How Long Does Steak Last In The Fridge?

Most of us are guilty of letting meat or other foods linger in the refrigerator a little longer than anticipated. You may have gone to the trouble of choosing the perfect steak at the store and found a delicious-looking recipe for a tasty beefy dinner, but then other plans somehow get in the way. It's not cheap, and you'd rather not throw it away and waste it. But on the other hand, you don't want to risk consuming something that may potentially make you sick.

Refrigeration is a great modern method for slowing down the growth of bacteria in our food and helping it stay fresher for longer, but it doesn't stop it altogether. So how long does steak actually last in the fridge, and can you just save it for another day? The simple answer is that larger pieces of red meat such as steaks or chops can stay good for around three to five days once refrigerated, per USDA guidelines.

But in practice, how long the meat will remain edible really depends on several factors. These include whether the steak is raw or cooked, whether or not it's been marinated, if it has previously been frozen and is defrosting or has thawed, and how it's been stored.

How long raw, cooked, marinated, and thawed steaks last

While raw steaks keep for between three to five days in the fridge, if the meat has already been cooked, you'll want to use it within another three to four days, via the USDA. When it comes to the best way to heat leftover steak without overcooking it, slowly in the oven is the best bet.

If your raw beef has been marinated for added tenderness and flavor — a good tip is adding citrus, since lemon juice makes steak scientifically more delicious — then it won't last so long in the refrigerator. Ideally, you'll want to use it within six to 24 hours after marinating, per the USDA – though it's not necessarily that it won't be safe to eat after this. The issue is that since marinades serve to tenderize the meat, they can turn the texture of the protein unpleasantly soft if left too long before cooking. And nobody wants a mushy steak.

If uncooked meat has been frozen, wait until it is totally defrosted, and then the same length of time applies as for fresh beef. So if your raw steak has been frozen and then thawed in the refrigerator, once it is completely defrosted, it should last for between three to five days before it will need to be cooked. However, if you've thawed it outside of the fridge — for example, in a microwave — then it should be cooked right away.

How to store steak in the fridge and freezer

If you want to keep beef in the best possible condition, then it's important to avoid the mistakes everyone makes with raw meat storage. Following a few extra steps to make sure it's stored correctly in the refrigerator or freezer will help the protein last as long as possible.

When storing raw steak in the fridge, make sure your refrigerator is set to the correct temperature, which is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Employ the refrigerator organization strategy to keep raw meat juices at bay; the bottom of the fridge is best for this reason and is also the coldest part. You can store it in the original packaging, but if it's been opened, then it's best to transfer the meat to a plate and make sure it's covered with an airtight wrap.

Steak can last for between four and 12 months in the freezer. If you're going to be using the meat within a couple of months, it's fine to store it in its original grocery store packaging. But if you're planning to keep it frozen for longer than this, it's worth wrapping the pack in an additional layer of strong foil or freezer wrap to protect it from freezer burn. Alternatively, if the package is open, then tightly wrap the meat so that it won't be exposed to air; vacuum sealing it is also a good option.