How Long Can Raw Steak Sit Out?

Unrefrigerated raw steak can remain out at room temperature for up to two hours, according to the FDA. After that, it is no longer safe to consume and should be discarded.

How long is it safe to leave raw meat waiting before cooking it? Is it okay to keep the steak at room temperature for a period of time?

Many people are aware that uncooked meat is very prone to spoilage. 

But would it actually be dangerous to consume? Moreover, given that meat is pricey these days, it does not make sense to waste any food that can so quickly deteriorate.

Today, we will delve deeply into what the regulations are for keeping steak at room temperature and the best methods to do this safely.

It is essential to bring up the potential dangers and consult on the most suitable ways to store your meat in the refrigerator and freezer.

Before cooking raw steak, how long can it sit out?

The inquiry is not whether it is feasible to keep a raw steak out, but rather how long should it be left out before being prepared?

It is possible to leave a raw steak at room temperature for up to two hours, however, there is a disagreement about whether this is an advisable practice or not.

It is important to be aware that leaving raw steaks at room temperature can result in numerous health and safety risks. 

Prolonged exposure to room temperatures can lead to contamination and make the steaks unsafe to eat.

A raw steak may be vulnerable to harmful bacteria that can lead to food poisoning. Despite this, some people think it’s pointless to leave steaks out before cooking them – an idea that is certainly misguided.

Drawing on my years of experience as a professional chef in various eateries and hotels, as well as the insights of renowned chefs, renowned foodies, and food scientists, I have come to the conclusion today.

The advantage of allowing the steak to sit at room temperature before cooking is that it will brown and sear more efficiently.

Cooking meat by searing it can provide a more even consistency and increased flavor. Furthermore, it can help retain moisture, resulting in a more succulent and delicious meal.

Leaving it for a short amount of time, like 20-30 minutes, will make a considerable difference.

If left at room temperature, the steak will cook more evenly than if kept in the refrigerator, as the latter will likely result in varying temperatures across different parts.

If you take a steak right out of the refrigerator and put it in a hot pan, you’ll find that it is very tough. 

The explanation is that it is full of fat marbling and when it is heated, the muscles in the steak contract, making it hard to chew. 

On the other hand, when you allow the steak to come to room temperature before you cook it, it is far easier to work with and it comes out super soft.

When baking cakes, it is best to use ingredients that are at room temperature; they blend together better and will yield a superior finished product.

Steak: How To Leave It Out

In my opinion, the most effective approach is to place the steak on a plate, and cover it with a kitchen towel. 

Afterwards, allowing the raw steak to come up to a room temperature of about 68 Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).

I suggest seasoning the steak with salt so as to impede any bacterial development or increase. Furthermore, by covering the steak with kitchen towels, you are shielding it from dust and insects.

Tip: Season the steak on both sides with a generous sprinkling of Maldon sea salt flakes, cracked pepper, and a light coating of oil. Thoroughly rub the seasoning into the meat, which will act as a marinade and help the steak come to room temperature.

The dangers of leaving raw steak out

We need to tackle the clear risk posed by consuming raw meat, as it could lead to serious illnesses. What is the cause of this?

The greatest peril here is the potential for bacterial contamination. While there are other elements that can make the food taste unfavorable, bacteria are the major source of this.

 As already noted, microbial growth is especially fast when in the “temperature danger zone”.

It is riskier to consume a cooked steak that has been sitting out for more than four hours than to eat a rare steak.

Cooks and food processors utilize a temperature range to safeguard against the rapid multiplication of bacteria.

The temperature range from 4.4-60°C (40°F to 140°F) is ideal for the growth of bacteria. Anything above 140°F can damage or inhibit the growth of bacteria. Nevertheless, within the range of 40°F to 140°F, bacteria flourish!

Raw steak can sit out for a long time before it goes bad.

If you acquired the steak, brought it home and neglected to put it in the refrigerator, the FDA states you have a maximum of two hours to cook it or put it back in the fridge.

The two-hour rule has become an established custom for the preparation of various kinds of uncooked meats.

For up to four hours, raw meat can remain at room temperature. However, it is not safe to consume after that period of time.

