35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (2024)

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By Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

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Feb 03, 2024, Updated Feb 10, 2024

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Wondering what to do with leftover taco meat? Here are the 35+ best, most impossibly-delicious leftover taco meat recipes on the internet.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (2)

Table of Contents

  • Recipes Using Leftover Taco Meat
  • Traditional Mexican Dishes
  • Fusion Dishes
  • Healthy Alternatives
  • Comfort Foods
  • Party Pleasers
  • FAQs
  • 35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) Recipe

Recipes Using Leftover Taco Meat

Whether it’s beef or chicken, leftover taco meat is a total treasure to have in the fridge.

I’d even argue that the taste gets better the next day, as the rich flavors have a chance to mingle.

Here’s a quick guide on how to spin your leftover taco meat into dishes so good you’ll start making extra on purpose.

Best Uses for Leftover Beef Taco Meat

Beef taco meat is perfect for hearty dishes. It shines in recipes like casseroles, meaty pastas, and stuffed vegetables.

Check out my Ground Beef Tacos recipe that uses homemade beef taco seasoning.

You can use that leftover beef taco meat to add an extra layer of flavor to dishes such as spaghetti, lasagna, or even meatloaf.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (3)

Best Uses for Leftover Chicken Taco Meat

If it’s chicken taco meat you’ve got, think light and flavorful.

This leaner option is fantastic for dishes where you want a hint of spice without overpowering the other ingredients.

It’s a natural fit for refreshing salads, wraps, and even lighter casseroles.

For instance, leftover meat from my Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos works wonderfully in a chicken taco rice bowl. Alternatively, if you have leftovers from my Chicken Street Tacos, they seamlessly blend into a cheesy chicken taco quesadilla, combining street-food flair with homestyle comfort.

With a little creativity, those leftovers can be the base of delicious, easy-to-prepare meals that your family will love.

Traditional Mexican Dishes

Don’t let your leftover taco meat go to waste – it’s perfect for adding a tasty twist to these classic Mexican dishes. Here’s how you can easily incorporate it into some familiar favorites.

Taco Salad

Mix your leftover taco meat with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, and shredded cheese for a quick and satisfying lunch. Add a dollop of sour cream and your choice of dressing for that creamy finish. For an extra crunch and a burst of flavor, toss in some crushed tortilla chips or a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve it with a side of warm cornbread casserole or a light soup for a complete meal.

If you’re in the mood for a meatless version of this, check out my vegetarian taco salad with lime crema.

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Taco Meat Quesadillas

Add some leftover taco meat to Cheese Quesadillas for an extra layer of flavor. The combination of savory meat and gooey melted cheese, when toasted to crispy perfection, is irresistible.

Serve with a side of salsa, guacamole, and a bowl of Mexican rice for a complete dinner.

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Taco Meat-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Mix taco meat together with cooked rice, corn, and a pinch of taco seasoning. Then, stuff this mixture into bell peppers, top it off with some cheese, and bake it until the peppers become tender and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

These stuffed peppers are delicious and very satisfying, with a perfect combination of flavors. You can serve these stuffed peppers with a side of roasted vegetables or a simple garden salad.

Check out this Taco Stuffed Peppers recipe by Recipe Runner.

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Loaded Taco Meat Tostadas

For a quick and crunchy snack, prepare Tostadas by topping crispy tortillas with refried beans, leftover taco meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.

Drizzle with a creamy avocado sauce or cilantro lime crema for an added zesty flavor. Pair these with a side of Mexican street corn for a fun and satisfying meal.

Check out this Beef Tostadas recipe by Eat The Gains.

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Taco Meat-Filled Empanadas

Empanadas filled with taco meat are a perfect snack or appetizer. Stuff puff pastry dough with the meat, fold, and either bake or fry until golden.

Serve these crunchy pockets with a side of salsa verde or a tangy dipping sauce.


Easily turn your leftover taco meat into delicious Enchiladas. Fill tortillas with the meat and cheese, roll them up, and lay them in a baking dish.

Cover with enchilada sauce and more cheese, then bake until bubbly. Serve these hearty and flavorful enchiladas with a garnish of fresh avocado and a dollop of sour cream for a perfect family dinner.

Try this with my Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas recipe.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (8)

Mexican Meatloaf

Give a new life to the classic meatloaf with a taco twist by combining your leftover taco meat with everyday ingredients for a flavorful family dinner.

