How Long Does Roast Beef Last in the Fridge? (And When to Toss it)

Keep your roast beef fresh and delicious by knowing just how long it lasts in the fridge! In this post, we’ll reveal the magic number for safe storage, ensuring scrumptious leftovers and peace of mind.

Let’s dive in and learn the key to savoring your roast beef without compromising on quality or safety!

NOTE: This article was reviewed by Melissa Macher, Registered Dietician and Food Scientist for safety and accuracy.

How Long Does Roast Beef Last in the Fridge?

Roast beef is a delicious dinner that can easily be made on a large scale to feed a crowd. But when you are estimating how much roast beef to make, it can be easy to overshoot, leaving you with extras. How long will this roast beef last in the fridge?

Cooked roast beef only lasts about 3 to 4 days in the fridge when stored properly. After these 4 days have passed, it is a good idea to discard any remaining beef as it may no longer be safe to eat. 

There are ways to keep roast beef good for longer, depending on the type of roast beef you have on hand, as well as by putting it in your freezer rather than your fridge.  

How to Tell When Roast Beef is Bad

It is typically easy to tell when sliced roast beef has gone bad, as it will develop a slimy texture and smell bad. Never taste roast beef to see if it has gone bad, as it can make you very sick.

It can be a bit more difficult to tell when roast beef that you have made on your grill or in your oven has gone bad. But in general, you will want to check for visual signs of spoilage, such as mold. You will also want to smell the roast beef to see if it has a rancid or rotten smell. 

You should also take the color of the beef into account. When you first cooked the roast, it likely has a pink or brown color to it. If your roast beef now looks pale gray, yellow, or green, then it’s best to throw it out. 

If you suspect beef has gone bad, throw it out right away, it is not worth making yourself sick. 

Related >> How Long Does Salami Last in the Fridge?

How Long Does Roast Beef Last in the Freezer?

Roast beef can also be stored in your freezer if you aren’t planning to eat it anytime soon. Simply put it in a Ziploc bag and place it in your freezer.

Using this method, your roast beef will stay good for 2-3 months. Just be warned, however, that when you do defrost your roast beef, it will be drier than if you had stored it in the fridge. 

Related >> How Long Does Ground Beef Last in the Fridge

How to Store Leftover Roast Beef

In order for roast beef to last for the full 4 days before it goes bad, it’s important to store it properly. Cooked roast beef must be kept in the fridge, and it is best to wrap it or put it in an air-tight container. 

According to the USDA, leftover roast beef should be stored as soon as it cools and no later than 2 hours after you finish cooking it. After 2 hours, bacteria will begin to grow on the meat and make it unsafe to eat.  

Beef is highly susceptible to bacteria growth, which is why it is important to never eat meat that has been sitting out or that has been in the fridge for a long time. Eating old or spoiled beef can cause foodborne illnesses

If you don’t think you will be able to eat all your leftover roast beef in 3 or 4 days, then it is a good idea to move the leftovers to the freezer so they will last longer.

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What if it’s Sliced?

While roast beef that you cooked on your grill or in your oven will only last for about 4 days, the sliced roast beef purchased from the deli counter will last a little bit longer, usually about 5 days. 

This is because sliced roast beef contains nitrites. Nitrates are a preservative that helps to keep the meat fresh for longer.

Deli meat should also be stored in an air-tight container or bag to lessen its exposure to bacteria.  It should also never be left on the counter and should be returned to the fridge whenever it is not being actively consumed. You can also freeze deli meats so they will last longer. 

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Can You Eat 5-Day-Old Roast Beef?

Meat doesn’t automatically go bad on the 4th day, and it is possible that roast beef might be safe to eat even if it is 5 days old. That being said, after the 4th day, your chances of getting food poisoning do increase, so you will want to proceed with caution and check for signs of spoilage before consuming the beef.  

It’s also important to remember that beef degrades in quality the longer it is kept in the fridge. So even if it might be safe to eat it after 4 or 5 days, it may be dry or have lost flavor to the point that it is no longer pleasant to eat. 

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Tips for How to Keep Roast Beef Fresh

Want your leftover roast to last as long as possible? Here are our tips so you can get the full 3-4 days from your leftover roast. 

  • As soon as everyone is done eating, pack away the leftovers. It can be tempting to leave the meat on the counter for longer while you do dishes etc., but this gives bacteria time to grow.
  • Invest in some nice, glass, air-tight containers. These will help not only your leftover beef last longer but any dish you plan to save. 
  • If you have a lot of beef left over, freeze it for use in a pasta sauce or soup at a later date. 
  • In the case of sliced roast beef, if your butcher doesn’t put it in a resealable bag, transfer the meat to one of these as soon as you get home to make it easy to keep your roast beef fresh.
  • Check that your fridge is set below 40°F to ensure it is the proper temperature for storing meat and dairy products. 

Related >> Smoked Prime Rib Roast Recipe

What is the Shelf Life of Roast Beef?

Because roast beef must be kept in the fridge or in the freezer, there isn’t really a shelf life for it–since it can’t be left on your pantry shelf! But, in general, most roast beef will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days or until the expiration date, whichever is first.

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Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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