How Long Is Ground Beef Good In The Fridge?

Ground beef is a popular ingredient in cooking all over the world. It’s easy to use, it’s versatile, and it’s delicious. However, when it comes to this ingredient, there is one thing that still confuses some people – how long should you keep it in the fridge for?  

How Long Is Ground Beef Good In The Fridge?

For safety’s sake, it’s very important to know this kind of information, because food poisoning is no joke. If you accidentally consume ground beef that has gone off, you could be in for a pretty bad time, to say the least. 

How Long Is Ground Beef Good In The Fridge?

As a general rule of thumb, you should consume ground beef within 1–2 days of it being placed in the refrigerator. At a push, you might be able to leave it in there for 3 days, but we wouldn’t recommend this. 

Ground beef is more risky because of the amount of surface area it has – the more surface area, the more bacteria. As such, always try to consume your ground beef within 1–2 days of being refrigerated. 

Even then, you have to ensure that the beef is properly refrigerated. In other words, it should be in an airtight container and kept at 37 °F (3 °C) and 40 °F (5 °C).

If you do not think that you are going to be able to use the ground beef within 3 days, it is safer to freeze it.

How Long Can You Freeze Ground Beef For?

While we are on the topic, let’s cover this – how long can you freeze ground beef for? 

The answer? Technically, indefinitely – according to the USDA. Any food that is kept at freezing point will always be safe to eat, because bacteria cannot survive at these low temperatures.

So, if there’s ground beef sitting at the back of the freezer that you have forgotten about for five years, it’s still edible!

With that being said, it certainly is not recommended. The longer food is kept frozen, the more it will lose its quality. This can result in the texture of the food changing, as well as the nutrient retention.

In other words, it might not be as delicious as you hoped it would be. This is especially the case if your food has somehow got freezer burn.  

How To Tell if Ground Beef Has Gone Off

How To Tell if Ground Beef Has Gone Off

If you have some potentially suspicious-looking beef sitting in your fridge, but you aren’t sure if it’s still good or not, we can help.

There are three primary things to take into consideration when assessing our ground beef (and most other foods) – the look of it, its smell, and, if necessary, the taste

We would hope that you do not need to get all the way to the taste, but it can happen. Sometimes, you have no idea that something has gone off until you put it in your mouth! Sad, but true, and we just have to deal with it. 


First up – the appearance! The look of your ground beef can tell you a lot, so you should pay attention to it. However, you should be aware that the look of beef can change based on a couple of different things, including how long it has been exposed to oxygen for. 

You should consider what the inside of the meat looks like to get an accurate answer on whether it has gone off or not. 

In ground beef, fresh and safe meat is likely to be a grayish brown, since it hasn’t been exposed to much oxygen yet. The outside of it is likely to get bright red. 

If the meat has turned brown or gray, then it’s probably off. Similarly, if you notice any fuzzy spots (mold), then it is time to say goodbye. 


This is usually the easiest way to tell if the beef has gone off, but you need to open the packet for this. Fresh beef will smell… beefy. It doesn’t usually have a strong smell (depending on the cow’s diet), and it should not be unpleasant. 

Beef that has gone off will have a noticeably rancid smell to it. It will be putrid, with a hint of tanginess thanks to the bacteria accumulating there. It should be fairly easy to notice.

Taste And Texture

Hopefully you will check the texture with an implement or at the very least your finger. The consistency should be firm, and the beef should easily break apart if you squeeze it. It should not be slimy at all, whether it is raw or cooked.

If you notice any sliminess, or the ground beef doesn’t come apart easily, you should throw it away. 

If worse comes to worst, you should be able to tell if ground beef has gone off by the unpleasant taste. In this case, throw it out immediately (yes, that entire meal). It’s not worth the risk. 

If In Doubt, Throw It Out

This is a good motto to live by for many different things. When it comes to food, it’s better not to take risks. If you still have the use-by date on the package, and the product has not been frozen, take a moment to look! 

If more than a day has passed, and you aren’t 100% sure that the ground beef is safe to eat, throw it out. 

Of course, if you have frozen the beef and taken it out to thaw, then you can ignore the use-by or best-by date. 

Final Thoughts 

Ground beef that has gone off can easily cause food poisoning, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because of this, you should always be as safe as possible, and mark food you get to make sure it doesn’t get used when it is off. 

If you are freezing your beef, use a sharpie to mark when you froze it, and when you took it out of the freezer. This will help you to determine if you should eat it or not. 

Again, we would not recommend eating ground beef if it has been in the fridge for more than 3 days. Ideally, you should aim to consume the meat within 1–2 days for your own safety. 

Kaitlyn James
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