  • Start by mixing 1 pound of taco meat with 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 2 eggs, and 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Add a tablespoon of chili powder for an extra kick, a small minced onion, and some diced bell peppers for freshness and crunch.
  • Thoroughly mix everything together and then shape the mixture into a loaf in a greased baking pan. Bake your meatloaf at 350°F for about 45-50 minutes, or until it reaches the correct meatloaf temp.
  • Once done, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing to hold its shape better.

Here are 31+ delicious sides for meatloaf.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (9)

Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)

Simply roll the taco meat in corn tortillas, spritz with a bit of oil, and air fry or bake until they’re crispy and golden.

Serve these taquitos with a side of salsa or authentic guacamole for a satisfying snack or light meal.

Check out this Beef Taquitos recipe by Two Peas & Their Pod. You can use leftover beef taco meat instead of ground beef filling and follow the recipe as usual.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (10)

Taco Meat Chili

Use your taco meat to whip up a rich and flavorful pot of chili. It’s perfect for those cooler evenings and goes well with a side of cornbread casserole or over a bed of rice (try my foolproof basmati rice recipe).

Top with shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream for extra indulgence.

If your leftover taco meat is beef-based, try incorporating it into my classic Chili Con Carne recipe.

For chicken taco meat, you might find it works perfectly in my Instant Pot Chicken Chili or give it a unique twist with my Green Chicken Chili recipe.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (11)

Loaded Taco Meat Nachos

For a fun and easy snack, assemble a plate of Nachos. Layer tortilla chips with taco meat and cheese, bake until melted, and finish with toppings like jalapeños and olives. It’s great for game nights or as a quick snack.

Check out this Loaded Taco Nachos recipe by Simply Scratch.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (12)

Got a game day ahead? Try these other crowd-pleasing game day nachos recipes.

Taco Soup

Make a comforting bowl of Taco Soup by combining taco meat with broth, canned tomatoes, corn, and black beans.

It’s a warming and satisfying meal, ideal for a quick lunch or a light dinner with crusty bread on the side.

Check out this Taco Soup recipe by The BakerMama. Simply follow her recipe, substituting the meat portion with your leftover beef taco meat. Adjust the seasoning according to your preference.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (13)

Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Hollow out zucchini halves and fill them with taco meat for a lighter dinner option. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until the zucchini is tender.

These Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats are delicious when served with a quinoa salad or a slice of rustic bread.

Check out this Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats recipe by FoodieCrush.

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Fusion Dishes

Leftover taco meat isn’t just for traditional recipes – it’s also an amazing ingredient for fusion dishes that blend different cuisines. Here’s how you can turn your taco meat into exciting meals:

Taco Pizza

Why choose between tacos and pizza when you can have both? Spread your leftover taco meat on pizza dough, add a generous amount of cheese, and bake.

Once done, top it with tomatoes, olives, and a dollop of sour cream. Perfect for a fun family movie night or a casual get-together with friends.

Check out this Taco Pizza Recipe by The Girl Who Ate Everything.

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Psst. Want to make it in your air fryer? Check out my Air Fryer Pizza recipe for the perfect method. Also see How to Reheat Pizza in the Air Fryer for any leftovers.

Taco Pasta

Combine the best of Italian and Mexican cuisines with Taco Pasta. Stir leftover taco meat into your cooked pasta, adding cheese and salsa for a spicy and creamy twist.

Serve it hot with a side of garlic bread fingers or a fresh green salad for a quick yet satisfying weeknight dinner.

Check out this One-pot Taco Pasta recipe by The Clean Eating Couple

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Mexican Lasagna

Layer lasagna sheets with taco meat, salsa, beans, and cheese for a delightful Mexican Lasagna. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, and the layers are well combined.

Serve this comforting dish with a side of quick garlic bread from scratch or a crisp Kale Caesar Salad.

Taco Meat Omelette

Start your day with a protein-packed Taco Omelette. Whisk leftover taco meat into beaten eggs along with your favorite veggies and cheese.

It’s a hearty breakfast that’ll keep you energized throughout the morning, ideal for weekend brunches or a filling breakfast.

Check out this Taco Meat Omelette recipe by The Kitchen Magpie.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (17)

Taco Meat Spaghetti

Give your spaghetti meat sauce a new life by sautéing taco meat with garlic, onions, and tomato sauce. It’s a delightful fusion that combines the heartiness of Mexican flavors with the comfort of Italian pasta.

