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How Long Can Cooked Hamburger Sit Out?

You’ve just cooked the ground beef that you bought at the grocery store, and forgot it out on the counter! How long can cooked hamburger sit out?

white bowl of cook ground beef with yellow banner and text

The quick answer is cooked hamburger meat should not be left out for more than 2 hours.

We’re going to review the safest way you can avoid foodborne illnesses. And make sure you don’t leave your cooked ground beef out for too long. 

How Long Can I Leave Out My Cooked Hamburger?

Figuring out the danger zone for eating ground meat that has been left out of the fridge or freezer can be tricky. That’s because there are a lot of factors that play into this.

Perishable food like raw meat can quickly grow harmful bacteria when not placed in proper storage at safe temperatures.

The best way to know if you’re still in the clear with these foods is to adhere to the rules. These are set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture on the subject of spoiled meat.

You can use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of your meat. This is an easy way to make sure that it stays at a safe level.

cast iron skillet of cooked type of burger meat with spoon

Can you eat cooked ground beef sitting out for 8 hours?

Any cooked hamburger that has been sitting out for more than 2 hours should not be consumed. At room temperature, there is a fast bacterial growth and the shelf life of the meat decreases very quickly.

The best way to avoid spoilage bacteria is to store ground beef as soon as possible after cooking. And before it is no longer a safe internal temperature. Once in the fridge, cooked meat can stay good for 3-4 days. 

How long can cooked hamburger meat sit at room temperature?

The general rule is that a cooked burger patty can remain at room temperature safely for two hours. Or one hour if the temperature range outside is above 90 degrees F.

I recommend using a food thermometer to keep track of the internal temperature of your hamburger. This will help to avoid reaching a dangerously low level.

Hamburger meat that has been out for any longer than this is at risk for pathogenic bacteria growth.

Hot foods are typically okay to stay out until the internal temperature becomes too low. At this time, they become susceptible to all types of bacteria. 

pan on stove while cooking hamburger meat

How can I tell if hamburger meat has gone bad?

Leaving hamburger in the fridge for a long time is an obvious safety risk, but what if it’s still under the recommended time but you’re worried it’s still not safe?

There are a few physical traits that you can look for to know if it’s still a good idea to use your hamburger or not.

These can all be applied to raw ground beef as well, because fresh ground beef can go bad earlier than the expiration date. 

  • Slimy texture – If you notice anything odd about your surface of the meat and it’s looking a little shiny or slimy, discard immediately. 
  • Unpleasant odor – For this one, the best method is to see if you smell a strong odor. This will be a sour smell, but can also smell rotting or tangy as well. These are all warning signs that your hamburger meat is past the maximum amount of time and should be discarded. 
  • Color – If your fresh meat is looking a little off in the color department, such as a grayish brown, it’s best to throw it away rather than risking that it has grown e. Coli or other harmful bacteria. 
skillet of taco meat on striped napkin

Can hamburger still go bad in the freezer?

Whether you’re freezing ground beef that you’ve cooked or you want to make that raw ground beef last by freezing it, there are some safe methods that will ensure your meat stays good for longer. 

A good way to store your meat for the best quality is by breaking larger cuts into smaller pieces and placing them in an airtight container or vacuum sealed bag.

From there, you can cover this with a plastic freezer bag and remove any excess air, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap/aluminum foil to avoid freezer burn.

This process is one of the safe methods for slowing down bacteria production, but it can still occur if you leave it in the freezer for too long.

Cooking Frozen Hamburger Meat

When you’re ready to cook, remove your frozen meat and place in a large bowl of cool water (do not use warm water). The cold water will slowly help it reach room temperature.

Doing this will also help you to avoid hours of cooking because it will help defrost your wrapped burger meat.

You can also use the microwave oven, placing it on a microwave safe plate and using the defrost setting. From there, you can follow the cooking process that you would normally use for your burgers.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

white bowl of cook ground beef with yellow banner and text

When it comes to cuts of meat, no one wants to create food waste and discard high-quality ground beef and many people will risk the volatile compounds that could potentially be growing on it. The bacteria that grows on cuts of beef can lead to a number of symptoms if consumed, including stomach cramps and can be dangerous for older adults. Your best bet is to follow the guidance issued by the U.S Food and Drug Administration as well as the U.S. Department of Agricultural, which are the safest place to find information about how long food lasts.

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