed above to reach a final verdict on whether or not your meatballs are still suitable to consume.

Tips to properly store meatballs

  1. When it comes to refrigeration, you should always store your meatballs at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  1. It is a good practice to store meatballs on the shelf of the fridge or freezer rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge or freezer.
  1. Once you have thawed the frozen meatballs, you should not refreeze them.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long are meatballs good for in the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of meatballs in the fridge. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of meatballs in different mediums and ways to spot bad meatballs.

Citations

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17670
https://www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2013/06/how-long-will-the-food-in-your-refrigerator-last

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.