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Can You Freeze Cooked Meat?

Can cooked beef, prime rib, steaks, etc., be frozen?

The question is, what will you do with them afterwards?

Have you ever gone on a Sunday to a restaurant that has a prime rib special on Saturday night, and made the mistake of ordering the leftover prime rib? It's invariably overcooked and a bit tough and that's after only 12 to 18 hours (and one little period of reheating). People who like their beef well done may be perfectly happy with the second-day prime rib; most others will not.

Twice-cooked beef is not generally delicious. And cold beef that has been frozen is generally not going to win awards, either, on a sandwich or in a salad, because it will be mushy and watery.

That's not to say you can't do it. You could partially thaw frozen beef, cut it into small cubes, and add it to a stir-fry, some fried rice, a soup, or something similar, near the last moment. That way, it shares in the warmth of the other ingredients, without seriously overcooking.

We don't freeze cooked meats, but it's not a question of safety. If the meat has been correctly handled and goes into the freezer safe, it will be safe to consume when removed from the freezer (and thawed correctly). We just don't like the textural changes that freezing and thawing causes. From all the outraged emails we receive when we discourage people from freezing this food or that, though, we are certainly not going to issue a blanket prohibition. You are welcome to freeze beef. Indeed, you may find that it is a perfectly satisfactory solution for you. We just don't do it.

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