Whether you’ve only just discovered the incredible taste of steak, or you’re someone who is well aware of how delicious steak can be, everyone can agree that the sight of a nicely cooked steak on your dinner plate is an unbeatable feeling.
However, just as important as being able to cook a good steak, is knowing how to store your cooked steak too.
Of course, there are plenty of safety concerns to be aware of when it comes to storing meat like steak, which is exactly why it’s so important to ensure that you get it right.
In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about storing steak, including where to store it, how long it will last in the fridge, how to pack it for storage properly, and how long you have until your steak needs to be eaten.
So, let’s get started!
Saving Your Leftover Steak In The Fridge
There’s nothing worse than being unable to finish the steak you just cooked, but just because you’re not able to eat it right now, doesn’t mean that you can eat it later on, right?
Learning how to properly save your leftover steak, as well as your other food products, is a great way to ensure that you’re reducing your food waste as much as possible. And it’ll also help to save you money too.
One of the most common ways to save your leftover steak is simply to place it in the refrigerator. It’s where you usually store it, so it should work just as well.
In this section, we’ll take a look at what sort of time you can expect your steak to last for when stored in the fridge.
How Long Does Steak Last When In The Fridge?
The length of time your steak will last in the fridge mainly depends on whether it is fresh (or raw), cooked, or frozen. In addition to this, how well your steak is packaged will also affect the length of time your steak will stay good in the fridge.
Familiarizing yourself with this information is crucial if you want to know how long you have to enjoy your steak before you’ll eventually have to throw it away.
Typically, no matter whether it’s fresh or cooked, you’ll have around 3 to 4 days to get it eaten before it will spoil.
From The Butcher
If you’ve bought your steak raw from the butcher counter, then our advice is to try and eat that steak as soon as possible.
You’ll be able to get away with storing it overnight in your fridge should you need to, but the loose packaging it comes in will increase the risk of the meat drying out, and bacteria developing.
Plus, steak from the butcher counter always tastes so much better when you eat it the same day, so be sure not to let that incredible taste go to waste!
Vacuum Sealed Steak
Steak that is vacuum sealed is done so to help to maintain the steak’s freshness when being transported from the production line to the store, ready for you to buy and enjoy.
Vacuum-sealed steak that is raw will be fine to keep for anywhere between 3 to 5 days in your refrigerator, and if you’re ever unsure of whether or not it’s still good to eat, the packaging should include some form of use-by or expiration date, which is always a good guideline.
Meanwhile, if your stay has been cooked and then vacuum sealed, you’ll be able to keep it there for 3 days before you’ll need to think about throwing it away, which provides you with plenty of time to incorporate the steak into another one of your dishes.
Some argue that vacuum sealing cooked steak and placing it in the refrigerator can help to make it last beyond these 3 days.
However, while this might be true in some cases, it’s always better to be cautious about eating meat after this period, so we’d recommended just throwing it away after 3 days.
Buying steak from a grocery store usually involves it being wrapped in some form of plastic, which helps to keep it fresh and ready to eat whenever you buy it.
This packaging will also usually contain an expiration date, as well as storage guidelines, so if you’re ever unsure about how long you should store your steak, always refer back to the packaging.
As a general rule though, so long as you keep your steak in your refrigerator below 40°F, you’ll be able to store it for around 3 to 5 days.
Cooked steak that is wrapped in plastic will last for a similar amount of time so long as it’s kept in the fridge, which is a great way to ensure you can tuck into your delicious steak even after it has been cooked.
Cooked VS Raw
While some of the time frames are similar, keeping raw steak in your fridge can differ greatly from keeping leftover cooked steak in your fridge, and the time scales for how long they will both last can differ too.
If you’ve never kept cooked steak in your fridge before, then getting familiar with the sort of time frame it will need to be eaten in is a good idea, as it will help to ensure that you won’t waste it.
For cooked steaks, you can typically expect them to last around 3 days in the fridge so long as you package it properly.
While we plan to go into this in more detail further on, we always recommend using either a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container to store your steak.
This will help to keep it fresher for longer and will help to prevent any unwanted bacteria from making its way onto your steak.
Meanwhile, a raw steak will be able to last for around 5 days in your fridge so long as you keep the temperature consistently below 40°F, as per the USDA.
Be sure to keep your fresh steak in either an airtight container, a resealable plastic food bag, or plastic wrap when you place it in the fridge.
How To Store Leftover Steak In Your Fridge
Keeping your steak on a plate or in its opened packaging isn’t enough to keep it fresh and free of bacteria before you eat it again.
