How Long is Taco Meat Good For – Ground Beef Safety

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Taco night has to be one of the most anticipated meals on the weeknight dinner schedule. But how long is taco meat good for after you’ve cooked it? There are multiple ways you can test to see if your ground beef is still edible if you are feeling hungry for leftover tacos. Ready to learn what they are? Join us as we break down the methods you can use to determine whether or not your taco meat is still good.

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Jarritos Mandarin with Tacos de Pulpo

Table of Contents

How Long Is Taco Meat Good For in Fridge?

How long is leftover taco meat good for? Once taco meat has been cooked up, you can expect the meat to last about 3-4 days in the refrigerator according to the USDA.

But that doesn’t mean you can be slack in putting it in the fridge.

The longer your taco meat sits out, the more time it has to breed bacteria. In fact, leaving your taco meat out for more than 2 hours is enough to make you sick.

There are many types of foodborne illnesses that can be acquired from eating meat that has sat out too long. In addition, eating meat that has gone past the recommended amount of time in the fridge can also render someone sick.

How Long is Taco Meat Good For

How Long is Leftover Taco Meat Good For?

You know the answer to, “How long is cooked taco meat good for?” but you likely still have questions. That’s because there are a variety of different types of taco meats that may have varying expiries, depending on where they came from and how it was prepared.

No worries! We’ve figured it all out for you, so you don’t have to. Read on to learn more about how long you can store your leftover taco meat.

How Long Is Canned Taco Meat Good For?

Canned taco meat is usually shelf stable, meaning it can remain on your shelf without being refrigerated. In this case, you can expect your canned taco meat to last up until the date printed on the can before the quality begins to decline.

Having said that, an open can of taco meat will require refrigeration. Much like other canned items and expiry dates (like expired evaporated milk), once air comes in contact with the inner contents, the decaying process begins. This means that refrigeration will be key to slowing down the degradation of your taco meat.

To be sure, eat the canned taco meat within 3-4 days of opening. Also, be sure to place the meat into an airtight container rather than storing the taco meat in the can. This will prolong the freshness of the meat and will prevent funky smells and flavors in your fridge from altering the taste of your taco meat.

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How Long Is Taco Meat Good For in a Restaurant?

Got some leftover taco meat from the yummy Mexican restaurant up the street? Good for you! But how long can you keep it?

We’d recommend pitching the meat in 2-3 days if not sooner.


Because though the taco meat has been cooked fresh, it’s also likely sat on your plate, in your car, and maybe even on your counter, for some time even before you placed it in the fridge. Thus, this type of meat may naturally go bad sooner. You may be able to stretch restaurant taco meat for 3-4 days, just like home-cooked ground beef, but be careful when doing so. Always look for signs of spoilage before chowing down

Single Mexican taco in a studio on a pink background.

How Long Is Turkey Taco Meat Good For?

Ever used ground turkey for taco meat? We know we sure have! And my, is it delicious! So, how long does it last?

Give it 3-4 days just like ground beef tacos.

These two types of meat go rancid in about the same amount of time, so be sure to check your turkey tacos for signs of spoilage before consuming them, just as you would with beef tacos.

Common signs of spoilage for ground beef and ground turkey meats include:

  • Change in color (can go from brown to gray, or very dark brown)
  • Change in texture
  • The acquisition of mold
  • Change in odor
  • Change in taste (we don’t recommend tasting either meat if the aforementioned signs of spoilage are present)
How Long is Taco Meat Good For

How Long is Chicken Taco Meat Good For?

Surprise! Even cooked chicken used for tacos can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. And yes, this includes both fresh chicken and ground chicken varieties.

Note: If you are thinking about whipping up a chicken taco marinade and allowing the raw chicken to sit in the fridge, be careful. You can cook chicken in its marinade but remember that raw chicken only lasts 1-2 days in the fridge.

Thus, it’s important that you only let the chicken marinate for about 24 hours before either moving it to the freezer or cooking it right away.

How Long Is Frozen Taco Meat Good For?

Thinking about putting your taco meat in the freezer? Good call! If you’re wondering how long is taco meat good for in the freezer you’re in for a treat.

Taco meat can last anywhere from 3-4 months in the freezer at the best quality.

And after that? The quality will diminish but ultimately will remain safe.

The nice thing about placing frozen taco meat in the freezer is that you can always pull it out on days you don’t want to cook. You can even freeze-dry your taco meat if you want!

Once you’re ready to eat, simply thaw it, throw it on some flour or corn shells, and BAM. You’ve got crazy delicious tacos in only a few minutes.

What’s not to love?

How Long Is Thawed Taco Meat Good For?

Assuming that you’ve properly thawed your ground beef for tacos, you can expect it to keep another 3-4 days in the fridge. Remember that ground beef, and any meat for that matter, should always be thawed in the fridge rather than at room temperature. By doing this, you are preventing bacteria growth from spreading.

Remember that freezing meat is essentially stopping it in time. This means that if you’ve refrigerated your cooked meat for 2 days, you really should only keep it another 1-2 days in the fridge once thawed from frozen.

How Long Does It Take For Taco Meat to Go Bad? You’ve Got a Few Days…Tops!

No matter what kind of taco meat you choose, most types are going to go rancid at around the 3-4 day mark. To know for sure, always look for signs of discoloration, a difference in taste, texture, or smell before consuming.



How can you tell if taco meat is bad?

Taco meat that has gone rancid will usually change color, texture, consistency, taste, or smell. If it’s been sitting long enough, it may even start to develop mold. For best quality (and to keep yourself from getting sick) always discard any food that shows signs of spoilage. Even if it’s taco meat from your favorite restaurant! 

Can eating old taco meat make you sick?

Yes, eating anything that is old or expired has the risk of making you sick. This is especially true when talking about meat.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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