How long do meatballs last in the fridge? (cooked vs uncooked)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question ‘How long do meatballs last in the fridge?’. For meatball to last in the fridge for the longest possible time, you need to manage it accordingly.

How long do meatballs last in the fridge?

Meat is a perishable commodity that requires careful handling. Meat is home to microorganisms that can cause food poisoning. It is advised to store meat at low temperatures as room temperature can cause your meat to spoil prematurely. Therefore, it has been deemed necessary to care for meat-based products. 

Bacteria are everywhere in the environment even in the meat itself. You need to treat it properly to prevent bacteria from causing havoc to food.

Meat usually does not have a preservative added and heavily relies on temperature control to preserve it. 

Meatballs last for three to four days in the fridge if handled with care. Otherwise, if not taken care of, they last for a shorter time.

According to USDA, cooked beef should be refrigerated for three or four days at a temperature of 40 F or below. 

Cooked meatballs can be made a day before you serve. After preparing them they can be left in the refrigerator for a day or even three.  

There are two different kinds of bacteria; Pathogenic bacteria and spoilage bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria are capable of making a person sick, while the spoilage bacteria cause food to deteriorate. 

Spoilage bacteria can grow even in the food that is in a refrigerator. These bacteria cause food to develop unpleasant attributes such as odor and taste.

 If meatballs are frozen instead of refrigerated, they last longer for 3-4 months. It is better to freeze meatballs as this makes the bacteria inactive. freezing meat instead of leaving it in the fridge is a better guarantee for freshness.  

Let us look at some ways to ensure that meatballs last longer in the fridge:

Refrigerate meatballs within two hours of cooking them. Refrigeration does not halt bacterial growth; it merely slows it down. If it were homemade, then you have the option of practicing caution while storing your meatballs. However, meatballs from a restaurant must have been sitting for a longer time than we know. Therefore meatball handing for store-prepared meatball is harder to monitor and to determine its shelf-life.

Put in an air-tight container to prevent ambient microorganisms from coming in contact with the meatballs. You could also use aluminum or plastic foil to wrap up your meatballs. Wrapping ensures maximum safety and quality of any food quality.

If your raw meatballs are stored in the fridge, then consume within two days. However, in places with a hot climate and no proper cooling system, raw meat can be kept for few hours at most. Ground meat has a shorter life than the larger cuts.

According to USDA, the temperature of 40 F to 140 F is labeled as ‘The Danger Zone’. This range of temperature encourages bacterial growth.  Spoilage is usually a quality issue in its initial stage and does not cause illness. However, gradually the food becomes a complete hazard.

To keep meatballs out of the danger zone, store them at extreme temperatures of either hot or cold.

The temperature of the fridge should be at least 40 degrees. Store the meatballs in the upper, cooler part of the fridge where it is cooler. The door and the lower compartment of the fridge, usually have a higher temperature.

If you don’t intend to consume meatballs within three to four days, then freeze them. With contrary to refrigeration, freezing makes the microorganisms inactive. When frozen, they will last for at least three to four months or longer, depending on other factors.

The other factors include the temperature of the fridge are:

The time the meatballs were left sitting outside.

 The ambient temperature where meatballs were put before refrigeration.

When you decide to thaw your frozen meatballs in the fridge, they can be kept refrigerated for up to four days. However, if thawed in a microwave or cold water, meatballs must be consumed immediately.

If your meatballs of either ground beef or pork; then it would last 3-5 days. However, for poultry or turkey meatballs, they would last slightly shorter for 4 days.

If meatballs are at room temperature for more than two hours, then discard them promptly. Room temperature above 40 F accelerates bacterial growth.

To tell if your meatballs are edible, you can examine them closely. Expired meatballs have a sour smell and slimy texture. If the meatballs visually show signs of spoilage, do not taste test them. Eating spoiled meat can cause severe food poisoning.

In this brief guide, we answered the question ‘How long do meatballs last in the fridge?’. Cooked meatballs last for three to four days. The shelf-life depends on the practice used while handling meatballs that include temperature monitoring. We also discussed other factors that help to delay the perishability of meatballs.

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17670#:~:text=To%20maximize%20the%20shelf%20life,4%20days%20in%20the%20refrigerator.

https://www.quora.com/How-long-can-you-leave-cooked-meatballs-in-your-refrigerator-before-they-go-bad

https://www.reference.com/world-view/long-meatballs-last-refrigerator-c0d73fcbee2ed6f2

https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-long-can-you-keep-cooked-beef

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-long-is-it-safe-to-keep-raw-meat-in-the-refrigerator-223122

https://findanyanswer.com/can-you-make-meatballs-the-day-before

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.

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