How Long Does Meatloaf Last In The Fridge (And Freezer)?
Ah, the epitome of the American family meal, meatloaf, has been a dinner staple for decades. You probably grew up eating leftovers of this iconic dish. But before you dig in, ensure you know how long meatloaf lasts in the fridge so you don’t get sick.
Uncooked meatloaf lasts one to two days in the fridge and six months in the freezer. You can store cooked meatloaf for three to four days in the refrigerator. Signs that meatloaf has gone bad are flecks of mold, a slimy texture, or a foul odor. If you’re unsure about meatloaf, it’s best to dispose of it.
Meatloaf consists of various types of ground meat that you mix with other ingredients, such as eggs for binding and spices. Although the most common meat people use is ground beef, you can make meatloaf with ground chicken, turkey, or pork. No matter how you make your meatloaf, knowing how to handle it properly is critical.
How Long Can Meatloaf Be Refrigerated Before Cooking?
If you plan to make a meatloaf for dinner the following night, store it properly. Wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator.
Also, ensure you put it directly into the fridge and don’t forget it sitting on the counter for a couple of hours. Then, you can remove it from the refrigerator the following night and cook it.
Some people even swear that leaving your uncooked meatloaf overnight in the fridge improves the taste. It gives the spices and other ingredients more time to marinate. But you can decide that for yourself when it’s dinnertime.
How Long Does Cooked Meatloaf Last In The Fridge?
According to the USDA, cooked meat lasts three to four days in the fridge. This timeframe pertains to beef, chicken, pork, and seafood. Therefore, three to four days is the max, no matter what tasty meats you grind up to create your meatloaf.
Refrigeration merely slows bacterial growth; it doesn’t prevent it. So consuming cooked meat after four days in the fridge increases your chances of ingesting harmful bacteria.
This tidbit of information is vital to understand before enjoying those tasty meatloaf leftovers you might have in the future. You can enjoy your meatloaf later, but make sure it’s within the three to four-day window.
The Best Way To Store Meatloaf In The Fridge
You don’t need to worry if you can’t bear tossing out the leftover meatloaf. You can wrap it up for later. But you need to do so safely and properly.
When storing cooked meatloaf in the fridge, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Alternatively, you can wrap it in aluminum foil. Keep the meatloaf in the refrigerator inside an airtight container for maximum freshness.
Make sure the container isn’t overly large. A shallow container that is slightly larger than the meatloaf is ideal. Store uncooked meatloaf in the same way.
Can You Eat Meatloaf After 7 Days?
Eating meatloaf after 7 days is not recommended if it’s been in the fridge. However, if you have correctly stored it in the freezer for that time, you can consume it safely. First, make sure to thaw it properly.
The best way to thaw frozen meatloaf is in the fridge (more on this below). But you can also bake it directly from the freezer. Putting it in the oven when it’s frozen takes up to twice as long to cook as thawed meatloaf.
It takes approximately one and a half to two hours to cook thoroughly at 350 degrees. Make sure the internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground beef meatloaf. If the meatloaf contains ground turkey or chicken, the internal temperature must be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Can You Eat Cold Leftover Meatloaf?
You can eat cold leftover meatloaf as long as it’s cooked. You don’t want to eat raw meat. Many people enjoy their leftover meatloaf on bread as a sandwich, either hot or cold.
How Long Does Meatloaf Last In The Freezer?
Meatloaf is an easy dish to freeze for later. So making a few at once and freezing the extras can shave time off your meal prep.
Plus, it lasts several months without losing quality. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about your family groaning when you say there’s meatloaf for dinner.
Raw meatloaf can last for up to 6 months in the freezer, but for the best quality, use it within four months. Some might argue this point, saying ground beef will last indefinitely in the freezer. However, this is only if it has always remained frozen.
But you must remember, meatloaf isn’t just ground meat. There are other ingredients in it, like eggs, relish, spices, etc. The same goes for frozen raw ground chicken or turkey meatloaf. Using these within 6 months is acceptable, but 3 to 4 ensures better quality.
If the meatloaf is cooked, let it cool completely and store it in the freezer for up to three months. If uncooked meatloaf was previously thawed and refrozen, it may or may not be safe, depending on how you defrosted it.
You must know for sure that it defrosted in the refrigerator. If you are unsure, don’t refreeze it raw. Instead, cook it first, let it cool, then freeze it.
The Best Way To Store Meatloaf In The Freezer
Wrap meatloaf in plastic wrap, place it inside a freezer bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Take care to wrap the meatloaf well, so you don’t end up dealing with freezer burn.
How Long Does It Take To Thaw Meatloaf In The Fridge?
Meatloaf can take a day to thaw in the fridge, so plan to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Although it takes a while, thawing meatloaf in the fridge is the safest way to do it.
You just need to plan ahead. So remember to take the meatloaf out of the freezer the day before you want to have it for dinner.
If you forgot to take the meatloaf out of the freezer, you could attempt to thaw it in cold water or the microwave. To defrost the meatloaf in cold water, place the loaf in a sealed plastic bag.
Put the whole bag in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to prevent it from getting too warm.
To defrost in the microwave, use the micorwave’s defrost feature if it has one. Warm the meatloaf little by little, but know that this is the least preferred way to thaw it.
Remember, you can always cook your frozen meatloaf in the oven. You’ll just need to plan for it to take up to two hours to cook through.
How To Tell If Meatloaf Is Bad
Trust your gut if you think meatloaf has been in the fridge too long. (Otherwise, your gut can end up with food poisoning.) When in doubt, it’s best to dispose of rotten meat properly instead of risking illness.
You can tell if meatloaf is bad by checking its appearance, texture, and odor. If you see tiny fuzzy specks on the surface, this is developing mold. If you notice an off smell or flavor, don’t eat it. Sometimes, heating it can help make the scent more noticeable if you’re unsure.
The meatloaf is also bad if it feels slimy, which happens when bacteria break down the meat. Don’t risk tasting meatloaf to see if it’s rotten. You’ll be able to tell by the appearance and smell alone if you should make other dinner plans.
Time For Dinner: There’s Meatloaf In The Fridge
If you make meatloaf for dinner, go ahead and make two. You can safely wrap one up and store it in the fridge for dinner tomorrow. Just make sure to cook it within two days.
If you’d rather not eat meatloaf two nights in a row, you can wrap it up and put it in a freezer bag. It will last in the freezer for up to 6 months. If you have leftovers, they’ll keep in the fridge for three to four days.
Always check the meatloaf before you eat it. If it seems slimy, has a foul odor, or you see small moldy flecks, toss it. Otherwise, you risk ingesting bacteria and getting food poisoning. But if all looks and smells well, enjoy your leftover cooked meatloaf, hot or cold.
Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.
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