There’s nothing quite like indulging in a juicy, tender steak cooked to perfection. But what if you’re not planning to cook your steak immediately or perhaps have some leftovers? No matter the circumstance, knowing how to store steak in the fridge properly is crucial to maintaining its quality and flavor.
Storing steak may seem simple, but improper refrigeration can lead to undesirable outcomes. From flavor degradation and texture changes to bacteria growth – food safety should always be top of mind.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how long steak is good in the fridge, what proper refrigeration looks like, and other storage tips to keep steak tasting great!
How Long Does Raw Steak Last in The Fridge?
So long as your raw meat is stored correctly, it can last 3-5 days in the fridge per USDA guidelines.
Certain factors can affect how long steak lasts in the fridge. These can include:
- The freshness of the meat
- The temperature of your refrigerator
- The type of packaging the steak comes in
For example, vacuum-sealed steaks will last longer than those that are not packaged airtight. Additionally, the colder the temperature of your refrigerator, the longer your steak will last.
It’s important to know you should never store raw steak above 40°F (4°C). This is considered a “danger zone,” as bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature and cause foodborne illnesses. This might sound a little scary, but don’t worry! We will cover everything you need to know about storing your steak safely in the fridge below.
How Long Does Cooked Steak Last in The Fridge?
Don’t worry if you have leftovers; cooked steak can last for 3-4 days in the fridge. As with raw steak, it is important to ensure your steak is stored properly to avoid the possibility of food poisoning – which can quickly turn a juicy steak into a food safety hazard!
Can You Store Steak in The Freezer?
You can store both raw and cooked steak in the freezer. Raw steak can last anywhere from 4-12 months if stored properly, while cooked steak will last about 2-3 months. It’s essential to properly store your steaks to avoid freezer burn – which is a major factor in flavor degradation.
For more information on how to freeze steaks and how to properly thaw them, check out my blog post on how long steak lasts in the freezer!
Top Tips for Safely Storing Steak in The Fridge
Before we look at storing raw and cooked steak in your fridge, there are a couple of things to remember. From temperature control to avoiding cross-contamination, these tips will help you keep your steak fresh while in the fridge:
As previously mentioned, storing steak at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) is important. You want to ensure that the temperature of your fridge is consistent and set low enough level so that bacteria don’t have the opportunity to multiply.
Use the Bottom Shelf
The best place to store steak is on the bottom (or lowest possible) shelf, as this area tends to be the coldest part of the fridge. This will help you maintain an optimal temperature while ensuring any juices produced by the meat don’t drip onto other food items.
It’s also a good idea to put your steak (even if being kept in the original packaging) on a plate to further prevent cross-contamination.
Clean Your Refrigerator Regularly
Anywhere that food is stored should be kept clean, and your refrigerator is no exception. It’s essential to regularly inspect the fridge for any signs of spoiled food or moisture buildup. Additionally, clean up any spills immediately, as this can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
How to Store Raw Steak in The Fridge
While most of us probably put our freshly bought steak straight into the fridge, there are a few things you should consider before doing so.
If you don’t plan on cooking your steak right away, you should consider what it is packaged in. A vacuum-sealed package will last a lot longer than an open package. Vacuum-sealed bags help keep air out, slowing the growth of bacteria and ensuring that your steak lasts longer in the fridge.
If you have vacuum-sealed steak, you can leave it as is until you’re ready to use it.
However, if your grocery store steak is not vacuum-sealed, you should place it in an airtight container before putting it into the fridge. Wrapping your steak in butcher paper or plastic wrap and then placing it on a plate is also fine.
Check the Use-By Date
Use-by dates, or the sell-by date, are not hard and fast rules, but they should still be considered when storing steak. It’s a good idea to take note of the use-by date if you’re taking the steak without its original packaging. Whether the expiration date has passed or not, always check the steak before cooking it. If there are any signs it has gone bad, then discard it immediately.
Avoid Cross Contamination
Store fresh steak away from other food products, especially fruits, vegetables, and ready-to-eat foods that don’t need cooking. You should store your fresh meat on the bottom-most shelf in your fridge, which means everything else should be stored above it on separate shelves.
How to Store Cooked Steak in The Fridge
Cooked steak should be treated the same way as raw steak regarding storage. However, you need to take a few extra steps before storing your cooked steak in the fridge.
Cool It Down
Cooling your cooked steak to room temperature before putting it in the fridge is important. Doing this helps preserve the steak’s texture and flavor and keeps your fridge’s temperature down. Putting hot food in your fridge can alter the overall temperature, which may affect other food items you have stored.
Although, you shouldn’t leave your steak out for too long due to bacteria growth. Two hours is the longest you should leave cooked steak out of the fridge.
Cover It Well
Once your steak has cooled, put it in an airtight container or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and place it on a plate. Not only does this help prolong the life of your cooked steak, but it also stops any other flavors or smells in your fridge from transferring to the steak.
Label and Date It
Labeling and dating your cooked steak can help you keep track of how long it has been in the fridge. Labeling will also help you differentiate between cooked and uncooked steak. Be sure to include the date you cooked the steak and also any marinades/seasonings you used.
How to Tell When Steak Has Gone Bad
Even when you have stored your steak correctly, there may be times your steak goes bad.
Here are some simple ways to tell if you have spoiled steak:
- Appearance: Check the steak for any discoloration, dark spots, or a slimy texture. Your steak should look how it did when you first put it in the fridge. Any significant change in color or texture are signs of spoilage and can indicate a bad steak.
- Smell: Uncooked steak should have a mild smell, and cooked meat should smell as it did when first cooked. It may have gone bad if your steak has a strong, sour smell. However, the smell test can be hard to rely on if your steak was cooked in a marinade or flavoring.
- Taste: Spoiled meat will almost always have a bad smell or visible change in appearance. However, the gone-off steak will taste how it smells – which is sour and pungent. Always err on the side of caution if you think your steak has spoiled.
How to Reheat Leftover Steak
The good news is you can reheat leftover steak without overcooking or drying it out! It does take a little more time, but the results are just as good as when you first cooked it.
Here’s the safest way to reheat leftover steak at home:
- Pre-heat your oven to 250°F
- Place your steak on an oven-safe tray or dish
- Allow your steak to heat for at least 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 135°F
- Finish your steak by searing it in a pan with oil or butter. The internal temperature should read 145°F when reheating steak – as advised by the USDA.
The reheating process is very similar to reverse searing steak but with a slightly lower oven temperature.
Is it safe to keep steak in the fridge?
Yes, it is safe to keep steak in the fridge! So long as you follow the safe storage information provided in this article and by the USDA – you can safely store both cooked and raw steak in the fridge.