How Long Can Steak Stay In The Fridge?


Steak is a favorite dish that can be cooked at home with just simple ingredients.

However, there is often leftover steak that needs to be stored for later consumption.

Understanding how long can steak stay in the fridge is crucial for ensuring safety and preserving its flavor and quality.

This guide is designed to provide you with essential information on properly storing steak, including recommended time frames and tips for identifying signs of spoilage.

How Long Can Steak Stay In The Fridge?

How long can steak stay in the fridge depends on whether it’s raw or cooked.

1. Raw Steak

Raw steak can typically be kept in the fridge safely for 3 to 5 days if stored properly.

This timeframe applies to most cuts, including ribeye, sirloin, and filet mignon.

It’s imperative to follow the storage methods outlined earlier to ensure the steak remains fresh during this period.

Always check the steak for signs of spoilage, such as a bad odor, slimy texture, or discoloration before cooking.

2. Cooked Steak

Cooked steak generally lasts longer in the fridge compared to raw steak.

It can be kept for 3 to 4 days at the proper temperature.

However, it’s essential to note that the steak’s quality and taste may deteriorate the longer it is stored in the fridge.

It’s best to consume cooked steak within 3 days of refrigeration for the best taste and texture.

How To Store Raw Steak In The Fridge?

To store raw steak in the fridge effectively, there are several steps you should follow to ensure it remains fresh and safe to eat.

Initially, if the steak is not already in vacuum-sealed packaging, consider transferring it to airtight packaging.

This can be achieved by wrapping the steak tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or by placing it in a resealable freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing.

Once your steak is securely wrapped, place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually at the back, away from the door.

This is because every time the fridge door is opened, the temperature near the door fluctuates more than in other parts, which can affect the meat’s quality over time.

Marking the packaging with the date of storage is also a crucial step.

This not only helps in keeping track of how long the steak has been stored but also aids in ensuring that it is used within a safe timeframe.

How To Store Cooked Steak In The Fridge?

To store cooked steak in the fridge efficiently while maintaining its taste and safety, adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Cool Before Storing: Allow the cooked steak to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Do not leave it out for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.

2. Use Airtight Containers: Transfer the cooked steak to airtight containers or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. This minimizes exposure to air and moisture, reducing the risk of spoilage.

3. Label and Date: Label the container with the contents and the date it was cooked. This helps keep track of how long the steak has been stored and prevents consuming spoiled meat.

4. Store Separately: Keep cooked steak separate from raw meats and other raw foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Factors Affecting Steak’s Shelf Life

Several factors influence the shelf life of the steak in the refrigerator.

First and foremost, the initial freshness of the steak when purchased plays a significant role.

Steaks that are fresher at the time of purchase can generally be expected to last longer in the fridge than those close to their sell-by date. 

The way the steak is packaged also impacts its longevity.

Vacuum-sealed packaging can extend the shelf life of steak by preventing exposure to air and bacteria, which are primary contributors to spoilage. 

The temperature of your refrigerator is another critical factor.

The FDA recommends keeping the fridge at or below 40°F (4°C) to prevent bacteria growth and maintain food safety.

Additionally, the cut of the steak matters; certain cuts contain more fat and connective tissues, which can affect how well they keep.

Leaner cuts may spoil more quickly than fattier ones due to the lack of fat, which can help preserve the meat to some extent. 

Can I Cook Immediately After Taking Steak Out Of The Fridge?

Yes, you can cook steak immediately after taking it out of the fridge, but it’s best to allow it to come to room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.

This step is crucial because it helps ensure even cooking.

A steak that’s too cold in the center may cook unevenly, resulting in a well-done exterior and a too-rare middle.

Allowing the steak to sit out briefly ensures that it cooks more uniformly, promoting more consistent doneness throughout.

Additionally, a room-temperature steak will sear better when it hits the hot pan or grill, creating a flavorful crust that’s one of the key attributes of a perfectly cooked steak.

It’s also important during this time to pat the steak dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Signs Of Spoiled Steak

It’s crucial to know how to identify signs of spoiled steak to avoid consuming unsafe meat.

