How Long Does Steak Last in the Fridge—And How Do You Know When It’s Past Its Prime?

Plus, get our best storage secrets.

<p>Lebazele/Getty Images</p>

Lebazele/Getty Images

Have you ever bought pieces of beef steak from the butcher or the grocery store and forgotten about them? Life gets busy, and we get it—when you take the steak out from the fridge, you might not remember how long it has been there. Chances are, it may have been there for too long!

Before cooking your steak using Chef John's favorite recipes or your family's secret recipe, let's find out how long steak can last in the fridge (and the telltale signs of spoilage).

<p>Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

How Long Does Steak Last In the Fridge?

How long steaks last in the fridge depends on whether they are raw or cooked, the storage conditions, and how they were handled at the time of storage.

Beef steak has a longer shelf life than ground beef—the grinding process exposes the inner content of the beef, speeding up its spoilage rate.

How Long Does Raw Steak Last In the Fridge?

Raw steak could stay at its peak quality and freshness for 3 to 5 days in the fridge set to 40 degrees F or below. This temperature slows down spoilage and the growth of foodborne bacteria.

How Long Does Steak Marinade Last In the Fridge?

Steak marinade tenderizes the steak and intensifies its flavor. To enjoy marinated steak at its peak freshness, the USDA recommends cooking the steak between 6 and 24 hours after completing the marination. Unmarinated raw steak can last 3 to 5 days, but marinated meat may adopt a mushy texture when immersed in the marinade longer than the suggested time.

Since the raw steak comes in contact with the marinade, boiling the liquid before drizzling or brushing it over the cooked meat destroys any foodborne-related harmful bacteria.

<p>  Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

How Long Does Cooked Steak Last In the Fridge?

When stored properly, cooked steak can be enjoyed within 3 to 4 days by reheating it in the microwave, oven, stovetop, or with the sous-vide method.

How to Store Cooked Steak

Store leftover cooked steaks in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze them for up to three months. Thaw frozen steak by leaving it in the fridge overnight.



How to Store Raw Steak

As mentioned earlier, raw steak can last for 3 to 5 days in the fridge from the date of purchase. You can leave the steak in its original packaging when you place it in the refrigerator. It is best to keep raw meat on the fridge's bottom shelf to ensure that no meat juices drip onto any cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Can You Freeze Steak?

Yes, you can freeze steak!

If you freeze uncooked steak, use its original packaging. Ideally, wrap the packaging with a freezer wrapper or heavy-duty foil to reduce airflow into the steak, extend the storage time, and reduce freezer burn.

You can also place the raw steak in an airtight container or food-grade sealable bag. Placing the steak in a vacuum can extend the meat's shelf life, too. Remember to label your stored steak and follow the first-in, first-out method.

While frozen, uncooked steak in its sealed condition can last indefinitely, it should be consumed within 4 to 12 months, if frozen from the date of purchase. After this suggested timeframe, the meat may not be at its peak freshness and quality, and you may notice a change in the steak's flavor and texture.

<p>Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

How to Thaw Steak

Defrosted steak can hang out in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. It is best to cook the steak within this time frame. When the meat is thawed and then marinated, the 6- to 24-hour rule for cooking the meat applies.

If your frozen steak is placed in a sealed food-grade plastic bag, you can also use the cold water thawing method to defrost by changing the water every 30 minutes. According to the USDA, one pound of meat may thaw in one hour or less.

Using the microwave to thaw the steak is another thawing method. Before placing the frozen steak in the microwave, remove it from its packaging and place it in a microwave-safe dish.

Similar to the cold water thawing method, the steak must be cooked immediately after thawing to lower the risk of potential bacteria harboring in the "Danger Zones" temperatures of 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F.

How to Tell When Steak Is Bad

Fresh raw steak looks naturally moist (but not wet) and has a deep red color with noticeable white marbling. Cooked steak should be juicy, moist, and firm to the touch.

Here are the telltale signs that your steak has gone bad, whether it is raw or cooked.

  • There’s slime on the surface, discoloration, or gray spots

  • The steak seems dry, with no juices

  • There’s a sour, unpleasant, or off-putting smell

  • Fuzzy green, white, or gray-looking mold is growing on the meat.

After handling raw steak (whether it is spoiled or not), always clean kitchen surfaces, dishes, and utensils with which the steak has come into contact with hot, soapy water. Using a sanitizer to clean these surfaces and utensils or placing the dishes and utensils in the dishwasher helps remove harmful bacteria from harboring and contaminating the kitchen. 

Read the original article on All Recipes.