This section of the guide will discuss everything you ought to know about ensuring that your leftover cooked steak is properly stored, including what packaging to use, and how to ensure your steak is safe.
For a quick answer, the best way to safely store your cooked steak in the fridge is by placing it into an airtight container or bag and then placing it in the fridge away from other meat products.
Use Proper Packaging
One of the key points to remember when it comes to storing your steak in the fridge is to pack it properly.
You can use things such as an airtight plastic container, or even a resealable plastic food bag.
Opting for a container or bag that has a tight seal is important, as anything that lets too much air in will run the risk of the meat drying out, or bacteria growing on the steak itself, which will render it inedible.
If you often have a lot of leftovers, then investing in some good quality containers or sealable bags is a good idea, and will help to ensure that your food is stored safely.
Get Rid Of Excess Air
Another important aspect of using these sealable containers and bags is to ensure that you get rid of any excess air from them before you seal them up.
Of course, this is somewhat impossible for plastic containers, so your best bet is to try and find one that is going to contain the least amount of excess air possible, which will help you to minimize any drying out of the meat.
For sealable bags, once your steak is in the bag, you’ll want to be sure to pull the bag as close to the steak as possible and seal it three-quarters of the way, before squeezing out as much air as you can, before finally sealing it.
It won’t make a massive difference if you can’t get all of the air out, but it’s important to try, as you’ll want to make sure that your leftover steak is as delicious as it was the night before.
Date And Label Your Steak
Finally, before you place your steak into the fridge for storage, it’s always a good habit to label your steak and add the date and time it was sealed and placed into the fridge.
This will serve as a reminder of how long you have left before the steak needs eating, and will help you to make a judgment on whether or not your steak is safe to eat.
You can simply use any sticky labels you have lying around the house for this, before writing in pen or permanent marker and placing it onto the container or bag you’re using.
How Long Can You Safely Keep Steak In The Fridge?
We’re sure you’re aware by now, but just as a reminder, your leftover cooked steak can last for up to 3 to 4 days in the fridge, so long as you follow our guidelines on how to properly package it for storage.
If your steak is fresh (raw), you can usually expect for it to last an additional 1 to 2 days on top of this, with a maximum of 5 days in the fridge before it will likely be unsafe to eat.
What happens if you want to keep your steak for longer than 5 days though? Well, when the fridge won’t provide you with enough time to use your steak, then many people turn to their freezer instead.
So the next section will cover how you can freeze your steak to keep it for longer!
Storing Your Steak In The Freezer
When it comes to storing almost any food for a prolonged period of time, then the freezer is your best friend. There’s a certain way of freezing your steak that will need to be followed, as if done improperly, you can end up spoiling your steak.
We’ll provide you with all of the details on how you can properly keep your raw and cooked steak in the freezer, how long you’ll be able to keep them in the freezer for, as well as how to properly thaw your steak from the freezer, and the best way to reheat it too.
If you plan on freezing your steak instead of keeping it in the fridge, then this guide is essential reading.
How Long Can You Keep Cooked Steak In The Freezer
You’ll be glad to hear that it doesn’t matter whether your steak is raw or cooked, you’ll be able to store it safely in the freezer to help prolong its freshness.
When stored properly in the freezer at a temperature below 0°F, your cooked steak will be able to last for anywhere from 2 to 3 months at maximum. Meanwhile, raw steak can last for even longer in the freezer, which can be between 6 to 12 months.
To be able to see your steak last for this sort of time in the freezer though, there are some things you’ll need to consider and be aware of, such as how to prevent freezer burn, and how to package your steak properly for the freezer.
Thankfully, we’re going to cover it all down below!
How To Avoid Freezer Burn
If you’re not a regular user of your freezer, then there’s still a good chance that you’ll be aware of what freezer burn is. However, for those who are unaware of what freezer burn is, we’ll tell you all about it, as well as how you can prevent it.
Freezer burn is a result of all of the moisture found within your meat being pulled to the outermost layer when it’s frozen. You’ll be able to notice when something has a freezer burn as the outside of the meat will develop an icy crystal-like appearance all over the surface.
According to the USDA, freezer burn is unable to increase the risk of any airborne diseases, but it does unfortunately have a serious effect on the quality and taste of your meat when you thaw it.
As you can imagine then, the biggest obstacle when it comes to freezing meat such as cooked steak is to prevent freezer burn at all costs.
Thankfully, we’re here to help you ensure that your steak remains freezer burn free when you store it in the freezer!
What Packaging Should You Use To Store Steak in a Freezer?
If you’re looking to avoid freezer burn when storing your steak in the freezer, then the key is to try and wrap up your food as tight as you possibly can, no matter what sort of packaging you’re using.
