How long can you keep thawed ground beef in the fridge?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you keep thawed ground beef in the fridge?”, and how to safely refreeze ground beef?

How long can you keep thawed ground beef in the fridge?

As per the USDA, thawed ground beef can be safely kept for 1-2 days in the fridge. However, this only applies if the ground beef was thawed in the fridge overnight. 

Ground beef thawed by quick methods, such as in the microwave or under the tap water, must be cooked immediately after thawing.

How to refreeze ground beef safely?

Meat is a perishable food commodity. But when it is ground, it is naturally exposed to a lot of spoilage and disease-causing microbes. The surface area of the ground beef adds to the vulnerability.

If you thawed your ground beef, whether cooked or uncooked, in a refrigerator then It will be safe to use within 3-4 days. You can either cook it or toss it back into the freezer. 

But If it had been thawed out in the open and kept there for more than 2 hours or 1 hour in case the temperature was above 32 degrees Celcius, it is likely to have become unsafe for consumption. Whether your meat is cooked or not, always use a heavy-duty plastic/aluminum bag to contain it. 

If you are not using vacuum-sealed bags then squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag. This creates a vacuum-like environment with minimum air contact. Raw ground meat will stay fresh for 3-4 months in the freezer.

Handling raw ground beef

Handle the raw meat with caution.

  • Keep the raw meat separate from other items in your grocery cart.
  • Double wrap the meat with an extra plastic bag, so, If blood water drips out, it doesn’t contaminate any other product.
  • Buy meat and other perishables at the end of your grocery shopping.

What microbes spoil ground beef?

The most common bacteria infamous for spoiling and causing food poisoning through meat and poultry products are Salmonella, Listeria, Shigella, Campylobacter, and E.coli. Grinding exposes the meat to these harmful bacteria and also allows the bacteria to distribute evenly throughout the meat surface during the process.

How to store raw ground beef?

Storing your meat anywhere between the temperature zone of 4.4-60 degrees celsius provides a favorable environment for bacterial growth. 

Therefore, always store your meat at the refrigeration temperature of 4.4 degrees Celsius or below. In short, keep your meat out of the danger zone.

It is recommended to cook the meat to an internal temperature of 71.7 degrees celsius. This is the minimum safe limit according to the USDA Food safety guidelines.

How to thaw ground beef?

There are three safe ways as recommended by the USDA to thaw your raw ground beef.

  1. Plan ahead and always try to defrost your meat(cooked or uncooked) in the refrigerator. Refrigeration temperature will prevent the bacteria from multiplying.
  1. If you are in a hurry and want to cook meat, opt for a microwave. Just put your meat on a microwave-friendly plate and remove it once thawed completely. 

Note that this method is applicable only when you are going to cook it immediately after.

Defrosting in the microwave deprives the meat of its moisture and when you cook your meat, it feels very chewy.

  1. The third way is to put your meat in a plastic bag. Seal it tight. Put the bag in a container and fill it with water. Keep changing the water after regular intervals. Cook your meat immediately after thawing.

Never thaw your meat on a tabletop or counter at room temperature. That’s just a very bad idea because you are giving bacteria the perfect chance to grow to unacceptable levels.

Cons of refreezing thawed ground beef

Although it is safe to refreeze thawed beef, it may not necessarily remain of the best quality. Because the freeze and thaw cycles are eventually going to damage the quality of your meat and this reflects in the loss of moisture and undesirable textural changes.

This dried-out meat can be used for soups or you can season it with a marinade or a sauce and keep it overnight so that the spices make it tender and flavorful. Use this meat in lasagna, pie, or pasta.


In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you keep thawed ground beef in the fridge?”, and how to safely refreeze ground beef?


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.