Wondering how long ground beef lasts in the fridge? We’ve got the answers you need to make sure your ground beef is delicious and safe to eat!
Thinking about using that package of ground beef that’s been in the fridge for three days? You might want to think again before using it to make your favorite ground beef casserole for dinner. Ground beef has a short shelf life that ensures proper food safety. Here’s what you need to know.
How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?
According to the USDA, raw ground beef lasts one to two days in the fridge after you bring it home from the store. Keep unopened, store-bought ground beef in its original packaging on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator towards the back.
You should also note the use-by date determined by the store. The USDA advises that this is the last date recommended to use the meat while it’s still at peak quality. If you buy a package of ground beef four days before its use-by date, it is probably fine to use past the two days the USDA recommends to keep it in the fridge.
The quality of the meat you buy will also affect its shelf life (how long you can store it before it starts to deteriorate), so if you can, purchase high-quality ground beef.
How to Tell if Ground Beef is Bad
If you’re worried your ground beef may not be safe to eat, there are signs you should skip the hamburgers tonight. If the meat has a noticeable smell—fresh meat should not have a smell—it is beginning to spoil. In terms of texture, if the meat seems slimy or sticky, it is best to discard it. And if most of the ground beef looks gray or brown, you should get rid of it.
How to Freeze Ground Beef
As mentioned, you can store ground beef for up to two days in the back of the fridge after the purchase date. If you won’t use it by day two, the best and easiest way to extend its life is to freeze it. When kept in the freezer, ground beef will last for three to four months.
To freeze, leave it in its original packaging, and wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or place it in a freezer-safe plastic bag. Alternatively, if you’ve already opened the package you can place the beef directly into a freezer safe bag. Make sure label it with the date so you know how long you’ve had it.
When ready to use, place the packaged meat in a large bowl of cool water, using a heavy weight to keep the meat submerged. Allow it to thaw for 5 to 10 minutes. If you can plan ahead, defrost the beef overnight on a plate in the refrigerator.
Previously frozen ground beef should be used immediately and should not be refrozen. Also, never keep meat at room temperature for more than two hours!