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.

Then, it becomes important to know how long raw meat can sit out. If you leave raw meat out for too long, you risk getting it contaminated with bacteria. Eating contaminated meat puts you at risk of food poisoning.

So, 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 (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advise that you should not leave raw meat out for more than two hours.

Leaving raw meat out beyond this duration exposes it to bacterial contamination and triggers spoilage. Consuming such meat can lead to food poisoning.

How long can raw meat sit out to thaw?

Raw meat should not sit out to thaw.

Leave frozen meat to thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Another option is to put the frozen meat in a bowl of water until it defrosts.

Should you freeze raw meat?

Yes, you should. Always store raw meat at 40°F or less.

The best way to preserve perishable food items like raw meat is to freeze them. 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 also slows down their action and replication.

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. This will make the meat cook evenly and brown and sear much better.

How to tell if raw meat is bad

What does it look like?

Bad meat may no longer have its bright red hue. Instead, it’ll develop 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.

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.

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 plastic wrap or put it in an airtight 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 of 40°F and 140°F. This temperature range greatly supports bacterial action and replication.

Therefore, the best way to preserve raw meat is in the refrigerator or freezer where the temperature is below this range.

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 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 cause 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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