How long does cooked hamburger meat last in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How long does cooked hamburger meat last in the fridge?”. We will explore the factors that cause hamburgers to spoil and ways that slow down the spoilage of the hamburger meat and the whole hamburger.

How long does cooked hamburger meat last in the fridge?

The refrigerated hamburger meat will stay edible in the fridge for three to four days. When you reheat your hamburger meat, the internal temperature of the patty needs to reach 165 Fahrenheits. The hamburger meat should be hot to the core. 

Let us discuss some measures you could take to ensure that the hamburger meat lasts for as long as it can.

  • After you prepare the hamburger meat it should be refrigerated immediately or within 2 hours. 
  • You can also freeze your hamburger meat to ensure freshness for a longer period. Hamburger meat in the freezer will last for four months.
  • Put in an air-tight container to prevent ambient microorganisms from coming in contact with the hamburger meat. 

You could also use aluminum or plastic foil to wrap up your hamburger meat and prevent ambient microorganisms from coming in contact with it. Wrapping ensures maximum safety and quality of any food quality.

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

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 such as hamburgers.

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-based products such as the hamburger patty usually do not have a preservative added and heavily rely on temperature control to preserve it.

Your hamburger will last for three to four days in the fridge if handled with care. Otherwise, if not taken care of, it will last for a shorter time.

Why will hamburger meat spoil after it is stored in the fridge for 3-4 days?

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 hamburger patty. However, hamburgers from a restaurant must have been sitting for a longer time than we know. Therefore, hamburger handing for store-prepared hamburger is harder to monitor and to determine its shelf-life.

Unlike freezing, refrigeration only slows down the bacterial rate. Hence, the spoilage rate is significantly lower if a hamburger is refrigerated. The optimum temperature to store the meat-based products at refrigeration is around 33 Fahrenheits.

Even though bacteria destroy when meat cooks, the bacteria produce toxins that remain even after, so throw away your beef patty or the entire hamburger if you left it outside.

If you observe any of the three following signs, it means your cooked hamburger meat has spoilt:

  • a Greyish-brown color
  • a sticky or slimy texture
  • a tangy, putrid odor

If you left meat at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you might need to throw it away. Room temperature or higher encourages bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning and make a person sick.

 Meat is usually attacked by Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp, Listeria; these microorganisms thrive at a slower rate if the ground meat made into a patty, was handled carefully.

When you freeze, the bacteria become inactive; hence your meat lasts longer. Freezing meat is always a safe bet because the microbial activity has completely halted.

Other FAQs about Burgers which you may be interested in.

How long can a hamburger thaw in the fridge?

Can you cook frozen hamburger patties?

How long to cook frozen burgers in the oven?

Can spoiled hamburger meat make you sick?

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.

However, if the meat was subjected to certain adverse conditions such as hot temperature; or an exposed environment; your hamburger meat quality and safety are at stake.

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.

In this brief guide, we answered the question, “How long does cooked hamburger meat last in the fridge?”. We explored the factors that cause hamburgers to spoil and ways that slow down the spoilage of the hamburger meat and the whole hamburger.


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.