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How Long Can Cooked Ground Beef Sit Out

How Long Can Cooked Ground Beef Sit Out

Ground beef is definitely a staple ingredient to have on hand, whether you are making BBQ meatloaf, grape meatballs, BBQ burgers, or plain old spaghetti.

It is such a versatile ingredient, no matter the occasion.

The trouble is that we think we are out of danger because the cook ground beef is cook. However, that is not true.

What happens when you leave your meatloaf out on the counter all night. How long does cooked ground beef last at room temperature?

What Exactly Is Room Temperature?

To understand how long ground beef lasts at room temperature, we must define room temperature.

Generally speaking, room temperature refers to a room with a temperature around 70 degrees.

However, the USDA does not suggest depending on the room’s temperature to decide whether cooked ground beef you should leave cooked ground beef out.

What Is Ground Beef?

In simple terms, ground beef is beef that has been processed through a meat grinder. 

Ground beef only contains skeletal muscles or muscle that is attached to a bone. 

Offal or variety meats such as liver cannot be added to ground beef.

The most popular cut of beef for ground beef includes round, sirloin, and chuck. Ground beef usually has a 30% ratio of fat.

The fat can only be sourced from fat meat trimmings.

Ground beef cannot have water or additives such as phosphates, binders, or extenders.

How Long Can Cooked Ground Beef Sit Out 

Unfortunately, you cannot let ground beef sit out for more than 2 hours.

I know that it sounds like a short timeline but trust me when I say you do not want to eat ground beef that has sat out for more than 2 hours.

Bacteria multiply rapidly between temperatures of 40°F and 140°F.

This is temperature range is known as the temperature danger zone.

By the time the cooked ground beef has sat out for 2 hours, it will be tainted with unhealthy amounts of bacteria rendering it unfit for consumption.

If the room’s temperature is about 90°F, this process will happen within an hour. Therefore, you should get rid of the cooked ground beef after 1 hour.

Even though the cooked ground beef may still look good, you will not be able to see the bacteria with your eyes.

It’s better to be safe and throw the ground beef away than sorry and dealing with a case of food poisoning.

How Long Can Raw Ground Beef Sit Out 

The same rules apply to raw ground beef. Remember, bacteria can still multiply on the surface of raw ground beef.

In fact, grinding the beef increases its surface area and mixes bacteria into the meat.

Therefore, you can only let ground beef sit out at room temperature for 2 hours.

If the room’s temperature is above 90°F, the raw ground beef can only sit out for 1 hour.

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

Bacteria can double in size in 20 minutes.

That means if cooked ground beef is left out overnight, it will have doubled an unimaginable number of times, and there could be hundreds of bacteria on your ground beef.

Remember, any cooked ground beef that sits out for more than 2 hours.

How To Store Cooked Ground Beef

Cooked ground beef should always be stored in a refrigerator that is at or below 40°F.

This will ensure the cooked ground beef stays out of the temperature danger zone.

In addition to this, storing the ground beef at a lower temperature will ensure it stays fresh for as long as possible.

Place your cooked ground beef into an airtight container.

Label the ground beef with today’s date, so you don’t have to wonder how long the ground beef has been sitting in the fridge. 

Place the ground beef at the back of the fridge. Do not store the ground beef at the front of the fridge or in the door.

If it is stored in the door at the front of the fridge, of will spoil faster because of temperature fluctuations.

You can also freeze cooked ground beef. Depending on what type of beef you are storing, it may be best to vacuum-seal the ground beef.

For example, if you are storing cooked hamburgers, it may be best to vacuum-seal them.

Nevertheless, you can also place your cooked ground beef into a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziplock bag.

If you are storing it in a ziplock bag, make sure you press the air out of the ground beef before sealing it.

Once you are ready to eat your cooked ground beef, you must defrost it properly.

You can defrost ground beef in the fridge overnight or in the microwave.

You can reheat the cooked ground beef using the oven, microwave, or stove.

If you are reheating burgers, you can also fire up your portable offset grill to give them a smoky flavor.

How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Fridge

Knowing how long ground beef last in the fridge will prevent you from consuming spoiled meat.

Cooked ground beef will last for 3-4 days when stored in the refrigerator at or below 40°F.

How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef in the Freezer

As long as it is stored properly in a heavy-duty freezer-safe container or bag, ground beef will last indefinitely in the freezer.

However, you should consume 2-3 months in the freezer for quality purposes. Its quality will decline after 3 months in the fridge.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes we are so exhausted after the party we spent days planning is finally over that we forget to put the ground beef in the fridge.

Instead of eating the cooked ground beef that sat out all night, throw it in the trash.

Remember, cooked ground beef only lasts at room temperature for 2 hours. If the room’s temperature is too hot, it will only last for 1 hour.

Either way, you should discard ground beef that sat at room temperature for an extended amount of time.

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