Here are some indicators that your steak has spoiled:

1. Offensive Odor: A clear sign of spoilage is an unpleasant, sour, or rancid smell coming from the steak. Fresh steak should have a mild, not offensive, odor.

2. Discoloration: Look for color changes. While some color changes might be normal due to oxidation, a steak that turns green, gray, or brownish and stays that color on all sides might be spoiled.

3. Slimy Texture: A slimy film on the steak is a sign of bacterial growth. If the steak feels sticky or slimy to the touch rather than moist and smooth, it’s best to discard it.

4. Expired Sell-By Date: While the sell-by date isn’t an exact indicator of spoilage, a steak that’s been in the fridge well beyond this date, especially if showing other signs of spoilage, should be thrown out.

5. Taste Alteration: If you’ve accidentally tasted steak that seems off or has an unusual flavor, it’s an indicator that the steak may be spoiled. It’s advisable not to taste meat that shows signs of spoilage.

How To Freeze and Thaw Steak?

Freezing steak is an excellent method for extending its shelf life beyond the refrigerator’s limitations, ensuring that its quality, texture, and flavor are preserved for future use.

Freeze steak can be stored safely for 2- 12 months at 0°C and below, particularly 2 –  3 months for cooked steak and 6 – 12 months for raw steak.

To freeze steak properly, start by wrapping the meat tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, ensuring that it’s completely sealed to prevent freezer burn, which can adversely affect the taste and texture of the steak.

Then, place the wrapped steak in a freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing it.

It’s helpful to label the bag with the date of freezing to keep track of how long the steak has been stored.

Ideally, you should thaw the steak ahead of time by putting it in the refrigerator from the freezer and letting it thaw gradually.

This technique lessens the possibility of bacterial growth that can happen when meat is thawed at room temperature and preserves the quality of the steak.

Thawing in the fridge can take up to 24 hours, depending on the steak’s thickness, so it’s essential to allow enough time for this process.

If you’re in a hurry, submerging the sealed steak in cold water is a faster option, but it requires more attention to ensure the water stays cold and is changed every 30 minutes to maintain a safe temperature.

How To Choose Steak To Store?

Choosing the right steak to store begins with selecting the best quality meat from your butcher or grocery store.

Look for steaks with a bright red color, which indicates freshness.

Avoid steaks that appear dull or have a grayish hue, as this can be a sign of aging or poor handling.

Steaks with more marbling (fat running through the meat) tend to be juicier and more flavorful, making them superior choices for both immediate cooking and storage.

Marbling not only contributes to the taste but also helps the steak retain its moisture and tenderness during the freezing and thawing process.

It’s also wise to consider the cut of the steak.

Thicker cuts, such as ribeye or porterhouse, tend to freeze and thaw better than thinner cuts, like flank or skirt steak because they are less prone to drying out.

When selecting steak for storage, always check the packaging for the “sell-by” or “use-by” dates if buying from a supermarket.

Selecting meat that is as far from its “sell-by” date as possible will give you more flexibility in terms of storage time.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to ask the butcher for advice on the freshest cuts available or specific storage recommendations based on the cut and expected storage duration.

Their expertise can guide you in making the best choice for your needs.


In conclusion, understanding how long can steak stay in the fridge is crucial for ensuring both safety and quality in your culinary experiences.

Typically, raw steak can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days, whereas cooked steak should ideally be consumed within 3 to 4 days to maintain its best taste and texture.

Always remember to store steak at the proper temperature and to inspect it for any signs of spoilage before cooking.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can enjoy delicious, safe, and high-quality steak meals at home with confidence.


Chef Chip Roman is one of the most exciting and talented chefs in Philadelphia. He has his own catering business, Charles Roman Catering, as well as Roman Restaurant Group which includes Blackfish, Mica, and Ela. He graduated from Drexel University in 2002 with a degree in business and culinary arts. Chip Roman is a classically trained chef who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens and chefs in Philadelphia, including Le Bec Fin’s George Perrier and Marc Vetri’s Vetri.

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