Perfect for a family dinner, serve it with a side of crusty bread or a Caesar salad.

Check out this Taco Spaghetti recipe by The Country Cook.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (18)

Keema Naan with Taco Meat

Experiment with an Indian classic by using leftover taco meat as a filling for Keema Naan.

The seasoned taco meat adds a unique and delicious twist to this traditional bread. Serve it as a part of an Indian-inspired meal or enjoy it as a snack on its own.

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Taco Meat Dumplings

For a delightful appetizer or a fun snack, try making Taco Meat Dumplings. Stuff dumpling wrappers with the meat, steam or fry them, and serve with a spicy dipping sauce.

They’re perfect for parties or as a tasty starter before a main course.

Check out this Taco Dumplings recipe by Emily Fabulous.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (20)

Taco Egg Rolls

For a twist on a traditional snack, make Taco Egg Rolls. Roll taco meat in egg roll wrappers and fry for a crispy and savory bite.

Serve these rolls with chow mein noodles or pad woon sen for a well-rounded meal.

Check out this Taco Egg Rolls recipe by Chisel & Fork.

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Each of these fusion dishes brings a creative twist to the table, proving that leftover taco meat can be the start of something exciting and new.

Healthy Alternatives

Leftover taco meat can be surprisingly versatile when it comes to eating healthy. These recipes offer nutritious ways to enjoy your favorite flavors while keeping things light and wholesome.

Burrito Bowls

Burrito Bowls are a fantastic way to enjoy a balanced meal. Start with a brown rice or quinoa base, add a layer of beans for extra protein, and then top with your leftover taco meat.

Garnish with fresh veggies like corn, diced tomatoes, and a scoop of guacamole. It’s a customizable dish that’s perfect for a nutritious lunch or a quick dinner.

Drizzle with lime crema, avocado crema or your favorite salsa to keep it flavorful yet healthy.

Check out this Beef Burrito Bowl recipe by Espresso and Lime.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (22)

Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Stuffed Potatoes are a comforting choice. Bake some potatoes until they’re fluffy and tender. Scoop out the center and mix it with taco meat, a sprinkle of cheese, and some chopped veggies.

Refill the potato skins with this mixture and bake until everything is warm and the cheese has melted.

Drizzle with this creamy, delicious Baja Sauce.

Check out this Double Stuffed Taco Potatoes by Spicy Southern Kitchen.

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Taco Burritos

This ground beef and rice burrito recipe packs a solid protein punch. I love to keep a freezer stockpiled with them as a fantastic, nourishing option for weekday meals.

They’re both comforting and filling.

I’m all for leftovers doing double duty as meal prep, especially when it tastes this good.

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Taco Rice Bowls

While Taco Rice Bowls might sound similar to Burrito Bowls, they offer their unique twist. For Taco Rice Bowls, use this delicious Instant Pot Mexican Rice.

Top with taco meat and add a variety of toppings like sliced avocado, diced bell peppers, and a sprinkle of cotija cheese. Drizzle with lemon yogurt sauce or a light dressing to keep it refreshing.

These bowls are ideal for a quick yet satisfying lunch that won’t weigh you down.

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Comfort Foods

When you’re in the mood for something cozy and satisfying, leftover taco meat comes to the rescue. These comfort food recipes are perfect for those times when you want both flavor and heartiness.

Taco Mac & Cheese

Inject a little Mexican flair into your by stirring in leftover taco meat. It adds a wonderful depth of flavor to this beloved comfort food.

Enjoy it on a cozy night, maybe with steamed broccoli or a light salad to balance the richness.

Here are 21+ ideas for what to serve with mac and cheese.

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (26)

Taco Grilled Cheese

Take the classic grilled cheese sandwich up a notch by adding taco meat. The combination of crispy bread, melted cheese, and savory taco meat is simply irresistible.

Pair it with tomato soup or a simple garden salad for a comforting and easy lunch.

Check out this Taco Stuffed Grilled Cheese recipe by Love Baked Good Cakes.

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Walking Taco Casserole

Create a hearty Walking Taco Casserole by layering taco meat with tortillas, beans, corn, sour cream, and a generous amount of cheese. Bake until bubbly and serve hot.

It’s the ideal dish for a comforting family dinner, especially paired with a green salad or some roasted veggies.

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Taco Meat Frittata

A Taco Meat Frittata is a fantastic choice for breakfast or brunch. Mix taco meat with beaten eggs, veggies, and cheese, and bake until set. Serve with a side of toast or a fresh green salad.

