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Ever wondered how long steak lasts in the freezer? As freezer cooking experts, we’ll answer that question and give tips for the best ways to package, freeze, and thaw steak.
Here’s how long you can freeze chicken, by the way.
How Long Does Steak Last in the Freezer?
Here’s a shocker: According to the USDA, if steak remains frozen solidly at 0°F, it will remain safe to consume indefinitely. It’s true! However, the texture and flavor will begin to deteriorate over time.
For the best quality when it comes to texture and flavor, steaks and roasts can be stored in the freezer for 6-12 months when properly packaged. The optimal length of time to freeze raw ground meat is 3 to 4 months.
As for storing in the fridge, beef roasts, steaks, and chops may be kept 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. After cooking, it can be safely stored in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.
How to Freeze Steak: 3 Essentials
We have researched and tested hundreds and hundreds of freezer meal recipes and techniques over the last 15 years (and have written two freezer meal cookbooks and this website based around our findings).
Here are our very best tips when it comes to freezing steak:
Packaging Is Essential
- We say this all the time, but air is the enemy of good freezer food. It is crucial to use air-tight materials when freezing steak. Even if the steak is in butcher paper from the store, wrap it in a few extra layers of plastic wrap or foil, place in a freezer bag (and squeeze out any extra air), or vacuum seal the steaks. This minimizes exposure to air, helps prevent freezer burn and quality degradation, and safeguards from absorbing unwanted odors from the freezer.
- Label packages with the freezing date as a helpful reference for tracking storage duration. We have free printable freezer labels you can use.
Lower Your Freezer Temp
Yes, we know the freezing temperature is 32°F. However, the USDA states that keeping the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or below is essential for optimal preservation of frozen food. This ensures that the steaks stay solidly and evenly frozen, even when the freezer is opened and shut regularly.
Thaw Steak the Right Way
How you defrost your steak is also very important to the end result. Follow these best practices for thawing steak:
- The very best method for thawing frozen steak is slowly in the refrigerator. Set the package on a plate to catch any drippings. This prevents rapid bacterial growth and helps retain the meat’s natural juices and tenderness. It usually takes about 24 hours.
- The second best method is the cold water bath method. Place the steak in a leak-proof plastic bag and immerse it in cold water, changing the water out every 30 minutes. This still takes a bit of time–anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how big your steak package is, but it’s quicker than the refrigerator option. Cook the steak immediately after using this method.
- Never thaw steak on the counter, because bacteria will grow at a dangerous rate on the steak.
- Using the microwave defrost setting is not recommended. It will partially cook the steak and leave other parts still cold or frozen.
FAQs: Freezing and Storing Steak
The storage duration depends on the type of steak and how it’s packaged. According to the USDA, ground meat can generally be stored for 3-4 months, while steaks and roasts can be kept for 6-12 months if properly packaged.
Use airtight packaging such as plastic wrap, aluminum foil, freezer bags (with air squeezed out), or vacuum-sealed bags to minimize exposure to air and reduce the risk of freezer burn.
You can freeze cooked steak safely, but the texture and quality will be affected from my experience. Freezing and then rewarming cooked steak dries it out and toughens it.
Thaw steak in the refrigerator for a gradual and safe process. Avoid thawing at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth. Here are some other safe thawing methods, but defrosting in the microwave is not recommended.
We get this question a lot! The USDA says that refreezing raw or cooked meat once it’s been thawed is safe to do, as long as it isn’t expired (or has been sat in the fridge too long). The quality of the meat will go down, but it’s entirely safe to do this.
Freezer burn occurs when food is exposed to air in the freezer, leading to dehydration and changes in texture and flavor. To prevent it, use airtight packaging and ensure your freezer is set at 0°F (-18°C) or below.
While frozen steak can remain safe indefinitely if it’s frozen solid the whole time, quality may degrade over time. Check for signs of freezer burn, such as discoloration or dry spots. If in doubt, use your best judgment and consider the recommended storage times.
Yes, you can marinate steak before freezing. This allows the flavors to infuse into the meat during the freezing and thawing. Ensure the steak is well-coated and stored in an airtight container. Try our delicious Grilled Steak Kabobs or Steak Fajitas.
According to the USDA, beef roasts, steaks, and chops may be kept 3 to 5 days in the fridge. After cooking, it can be safely stored in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.
By following these guidelines and tips, you’ll maximize the storage life of all frozen foods including steak, reduce food waste, and ensure a satisfying culinary experience when it’s time to enjoy your steak.
What Else Can You Freeze?
Wondering what else you can stock up on and freeze? Here are more well-researched and well-tested articles we wrote from our experience.
- How to Freeze Tortillas
- How to Freeze Butter
- How to Freeze Muffins
- How to Freeze Bananas
- How to Freeze Zucchini
- How to Freeze Rice
- How to Freeze Avocados
- How to Freeze Cheese
- How to Freeze Pesto
- How to Freeze Quiche
- How to Freeze Chicken Pot Pie
- How to Freeze Chicken and Dumplings
- How to Freeze White Chicken Chili
- How Long You Can Freeze Chicken