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How Long Can Cooked Beef Sit Out

How Long Can Cooked Beef Sit Out

After you’ve planned and cooked for your loved one’s birthday, graduation, or any type of celebration, your kitchen can look like a hurricane went through it.

Leftover food will be scattered all over your kitchen.

If you went all out and cooked several types of meats, such as Denver steaks, BBQ hamburgers, grape jelly meatloaf, and BBQ brisket, you will have a lot of meat on your hands.

Some people will mindlessly pack the leftover beef into plastic containers and place them in the fridge.

However, before you break out your Tupperware containers, you should ask yourself how long can cooked beef sit out.

Is It Safe To Eat Cooked Beef That Was Left Out Overnight?

Foods such as prime rib or chicken are highly perishable. In short, this means that you cannot consume cooked beef that was left out overnight. 

This food may not be safe to consume, even though it may look good. Remember, you cannot see bacteria with the naked eye.

Furthermore, just because you cannot see it; does not mean that bacteria are not present in the beef.

Therefore, you should discard all cooked beef that sits out overnight.

How Long Can Cooked Beef Sit Out

Typically, cooked beef is stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. However, leaving beef at room temperature is a little different.

In a nutshell, the longer the cooked beef sits at room temperature, the greater the risk of spoilage. 

More importantly, it increases the chances that pathogens that cause food poisoning will grow on the beef.

Escherichia coli., also known as E Coli. is the most common bacteria found on beef.

Specifically, the rare strain of E. coli: O157: H7 is responsible for severe damage to the intestinal lining.

In addition to this, other common bacteria found in beef include Listeria monocytogenesStaphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella.

When cooked meat is allowed to sit at room temperature, it enters the temperature danger zone, which spans from 40°F and 140°F. 

The danger zone is like a magnet pulling the bacteria towards the cooked beef.

After two hours, the beef will have attracted so many bacteria that it is unsafe to consume.

Therefore, cooked beef can only sit out at room temperature for 2 hours.

Furthermore, if you reside in a warm climate, the 2-hour rule does not apply.

If the room’s temperature is at or above 90°F, the cooked beef will go bad within 1 hour.

Therefore, once you’ve prepared your beefy delights, you need to find a way to hold it at or above 140°F or store it in the fridge within 2 hours. 

While keeping cooked beef hot is ideal, it can also start to dry out the meat after a while., so it’s best to use a timer so you can get your beef in the fridge within 2 hours after it’s prepared.

If your beef sits out for more than 2 hours, throw it away immediately. Do not try to save the cooked beef.

Unfortunately, there is a misconception floating around in the meat world that reheating cooked beef after it sat out for more than 2 hours or overnight will kill the bacteria.

However, this statement has been thrown out of proportion.

Some types of bacteria carry toxins that are heat resistant.

This means that the bacteria will survive the reheating process even if you heat the beef to 165°F.

In short, once the 2 hours time frame expires, it expires. 

There is no saving the beef after 2 hours, so store it before then or be ready to toss it in the trash.

How To Store Cooked Beef

Let the beef cool completely before storing it.

Remember, beef can only sit at room temperature for 2 hours, so you can break it down into smaller pieces so it can cool down faster. 

Depending on how the cut of beef and how it was cooked, you can store the beef in food-safe shallow airtight containers or ziplock bags.

Place the beef at the back of the fridge away from all raw meat to limit cross-contamination.

Do not store the cooked beef in the door or at the front of the fridge because it will spoil faster.

As I mentioned above, cooked beef will only last for 3-4 days, so use it within this time frame.

Alternatively, you can also freeze the cooked beef. A vacuum sealer is best for packaging large cuts such as prime rib or chuck roast for storage.

However, you can also cut the beef into small pieces, wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and place them into a freezer-safe ziplock bag.

Label the cooked beef with today’s date and the name of the contents before placing it in the freezer. The cooked beef will last indefinitely in the freezer.

However, the beef flavor and texture will deteriorate after 3 months, so use it within the time frame.

Once you are ready to consume your cooked beef, you can thaw it in the fridge overnight and eat it for the next 3-4 days.

If you use the cold water method or microwave method to thaw cooked beef, you must eat it immediately. 

How To Tell if Cooked Beef Is Bad

Cooked beef will inevitably spoil even if you store it correctly. This is why you need to know the signs of spoiled cooked beef.

If your cooked beef has a rancid aroma or it feels slimy, throw it in the trash immediately. 

Do not taste cooked beef if you think it may be spoiled. Additionally, if the beef is discolored or has mold, discard it immediately.

Final Thoughts

Keeping an eye on how long your cooked beef sits at room temperature is extremely important.

Cooked beef will only last at room temperature for 2 hours. If the room’s temperature is higher than 90°F, it is only safe for 1 hour.

Follow these 2 rules to a tee and discard all cooked beef that sits out for an extended period of time.

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