How Long Can You Age Beef? The Ultimate Guide to Dry Aging Meat

Dry aging beef has become an increasingly popular technique in recent years for enhancing the flavor and tenderness of premium cuts of meat. But how long should you actually age beef to get the best results? Here is a complete guide to understanding the dry aging process and figuring out the ideal aging time for your needs.

What is Dry Aging?

Dry aging is a process where unpackaged cuts of beef are stored in a climate-controlled environment to break down the muscle fibers and connective tissues. This makes the meat more tender and concentrates the natural flavors.

During dry aging, the meat is placed on racks and exposed to controlled levels of humidity, temperature and airflow. The key aspects of the process are:

  • Moisture loss – As moisture evaporates from the meat, the beef’s natural enzymes start breaking down the proteins. This makes the meat more tender.

  • Flavor concentration – As water content decreases, the flavors get more concentrated and intensified. The meat develops a richer, beefier taste.

  • Natural enzyme breakdown – Enzymes naturally present in the meat act to further tenderize the beef and develop more complex flavors.

  • Protective crust formation – The outer surface of the meat dries out to form a crust, which protects the sterility of the inner meat.

Duration of Dry Aging Beef

The duration of dry aging can range anywhere from 15 days to several months. Here is an overview of how the flavor and texture develops at different aging times:

14-21 Days

  • At two weeks, the initial stages of tenderization and flavor development have begun.
  • The meat has lost around 10% moisture content.
  • The flavor has started gaining nutty notes but is not intensely aged yet.

30-45 Days

  • This is considered the ideal duration for most dry aging.
  • Around 15% moisture loss concentrates the beefy, umami flavors.
  • The texture is butter-knife tender with great meaty taste.

60-90 Days

  • Bold nutty, tangy, cheese notes start developing.
  • The beef has lost 25% of its weight.
  • The meat is extremely tender and packed with flavor.

120+ Days

  • The beef has lost over 35% of its initial weight.
  • Very pungent, funky, almost stinky flavors develop.
  • The meat is velvety soft in texture.
  • Risk of spoilage increases.

Dry Aged vs Wet Aged Beef

Wet aging and dry aging are the two main methods used for aging beef:

  • Wet aging – Vacuum-sealed beef is aged in cryovac bags for 1-3 weeks. Minimal moisture loss occurs.

  • Dry aging – Exposed, unpackaged beef ages for weeks or months. Moisture evaporates, intensifying flavor.

While wet aging can tenderize meat faster, dry aging produces more complex flavors and textures. Dry aged meat has a richer, beefier taste and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.

Factors Affecting Dry Aging Duration

There are several factors that influence the ideal dry aging time:

  • Cut of beef – Tougher cuts with more connective tissue can be aged longer to break down the collagen. Delicate cuts may not need aging beyond 30 days.

  • Thickness – Thicker cuts can be aged for longer as the moisture takes more time to penetrate to the center. Thinner steaks dry out faster.

  • Desired flavor – If you want really funky blue-cheese notes, age meat for 60+ days. 30 days gives perfect balance of tenderness and flavor.

  • Food safety – After 4-5 months, risk of spoilage rises as enzymes break down extensively. Use appropriate dry aging conditions.

  • Cost considerations – The longer the aging, the greater the loss of weight and yield. Extended aging can get increasingly expensive.

How to Determine When Beef is Optimally Aged

When dry aging at home, use these tips to identify when your beef is perfectly aged:

  • Check the moisture loss – Well-aged beef loses around 15% initial weight. Greater losses, up to 35-40%, give more intense flavor.

  • Press the meat – Aged meat feels tender when pressed and should not spring back. The firmer it feels, the more aging time is needed.

  • Observe the color – It darkens from red to almost brown as it ages. The color uniformly deepens across the cut. Uneven color indicates uneven aging.

  • Check the crust – A hardened, dried rind should form on the meat surface. It should have an earthy aged aroma. Any sliminess indicates spoilage.

  • Taste the beef – This is the ultimate test. When dried, the meat should taste incredibly rich and beefy.

Tips for Dry Aging Beef at Home

Follow these best practices if you want to dry age steaks or roasts at home:

  • Use a dedicated mini-fridge just for dry aging. Keep it between 34-37°F with 60-70% humidity.

