How Long Can Raw Meat Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

I believe you were surprised when you heard that there’s a limit to how long raw meat should sit out. I was too because sometimes we leave steak out for hours while preparing the grill, and sometimes it’s a mistake.

You must know how long raw meat can sit out. If you leave raw meat out for too long, you risk getting it contaminated with bacteria. If you eat such meat, you can get food poisoning. Let’s find out how long you can keep raw meat out of the refrigerator or freezer.

How Long Can Raw Meat Sit Out?

Raw meat should not sit out beyond two hours. Bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advise that you refrigerate, freeze or cook meat that has been out for more than two hours.

If raw meat remains exposed to this, it is exposed to harmful bacteria that can trigger spoilage. It can also lead to food poisoning if eaten. Raw meat, frozen meat, refrigerated meat, and packaged meat should not sit out beyond two hours.

How Long Can Raw Meat Sit Out to Thaw?

Raw meat should not sit out to thaw. If you have frozen meat to thaw, do that overnight in the refrigerator. Another option is to put the frozen meat in a bowl of water until it defrosts.

SEE: What You Need to Know About the Shelf Life of Beef Jerky

Should You Freeze Raw Meat?

Yes, you should. The best form of preservation for perishable food items like raw meat is freezing. Raw meat should be stored at 40°F or less. Moreover, freezing raw meat will better help you preserve it for a longer period.

In addition, the temperature in the freezer doesn’t make the meat habitable for bacteria. It slows down their action and replication.

SEE: How Long Dough Can Sit Out Before Going Bad

How to Leave Raw Meat Out

While you should not leave raw meat out, sometimes, you don’t have a choice. In such cases, make sure you’re not leaving it out for too long. If the temperature is above 90°F, it should not sit out beyond an hour.

For instance, to make steaks, you need to allow the meat to come to room temperature. The benefits of doing this include the meat cooking evenly and it’ll brown and sear much better.

SEE: How Long Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge Before It Goes Bad

How to Tell if Raw Meat Is Bad

What does it look like?

Bad meat may no longer have its bright red hue. Instead, you may observe a greenish hue all over or on a side of the meat. Also, check for mold growth. If you find any, discard the meat.

Additionally, severe browning, shriveling, and dryness are signs you should look out for. If you notice any of these, the meat is most likely contaminated, and you should not eat it.

What does it feel like?

Fresh meat should feel firm when you touch it. If your meat feels nothing like that, if it is rather sticky or slimy, it has gone bad, and you should throw it away.

SEE: How to Stop Food Spoilage and Food Poisoning

What does it smell like?

When raw meat has gone off, it takes on an off smell. It smells foul or rotten, like something about to decay. If after taking a whiff of the meat, you get any of this, trash the meat.

What Happens if You Eat Raw Meat That Has Been Out?

Raw meat that has been left out is already home to bacteria. Therefore, it is contaminated, and you should throw it away. Eating contaminated beef can lead to food poisoning.

It manifests itself with symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, headaches, blood-stained stool, and stomach cramps.

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How to Preserve Raw Meat

  • Store raw meat in the refrigerator or freezer
  • Store meat at 40°F or less
  • Also, wrap the meat in a plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container. Make sure there is no damage to the storage container
  • In addition, keep the meat in the coldest area of the fridge or freezer
  • Do not refrigerate raw meat beyond three to five days


At what temperature does meat get spoilt?

Raw meat can spoil between temperatures 40°F and 140°F. This temperature range greatly supports bacterial action and replication. This is why the best way to preserve raw meat is in the refrigerator or freezer where the temperature is below this range.

Can you leave raw meat to thaw overnight on the kitchen counter?

No, you shouldn’t. Raw meat left out is exposed to the rapid action of bacteria that can trigger spoilage and food contamination.

Can raw chicken sit out overnight?

Raw chicken should not sit out overnight, even to thaw. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that you thaw frozen birds overnight in the refrigerator or a bowl of water.

Can raw turkey sit out to thaw overnight?

It happens sometimes, but you actually should not. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that it is unhealthy to do so. Also, they advise that the healthiest way to thaw a frozen turkey is to do so overnight in the refrigerator or a bowl of cold water.

How long can raw ground beef sit out?

Raw ground beef remains a perishable food. Just like raw meat, you should not leave it out beyond two hours.


Meat is one of those perishable food items that do not last too long. Leaving raw meat out for too long will contaminate it. Consuming contaminated meat can give you food poisoning.

Raw meat cannot and should not stay out beyond two hours. If you don’t have a choice but to leave it out on the kitchen counter, follow the necessary steps for the safety of your meat and most importantly, your health.

Thanks for reading.

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