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How Long Can You Leave Cooked Ground Beef Out

How Long Can You Leave Cooked Ground Beef Out? Solved

Last Updated on July 15, 2024 by Shari Mason

Nailing ground beef in your cooking can totally transform your meals. Imagine this: scrumptious beef adding deep flavor to your spaghetti sauce or making your tacos taste absolutely amazing!

However, proper handling and storing of cooked ground beef is important to avoid food poisoning. 

So how long can you leave cooked ground beef out? Let’s find out.

How Long Can Cooked Ground Beef Be Left Out At Room Temperature?

Cooked Ground Beef on a Yellow Plate

Cooked ground beef [1] should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. 

According to food safety guidelines, bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, known as the “danger zone.” If the temperature is above 90°F, cooked ground beef should not be left out for more than 1 hour.

It’s important to remember that leaving cooked ground beef out at room temperature can increase the risk of food poisoning. 

To ensure the food’s safety, refrigerate or freeze the cooked ground beef as soon as possible and reheat it to an internal temperature of 165°F before consuming.

Read:

Can It Be Stored In The Refrigerator?

Yes, cooked ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator. It should be placed in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to prevent the formation of bacteria.

According to food safety guidelines, cooked ground beef can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

When storing cooked ground beef in the refrigerator, it’s important to ensure that it’s placed in the coldest part of the fridge, typically the back of the bottom shelf, where the temperature is the most consistent.

Read: What To Do With Grease From Ground Beef?

Can Cooked Ground Beef Be Stored In The Freezer?

Yes, cooked ground beef can be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months.

When storing cooked ground beef in the freezer, it’s important to label it with the date of storage so you can track how long it’s been frozen. 

“Like regular table salt, MSG can also help boost our perception of other flavors. Tomato soup with a pinch of MSG tastes a little more tomato-y. Add a dash to beef stew to make it taste beefier.”

– J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, American Chef

It’s also important to ensure that the meat is properly packaged to prevent freezer burn. To thaw frozen ground beef, it’s best to transfer it to the refrigerator to thaw it slowly or in the microwave or cold water.

Read: How Long Can Beef Stew Stay In The Fridge?

How Can You Tell If It Has Gone Bad?

  1. Smell: Cooked ground beef that has gone bad will have an off odor. The smell may be sour or rancid.
  2. Appearance: The color of cooked ground beef can change over time, but if it appears gray or brown, it may indicate that it has gone bad.
  3. Texture: Cooked ground beef that has gone bad will often have a slimy texture.
  4. “Sell by” Date: Cooked ground beef should be consumed before the “sell by” date printed on the package. After that date, the meat quality starts to decrease, and it’s best to discard it.
  5. Expiration Date: Cooked ground beef should be consumed before the expiration date printed on the package. After that date, it’s no longer safe to eat.

Can You Reheat Cooked Ground Beef?

cooking ground beef on a pan

Yes, cooked ground beef can be reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that may have grown during storage.

The best way to reheat cooked ground beef is to use the stovetop or oven, which can also be reheated in the microwave.

When reheating cooked ground beef, it’s important to stir it occasionally to ensure it reheats evenly. Avoid reheating ground beef more than once, as this can increase the risk of bacteria [2] growth.

Tips On Storing Cooked Ground Beef

  1. Use airtight containers or wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to prevent the formation of bacteria.
  2. Store cooked ground beef in the coldest part of the refrigerator, typically the back of the bottom shelf, where the temperature is the most consistent.
  3. Label the cooked ground beef with the storage date in the freezer.
  4. Avoid leaving cooked ground beef at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  5. Avoid reheating ground beef more than once, as this can increase the risk of bacteria growth.
  6. Pay attention to the package’s expiration date and the “sell by” date, and smell and look at the meat before consuming it. If the meat has an off odor, discoloration, or a slimy texture, it should be discarded as it’s no longer safe to eat.
  7. When reheating cooked ground beef, it’s important to stir it occasionally to ensure it reheats evenly.
  8. Do not thaw and refreeze the cooked ground beef because it can be exposed to bacteria and lose quality.

FAQs

u003cstrongu003eCan you eat cooked meat left out for 3 hours?u003c/strongu003e

If cooked meat is left out for more than 2 hours and the temperature is above 90°F, it should be discarded as it may not be safe to eat. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIf the temperature is below 90°F, the meat can still be consumed but should be reheated to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that may have grown when it was left out.

u003cstrongu003eWhat is the 2-hour, 4-hour rule?u003c/strongu003e

The u00222-hour, 4-hour ruleu0022 is a guideline to ensure food safety when dealing with perishable items, such as cooked meat. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe rule states that perishable food should not be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours or more than 4 hours if the temperature is above 90°F.

In Conclusion

It’s important to handle and store cooked ground beef properly to avoid food poisoning. 

Cooked ground beef should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, and it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months. 

To ensure that it is safe to eat, pay attention to the expiration date, the “sell by” date, and the smell and look of the meat before consuming it. 

When reheating, please bring it to an internal temperature of 165°F.

References:

  1. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/photos/ground-beef-recipes
  2. https://www.britannica.com/science/bacteria
Shari Mason

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