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How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?


Ground beef is a readily available option for knocking our taste buds. It’s the ultimate taste in most of our craved junk food. You will find ground beef being the prime protein option in all party snacks, mid-day cravings, or late-night food sneak peek. However, keeping it preserved and stored is the tricky part. One may wonder how long ground beef lasts in the fridge.

The answer can be disappointing as ground beef lasts only one or two days in the refrigerator. However, we can make it stay a few more days by safely handling it and following certain health precautions.

How Long Can Ground Beef Stay in the Fridge?

You may have noticed that most of your nearby supermarket goes on ground beef sales often. They know ground beef can go bad within two days of being kept in the fridge. Quickly enhancing its sales is the last resort for their business. In contrast, you should be careful before getting into the rush thrill of stocking on cheap ground beef. You may have to toss it out before even trying new recipes with it. However, you must remember that ground beef only lasts two days in the fridge, so use it immediately after purchasing it.

How Long Does Raw Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?

It all comes down to the quality of the ground beef; mostly, raw ground beef only lasts two or three days in the fridge. However, if you are lucky, it may stay for a week too. Moreover, if you have longer plans, it’s better to freeze it right after buying.

How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?

I hate to break the bad news to you, but your cooked ground beef can only last for three or four days. Hurry up and finish your leftover cooked proteins from your fridge before they go to waste.


Why Does Ground Beef Have a Short Life in the Fridge?

Any preserved food can harbor parasites and bacteria, and ground beef is susceptible to that, too. According to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), if the pathogens (illness-causing bacteria) are present when meat is grounded, more of the meat surface is exposed to the harmful bacteria. Most pathogenic bacteria are the culprit behind your quick rotten ground beef. These pathogens can be of any type, such as:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Staphylococcus aureus

When you keep grounded beef in the fridge for more than two or three days, you can see or smell these bacteria in the form of a pungent smell and brownish color.

Identifying USDA-Inspected Ground Beef

You are recommended to use the ground beef produced at a USDA-Inspected plant, and here is how you can identify it. Check for the USDA establishment number on the package, written as EST. (For establishment) along with the number. Most of the sold ground beef is from USDA-inspected plants. Still, for your satisfaction, inquire the store about its source for ground beef before purchasing.

How to Store Ground Beef?

Here are some of the ways you can safely store ground beef, according to USDA:

  • Refrigerate it and keep the temperature at 40 °F or below.
  • Use within one or two days after keeping in the fridge.
  • The longer freeze time should not extend to 4 months.
  • Wrap ground beef in heavy-duty plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer paper, or plastic bags.

How to Safely Handle Ground Beef

We are aware that ground beef only lasts for two days in the fridge, so it barely gives us enough time to restore. However, properly handling and storing ground beef can help us avoid food poisoning and get the best taste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has four basic guidelines that can help us avoid any unnecessary health hazards.


We cannot avoid bacteria; however, their contact with our hands, food, and body can be reduced. Make it your regular practice to always wash and keep your kitchen counter neat and clean while cooking.


Keep your grounded meat on the lowest shelf of the fridge. Always keep your raw food, such as ground meat, beef, or chicken, away from other food items, whether outside or inside the refrigerator.



Half-cooked or uncooked food can be a cause of health issues. Prepare it properly, and make sure not to leave any raw or uncooked parts.


Preserving or refrigerating food at the recommended temperature is the keep to save your delicious ground meat.

Other than these basic follow-ups, some other precautionary measures can also help, such as:

  • Points to Consider While Purchasing Ground Meat: Pick the coldest package, the one without any damage, holes, or scratches.
  • Timing: Let’s say you plan to cook in the evening, so buying it a few hours before cooking is preferred.
  • Correct Temperature: Keep your refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C) and the freezer at or below 0°F (-17°C).
  • Two-Day Rule: It must be clear that ground beef can only last for one or two days in the refrigerator and leftover ground beef within four days.
  • How Long Can You Freeze Ground Beef: If you have questions like, “How long does frozen ground beef last?” Know that, you can follow the freezing process for only four months and do not exceed this time.
  • Two-Hour Rule: You must keep the internal temperature under consideration, and it must be at 160°F (71°C). While cooking ground beef, you must not let it sit at room temperature for more than two hours.

How to Know if Ground Beef is Spoiled?

Whatever weekend plans you have and planning on making meatballs, ground beef stroganoff, or inventing a new ground beef dish. One thing you need to keep in mind is that ground beef cannot last longer than two days in the fridge. Moreover, eating rotten ground beef is a full-fledged health hazard.

Make dishes based on the two-day rule. Let’s say you still want to use it after keeping it in the fridge for over two days. We recommend you go for an ol’ sniff and sight test. If it gives you a sour smell, a dull brownish-gray color, or a slimy texture, then ground beef is useless. It is the most effective way to determine if refrigerated ground beef has gone bad.

To End on a Final Note

Ground beef or hamburgers are essential to any party, gathering, or event; however, some ground beef safety measures are crucial. Bacteria are our worst enemies when making ground beef last for a week. However, storing and properly using it can be a last resort. Besides this, you must remember that ground beef can last for only two or three days in the refrigerator.

Although you can freeze ground beef for four months, it is as long as that. Once you start getting an odor or pungent smell or observe a grey or brownish color, consider tossing that ground beef out of the window and getting a new one.


How long is too long for ground beef in the fridge?

Two days are enough, and you should not keep ground beef in the fridge for more than two days. Use it before it turns into a gray or brown color; it will rote in a while and will no longer be of any use after that.

What color is bad ground beef?

Before using your refrigerated ground beef, make sure to check the exterior, smell, and stiffness of the meat. If the refrigerated ground meat has turned gray or brown, the meat has started to get spoiled and can no longer be used.

How should I handle ground beef once I get home from the store?

It’s best to refrigerate and freeze ground meat within two hours of purchasing. Once your bought ground beef reaches the temperature of 40–140F°, the bacteria multiply. This process speeds up its rotting time. So, the best you can do is to refrigerate it right after buying it.

How to tell if ground beef is bad?

If you sense any color, texture, and smell changes, know that ground beef can no longer be used. These are the signs which show that ground beef has gone bad. Other than that, the expiration date can offer clues, too.

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