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How Long Does Steak Last In The Fridge?

Steak is one of the best meats to grill or sear in a pan. It’s also not that cheap usually. So the last thing you want is for steak to go bad in your fridge. Doesn’t matter if it’s raw or cooked, spoiled steak is bad. So you need to …

Food Safety & Handling

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By Jeremy Pike

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How Long Does Steak Last In the Fridge

Steak is one of the best meats to grill or sear in a pan. It’s also not that cheap usually. So the last thing you want is for steak to go bad in your fridge. Doesn’t matter if it’s raw or cooked, spoiled steak is bad. So you need to know how long steak lasts in the fridge.

If you’ve got raw steaks that you’ve either thawed in the fridge or bought from your local supermarket, they can last three to five days as long as you keep your fridge running below 40°F. (You should always keep your fridge running below 40°F, anyway. It’s food safety!) You’ll want to get them seared up or in your freezer within that time range. As for cooked leftover steaks, you’ll want to eat or properly freeze them within three to four days. 

As for what’s the proper way to freeze steaks, vacuum sealing is the way to go. It’s the best possible way regardless of what type of meat you want to store long-term in your freezer. However, not everyone has a vacuum sealer, so we’ll get into some tips and tricks for you. 

We are also going to help you identify tell-tale signs that steaks have gone bad. You can follow the link for an in-depth look, but we’ll give you the main points below as well. Just be aware that you should be properly storing your steaks in your fridge in air-tight storage options. The more the meat is directly exposed to oxygen in your fridge, the more likely it is to go bad sooner.

So let’s open the door on this topic!

How Long Is Raw Steak Good In The Fridge?

We know that the USDA’s recommendation is that you keep raw steaks in the fridge for only three to five days. You might ask yourself the question of why they recommend that. After all, we should be keeping our fridges running below the “Danger Zone” of 40°-140°F. Shouldn’t that keep food from spoiling?

Unfortunately, no. Keeping meat between 33°-39°F does slow the growth of food-borne bacteria but it doesn’t halt it completely. You can help keep your raw steaks safe longer by storing them in an air-tight container or a vacuum-sealed package. The less exposure to oxygen, the better, but you should still cook or freeze them within that three-to-five-day range.

Vac Packed Steak
Vacuum packed steak lasts longer in the fridge.

Conversely, a loosely wrapped or unpackaged raw steak will be exposed to more oxygen. Even though the fridge will keep the steak cold and help deter bacteria growth, the barely-wrapped raw steak will still spoil more quickly. So you’ll want to make sure you cook or freeze those steaks on the shorter end of the date range.

How Long Is Cooked Steak Good For In The Fridge?

Cooked Steak in Fridge

It may be hard to believe, but there are occasions when there is leftover steak. The last thing you want to have happen when you open that fridge door is to discover that beautifully grilled or seared steak has gone bad. The USDA guidelines state that 3-4 days is the proper time frame for being able to enjoy your cooked steak.

So why is the range just a little shorter for cooked steak vs raw steak? There could be a few good reasons. 

The Cooling Process After Cooking

We referenced the ‘Danger Zone’ earlier, and cooked steak that gets put in the fridge can spend a good amount of time in that 40°-140°F range. While it will eventually get under that zone in the fridge, the steak can have bacteria multiplying rapidly during the cooldown process. To help minimize the risks, you want to cool down the steak as rapidly as possible while limiting oxygen exposure. 

Wrapping The Steak

Vacuum Sealed Steak

Whether you purchased directly from a butcher who wrapped the meat in butcher paper or you bought shrink-wrapped or even a vacuum-sealed package, your raw steak is already wrapped to protect it from air exposure.

Your cooked steak has none of that. You can’t pull the steak off the grill and immediately wrap it. You have to wait for it to cool down before you can properly store it. You could conceivably vacuum seal the steak, but if you’re going to eat it within a couple of days, you don’t want to go through that hassle.

How Can I Prolong The Life Of My Steak?

Maybe you found a great deal on some steak at the store and aren’t going to cook it within the 3-5 day range for raw steak in the fridge laid out by the USDA. Maybe you had some last-minute dinner cancellations and have a lot of unexpected steak leftovers that won’t be eaten before four days elapse. 

Regardless of the reasons, you’ve found yourself in a situation where there’s extra steak that won’t be cooked or consumed before the recommended time. So how do you prevent all that steak from going bad?

