How Long Can Raw Steak Sit Out?

How long can raw steak be left out of a fridge? Raw steak can be left outside at room temperature for two hours. After 4 hours, it becomes unsafe to eat and must be thrown out, according to the FDA.

Okay, we’ve all erroneously left meat that was raw on the counter for a long time. But how long is enough? Is it safe to keep the steak at room temperature prior to making it?

Most people know that raw meat is very perishable, but surely it won’t kill you? Furthermore the fact that meat is extremely expensive nowadays, therefore, it doesn’t make sense to leave any food out that is easily perishable.

In today’s guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at what you are allowed to keep your steak at room temperature and the best way to safely do this.

We also thought it’s important to talk about the risks involved and discuss the best methods to store your meat in the freezer and fridge!

How Long Can You Leave Raw Steak Out Before Cooking

The question isn’t whether you can or how long you leave a raw steak out, but the question should be, how long should you leave a raw steak out before cooking?

You can leave a raw steak out at room temperature for up to 2 hours. However, there’s a debate about whether you should or not.

As you are aware there are many dangers associated with leaving your steaks out at room temperature and leaving a raw steak out for too long causes many health and safety hazards.

A raw steak becomes exposed to harmful bacteria which could cause food poisoning. Some people also believe that leaving steaks out doesn’t help the cooking process and is a waste of time – those people are silly.

Today, based on my experience as a chef in many hotels and restaurants, and straight from the mouths of reputable chefs, famous foodies, and food scientists.

The main benefit of leaving the steak in the room to warm up prior to cooking can be that the steak will brown and sear more effectively.

This results in a smoother texture and better taste! Seared pieces can also trap and hold more moisture in the meat, leaving it moist and flavorful!

Even if you let it sit for just 20-30 mins you’ll notice a huge difference!

In addition, by leaving the raw steak at room temperature, it cooks more evenly. If you leave the steaks in the refrigerator, it is likely to be cooked at diverse temperatures across the various parts.

If you cook a steak straight after lifting it out of the refrigerator, you will notice the meat will be very tough. The steak is basically filled with marble of fat. Once it hits a hot frying pan, the muscle in the steak tightens up. Whereas if the raw steak has been left out at room temperature, it cooks far easier and leaves it super soft.

The same applies when baking cakes and making use of only ingredients that are at room temperature. They mix better and result in a higher quality final product.

How To Leave Steak Out

The most effective method in my opinion is to just put your steak on a plate, and wrap it or cover it with a kitchen cloth. Then, let the raw steak rise to an ambient temperature of approximately 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20degC).

I would recommend seasoning the steak with salt to stop any bacteria from forming or growing. By wrapping the meat in kitchen towels, you’re protecting the meat from dust and flies.

Tip: season the raw steak on both sides with Maldron sea salt flakes, and cracked pepper and lightly cover in oil, and then rub the seasoning in. By doing this you are marinating the steak whilst bringing it to room temperature.

Dangers Involved With Leaving Raw Steak Out

Let’s get this obvious danger over the top: raw meat could cause you to become sick. Very sick! What is the reason?

The biggest risk, in this case, is the possibility of a bacterial infection. There are many other factors that can make the meat taste bad however bacteria are the most prominent cause. As I’ve already said, bacteria grow exceptionally quickly when they are in “the “temperature danger zone”.

Tip: It’s more dangerous eating a cooked steak that has been left out for over 4 hours than to eat a blue steak.

This is a temperature range food processors and chefs employ to protect themselves from the rapid growth of bacteria.

It is a range of 40degF to 140degF (4.4-60oC). Anything over 140degF can destroy or hinder the growth of bacteria. However, within 40degF to 140degF, bacteria thrive!

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

If you bought this steak, took it home, and left it out of the fridge, according to the FDA you have two hours to cook it or place it back in the refrigerator.

The 2-hour rule is now a standard practice that is used to prepare a variety of raw meats.

The longest period that raw meat is left at room temperature is four hours. After that, it’s not safe to eat!

Signs That Raw Steak Has Gone Bad

If you do leave the steak in the fridge for too long, there are ways to determine if it’s still safe to make use of.