For the best results, we’d highly recommend using something like an airtight container or even a plastic bag. But a bag or container alone won’t be enough to stop freezer burn from setting in on your steak.
This is why you want to use something like butcher paper or wax freezer paper, which you can use to wrap up the steak completely. Then, with the steak wrapped, you’ll be able to place your steak into your container or sealable freezer bag of choice and place it into the freezer.
While it might not seem like much, that additional layer can have a big impact on the steak and protect it against freezer burn. So, if you feel like you’re wanting to freeze your steak to help preserve its freshness, then be sure to consider following this method to prevent any freezer burn.
Alternatively, some people might simply prefer to make use of a vacuum-sealed bag. They’re slightly less common but are the perfect way to store your steak in the freezer if you’re planning on doing so.
How To Safely Freeze Steak
So, to ensure that once thawed, your steak is going to be as delicious as it was when it originally went into the freezer, you’re going to need to pre-wrap your steak in butcher paper or wax freezer paper, before placing it into either an airtight container, a sealable freezer bag, or if you have one, a vacuum sealed bag.
By keeping your cooked steak below 0°F packaged like this, you’ll be able to preserve it for up to 6 months, which should provide you with plenty of time to find a dish to add it to.
The Signs Of A Bad Steak
The more you use leftovers, the more accustomed to the signs of spoiled food you will be, although there might be some sacrifices on the way if you get it wrong, you’ll soon learn how to spot when food has gone off.
Thankfully when it comes to steak, the signs of whether or not it has spoiled are generally quite pronounced, which means so long as you use all of your senses, you should be able to detect whether or not your steak is safe to eat.
You might be curious as to what would happen if you were to eat a spoiled steak, and while we’ll provide you with more details later on, the short answer is that it can end up with you becoming quite ill.
In the meantime, here’s how you can spot when a steak is bad!
How To Tell When Your Steak Has Spoiled
Examining whether or not a steak has gone bad can be especially easy, even if you’re not a regular steak eater. However, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with all of these steps to ensure that you don’t miss any of the signs of a spoiled steak, and make yourself ill.
Finding a spoiled steak is all about using your senses, so let’s take a look at what you’re meant to be looking out for.
- The appearance of the steak – The first thing you’re going to do before anything else is use your eyes. Take a look around the surface of your steak, and try to see if you can see anything that looks strange or abnormal.
Whether it’s general discoloration, mold, or a slightly slimy surface, these are all telltale signs of a steak that has spoiled.
- Smell – As with most spoiled meats, a steak that has spoiled, or at least begun to spoil will smell particularly bad, so you should be able to tell right away whether or not your steak is safe to eat.
A spoiled steak usually gives off a rather pungent and sour odor, which is when the steak begins to rot. If you notice an unusual smell coming from your steak, it’s best to discard it.
- Feel – The feel and texture of the steak are another important way of deducing whether or not you’ll be able to feast on the delicious cut of meat.
Whether it’s become extremely slippery and greasy or has lost all of its moisture and dried out, both of these changes to the texture of the steak indicate that it has unfortunately spoiled.
- Taste – Considering some of the signs we’ve listed, it’s obvious that you’ll be able to tell whether or not your steak has gone bad at this point. If you do suspect that your steak has gone bad, then absolutely do not taste it at all.
However, if you’ve checked and you believe your steak is fine, but upon biting into it, you notice a slightly sour taste, then your steak has spoiled, and you should bin it immediately.
All of these are important in determining whether or not your steak has gone bad, and even if you were extra careful when it came to packing and storing your steak either in the fridge or the freezer, there’s still a small chance your steak could go bad.
And as you’ll discover in the next section, eating a steak that has spoiled is not appealing, or that you’ll particularly want to do, no matter how much you’re craving some.
What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Steak?
Eating a spoiled steak is something you wouldn’t intentionally want to do. Despite this, it doesn’t mean that it might not accidentally happen someday. So what would happen if you were to eat a steak that had spoiled?
Well, much like other meats that have spoiled and begun to rot, the choice of food poisoning is incredibly high. Spoiled steak can include some potentially serious pathogens and bacteria, such as E. Coli, and even Salmonella, both of which can make you seriously ill.
The problem can be worse for children and the elderly too, as well as those who have weakened immune systems, as these types of bacteria can be known to be life-threatening to some people.
As a result, it’s especially important when cooking steak and other foods that you ensure that the meat is always cooked well before you eat it and that you examine any meat before you use it, whether it’s fresh and raw, or cooked and stored.
