How to Properly Store Ground Beef to Keep It Fresh

Ground beef is a versatile ingredient used in many delicious recipes from hamburgers to meatballs to chili. Buying ground beef in bulk can save money. But to get the most out of your purchase, you need to know how to properly store ground beef to keep it fresh for as long as possible.

Here is a complete guide to storing ground beef the right way using the fridge, freezer or other methods:

Overview of Storing Ground Beef

Raw ground beef is highly perishable and needs to be stored with care to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth. Here are some key tips to keep in mind:

  • Store ground beef at 40°F or below in the fridge

  • Use refrigerated ground beef within 1-2 days for best quality

  • For freezer storage, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil or freezer bags

  • Frozen ground beef keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer

  • Handle raw meat carefully and sanitize surfaces to prevent cross-contamination

  • Look for signs of spoilage like off-colors, odors and slimy texture

Following proper storage methods allows you to buy ground beef in bulk for cost savings while preserving freshness and safety.

Refrigerator Storage

For short term storage, the refrigerator is the way to go. Here’s how to store ground beef in the fridge:

  • Place ground beef in the fridge in its original store packaging if using within a couple days. This prevents exposing it to bacteria.

  • Alternatively, wrap ground beef tightly in plastic wrap or foil. This protects its shape, prevents freezer burn and blocks exposure to fridge odors.

  • Position ground beef on a plate or in a container to catch any leaks. Never place it directly on a fridge shelf.

  • Store ground beef on the bottom shelf of the fridge where temperatures are coldest.

  • Use refrigerated ground beef within 1-2 days for the best quality, flavor and texture.

Proper fridge storage preserves ground beef for quick weeknight meals. But for longer storage, the freezer is required.

Freezer Storage

For storing ground beef for several months, the freezer is ideal. Follow these tips for freezing:

  • Divide bulk ground beef into recipe-ready portions like 1 pound. This allows for easy thawing of just what you need.

  • Wrap the portions in heavy duty aluminum foil, plastic freezer wrap or high-quality freezer bags, pressing out excess air. This prevents freezer burn.

  • Label the packages with dates and contents using a permanent marker. This makes contents easy to identify.

  • Place flat in a single layer on a freezer shelf or rack until fully frozen, at least 24 hours. Then stack or store upright in a freezer bag.

  • Frozen at 0°F or below, ground beef keeps for 3-4 months before losing optimal freshness and flavor.

With proper freezer storage, you can buy ground beef on sale and always have some handy for weeknight meals.

Safe Handling Tips

Raw meat always requires careful handling. Follow these tips for safely storing ground beef:

  • Prevent cross-contamination by using separate plates, cutting boards and utensils for raw meat. Never let raw meat or its juices touch cooked foods.

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling raw ground beef.

  • Clean sinks, counters and surfaces that have contacted raw meat with hot soapy water, then disinfect. This kills any bacteria present.

  • Defrost frozen ground beef in the fridge, never on the counter where bacteria can multiply. Defrost in the fridge overnight for use the next day.

  • Cook ground beef within 1-2 days of thawing or removing from the fridge. Don’t refreeze thawed ground beef.

Handling ground beef properly while storing prevents the spread of bacteria to maintain food safety.

What to Look For

How can you tell when ground beef has gone bad and needs to be discarded? Look for these signs:

  • Unpleasant odors. Fresh ground beef has little odor while spoiled beef smells tangy and unpleasant.

  • Discoloration. Raw ground beef should be bright red. If the color fades to brown or grey, it has spoiled.

  • Slimy texture. Spoiled raw ground beef has a sticky, glossy look and feel. Fresh beef looks lightly moist.

  • Mold growth. This is a clear sign ground beef has spoiled and should be thrown away. Don’t taste meat with mold on its surface.

  • Expired date. If the “sell by” date on the package or your freezer bag date indicates the beef is too old, play it safe and discard it.

Trust your senses. If ground beef seems off, err on the side of caution and discard it.

Ground Beef Storage Chart

For easy reference, here are the ground beef storage times:

Storage Method Timeframe
Refrigerator 1-2 days
Freezer 3-4 months

Tips for Freezing Ground Beef

Follow these tips for the best results freezing ground beef:

  • Choose fresh red ground beef for freezing. Don’t freeze meat that is turning brown.

  • Portion into recipe-ready sizes like 1 pound before freezing.

  • Flatten portions before freezing for quick, even freezing.

  • Use high quality freezer bags, plastic wrap or foil to protect from freezer burn.

  • Remove as much air from packages as possible before sealing.

  • Label packages with dates and contents.

  • Once frozen, packages can be stacked or stored upright in a freezer bag.

With proper freezing and storage techniques, you can always have fresh, high quality ground beef ready for quick dinners and recipes.

How Long Does Ground Beef Last In the Fridge?

In the fridge, ground beef remains fresh 1-2 days. To extend shelf life, store ground beef on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator at 40°F or below. Ground beef lasts longer in the freezer, at 0°F for 3-4 months before quality declines.

The short fridge shelf life makes proper storage techniques like wrapping and freezing key to preserving ground beef quality when buying in bulk. Follow these simple methods for enjoying fresh, flavorful ground beef anytime.

Frequency of Entities:

  • Ground beef: 24 times
  • Refrigerator/fridge: 8 times
  • Freezer: 8 times

How Rachael Stores Ground Beef In The Freezer | #StayHome


How long can you keep raw ground beef in the fridge?

A package of ground beef can stay in the fridge for up to two days from the date of purchase, as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By day two, it’s best to either cook the ground beef or freeze it. Freezing ground beef is a great long-term solution, as it can last in the freezer for months.

How do you store ground beef long term?

The refrigerator and freezer are definitely your friends when storing the ground beef you purchase. When you’re preparing to use your ground beef after freezing, make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator to keep it cold. Raw meat can be stored in the refrigerator for one to two days and kept frozen up to four months.

Can you store ground beef in a Ziploc?

To freeze ground beef. If you have a vacuum sealer, this is the time to use it. Otherwise, place the portions in separate freezer zip-top bags. Use a quart-size bag for 1/2-pound portions and a gallon-size bag for 1-pound portions.

How do you store leftover raw meat?

Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers in the refrigerator, to prevent their juices from dripping on other foods. Raw juices may contain harmful bacteria. Don’t overfill the refrigerator. Cool air must circulate to keep food safe.

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