  • Use thick, untrimmed sub primal cuts like rib roasts or loin cuts. Avoid pre-cut steaks.

  • Clean the fridge thoroughly before use. Sanitize racks, trays, and surfaces with vinegar.

  • Place meat directly on wire racks. This allows airflow on all surfaces.

  • Do not wrap or cover meat during aging. Keep unpackaged in open air.

  • Use an anti-microbial LED light inside the fridge to prevent mold growth.

  • Follow standard food safety rules. Cook beef immediately after aging.

Benefits of Dry Aged Beef

Some of the biggest benefits of dry aged meat:

  • Richer, beefier flavor – The umami taste is amplified as moisture evaporates.

  • Tender texture – Natural enzymes tenderize the meat, making it more melt-in-the-mouth.

  • Healthier – Easier to chew and digest. Dry aging may enhance nutrient bioavailability.

  • Unique gourmet experience – Dry aged meat offers distinctive appeal and flavor compared to wet aged.

  • Improved food safety – Controlled environmental conditions inhibit bacterial growth during aging.

Is Eating Dry Aged Meat Safe?

Eating dry aged beef is completely safe provided:

  • Sanitary aging conditions are maintained at optimal temperature, air flow and humidity levels. This prevents spoilage.

  • The beef comes from a reputable source and is of high quality. Avoid poor grade meat.

  • Food safety rules are followed during storage, handling and cooking.

  • The aged beef passes visual inspection and aroma tests before consumption. There should be no unpleasant odors.

  • The meat is cooked to the recommended internal temperature which kills any harmful bacteria present. Steaks are typically cooked to at least 145°F.

As long as appropriate precautions are taken, dry aged meat is safe to eat. In fact, the controlled environmental conditions may make it safer than non-aged raw meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you age beef too long?

Excessively long aging of 60-90 days or beyond can lead to very funky flavors that may not be enjoyable. For most people’s tastes, aging up to 45 days gives the best balance.

Can you eat beef aged for 6 months?

Meat aged for 6 months will lose about half its original weight. The extremely funky, very intense flavor is enjoyed by some dry age aficionados but disliked by others. Safety risks also increase.

What cut of beef is best for dry aging?

Thick, well-marbled boneless cuts from the rib and loin primal are ideal for dry aging. Ribeye roast, striploin, and other untrimmed subprimals offer premium steak cuts after aging.

Is it better to dry age a whole roast vs individual steaks?

Aging a whole roast minimizes surface area exposed to air. This reduces moisture loss and gives more evenly aged meat. Pre-cut steaks dry out faster from the exterior.

Does aging tenderize meat?

Yes, the natural enzymes and moisture loss during dry aging substantially tenderizes the beef by breaking down connective tissues and muscle fibers. Well-aged meat becomes very tender and easy to chew.


Dry aging can take beef from great to incredible by enhancing its tenderness, richness and complex flavors. While it takes some time and effort, the sublime eating experience of properly dry aged meat makes it completely worthwhile. Use the aging time guidelines and tips in this article to help you get ideal dry aged results.

Frequency of entities:

  • dry aging/dry aged: 35
  • beef/meat: 35
  • flavor: 10
  • tender/tenderness: 7
  • aging time: 7
  • moisture loss: 5
  • enzymes: 4
  • weight loss: 3
  • umami: 2
  • food safety: 2

How long should you dry age a steak? 7 RIBEYES go head to head


How long can you age beef in the fridge?

We recommend letting the cut rest for at least 28 days or up to 75 days. This is because the longer the beef ages, the more complex and intense flavours it develops, therefore the tastier it gets. At 28-35 days subtle mushroom and umami flavors develop, from 45-75 days bold blue cheese notes will develop.

What’s the longest you can dry age beef?

45 days. If you appreciate the flavor associated with dry aged beef but don’t want the taste to be too overpowering we recommend dry aging your beef for a maximum of 45 days.

How do they age beef without it spoiling?

Aging beef requires the meat to be placed in a dry-aging chamber that maintains a specific level of temperature, humidity, and special air flow. When placed in one of these chambers, the beef can be aged from 7 to 21, or even up to 120 days, and it does not spoil during this time.

Does beef get better with age?

The main reason for aging beef is to improve tenderness and flavor of the meat so that if properly cooked it will be more satisfying to the consumer. Proper aging of beef results in a combination of changes that many people appreciate.

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