Cooked beef maintains its quality in the freezer for up to four months when stored properly in an airtight container. The same time and temperature guidelines apply to cooked beef as they do to raw beef – keep the meat below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and use within three to four days of defrosting. However, unlike raw meat, it is not safe to refreeze previously cooked meat, and its quality suffers significantly when repeatedly exposed to extreme temperatures.
Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place a wire rack over it. Elevating the thawing food allows the moisture it releases to collect separately. However, it is also safe to place the beef on a plate lined with paper towels to defrost.
Place the frozen cooked beef on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator. Segregating the beef from other foods prevents cross contamination.
Allow approximately 30 minutes of defrosting time for every pound of frozen cooked beef. Cooked beef has less moisture than raw beef, which leads to shorter thawing time.
Consume thawed cooked beef within three to four days. Reheat previously thawed cooked beef to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Insert a meat thermometer in the beef’s thickest portion to check its internal temperature.
- "The Professional Chef 8th Edition"; The Culinary Institute of America; 2006
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.