How long can thawed meat stay in the fridge?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can thawed meat stay in the fridge?”, and how to safely thaw meat?

How long can thawed meat stay in the fridge?

Thawed ground meats, poultry, and fish can stay for 1-2 more days in the fridge. While beef, pork, lamb or veal (roasts, steaks, or chops) can stay an additional 3-5 days in the fridge. This only applies if the meat was thawed in the fridge. 

Meat thawed in the microwave or under cold running water must be cooked right away. Refrozen meat will not have the same quality as before.

How to thaw raw meat?

In the fridge 

The safest method to thaw any kind of meat is to leave it overnight in the fridge. Meat that is thawed using this method is safe for refreezing. Make sure the fridge is maintained at a steady temperature of 0℉ or below. 

Place the meat package on a plate or dish before popping it in the fridge for defrosting. This will catch the meat drippings.

In the cold water

Fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge the meat package in it. For added protection, wrap the meat package in a leak-proof plastic bag. 

Change the water in the bowl after every 30 minutes. This will take a few hours. Do not refreeze meat thawed by this method.

In the microwave 

It is not recommended to thaw meat in the microwave as it leaves cold spots in the meat. This method should only be adopted if you are in a hurry. 

First of all, take out the meat from its packaging and place it on a microwave-safe plate or dish. Microwave at low power or the ‘Defrost setting’. 

Check on the meat after 30 seconds intervals to promote even cooking. Do not refreeze meat thawed by this method.

How to tell if the meat is bad?

Bad meat gives off a putrid odor that does not go unnoticed. Another obvious sign of spoilage is surface slime. The presence of surface mold in the form of colored fuzzy patches or spots is another sign of spoilage. 

It is not safe to wash the slime off the surface and consume the rest of the meat. Because the toxins produced by bacteria seep deep within the meat and are not destroyed by cooking temperatures. 

Best practices for storing meat 

Freezing prolongs the shelf-life of any kind of meat or meat leftovers. This is because the activity of enzymes, bacteria, molds, and yeasts slow down at such low temperatures. 

The quality of the frozen meat also depends upon the initial quality of the meat. Make sure you buy good quality meat and freeze it before the refrigerator life of the meat package is elapsed. 

Your best bet is to invest in vacuum-sealer bags for freezing meat. However, using heavy-duty freezer bags also yields good results. 

It is best if you freeze the meat in its original packaging. For added protection, wrap the original package of meat in a wrap of plastic or foil. 

It is recommended to refrigerate canned and stuffed meats instead of freezing them due to better results. Similarly, meats prepared with mayonnaise, cream sauces, and veggies like lettuce should not be refrigerated. 

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Why should you place the meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge?

Unless your fridge has a special meat drawer, you should always put your meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge. This is because you do not want any of the meat drippings to contaminate the food below. So putting the meat on the lowest shelf helps prevent cross-contamination. 

How do you make raw meat last longer in the fridge?

The low temperatures of the fridge slow down the enzyme activity and the proliferation rate of the microbes. 

If your fridge is broken and the inside of the fridge fails to achieve this temperature, you cannot guarantee the safety of raw meat. 

Use a candy thermometer, a glass kitchen thermometer, or the in-built thermometer of the fridge to correctly gauge the temperature. 

An easy way to check the temperature of your fridge is to place a thermometer in a bowl full of water and leave it in the fridge for 8 hours. 

Can you leave raw meat uncovered in the fridge?

To avoid cross-contamination, raw meat should never be refrigerated uncovered. Moreover, raw meat has a distinct odor that can easily spread and malign the odor of other food products in your fridge. Raw meat can also pick up odors. The bottom line is to never leave raw meat unguarded in the fridge. 


In this article, we answered the question “How long can thawed meat stay in the fridge?”, and how to safely thaw meat?


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.