How To Properly Package And Freeze Steak

Freezing steak is a great way to keep it for an extended time without worrying about spoiling. Whether your steak is raw or cooked, you need to wrap it tightly. A loose wrapping can result in freezer burn which occurs when cold, dry air comes in contact directly with the surface of the meat. It can produce ice crystals on the surface of the meat and likely ruin the texture. 

Meat in Freezer

If you’ve kept your raw steak in good packaging, you can put it right into the freezer. However, if your steak is in a container with a thin film, it could be punctured and lead to the meat getting freezer burned. If you’ve got a large enough freezer bag, you can put the package directly into it and then into the freezer. Double layers are a key component of proper packaging for freezing.

Conversely, you can break down the package and wrap the steaks individually. Whether you have raw or cooked steak, you can freeze them individually the same way. You want to have two layers to help keep the moisture out and prevent any tears or punctures as best as possible. That can be a layer of plastic wrap then aluminum foil or vice versa, or a layer of plastic wrap or foil and then put into a freezer bag.

If you have access to a vacuum sealer, sealing the steaks first and then placing them in a freezer bag is one of the best ways to preserve steaks in the freezer. 

How Do You Tell If Steak Has Gone Bad?

You can try your best to make sure you use or freeze your steaks in plenty of time, but we all know life happens. Something may have come up and the steaks got pushed to the back of the fridge. Regardless of why it happened, you want to make sure you’re able to identify if your steak has gone bad. 

We’ll quickly cover some of the easiest ways to tell if the steak has spoiled and why its color isn’t necessarily the best way to judge if a steak has gone bad.

It Smells Like Ammonia Or Spoiled Eggs

Smelly steak.

One of the easiest ways to tell if your steak has spoiled is by smelling it. This works a lot better with raw steak than cooked, so keep that in mind. If you unwrap the steak or open the package and you get hit with a waft of ammonia or the smell of rotten eggs, throw that steak out regardless of how long it’s been in the fridge. This odor is similar to most meat types including pork and chicken.

It Feels Slimy

Another easy way to tell if a steak is going bad is if it feels slimy when you touch it. The slimy texture is a byproduct of bacteria reproducing on the surface of the meat. Meat that is retaining its moisture properly won’t feel slippery like slimy meat feels. 

Why Color Of A Steak Isn’t The Greatest Way To Judge If It’s Spoiled

Your first thought when you open the fridge and see a steak that’s gone gray rather than that deep red, might be that the steak has gone bad. That is not necessarily the case. If your steak isn’t in a vacuum-sealed package, it simply could be a sign that oxygen has gotten to the meat and caused it to turn colors.

If you encounter a gray steak, check to see how it smells and feels. If it still smells and feels fine, you should be good to cook it. If you do smell any odd odors or it feels off, get rid of it.

For more information on how to determine if your steak has gone bad, check out our article that provides a full breakdown!

FAQs:

Question: Has Freezer-Burned Steak Gone Bad?

Answer: Steaks that have freezer burn are not spoiled, so they are still safe to eat. However, freezer burn can affect the taste and texture of the meat, so it’s not enjoyable. That’s why we recommend vacuum-sealing your steaks or double-layering the protection. Just be assured even if your steaks get some freezer burn, they can be saved. It just might not be as good as you’d like.

Question: How Long Can My Steaks Stay In The Freezer?

Answer: As long as you’ve packaged them properly and they were in good condition before freezing, you can technically store your steaks indefinitely in the freezer. However, for best results, you want to thaw them out and cook them within 12 months of putting them in the freezer.

Question: How Can Steak Be Gray And Still Be Good To Eat?

Answer: As we said above, gray steak is not necessarily an indicator of a steak going bad. You definitely want to examine your meat closely for the other tell-tale signs of spoilage, but gray steaks alone do not mean they have spoiled. The meat reacts with oxygen differently over time, causing it to eventually gray. So if your steaks have been in the fridge for a few days, they could certainly be turning gray if they aren’t vacuum-sealed. Just be certain to check the smell and texture of the steak to make sure it’s good!

Final Thoughts

It’s important to make sure you can answer the question of how long steak is good in the fridge. It can save you the heartache of seeing steaks gone bad. It can even keep you safe from food poisoning due to eating a spoiled steak.

 Remembering that a raw steak lasts three to five days in your fridge while a cooked steak lasts three to four days is important. Also knowing how to identify when a steak has gone bad is important, too. 

What’s your preferred way to preserve your steaks? Do you even have that problem or do you have a hard time not grilling those steaks immediately? Let us know in the comments!

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