Whether you’re making BBQ meatloaf, grape meatballs, BBQ burgers, or just plain spaghetti, ground beef is a must-have ingredient.
The issue is that we mistakenly believe we are safe because the ground beef is cooked. However, that is not true.
What transpires if your meatloaf is left out overnight on the counter? How long does cooked ground beef last at room temperature?.
How Long Can Cooked Hamburger Sit Out?
You might be wondering how long cooked hamburger can be left out before it spoils, whether you’ve added it to a casserole or another dish. This is significant, particularly if you’re organizing a barbecue or other gathering where guests will help themselves from a buffet table.
Only two hours at most should be spent storing cooked hamburger at room temperature. After two hours, bacteria that can make you sick can start to grow on the cooked ground beef. Ideally, hamburger meat shouldn’t be left out for longer than two hours.
Read on to find out how long hamburger meat can sit out for and some creative dishes you can make with it if you’re curious about what to do with it after it’s been cooked.
What is the Danger Zone for Ground Beef?
The main justification for allowing hamburger meat to sit out for longer than two hours is that at that point, the meat enters a dangerous zone. The danger zone is a range of temperatures where bacteria can start to colonize the surface of food.
According to the USDA, the danger zone is from 40°F-140°F, and it applies to both meat and poultry. In order to keep meat from this temperature, you should plan for a way to keep the meat either warm or cold. A warming plate or crockpot can work well for an event where you want to keep the hamburger meat accessible to guests for a long period of time.
However, you must exercise caution because hamburgers are prone to drying out. Only prepare what can be consumed right away, and prepare additional burgers as needed in response to visitor demand. Additionally, you should be aware that meat will enter the danger zone much more quickly in temperatures over 90°F, so you should only leave hamburger meat out for a maximum of one hour in these conditions.
If you aren’t asking and intend to keep your beef outside, it is best to put it in the refrigerator as soon as it cools off to preserve the freshness of your hamburger meat.
Read our hamburger temperature guide here to find out more about the ideal cooking temperature for burgers.
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Can Bad Bacteria Be Cooked Off Hamburgers?
Although cooking raw meat can help to remove bacteria, this isn’t always the case.
For example, when it comes to cooked ground beef, there is no way to cook off bacteria that has grown while the meat has sat at room temperature overnight. This is because many of these bacteria are heat resistant. Eating food that has been left at room temperature for too long can give you food poisoning, among other ailments, and should be avoided.
In addition, when reheating meals that contain ground beef, you typically only leave it on the heat for a brief period of time—just long enough to heat it through without drying it out. This probably isn’t long enough to really kill the bacteria.
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How to Tell if Cooked Hamburger Has Gone Bad
There are a few ways to determine if cooked hamburger that you have on hand should be consumed has gone bad.
Check for the presence of mold growth (white or green) and signs of discoloration. Also, consider whether it still resembles ground beef or if it has turned into sludge. You should discard your meat if it is any color other than brown.
Take a whiff of your ground beef. It is probably no longer safe to eat if it smells like rotten meat or is sour.
Touch a small piece of ground beef. To the touch, if it feels slimy or mushy, it has probably gone bad. Good ground beef should feel dry to the touch.
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Dishes That Can Be Made with Leftover Hamburger Meat
You must repurpose food in your home, and it’s so simple to do, even if you made hamburgers for a party but didn’t eat them all. Put your hamburgers in the fridge and use them in one of these delectable recipes as long as you kept them out of harm’s way.
With leftover hamburger, making tacos is incredibly simple. Just crumble the leftover hamburger into a container and store it in the refrigerator. Serve with lettuce, tomato, and cheese for tacos after a quick minute in the microwave.
Meat Sauce for Spaghetti
When you have hamburger meat left over, it’s ideal to crumble it up and add it to a tomato sauce to top spaghetti.
A casserole can also easily include cooked hamburger meat. It frequently appears in the enchilada casseroles we make at home, which are constructed by layering tortillas with rice, ground beef, cheese, and red enchilada sauce.
It’s no secret that chili is the best recipe to use up leftover hamburger meat. Just throw it in a pot with some beans, green chilies, and seasonings. This method of cooking will flavor your chili while also helping to tenderize your leftover hamburger meat!
Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese
Keep the leftover hamburger meat on hand to toss in the pan to make a delicious cheeseburger mac and cheese if you already have the ingredients on hand.
Shepherds pie, a dish popular in the UK, can be prepared with leftover hamburger meat, peas, carrots, and mashed potatoes. Although it may seem strange, layering everything in a casserole dish with some cheddar cheese makes it a great option for chilly winter nights.
Simply arrange some tortilla chips on a pan, top with cheddar cheese, add your leftover ground beef along with some onion and tomato, and bake for a tasty snack if you have leftover ground beef from another meal.
Here is our guide on The History of the Hamburger in case you’ve ever wondered why it’s even called a “hamburger.” We did, too.
How Long Can You Leave Food Out?
Can I eat cooked ground beef left out overnight?
A perishable food, such as meat or poultry, may not be safe if it has been out at room temperature for more than two hours or overnight. Discard it, even though it may look and smell good. Never taste a food to see if it is spoiled.
How long can cooked ground beef sit out after cooking?
Never leave any perishable food, including ground beef, out at room temperature for longer than two hours (1 hour at 90 °F or higher).
Can you leave cooked beef out for 4 hours?
According to Havern’s “Two-Hour Rule,” perishable foods should only be exposed to danger for a maximum of two hours. The food must be eaten, properly stored, or thrown away after two hours. All cooked leftovers, [chopped] produce, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products are included in this. “.
Is cooked ground beef good after 7 days?
Cooked ground beef can remain safe to consume for a few days in the refrigerator before it becomes spoiled. However, it is best to discard it if it has been there for more than seven days or displays signs of spoilage, such as off flavors, color changes, or mold growth.