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How Long Does Taco Meat Last? [Shelf Life Guide]

Tacos are a staple of Mexican cuisine, and most people don’t realize how much meat goes into making the dish.

With how easy they are to make and how many variations there are on the dish, it is no wonder that tacos have become so popular in recent years.

There are many misconceptions about how long your taco meat lasts, like whether or not you should freeze it.

We’re here to clear up these myths for you.

How to Store Taco Meat?

how to store taco meat

Taco meat is not the only part of tacos, and it’s also essential to know how long you should store it in the refrigerator.

The shelf life for cooked ground beef can be anywhere from one-five days, depending on what type of cut and fat content are present.

Ground turkey or chicken will have less flavor than white (lean) meats but still taste great with cheese sauces, lettuce leaves, tomatoes, and onions as toppings.

You should also know that you can freeze ground beef, but it is not recommended for long periods.

The best way to store taco meat is to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.

Freeze in appropriate portions.

This will help with the food’s texture and taste when it is thawed or cooked again.

Put a “use by” date on your containers to know how long you can store the meat before freezing it.

A good rule of thumb is about three months after cooking, but this may change depending on certain factors like fat content and cut type.

Label all leftovers with the date and use by (if applicable).

The “use-by” date is an indicator of freshness, not safety.

Use your best judgment as to if the product should be used or thrown out on this day.

How Long Does Taco Meat Last?

how long does taco meat last

Taco night is a staple for many families.

However, it can be hard to know how long taco meat will last in the fridge before you need to make another batch of tacos.

In the fridge, taco meat will usually last for about three to four days.

That’s plenty of time if you want a quick meal or are serving tacos at an event where food is being served buffet style, and people can go back for seconds.

The downside to storing your taco meat in the fridge is that it might start getting all watery, which makes it taste weird even with seasoning added on top.

You can extend the shelf life of taco meat if you freeze it.

It will last in the freezer for about two to six months, so long as you follow a few guidelines:

  • Freeze your taco meat right away after cooking and before any leftovers start getting wasted.
  • Use an airtight container or packaged bag before freezing, which should help minimize moisture loss from thawing later on.
  • Defrost thoroughly by leaving your frozen food out overnight (do not microwave.).
  • Refrigerate cooked tacos immediately after defrosting them so that they don’t go bad too quickly. This will also maintain their texture and flavor better than when reheating leftover tacos made earlier.

Hence, it’s best to consume taco meat within three to four days in the fridge or within two to six months when it’s frozen.

What To Do With Leftover Taco Meat?

what to do with leftover taco meat

If you’re not going to eat all of your taco meat right away and there are leftovers, store them for up to a couple of weeks in an airtight container (or place them inside the sealed bag) in the refrigerator.

If you need something different than tacos the next day, then turn those into breakfast burritos by wrapping scrambled eggs around them with cheese as one example.

Recipes that use leftover taco meat can be found on many food blogs online.

Traditional recipes include enchiladas and quesadillas using either flour tortilla wraps or corn tortillas.

You might also try our recipe for an easy taco casserole, which is simply a mixture of leftover ground beef and refried beans baked in the oven with your favorite toppings.

You can also use taco meat to fill for a breakfast or lunch sandwich alongside cheese, eggs, and other ingredients.

How to Tell if Taco Meat is Bad?

how to tell if taco meat is bad

It’s not easy for the inexperienced person who has never prepared meat before.

That usually gives a clue how long it’s been sitting out on your counter or in its package without being refrigerated.

Anywhere from 2 hours up to 3 days after purchase, and you should be concerned about spoilage.

There are any unusual odors like a sour, vinegary, or ammonia smell coming from the meat itself.

Another sign is if the meat is slimy and has mold growing on it.

If there are any visible signs of spoilage, such as black or white spots, then that is a pretty good indication something isn’t right with your food.

Even if you have cooked spoiled taco meat by mistake before (say you were out in the middle of nowhere and didn’t refrigerate some chicken breast), so don’t cook all your tacos at once without checking to make sure they’re still safe to eat.

It’s best to err on the side of caution and throw out anything spoiled.

does taco meat go bad

How Long Does Taco Meat Last? Does Taco Meat Go Bad?

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Shelf Life
Servings 1 Serving


  • Taco meat
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  • Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  • Label your container with the content and date and keep track of how much you’re using!
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).
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