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?
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:
- Slimy texture
- An off smell or taste
- Excess moisture
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
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
- Sour cream (or a sour cream substitute)
- Refried beans
- Black beans
- Black olives
- Fresh garden salsa
- Shredded cheese
- Diced tomatoes
- Cilantro (or a substitute for cilantro if you don’t like the taste!)
- Pico de gallo
- Cowboy Caviar with Avocado
- Honey Butter Skillet Corn
- Mexican street corn
- Mexican rice
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Coconut Rice with Black Beans
- Fruit salad
- Grilled pineapple
- Tortilla chips
- Meyer Lemonade
- Agua Fresca
- Orange Julius
- Jarritos Soda
- Tres leches cake
- Fried ice cream
- Mexican corn cake
- Mexican wedding cookies
- Rice pudding
How Much Meat to Serve Per Person
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
- Taco Baked Potatoes
- Avocado Taco Boats
- Tex Mex Hash
Get the full list at the link, above!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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!
More Like This
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.
And if this post was helpful, be sure to check out:
- How Long Is Leftover Chili Good For?
- How To Reheat Nachos With Toppings & Sour Cream
- How To Reheat Enchiladas So They Aren’t Soggy
- 18 Awesome Ways to Substitute for Cheddar Cheese
- 19 Ways to Substitute for Cotija Cheese
- 15 Easy Ways to Substitute for Green Chiles
- 20 Ingredients to Substitute for Sour Cream
- 14 Excellent Ways to Substitute for Olives