How Long Is Cooked Ground Beef Good For?

Most people consume a lot of ground beef. It is used in a lot of dishes. Chili. Hamburgers. Stews/soups. You name it. You can probably get some ground meat in there. But, how long is cooked ground beef good for?

Unless you are freezing it, cooked ground beef should be eaten within 4 days if stored in the fridge. If the beef is kept at room temperature, then you have to eat it within 2 hours. Frozen meat can last for as long as it doesn’t defrost.

Let’s go into a bit more depth on this, shall we? There is a lot that you should probably know about cooked ground beef and using it safely.

How Long Is Cooked Ground Beef Good For?

This depends on how you store the beef after you have cooked it. 

If you have left the meat on a countertop e.g. you have made tacos, burgers, etc. then it can last for around 2 hours before it must be thrown out. By the 2-hour mark, all of those harmful microbes would have started to grow, and the risk of getting sick will go all the way up.

When in a fridge, it won’t last longer than 4 days or so. You will need to give it a quick visual and sniff test after a couple of days, but it should be fine. Cooked ground beef in the fridge for 5 days is likely to be fine, but checking before you eat it becomes much more important. If you have cooked ground beef in the fridge for 7 days, then throw it out. You may even want to give your fridge a quick clean because harmful microbes could have spread throughout your fridge. 

How Long Can Cook Ground Beef Be In The Fridge?

As we said, if you want to store the cooked ground beef, it should be placed in the fridge (or the freezer). Make sure it has cooled down first. If you put warm ground beef in the fridge, then two issues occur:

  • The interior of the fridge will get warm, which raises the temperature for the other foods. This could cause bacterial growth on other foods in your fridge. 
  • Your fridge uses a lot of power to get your fridge to the correct temperature, which just pushes your energy bill up.

The 4 days that we gave before are just a guideline. You may be fine storing for beyond 4 days, but that would be pushing it. 5 days are about our limit.

Read also: How Long To Smoke A Brisket

At the very minimum, you need to make sure that your fridge is at a maximum temperature of 40F. According to the Minnesota Department Of Health, it is above 40F that the harmful microbes in the beef will start to multiply quickly, and this means the meat is dangerous to eat. 

Some people are more susceptible to the dangers of cooked ground beef being stored for a long time. This is because microbes are going to grow, even if the cooked meat is stored properly. Healthy adults can probably easily fight off those awful bacterial microbes when they are not there in huge quantities. However, children, the elderly, and the sick may really struggle. So, we would probably avoid storing beyond 2-3 days if one of the ‘at risk’ groups will be eating the cooked ground beef.

How Can You Refrigerate Cooked Ground Beef Safely?

We are going to assume that you have cooked the meat to a minimum safe temperature of 160F. This will be much higher than your typical meat because bacteria in ground beef are much harder to ‘kill’. We won’t go into the reasons why here. However, never cook ground beef to anything below 160F. You are putting yourself at risk of food poisoning. 

Cooked your ground beef? Once it has cooled down (but never more than 2 hours after), place it in a fridge. We told you before why it is a bad thing to store anything warm in a fridge (and not just meat!)

Your fridge must be set to a maximum of 40F, which is quite high for a fridge, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Most people will probably have their fridge a lot colder than this anyway.

When you put the meat in the fridge, make sure that it is sealed up in a container, preferably an airtight one. If you have cooked chili, then it should be fine to store it in the pan that you cooked it in. You just need to put the lid on the pan. It won’t be completely airtight, but you should be fine to consume it within the next 2-3 days. 

It should probably go without saying, but you should not store the meat in any container that has come into contact with raw meat. Assuming that it isn’t the same container that you used to cook with. If you do this, then the raw meat bacteria will spread throughout the cooked meat, meaning it is going to be useless right away. Throw it away. 

How Do You Know When Cooked Ground Beef Has Expired?

We have said that the meat can be stored for a maximum of 5 days. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that you can eat it just because you are under that 5-day limit. The meat may still be unsafe for consumption, so you will need to check it.

If the meat looks or smells funny, then don’t eat it. If the meat is slimy, don’t eat it. That is a serious problem, and you will get sick.

If in doubt, don’t eat the meat It just isn’t worth your time to get sick. 

Remember, there are a variety of factors that could impact how long that cooked ground beef will last, and whether it will expire quicker. For example, if you have cooked ground beef in a lot of vegetables, then it will probably not last as long (as the vegetables could potentially rot). If you have cooked the ground beef in an acidic sauce, then it could last a little bit longer. This is why the visual and smell test is so important. 

In an ideal world, you would probably eat the meat within 24 hours anyway. Beyond that is when you will really start to run into problems with growth, even if your storage methods have been fine. 

