I have a standing weekend family dinner which means I always find myself with a lot of leftover steak. Most of the time, I can simply reheat it and serve it the following day but there are times when it is too much.
When this is the case, I store the cooked steak in the fridge and use it a little at a time until it is finished. This takes 3 – 5 days after which I discard any unused leftovers. The trick is to store it safely so that you can preserve the freshness and flavor.
In this article, I will detail the best ways to preserve your leftover steak and reheat cooked steak that has been in the fridge. Let’s get started.
Provided you store your steak correctly, cooked steak can last for 3 – 5 days in the fridge. The maximum recommended amount of time you should store steak leftovers is 5 days.
While cooked steak can last up to 7 days in edible condition, the chances of undetectable bacterial growth are high posing a health risk to you and your family.
Often, beyond five days at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the leftovers will have a slightly sour smell which should tell you that the meat is in the early stage of going bad.
Even if it doesn’t smell, it could cause food-borne illness and tummy disturbances so there is no reason to let the meat sit in the fridge this long.
Raw steak behaves in much the same way as cooked beef. It will last a maximum of 4 days in the fridge. If you have no intention of cooking steak as soon as you get home, then you need to refrigerate raw steak as soon as possible.
The longer raw steak sits out at room temperature the more bacteria grow and proliferate the meat. Raw steak may end up going bad in the fridge too soon because it was left to sit and start going bad before it is refrigerated.
Do not let raw meat sit on the counter at room temperature for longer than two hours.
Cooked steak and cooked food, in general, contain a wealth of microbes. The longer this food sits out at room temperature the more these pathogens proliferate. This is what spoils your food.
Food sitting at room temperature has optimal temperature, air, and moisture to facilitate microbial activity.
As soon as you are done with the meal, get on with packing your food and storing it. The longer the cooked steak sits at room temperature the greater the amount of bacteria growth it gets.
A good rule of thumb is to put the food in the food in the fridge within six to eight hours of cooking it. This is plenty of time to enjoy a delicious filet mignon dinner and as many seconds as your guests may like.
Check your fridge to ensure the temperature is set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Store cooked steak at this temperature as soon as you can. At this temperature, cooked steak can last 3 – 5 days.
The USDA recommends a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower as the optimal temperature to store leftover cooked steak in the fridge. At this temperature, microbial activity slows down significantly allowing the cooked steak to remain safe for consumption.
How you store leftover steak will affect how long and how well your steak lasts in the fridge. The most important factor apart from temperature is air-tight containment.
Whether you choose to use a Ziploc freezer bag, plastic wrap, freezer paper, Tupperware, or glass containers, ensure you are using an airtight container.
The entry of air into the steak will facilitate microbial activity and the bacteria in the meat will continue to grow and reproduce spoiling the leftover food.
An airtight container will also keep the temperature steady. This will further ensure the food stored is at stable moisture, air, and temperature levels.
The best way to keep steak cold is to refrigerate or freeze it.
At 0 degrees Fahrenheit, any microbial action stops completely including yeasts and mold growth. After 3 months, however, frozen steak will go bad by drying out completely and crumbling. This cannot be redeemed.
Remember to always wrap or seal the food container tightly. An airtight seal is essential to keeping frozen steak safe for consumption.
If you find yourself pinching your nose when you open the fridge or your freezer bag, your food has gone bad and it should just be thrown out. As delicious as a well-prepared steak may be, when it goes bad, you will not be able to tolerate it.
Regardless of how long the steak has stayed in the fridge, the smell will be the most telling sign that it is no longer edible. Trust your senses. Bad steak is very easy to detect.
Leftover food should maintain its color as long as it has not changed and is still safe for consumption. If the appearance of the leftovers is anything apart from the beautiful pink interior encased in a nice brown crust then avoid it.
A change of color usually means the growth of bacteria has been going on and the steak is not safe. Along with the smell, appearance is a dead giveaway that the steak is nasty and inedible.
If mold or yeast has begun growing on the steak then it is definitely unsafe and should be discarded. Marinated steak and beef cooked in lots of moisture such as braising are particularly prone to spoilage.
Rare and medium rare steaks are also susceptible to bacterial growth if not properly stored. Even when properly stored, steak leftovers should be carefully inspected before consuming or better yet, stored for 3 days maximum before eating.
If there is a slimy texture or a slippery film on your leftover steak then don’t eat it. Even if the smell and the appearance are not obvious, this film is a sure sign that bacteria are growing on the food and the meat’s quality is ruined. Simply discard the spoiled meat.