The first tip you can use is to sniff the meat. You should take a long whiff and try to identify any smells that are foreign. Everyone has experienced the fresh smell of meat and, if you’re honest with us, you’ll be aware of the odd smells that they release when they are sprayed.

If you’ve left it in its packaging be sure to get the container out and smell it thoroughly.

The second indicator that your food isn’t as good now is the appearance of your meat.

After the meat has begun to brown, it’s been in the oven for too long or at excessive temperature. Raw meat should be a vibrant red color, without any discoloration or blemishes.

In addition, if the food has a tough feel to it, then you’ll definitely have to throw it in the trash! If that happens, pull out your DoorDash app and purchase something that’s guaranteed to be safer to eat.

How To Properly Store Steak In The Fridge & Freezer

Storing your raw meat is fairly simple, isn’t it? It’s easy to buy it in the pre-packaged form in the butcher’s store or grocery store, and then you put it in the refrigerator or freezer until the time you’re ready to utilize it.

Unfortunately, there are some issues to be aware of. While we’d like to just throw it onto the first shelf available. You need to take a few steps to ensure you store your raw steak correctly.

The first step is to consider how the steak was wrapped. Are the steaks covered in plastic that will not leak? Or is it wrapped in butchers’ papers?

Could juices seep out of the package and possibly spill onto other foods in your refrigerator?

Another question to consider is where in your refrigerator the steak is kept raw. If it’s located on the top rack the juices could spill over onto other food items, and then contaminate them.

As you will see there are a few things to think about before placing it in your freezer or fridge.

1. Choose The Best Placement

When storing your fresh steak in the fridge whether it’s frozen or fresh the most efficient location to store it is on the lower shelf.

As we’ve mentioned before in the event that for some reason the juices do be able to escape from the packaging of the steak placing it on the lower rack will stop the juice from spilling onto food items.

It is possible to wash the shelf that it’s on However, there are no cross-contamination risks.

2. Packaging

When placing your steak on the shelf at the bottom, make sure that it’s on a plate that has a lip or in a deep container (such as these). This will stop any juices from getting to foods that are around the steak.

The majority of steaks and other meat products purchased from the store are pre-packaged in vacuum-sealed polystyrene bags or polystyrene boxes. It is not necessary to place them in a container or on the plate if they’re tightly sealed.

How Long Can You Store Raw Steak In The Fridge?

Different types of steak and meat in general have different expiration dates. On average, raw steak is still good for about 5 days when stored in the refrigerator. When stored in your freezer, it can last longer.

Below is a table to help to remember how long different types of meats can last (both to be frozen and refrigerated).

Beef3-7 daysAll the way to 12 months
Poultry1 to 3 daysFor up to 12 months
Pork3 to 5 daysFor up to 12 months
Fatty Fish1-dayAbout 3 months
Seafood3 daysFrom 6 to 12 months


After having discussed the amount of time that raw steak should be kept out while it’s still in the fridge, let’s look at some related questions about the topic!

Can steaks be cooked for a few hours to room temp?

As we’ve determined that steak must remain outside for no more than two hours (4 maximum), you shouldn’t let steak (or other meat that is raw) outside for longer than that.

Simply and in absolutely no way is it safe to consume the following day.

How long can ground beef stay in the refrigerator?

There’s no rule available that states it is that the ground meat is less vulnerable to bacterial and oxidative infection than steak is.

However, it is logical that we should probably be more cautious when eating ground meat due to its greater areas of the surface.

How long can a cooked steak stay in the sun?

According to several sources, cooked steaks are able to be kept outside for up to 2 to 2 hours at room temperatures following having been cooked.

After the time is up the food is considered to be unsafe to consume and must be removed.

Did you find this guide helpful?
Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, the founder and editor of YummyTasteFood! She's a seasoned food writer and editor with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry as a former pastry chef, sous chef, and barista. When not writing about food, she explores new recipes or travels the world for culinary inspiration.

Exclusive Coupons & Discounts and Yummy Recipes!

Sign up to our free newsletter!