Thankfully, proper storage will ensure that the risk of your steak spoiling and giving you food poisoning is minimized to the point where it’s almost impossible!
How Proper Storage Can Prevent Steak Spoilage
While many people might scoff at the guide we provided details for when storing your steak, the reality is that proper storage and handling of your food isn’t just about making sure it tastes nice the next time you eat it, it’s also about your safety too.
By ensuring that you use sealable bags or airtight containers, you’re helping to prevent the likelihood of bacteria developing on your food, and spoiling it. In turn, this will help you to prevent yourself from getting sick by eating it as well.
One of the key things to remember is that if you’re using a reusable container, then you should always wash it between uses, especially if you’re keeping meat in it, as the cross-contamination of bacteria can also contribute to some serious food poisoning.
So, if you’re going to be storing your steak in the fridge or freezer anytime soon, then be sure not only to use proper storage items for the taste but for your safety as well.
What To Do With A Spoiled Steak
If you’ve gone to use your steak again, and you notice that it’s beginning to show signs of spoiling, then unfortunately there is just one thing to do with it: discard it!
It can be an inconvenience, especially if you’re already mid-way through preparing a meal, but it’s better to have an alternative ingredient and be safe, than to risk getting ill by eating gone-off steak.
How To Thaw A Steak
Now, when it comes to cooking your previously frozen steak, you’ll need to be sure that you thaw it properly before you go ahead and try cooking it.
Without thawing it, you won’t be able to get it to cook properly, so while it might mean that you have to wait a while, you can usually do it ahead of time, ready for when you need it.
Thawing is an easy process, so choose whichever one of these thawing methods you prefer, and you’ll be able to cook your steak!
In The Microwave
Probably the fastest way of thawing your steak is to use your microwave.
Most microwave ovens will have a “defrost” option built in, allowing you to defrost whatever you would like at the right temperature and time.
To thaw your steak in the microwave, all you need to do is place it on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel. Use the defrost function, and then you’ll be ready to cook your steak immediately.
In Cold Water
Another way you can thaw your frozen steak is with cold water. Simply place your steak in a glass bowl on your countertop, and then cover it with cold water. You’ll want to ensure that the water is kept cold, so it’s recommended that you change it every 30 minutes.
Be sure not to use hot or warm water, as you’ll ruin your steak.
In The Fridge
The safest way of thawing your steak is simply to place it in your fridge overnight. Place your steak into a bowl (which will help collect any water or juices), and it should be ready in the morning!
Can You Refrigerate A Thawed Steak?
If you’ve thawed your steak in either cold water or in the microwave, then you should be sure to immediately cook your steak due to hygiene.
However, if you thawed your steak in the fridge overnight, then it’ll be safe to leave it there for a few hours until you’re ready to use it.
How To Reheat A Steak
Reheating your steak is extremely easy, but doing so properly is important. Not just for your tastebuds, but for your safety too.
So, if you’re looking for some guidance on how exactly you should be reheating your steak, then try some of these methods below.
The first, and arguably best method for reheating steak is on your stovetop.
To begin, take some oil and drizzle it on your skillet before placing it over a low-medium heat. Once it’s warmed up slightly, add your steak, and be sure to sear on each side until it reaches the temperature you want.
Reheating your steak in the oven is a great way of getting your steak ready to eat again, and also involves the use of a stovetop too.
Preheat your oven to around 280°F, and then place your steak on a cookie sheet for around 25 minutes, or until the internal temp is about 110°F
Then, you can remove the steak and place it into an oiled skillet over low-medium heat for a few minutes. And then enjoy!
If you want to grill your leftover steak, all you need to do is preheat the grill to around 350°F, and then sear the steak on each side until it’s hot enough for you to eat.
A recent addition to many people’s homes, air fryers are excellent for reheating leftovers. To air fry your leftover steak, just set the temperature to 375°F, and once it has heated up, place your steak in the basket and allow it to cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
While using a microwave to reheat your leftover steak is something for a last resort, you might have no other choice.
Place your steak onto a microwave-safe plate, and cover it with a damp paper towel. Set the microwave to full power for a minute, and it should be perfect, if not, microwave for another minute.
Secret Tip: How To Ensure Reheated Steak Is Tender
The best way to ensure that your leftover steak is still tender and delicious is to cover it with a little bit of oil, butter, or water just before you reheat it.
So there you have it, our guide to how long a cooked steak can last in the fridge. This guide will hopefully have provided you with everything you need to know about storing your leftover steak in the fridge.
Just remember that a cooked steak will be able to last in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days so long as you store it properly, using an airtight container, or a sealable bag. Or you could freeze it if you want it to last longer!