Steak is best consumed fresh off of the grill, pan, oven, broiler, or any other method you prefer to use when making steak. Still, there are some occasions when you end up with more steak than can be eaten.
Fear not, steak can be stored in the refrigerator and enjoyed for several days after being prepared.
But how long does cooked steak last in the fridge, how to safely store it, and how to reheat and prepare the leftover steak after that?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions.
How long does cooked steak last in the fridge?
The USDA recommends that cooked steak be stored in the fridge at temperatures up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 3-4 days maximum.
By storing the cooked steak at the recommended temperatures, you can slow down the bacterial growth on the meat, but this process cannot be stopped.
So, after about 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator, your cooked steak will probably have grown enough bacteria to make it unsafe to eat.
To store the cooked beef safely for longer, you can freeze it instead. Properly freezing the cooked steak will ensure that you can enjoy eating the leftovers for up to 3 months of cooking the meat.
To freeze the cooked steak safely and properly, you should wrap each piece in heavy-duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper and place it in an airtight container at temperatures lower than 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to know if the refrigerated cooked steak has gone bad?
Once the beef has developed sufficient bacteria, yeast, or mold, which can cause foodborne illness, it will become slimy on touch and will have a bad smell and sour taste. If you are not sure, and the leftovers don’t look alright, then it is best to throw them out.
The foodborne illnesses you can get from spoiled meat can be quite unpleasant and serious, so it is better not to risk eating leftovers that do not look, smell or feel ok.
How to store the cooked steak safely?
The danger zone which can inhibit rapid bacterial growth in meat is from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that the best and safest way to store the leftovers from your cooked steak is to get the meat in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit as soon as possible and within two hours of preparing the meat.
Using appropriate packaging
To ensure that your cooked steak will be stored in optimal conditions and that it will not dry out, you should use the proper packaging.
The best way to prep the cooked steak for storage is to use a good-quality vacuum sealer. This will ensure that the leftovers stay juicy and do not get freezer burn which will ruin their texture.
If you don’t own a vacuum sealer, you can wrap the leftover steak in some freezer paper, which will help keep the meat’s moisture inside it and will prevent it from drying out.
Another packaging method you can try out is with heavy-duty aluminum foil or with regular plastic wrap. But keep in mind that these two are not as effective as freezer paper to hold the moisture in the meat and protect it from dehydrating.
To store the cooked steak properly, wrap each steak or piece of meat separately, and then store them in an airtight container or a zip lock freezer bag. If using a bag, try to get as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it.
The best place to store the leftover cooked beef is the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This will help prevent any juices which drip from the meat contaminating the other food products in the fridge.
What is the best way to reheat leftover cooked steak?
While it may seem like the best way to reheat a steak that has already been cooked, giving it a quick sear is not recommended for reheating it. The result of a quick sear is that the meat will become tough and dry due to the contact with quick high temperature, or due to improper storage.
But there are some ways to reheat the leftover steak, which can preserve as much of the meat’s juiciness and taste as possible. These include heating the meat up gradually and to a safe temperature.
Reheating leftover steak in the oven
Follow these steps to make sure that your leftover steak remains as juicy and tasty as it was when you first prepared it when reheating it in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit
- Set the steaks on a baking tray or wire rack
- Cover them with aluminum foil loosely
- Cook them for 20-30 minutes or until the temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Let them rest for several minutes
- Melt some butter over high heat in a skillet
- Sear each side of the leftover steaks for about 30 seconds
Reheating leftover steak via sous vide
If you have sous vide cooking machine or multi-cooker with sous vide function, you can reheat the leftover cooked steaks easily without losing any of their moisture.
Simply vacuum-seal the meat, if they are not already vacuum sealed, and set the sous to vide cooker to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop the vacuum-sealed steaks in the water and wait.
Since the sous vide cooking method is slower than cooking in the oven, you can expect to have to wait for about an hour or more until the leftover steak has reached the desired temperature.
But with this reheating method, you will prevent accidentally overcooking the meat or letting any of its moisture out. Plus, you can leave it in the machine for up to 4 hours, so the cooked steak remains warm and ready for consumption.
When the temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, take the meat out of the bags and sear it as described above until they get a crispy crust.
Nobody wants to throw away food, let alone an exquisitely cooked steak. So, if you have leftover cooked steak or other beef, you can still store it and use the leftovers later when using the proper storage methods.
Remember to wrap and pack the meat properly, and store it at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at the bottom of the refrigerator. This way, the leftover steak can safely be stored for up to 3-4 days.
You can store it for months if you freeze it before its quality starts degrading in 3 months or so.
Correctly reheating the leftover steak is also essential if you want to enjoy the juicy and delicious taste of the meat after it has been stored in the fridge or freezer.
If you follow these simple rules, you can make sure that you never throw away steak or other beef meat again!