How Long Can You Keep Marinated Beef in the Fridge? The Complete Guide

Marinating beef is a great way to infuse flavor and tenderness into your steak before cooking. But how long can you safely store marinated beef in the fridge before it goes bad? I did some research to find the definitive answer.

In this complete guide I’ll share with you everything you need to know about marinating beef and how long it can last refrigerated including

  • The benefits of marinating steak
  • Recommended marinating times
  • Proper storage tips
  • Signs of spoiled marinated meat
  • Can you freeze marinated beef?
  • FAQs answered

Plus plenty of tips and tricks for getting the most out of your marinade while keeping your meat safe to eat. Let’s dive in!

Why Marinate Beef?

Marinades are used to tenderize and add flavor to tougher inexpensive cuts of meat like flank steak, skirt steak, or top round steak. The acidic ingredients in the marinade (like wine vinegar, yogurt or citrus juice) help break down muscle fibers which makes the meat more tender.

Spices, herbs and oils add tons of extra flavor. The longer you marinate the more the marinade can penetrate into the meat for super juicy and flavorful steak!

Marinades are easy to make right at home using ingredients you likely have in your pantry and fridge already. Get creative with different flavor combos.

How Long Should You Marinate Steak?

For the best results, aim to marinate your beef for 2 to 4 hours at refrigerator temperature (40°F or below). This gives enough time for the marinade to penetrate and tenderize without over-marinating.

You can marinate up to 24 hours for maximum tenderness and flavor infusion. Any longer than that and the texture of the meat can start to break down from the acids.

If you’re short on time, even 20 minutes can make a difference! Just keep in mind that the flavors won’t penetrate quite as deeply.

For extra thin cuts like flank or skirt steak, reduce marinating time to 30 mins – 2 hours max.

Proper Marinated Beef Storage

Storing your marinated beef properly is key for food safety. Follow these tips:

  • Use non-reactive containers – Glass, stainless steel, ceramic or plastic containers are best. Avoid aluminum and copper which can react with acidic marinades.

  • Marinate in the refrigerator – Don’t leave meat marinating at room temp for more than 1 hour before refrigerating.

  • Submerge the meat – Make sure the beef is completely covered by the marinade. If not, flip halfway through marinating.

  • Cover tightly – A tight lid or plastic wrap prevents leaks and contamination. Zip top bags work great too.

  • Use quickly – Cook marinated beef within 2 days for optimal flavor and food safety.

How Long Does Marinated Beef Last in the Fridge?

Properly stored, marinated raw beef steak will last 2-5 days in the refrigerator depending on a few factors:

  • Type of meat – Fattier cuts like ribeye can last a bit longer than lean sirloin or filet mignon. Ground beef has a shorter shelf life.

  • Marinade ingredients – High acidity marinades may shorten fridge life compared to oil-based ones.

  • Storage method – Make sure meat is tightly sealed, completely submerged in marinade and kept cold at 40°F or less.

  • Freshness of meat – Fresher beef at the start leads to longer fridge life once marinated.

Trust your eyes and nose. Discard if you notice any unpleasant odors, sliminess or visible spoilage.

For optimal flavor and food safety, cook marinated steaks within 2 days. You can go up to 5 days if absolutely needed, but the meat quality declines.

Signs of Spoiled Marinated Beef

Watch out for these signs that your marinated beef has gone bad and should be thrown out:

  • Slimy texture – A slippery, slimy feel is a sure sign of spoilage. Good marinades enhance flavor but should not make the meat slimy.

  • Off smells – If you detect a rancid, sour or ammonia-like smell, the beef is spoiled. Trust your nose above all else!

  • Discoloration – Graying around the edges or unnatural colors like green, blue or black indicate unsafe meat.

  • Mold growth – Any fuzzy mold is a sign of spoilage. Toss the meat even if it’s just in one area.

  • Expired date – Check how long it’s been marinating. Toss if it’s passed the safe 2-5 day fridge life even if there are no obvious signs.

When in doubt, throw it out! Don’t risk getting sick from eating spoiled meat.

Can You Freeze Marinated Raw Beef?

Yes, it’s safe to freeze marinated raw beef as long as you follow a few guidelines:

  • Allow meat to marinate for the recommended time (at least 2-4 hours) before freezing.

  • Remove beef from marinade and pat dry before freezing. Discard used marinade.

  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible.

  • Label package with contents and freeze-by date (2-3 months).

  • Thaw in refrigerator before cooking. Do not cook frozen.

Freezing stops the marinating process so you won’t get the full tenderizing effects. But it’s handy for preserving meat to use later in recipes.

FAQs About Marinated Beef Storage

Get answers to some common questions about storing marinated beef:

How do you properly refrigerate marinated steak?

  • Marinate in a non-reactive, airtight container. Make sure meat is fully submerged. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

What happens if you leave steak marinating too long?

  • Over-marinating for more than 24 hours can lead to mushy texture and diminished flavor. Acids break down the meat over time.

Should you refrigerate marinated steak?

  • Yes, absolutely. Marinated raw beef must be refrigerated at 40°F or below for food safety. Never leave it out more than 1-2 hours.

Can I re-use marinade?

  • Never re-use marinade that touched raw meat, which can harbor bacteria. Boil used marinade for at least 3 minutes before using on cooked foods.

Is it bad to keep refreezing meat?

  • Yes. Thawing and refreezing beef more than once leads to loss of moisture and texture quality. Only freeze again if absolutely needed.

Tips for Marinating Beef Like a Pro

Follow these expert tips for tender, flavorful marinated steak:

  • Pat steak dry before marinating so the marinade can better adhere.

  • Pierce meat with a fork to allow marinade to penetrate deeper.

  • Rotate meat in the fridge halfway through marinating time.

  • Once marinated, pat steak dry and discard used marinade.

  • Don’t salt meat until ready to cook, or it will draw out moisture.

  • Grill over high heat for caramelization while basting with extra marinade.

The Takeaway on Marinated Beef Storage

Marinating is one of the best ways to add big flavor fast to cheaper cuts of beef steak. Store marinated beef properly in the fridge and use within 2-5 days for the best quality and food safety.

Keep your eye out for any signs of spoilage and don’t hesitate to toss meat if it seems off. With the right TLC, your marinated steak will come out incredibly juicy, tender and full of flavor.

Is it bad to marinate meat for too long?

Leave a Comment