Only use a taste test when you cannot tell whether a leftover steak is good by smell and appearance. It is very unlikely that spoilt steak has no pungent smell. I do not recommend that you taste leftover steaks to tell whether it is bad but if you are that daring then by all means take a bite.
Steak frozen safely does not easily go bad but it is prone to freezer burn. Freezer burn occurs when all the moisture in the steak is pulled to the external surface of the steak and forms crystals.
The steak loses all its moisture. While this does not mean you cannot eat your steak, it certainly means your steak will not taste the same. It will be bland or tasteless.
Even when reheated perfectly, steaks that have been subjected to freezer burn are just not worth the effort. It would be better to store them correctly, to begin with, and avoid freezer burn altogether.
When storing steak leftovers in the freezer, avoid Tupperware and glass containers since it is nearly impossible to rid them of air. While they may be airtight, they will definitely have some air in them which will allow freezer burn to occur.
Food-grade plastic wrap such as wax paper, a plastic bag, freezer paper, or heavy-duty aluminum foil is a great option since you can wrap the leftovers tightly ensuring as much air as possible is expelled from the packed meat.
If you don’t have one, I strongly recommend buying a vacuum sealer. Vacuum-sealed bags will spare you the hassle of trying to remove air from the plastic bag. In any event, it is impossible to extract all the air in the packed leftovers by hand.
A vacuum sealer is a handy kitchen item that will see this done in a jiffy. It is especially great to have one if you are in the habit of storing leftover steak in the freezer for weeks or more than a month. Vacuum sealing is the best way to avoid freezer burn.
When you preserve leftover steak in the freezer, chances are that you will forget how long it has been there, and inevitably, most of the leftovers that you store in the freezer end up in the trash after staying in there a tad too long.
Get into the habit of labeling food before it goes into the freezer. This way, you will always use your leftovers before they overstay and go bad.
Food-borne illness is the main concern when keeping cooked steaks in the fridge. Completely spoiled steak is easy to detect. It is the slightly spoiled food or food that has gone bad but is difficult to detect that is dangerous.
Some molds and yeasts can have no detectable odor in the early stages of growth and when consumed they cause digestive disturbances.
The best way to prevent foodborne illness is to follow the recommended storage practices and keep leftover steaks in the fridge for no longer than five days before consuming them.
If the steak has been in the freezer, let the steak rest on a wire rack and thaw before heating.
The microwave is the fastest and easiest way to reheat food from the fridge. Do not heat food in the microwave while it is still in aluminum foil. Microwave leftover steak in a covered microwave-safe container. Nuke the steak for one to three minutes.
Microwaving may not be the best way to reheat refrigerated steak since it can scorch the steak and ruin the meat’s quality. This does not happen always but other methods may be better for reheating steak leftovers.
An air fryer is also quick and easy to reheat steak. Set the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and pop your leftovers in the fryer for 3 – 5 minutes.
Heat leftover steak on the stovetop. This is one of the better methods as it allows you to flavor your steak should you wish to do so.
Place a skillet on a high flame and heat some butter. Sear your steaks on the pan a reduce the flame to medium-low heat. Leave the steaks to heat up for five minutes or until you are sure they are hot to your desired level. Serve hot.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. You can start by searing the steaks on a skillet before placing them on the baking tray or simply place the steaks on the wire rack and place them on the baking tray.
Cover with aluminum foil and let them cook for 15 – 20 minutes before checking on them. If they are not ready, a further 10 minutes should do the trick. Reheating steak leftovers in the oven is the best method in my experience.
Set the temperature of the grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sear your leftover steaks on each side and then let them heat up for 10 minutes undisturbed or until you are sure they are well done and hot.
You can also wrap the steaks in aluminum foil and place them on the grill to preserve moisture. Serve hot.
The best way to cook steak leftovers varies from person to person but my recommendation is to use the oven. The oven penetrates heat evenly into the steak without drying it out.
In very cold areas and where temperatures tend to stay well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, steak leftovers oven remain fresh and safe for up to 7 days in the fridge.
This obviously doesn’t apply all over and 7 days is too long for steak leftovers to last in good condition. Inspect the meat before consuming it but err on the side of caution by keeping it for a maximum of 5 days before eating it.
Yes but only if you had preserved it in the fridge at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. After 5 days, avoid eating refrigerated meat unless you are absolutely sure it is still safe to eat.
Raw beef has a shelf life of five days maximum when preserved in the fridge so it is not recommended to cook it after this much time has already passed. That said, if upon inspection, your steak seems kosher, then cook it.
Chances are, however, that the steak is already in the early stages of going bad and a slightly off scent will be detected once your meat contacts heat.
Freezing will keep cooked steak good for up to three months.