Ground beef is a versatile ingredient. It can be used to make BBQ burgers, grape jelly meatballs, meatloaf, and so much more.
Best of all, ground beef is super affordable.
But before you pick up a few extra packages of ground beef that are on sale at your local grocery store, it’s essential to know how long ground beef lasts in the fridge.
How To Buy Ground Beef
The ground beef’s quality will ultimately determine how long it lasts in the fridge. Therefore, you must purchase high-quality ground beef.
Ideally, you should be able to ask your butcher to grind the ground beef right in front of you.
This will allow you to share what you are making with the butcher, and you will be able to get their recommendations.
Nevertheless, sometimes you will not be able to find a butcher.
This means you will have to choose your ground beef from the self-serve meat case.
Look for ground beef that was ground today.
You can tell if ground beef is freshly ground by looking at the sell-by date and checking the color.
Fresh ground beef will be vivid pink-red in color and visible specks of meat as well as fat in it.
If the ground beef on display has a pale or pasty color, do not buy it as it is an indication that the meat was ground too many times.
Because ground beef is the most perishable meat in the display case.
It is important you store the meat in the fridge or freezer as soon as you get home.
Grinding Your Own Beef
Some people prefer to grind their own beef using a meat grinder rather than purchasing store-bought ground beef.
It is important to remember that ground beef comes from an animal, which contains bacteria like E.coli and Salmonella.
While you can control what goes into your ground beef, homemade ground beef isn’t necessarily safer.
Bacteria in homemade or store-bought ground beef can go undetected. Grinding beef incorporates bacteria on the surface of the beef throughout the meat.
In short, if bacteria goes undetected, you may end up eating contaminated beef that could cause severe foodborne illness.
Ideally, a USDA-inspected plant is the safest place to source ground beef.
USDA-inspected plants have standard sanitation operating rules to make sure the beef is processed correctly before it is sold to consumers.
Even if you want to grind your own beef, you can still purchase trimmed beef that’s been tested for bacteria.
You can grind the beef using your preferred grinding blade when you get the beef home.
How To Store Ground Beef in the Fridge
In the same way, storage is essential to reheating burgers; the way ground beef is stored determines how long the ground beef will stay fresh.
Once you have purchased high-quality beef, leave it in its original packaging and place it into the fridge.
Make sure you place the ground beef on a plate to catch any drippings. Place the ground beef on a shelf by itself to prevent cross-contamination.
If your ground beef is already opened, place it in an airtight container. Place the ground beef onto a lower shelf by itself.
Do not leave raw ground beef at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Bacteria will multiply on the ground beef’s surface and make it unsafe to eat.
How to Freeze Ground Beef
Ground beef has an expiration date. The ideal way to store ground beef is in the freezer, especially if you do not intend to cook it right away.
To freeze your ground beef, leave it in its original packaging.
Wrap the ground beef with plastic wrap, freezer, paper, or heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent the beef from becoming freezer burned.
If your ground beef is opened, place it into a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Label the beef with today’s date and place it in the freezer.
Once you are ready to cook it, you can defrost the beef in the refrigerator overnight or in cold water.
Once the ground beef is thawed, cook it immediately. Do not refreeze thawed ground beef.
How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but raw ground beef has a short lifespan.
It only will last 1-2 days in the refrigerator even if it is stored properly.
If you grind the beef at home, it will only last a day in the freezer.
It would be best to freeze the ground beef if you do not plan to cook it right away.
How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?
It’s best to cook raw ground beef if you do not want to freeze it but will not use it in 1-2 days.
Like most leftover meats, ground beef will last for up to 4 days when stored in the fridge correctly.
How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Freezer?
Freezing ground beef is the only way to maximize its shelf life. Freezing the ground beef will put any bacteria in the bacteria in hibernation.
This will allow the ground beef to stay fresh for up to 4 months.
How To Tell if Ground Beef Is Bad
Knowing if ground beef is bad will ultimately keep you and your family safe. It’s best to stick to the 2-day guideline, especially if your beef is stored in the fridge.
However, if you have no idea how long the ground beef has been in the fridge, use your senses to tell if the meat is rotten or not.
Ground beef has a mild scent, not an overpowering smell. It is likely spoiled if the ground beef has a pungent, unpleasant aroma.
Ground beef has a bright pink-red color. If the beef has a dull brown, gray color, it may not be good.
Lastly, if the ground beef has a slimy texture, throw it in the trash immediately.
Next, wash your hands and as well as any surface the beef came into contact with hot soapy water.
Whether you intend to fire up your hibachi grill and make grilled burgers or are stocking up on ground beef, it is essential to know how long ground beef lasts in the fridge.
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I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.