How Long You Can Store Raw Meat & Cooked Meat
Although frozen foods stored continuously at 0°F or below can be kept indefinitely, not all raw meat has the same storage guidelines if you want to ensure quality when freezing. Here is a quick overview of how long meat can last in the freezer and how long meat can last in the fridge when stored properly.
Fresh Raw Red Meat
Storing fresh beef, veal, lamb or pork? These meats will stay good in the fridge for 3–5 days. Fresh red meat can last in the freezer for 4–12 months.
Hamburger and Other Ground Meats
Ground meats don’t last quite as long in the fridge or freezer as other meats. In the fridge, ground meats like hamburger will last for 1–2 days. In the freezer, ground meats are good for 3–4 months. Learn more about storing ground beef and how long ground beef can stay in the fridge with these tips.
Chicken and turkey — whether whole or in pieces — last about 1–2 days in the fridge. If you’re storing a whole chicken or turkey in the freezer, it should stay good for 1 year; chicken or turkey pieces last in the freezer for 9 months. Learn more about how long chicken can last in the fridge or freezer or how long turkey can last in the fridge or freezer with these food storing tips.
If you have leftovers that include cooked meat or poultry, those will stay good in the fridge for 3–4 days, and can be kept in the freezer for 2–6 months.
How to Freeze Meat for Storage
Curious about how to freeze meat long-term while avoiding freezer burn? The trick is to first tightly wrap each piece of meat, unwashed, in Glad® Press’n Seal® or another type of freezer wrap. Then add a second layer of protection by placing the wrapped meat in an airtight freezer bag, like Glad® FLEX'N SEAL™ Freezer Quart Bags. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling meat, especially if it’s raw.
When freezing meat, it’s also a good idea to clearly mark each bag with the date it was frozen, so you can stay organized and know what to prioritize cooking first and what you can save for later.
How to Thaw Meat
When it comes time to use some of the meat you’ve stored in your freezer, you should be aware of how to thaw meat properly. According to the USDA, you should never thaw meat on the counter or in hot water, nor should you leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
The best way to thaw meat is to move the frozen package from the freezer onto a plate and into the fridge, and then let it thaw gradually. This method requires some planning ahead, as it can take a full day for meat to thaw in the fridge.
Need to thaw meat fast to cook it the same day? Ensure the frozen meat is in an airtight bag — such as Glad® FLEX'N SEAL™ Food Storage Gallon Bags — then submerge it in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw. You can also thaw frozen meat in the microwave but should plan to cook it immediately after thawing to prevent bacteria from growing.
For safe meat preparation, reference the USDA website.
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