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How Long Is Leftover Taco Meat Good For?

Are you wondering how long leftover taco meat is good for? Here’s everything to know, plus tips for storage, and yummy recipes to try.

There’s nothing better than taco night!

Whether you’re celebrating taco Tuesday or just need an easy dinner, tacos are the perfect crowd-pleasing quick meal.

However, if you’re making a large batch, you might have some extra taco meat left over.

If that’s the case, you’ll need to know how long you can safely use the leftovers.

Luckily, we’ve got all the information you need!

Below you’ll find information on how long leftover taco meat is good for, how to store it, fun ways to reuse it, and how to tell when it’s gone bad!

How long can you keep leftover taco meat?

Hard shell tacos with ground beef, tomatoes and lettuce on a platter.

At Room Temperature

Leftover taco meat should stay at room temperature for no more than 2 hours.

Foods left at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F (the danger zone) are susceptible to harmful bacteria growth that can make you sick.

Promptly refrigerating or freezing leftovers will prevent your food from quickly going bad.

In the Fridge

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooked ground beef or turkey can last 3-4 days in the refrigerator when properly stored.

In the Freezer

Frozen taco meat will last for about 4 months at the best quality.

How to Store It

In the Fridge

The best way to store leftover meat in the fridge is in a shallow airtight container.

Place the container towards the back of the fridge where the temperature is the coldest.

In the Freezer

For the freezer, you can use a heavy-duty zip-top freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.

You can also flash-freeze the meat and then wrap it in plastic wrap before adding it to your freezer bag for extra protection.

NOTE: If you have extra fast food, like Taco Bell leftovers, the same timeline and storage rules apply.

How to Know When It’s Gone Bad

Food poisoning is no joke!

To avoid a trip to the hospital, be sure to check your leftover taco meat for signs of spoilage before you eat it.

Here are some common things to look for:

If you do happen to ingest spoiled taco meat and you start to experience food poisoning symptoms, seek out medical care right away.

Taco Meat 101

Flat bread taco salad with taco meat, cheese, tomatoes, olives, and lettuce.

Now that we’ve covered the expiration date for taco meat, here’s some taco meat 101!

Tacos are a popular Mexican and Tex-Mex dish that’s easy to make and incredibly versatile.

You can use all sorts of meats for tacos, but for this post, we’ll focus on ground beef or ground turkey.

You can cook your meat in a skillet or Crock Pot and flavor it with warm spices like chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Or, you can use pre-made taco seasoning.

You can use hard or soft taco shells, flour tortillas, or corn tortillas to house your meat and toppings.

The typical taco includes about 2 ounces of meat along with fillings like lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese.

Common Ingredients and Foods for the Perfect Taco Dinner

Our Favorite Toppings

Side Dishes



  • Tres leches cake
  • Churros
  • Fried ice cream
  • Flan
  • Mexican corn cake
  • Sopapillas
  • Mexican wedding cookies
  • Rice pudding

How Much Meat to Serve Per Person

Several people eating and making tacos at a taco party with drinks and sides.

The average person will need 4 ounces of protein for a meal with sides. And the typical taco holds about 2 ounces of meat with toppings.

So you’ll need about 2 tacos per person for a taco bar with side dishes like rice and beans.

However, if you know you’ll be serving people with bigger appetites like hungry teenage boys, you may want to increase the amount to 5-6 ounces per person to be on the safe side.

You should also note that meat loses about 25% of its weight during the cooking process. So, to end up with 4 ounces of cooked meat, you’ll need to start with about 5.33 ounces of raw meat.

To figure out how much taco meat to serve, simply multiply the number of guests by 5.33 (the amount of raw protein in ounces), then divide by 16 to get the amount of protein in pounds.

Standard Serving Amounts

  • 10 People = 3.4 pounds
  • 20 People = 6.7 pounds
  • 25 People = 8.3 pounds
  • 30 People = 10 pounds
  • 40 People = 13.4 pounds
  • 200 People = 66.6 pounds

Whatever meat, toppings, and sides you choose, you’re sure to have a delicious meal.

And if there are any leftovers, be sure to check out the meal ideas, below!

Ideas for Leftovers

If you’re looking for a great way to use up extra meat, there are so many delicious leftover taco meat ideas to choose from.

Here are some of our favorite recipes featuring leftover taco meat:

  • Taco Salad
  • Taco Pizza
  • Nachos
  • Taco Baked Potatoes
  • Avocado Taco Boats
  • Tex Mex Hash

Get the full list at the link, above!


Is cooked ground beef good after 6 days?

Probably not!

Cooked ground beef usually lasts 3-4 days in the refrigerator and up to 4 months in the freezer. You can always check for signs of spoilage but it’s usually not worth it to risk food poisoning.

How many times can I reheat taco meat?

It’s likely safe to reheat taco meat multiple times so long as it reaches the proper internal temperature each time (165° F).

However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that food is only reheated once, so follow this guidance wherever possible.

Is it OK for taco meat to be a little pink?

Ground beef can be pink inside after it is safely cooked.

The pink color can be due to a reaction between the oven heat and myoglobin, which causes a red or pink color.

Just be sure the meat has reached a temperature of at least 165° F.

Yummy Mexican and Tex-Mex Recipes

Now that we’ve covered everything to know about how long taco meat is good for, here are some other delicious recipes you’ll love!

The Easiest Creamy Taco Soup

Bowl of creamy taco soup with spoon and cilantro, avocado, and lime garnish.

This delicious creamy taco soup features a creamy broth, ground beef, beans, vegetables, and plenty of taco spice. It’s so easy to make and ready in just 30 minutes!

Cheesy Chile Relleno Casserole

Baking dish of chile relleno casserole on white table surrounded by plates and spatula.

Chile Relleno Casserole is full of whole green chiles, a fluffy egg batter, and lots of cheesy goodness. It’s an easy breakfast with flavors the entire family will love!

Creamy Avocado Picante Chicken

Platter of picante chicken and avocados over rice.

This Creamy Avocado Picante Chicken features tender chicken pieces covered in a creamy picante sauce, topped with sliced avocados, all served over hot rice. It’s an easy dinner idea that comes together in no time!

Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream White Sauce

Pan of creamy chicken enchiladas with tomato and green onion garnish on table with bowls of toppings nearby.

These Chicken Enchiladas with Sour Cream White Sauce are filled with a creamy sauce, tender chicken, and lots of cheese. Your family will fall in love with this non-traditional recipe!

White Chicken Chili Recipe With Cream Cheese

Bowl of white chicken chili with cream cheese garnished with lime wedge and tortilla strips.

This White Chicken Chili recipe with cream cheese is perfect for a chilly evening. Just dump the 7 ingredients in your Crock Pot and in a few hours you’ll have a deliciously creamy chili ready for dinner!

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Did we answer all your questions about how long leftover taco meat is good for? Let us know if we missed anything in the comments.

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