Can You Freeze Cooked Ground Beef?

You can. However, remember the same rules as putting in the fridge apply:

  • The beef should be cooked properly. There should be no pink in the middle.
  • You must freeze the meat within 2 hours. Do not freeze while it is still hot.
  • Place the ground beef in a sealed container. If you wish, you can place the ground beef in a freezer bag too. This is a fantastic option if you have a lack of space in your freezer!

In theory, frozen meat can be eaten indefinitely, assuming that you do not let it thaw out. Once it has thawed out, you won’t be able to freeze it again. However, most people find that frozen cooked ground beef will start to lose its flavor after 2-3 months. 

Defrosting Cooked Ground Beef: How To Do It Properly?

When you defrost your cooked ground beef, it should be put in a fridge.. 12-14 hours in the fridge should thaw your cooked ground beef out nicely.

If you have a microwave and you are pressed for time, then you can use the defrost feature on the microwave. Although, do bear in mind that this may cook the ground beef a little bit. 

There are some people that will place the cooked ground beef in some warm water for a few hours. However, we tend not to like that method. This is because warming up the cooked ground beef slightly could promote bacterial growth. You are free to try it if you are really in a rush, but we would steer clear in most cases.

Can You Eat Cold Cooked Ground Beef?  

There are absolutely no issues with eating cooked ground beef. This is assuming that it was stored properly by the guidelines that we gave before.

Of course, if you have frozen cooked ground beef, then you should wait for it to defrost before you eat it. You probably can eat a frozen block of cooked ground beef. It just wouldn’t taste very nice. 

Can You Reheat Cooked Ground Beef?

You can. Most people will reheat in a microwave, but a stove or oven should be fine too. 

When you reheat cooked ground beef, you should cook it to 165F (internal temperature, check using a meat thermometer). It is not 100% necessary (since you can eat cooked beef cold), but it tastes much better at that temperature, plus if you are heating the cooked ground beef up anyway, why not make sure all of the bacteria inside is killed off?

Read also: How Long To Cook Tri-Tip in Oven at 375?

How Long Does Cooked Hamburger Meat Last In The Fridge?

Hamburger meat is considerably fattier than your typical ground beef. However, we still wouldn’t recommend that you store beyond 4-5 days. The same rules for storing cooked hamburger meat apply. This means storing in a fridge at below 40F and, where possible, in a sealed container. If you just leave your cooked hamburger meat on a plate, then microbes will grow on it pretty quickly. 

How Long Is Cooked Ground Turkey Good For?

Cooked ground turkey should last roughly the same amount of time as cooked ground beef, but you should probably take a bit more care when consuming it. This is because foodborne bacteria have a much easier time growing on poultry.

We probably wouldn’t recommend that you store the turkey for 2-3 days. Even then, you will want to give it a good inspection before you eat it. If anything smells off, then you shouldn’t consume it. The same will apply to all ground poultry, including ground chicken. 


So, how long is cooked ground beef good for? If you leave it on a countertop, it should be thrown away within 2 hours. If you are storing it in a fridge, then it will last 4-5 days. If you are freezing, then it should be fine for around 6 months. Although, we wouldn’t freeze beyond 2-3 months. It doesn’t taste as good to us after that point. You may have more flavor if you cooked the ground beef in something e.g. as part of a chili. 

Remember, if you are storing cooked ground beef, you should always heat it to a safe temperature before placing it in storage. If you don’t, then bacteria will grow. When that bacteria grows, you have a much bigger chance of getting sick when you eat it, even if you cook the meat. 


Can you eat cooked ground beef after five days?

You can, but you may want to carry out an inspection of it first. If it smells or looks odd, then don’t eat it. However, do not eat the meat if it has been stored on a countertop. Only in the fridge or freezer, and it must have been placed in one of those within 2 hours of the meat being cooked. 

Can you eat cooked ground beef after seven days?

Cooked ground beef shouldn’t be eaten after 5 days, and even that would be pushing it. Don’t eat after 7 days. It will be full of bacteria that could end up making you sick.

Is cooked ground beef good after ten days?

Only if it has been frozen those 10 days. If the cooked ground beef has been stored in the fridge, then it is inedible after 5 days. If stored on your countertop (or anywhere exposed to ambient room temperature), it is inedible after 2 hours.

How long can I leftover cooked ground beef?

It depends on how you store it. If you are storing it in the fridge, then probably don’t eat it after 5 days. You can place it in the freezer indefinitely but will lose its flavor at 3-6 months. All leftover cooked ground beef should be refrigerated or frozen within 2 hours of being cooked. 



Hi! I’m Leila, just your normal mom trying to find out the way to make their kids eat the best food possible. Oh, I almost forget, I’m a meat lover too!

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