Breakfast Taco Hash

Whip up a Breakfast Taco Hash with diced potatoes, taco meat, bell peppers, and onions. Top with a fried egg for a complete and satisfying breakfast.

Party Pleasers

Got leftover taco meat and have a party or gathering ahead? Transform it into perfect party snacks or appetizers for your next gathering. They’re ideal for casual get-togethers or just to spice up your snack time.

Taco Samosa

This fusion snack marries the spiced flavors of taco meat with the classic Indian samosa format. For an exciting variation, you can try my Chicken Samosas recipe, replacing the chicken filling with your leftover chicken taco meat.

The combination of the seasoned taco meat inside the crispy, golden samosa wrappers, served with tangy tamarind chutney, creates a delightful fusion of flavors that’s sure to be a hit.

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Taco Meat Sliders

For a fun and tasty snack or a laid-back meal, Taco Meat Sliders are your go-to. Fill soft mini buns with juicy taco meat and melted cheese, then add a dollop of spicy mayo for an extra kick.

They’re great for gatherings, picnics, or just a casual family snack time.

Check out this Taco Sliders recipe by Eating on a Dime.

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Mini Taco Meat Tarts

Fill bite-sized pastry shells with a mixture of seasoned taco meat and cheese, then bake them until they’re golden brown and the cheese is oozy and delicious.

These taco meat tarts are perfect for serving at parties as a snack or appetizer.

Taco Dip

Create a simple and crowd-pleasing Taco Dip by combining taco meat with cream cheese, sour cream, and taco toppings. Serve with tortilla chips for dipping.

Taco Pinwheels

Taco Pinwheels are a fun and festive snack. Spread cream cheese on tortillas, add taco meat and toppings, roll up, and slice into pinwheels. They are perfect for parties and can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature, with no baking required.

Check out this Taco Pinwheels recipe by My Incredible Recipes.

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Taco Bites

In less than 30 minutes, create tasty Taco Bites, ideal for gatherings, game days, or family dinners. Start by shaping tortilla squares into muffin tins and baking until crisp. Assemble the leftover taco meat in the baked tortilla cups. Top with shredded cheese, bake until melted, and serve with your choice of toppings for a customizable, delicious snack or appetizer.

Check out this Mexican Style Ranch Taco Bites Recipe by Erhardts Eat

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Can you freeze leftover taco meat?

Safely freeze leftover taco meat in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to 3 months, ensuring it retains its flavor and quality.

How long is leftover taco meat good for?

Store leftover taco meat in the refrigerator and use it within 3 to 4 days for optimal freshness and safety.

What to do with leftover taco beef?

Repurpose leftover taco beef in various dishes like casseroles, quesadillas, salads, sloppy joes or even as a pizza topping for a delicious twist.

How to reheat leftover taco meat?

To reheat leftover taco meat, gently warm it on the stovetop with a bit of water or broth to keep it moist, stirring occasionally until it’s evenly heated. This method preserves the meat’s flavor and texture.

Other Fan-Favorite Mexican Recipes:

If you love flavor-packed Mexican cuisine as much as I do, you MUST try these super-popular dishes:

  • Baja Fish Tacos: with quick-pickled red onion and the best cabbage slaw for fish tacos.
  • Mexican Roasted Corn Off the Cob
  • Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos
  • Spicy Fish Tacos
  • Green Chile
  • Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (33)


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35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!)

By: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

Looking to switch things up from your usual taco night? Check out these creative & tasty ideas for using leftover taco meat in over 35+ delicious recipes.

Prep Time: 10 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes minutes

Servings: 6


  • Leftover Taco Meat


  • Pick your favorite leftover taco meat recipe from the collection above and enjoy

Tried this recipe? Leave a comment!

35+ Best Leftover Taco Meat Recipes (So Yummy!) - Foodess (2024)


How long is leftover taco meat good for in the fridge? ›

USDA recommends using cooked beef within 3 to 4 days, kept refrigerated (40°F or less). Refrigeration slows but does not stop bacterial growth. USDA recommends using cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

How much taco meat do I need for 40 adults? ›

The answer to this question will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the crowd you're feeding, what other ingredients you're including, and how much everyone typically eats. Generally speaking, four ounces of taco meat per person should be enough to make plenty of tacos for everyone in your group.

