How long ground beef last in the fridge? (3 factors)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, ‘How long ground beef last in the fridge?’. We will explore the significance of ground beef in depth including the nutritional value and its role as frequently eaten meat.

How long ground beef last in the fridge?

Food Safety Authorities recommend using Ground Beef within 1-2 days when kept in the refrigerator.

General guidelines, on the other hand, suggest that cooked ground beef will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, while raw ground beef will last for less than 3 days.

Why is ground beef popular?

Ground Beef is a must-buy. It is a versatile meat kind that is tasty and inexpensive. You can cook Ground Beef into anything from casseroles to hamburger steak. The best part is it takes shorter to cook because of its exposed surface area and is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B. This ground-up red meat will provide you with essential nutrients when eaten as part of a balanced diet. 

What makes your Ground Beef spoil?

 Meat is mostly water and highly nutritious, which means that it is a haven for bacterial growth. Ground beef may be more susceptible than the solid counterpart because of its exposed surface area. 

Hence, it is likely to spoil sooner if it wasn’t refrigerated or handled properly.

 Meat is usually attacked by Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp, Listeria; these microorganisms thrive at a slower pace if the ground meat 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. 

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

If you refrigerate your ground meat you can expect to consume it safely until the sell-by date or even a few days after.

Refrigeration is not as efficient as freezing is when it comes to conserving the shelf life of meat. Refrigeration works best if you intend to consume your ground meat sooner or later.

How to store ground beef? (refrigeration versus Freezing)

  • For extended storage, freeze instead of refrigerating it.
  • Thaw in the fridge rather than the room temperature.
  • Once you thaw, do not refreeze.

According to the USDA, when you buy beef, freeze it within 3-4 days. However, if your best-buy date for refrigeration has not passed yet, you could still choose to freeze it. Make sure it is still in a store-bought air-tight container and place it as further away from the door as possible. 

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 ground beef out of the danger zone, store them at extreme temperatures of either hot or cold.

What is the role of the fridge when it comes to conserving ground beef?

The temperature of the fridge should be at least 40 degrees. Store the ground meat in the cooler part of the fridge where it is cooler. The door and the lower compartment of the fridge are cooler.

The optimum temperature to store meat at refrigeration is around 33 Fahrenheits. Refrigeration does not halt bacterial growth; it merely slows it down. 

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

Other FAQs about Beef which you may be interested in.

How to cook a frozen beef roast in the oven?

How long does beef broth last in the fridge?

How long can you keep cooked ground beef?

Why should you choose to freeze ground beef instead of refrigeration?

Frozen beef lasts for three to four months when frozen. In contrast, when refrigerated, you can expect ground beef to last three to four days only.

Unlike freezing, refrigeration only slows down the bacterial rate. Hence, the spoilage rate is significantly reduced.

What conditions compel you to discard Ground Beef?

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.

The quality of meat deteriorates as the sell-by date approaches, but it gives off signs when it is about to spoil.  Throw it away if you observe off-odor, moldy or slimy texture.

If you observe any of the three following signs, it means your ground beef has spoilt: 

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

In this brief guide, we answered the question, ‘How long ground beef last in the fridge?’. We explored the significance of ground beef in depth including the nutritional value and its role as frequently eaten 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.