The signs that raw steak has gone bad

If you have left the steak in the refrigerator for an extended period of time, there are methods to check if it is still okay to consume.

Take a deep breath and smell the meat. See if you can recognize familiar scents or if you detect any unfamiliar odors.

Most of us have experienced the clean smell of fresh meat, yet sometimes it may emit strange aromas when it has been sprayed.

Be sure to take the item out of its packaging and get a good whiff of it.

The visual look of the meat you are preparing can be another indication that the quality is not up to par.

Once the meat has started to turn brown, it has been in the oven for too long or at an excessive temperature. Raw meat should have a bright red hue with no discoloration or spots.

If the food feels hard or tough, then it should be thrown away. To avoid such an occurrence, order something from DoorDash that is sure to be safe to eat.

How To Properly Store Steak In The Fridge & Freezer

Keeping fresh meat is fairly hassle-free, right? It’s readily available pre-packaged in a butcher’s shop or grocery store, and afterwards you can just place it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to use it.

It is advisable to take certain precautions when storing raw steak. Desirably, one would just place it on the nearest shelf; however, it is important to be aware of any potential issues.

Examine the way the steak has been packaged. Is it enclosed in a plastic covering that will not allow liquid to seep through? Or is it enveloped in butcher’s paper?

Could liquid from the package leak and potentially drip onto other items in the fridge?

To take into account, think of where you would store the raw steak in the refrigerator. It should be kept on a top shelf so that any liquids released do not drip onto other food items, thus preventing potential contamination.

Before deciding where to store it, it is important to consider a few things. How long will it be kept in the freezer or refrigerator? What type of food is it? How much space do you have in your freezer or fridge?

1. Choosing The Right Placement

The best place to keep a raw steak, either frozen or unfrozen, in the fridge is on the bottom shelf.

If, for any reason, the juices from the steak packaging are able to escape, placing the steak on the lower rack will prevent the juice from dripping onto other food items, as previously mentioned.

2. Packaging

When storing your steak, make sure it is put on a plate with a rim or in a deeper dish (like these). This will prevent any dripping juices from coming into contact with the other food items in the vicinity.

The majority of steaks and other meat items bought from the shop usually come vacuum-packed in polystyrene bags or boxes. These are sufficiently sealed and thus do not require to be put in any other container or plate.

Raw steak can be stored in the refrigerator for how long?

Raw steak typically lasts for around 5 days when stored in the refrigerator. However, when kept in the freezer, it can remain edible for a longer period of time.

Other types of meat, such as pork or chicken, have varying expiration dates depending on the cut and type.

This table provides a handy reference to help remember the duration that different meats can be stored, either in the freezer or the refrigerator.

Beef 3-7 days All the way to 12 months
Poultry 1 to 3 days For up to 12 months
Pork 3 to 5 days For up to 12 months
Fatty Fish 1-day About 3 months
Seafood 3 days From 6 to 12 months

Other Questions Asked

Following our discussion on how long raw steak should be stored in the refrigerator. Let’s examine some associated queries regarding this subject!

Steaks Can Be Cooked For A Few Hours At Room Temperature?

It has been concluded that steak (or any other raw meat) should not be left outside for more than two hours (four at maximum). So it is best not to leave it out any longer than that.

It is not safe to consume under any circumstances the following day.

In The Refrigerator, How Long Can Ground Beef Be Kept?

No rule exists to suggest that ground meat is more resistant to bacterial and oxidative damage compared to steak.

We should exercise greater care when consuming ground meat, as its larger surface area increases the risk.

How Long Can A Cooked Steak Stay In The Sun?

As indicated by various sources, cooked steaks can remain out of the refrigerator at regular room temperatures for a maximum of two hours after they have been cooked. 

After this period, the food is no longer safe to eat and should therefore be disposed of.


Steak is a classic, beloved dish that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Whether it’s grilled, pan-fried, or slow-cooked, steak is sure to satisfy. With its rich flavor and succulent texture, steak is sure to be a hit with family and friends alike.

Alfie Theo
Alfie Theo
Articles: 90

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