Can you freeze leftover taco meat? ›

Depending on how long you plan to store your cooked taco meat, you can use freezer bags or glass containers. Make sure to label them with the date so you can rotate through your food for best quality and prevent freezer burn. If using Ziploc bags, I recommend storing for no more than 3-4 months.

What is the most popular Mexican taco meat? ›

Carne Asada is the most common taco meat. Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash. Carne Asada is certainly the most popular meat for tacos, and it's plain to see why.

Can I eat 7 day old taco meat? ›

According to the FDA Food Code, all perishable foods that are opened or prepared should be thrown out after 7 days, maximum. No leftovers should survive in your fridge for longer than that.

Can I eat taco meat after 7 days? ›

After 7 days, there is an increased risk of bacterial growth, and the safety of the meat may be compromised. If the ground beef has been properly stored in the refrigerator at or below 40°F (4°C) and doesn't show any signs of spoilage, such as an off odor, unusual color, or sliminess, it might still be safe to eat.

How many tacos will 5 lbs of meat make? ›

Each taco shell or small soft taco-size tortilla fits about 2 ounces or 1/4 cup of meat. If you add diced onions, you could stretch a pound of ground beef to make about a dozen tacos. With just the meat and spices, you can make about 8 tacos from a pound of meat.

How much taco meat do you need for 30 people? ›

How Much Taco Meat Per Person. The usual rule of thumb is about ¼ cup taco meat per taco so you have room for all those other fillings and toppings! Generally speaking, it's good to budget about 3 tacos per person, which means almost 1 cup of meat for each guest.

How many pounds of taco meat do I need for 35 people? ›

How many people can 1 lb of taco meat feed? You can feed between 2.5 to 3 people with one pound of meat. This estimate assumes that each person will eat two tacos, except children, who are counted as 0.5 of an adult and will have one taco.

How good is leftover taco meat? ›

How Long Is Leftover Taco Meat Good For. If stored properly, leftover taco fridge can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days. So, if you plan on using it in 3 to 4 days, you can easily put it in the fridge. However, if you want to use it later on, and not in the next 3 to 4 days, you should freeze it.

Can you reheat taco meat twice? ›

and frozen meat should only be reheated once. However, you can safely cook defrosted meat into a. new meal and freeze that.

Can you keep raw ground beef in the fridge for 7 days? ›

For raw ground meats, poultry, seafood and variety meats (liver, tongue, chitterlings, etc.), refrigerate them only 1 to 2 days before either cooking or freezing. Beef, veal, lamb and pork roasts, steaks and chops may be kept 3 to 5 days.

What do Mexicans call taco meat? ›

Carne Asada – Asada (or asado) means “roasted” in Spanish. Carne asada is a spicy, marinated grilled steak that's cut into strips. This is the meat that goes into burritos and tacos. Pollo Asado – Pollo means “chicken” in Spanish, which means that pollo asado is grilled, marinated chicken.

How do Mexican restaurants get their taco meat so fine? ›

Making Restaurant Style Mexican Ground Beef:

The secret to many of those simple ground beef dishes is to slowly cook the ground beef with a little water; the fat renders out and the beef, when finished, will be just right. And that works with this taco/burrito beef, too.

What is Mexican food called in Texas? ›

The Mexican restaurants in Texas started adding more ingredients preferred by Texans to accommodate their tastes, resulting in what we call today “Tex-Mex.” Examples of Tex-Mex food include fajitas, nachos, and any dish that uses beef, black beans, canned vegetables, wheat flour, or yellow cheese.

Can you eat cooked taco meat after 5 days? ›

Say you've cooked up a pound of ground beef for taco night, how long will that last you in the fridge? Like all leftovers, cooked meats will last in the refrigerator for three to four days, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Can you eat taco meat after 5 days? ›

You can eat cooked food that has been in the fridge for 7 days but it might give you the runs. My general rule which is guided by food safety experts is 5 days. How long is food from Taco Bell safe to eat?

Can you eat cooked ground beef after 5 days? ›

Raw ground beef will only last in the fridge for one or two days before it goes bad. Cooked ground beef, as with any leftover cooked ground meat, lasts for three to four days in the fridge.

Can I eat ground beef after 5 days in fridge? ›

Eating ground beef left in the fridge for more than two days is more likely to contain illness-causing bacteria. It also has a higher risk of spoiling, which worsens the quality of the food and gives it a bad odor and sticky feel. Make sure your fridge is set to 40 degrees or below.

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