Roast beef makes for a delicious Sunday lunch, served with roast potatoes, an assortment of vegetables, and thick gravy. However, you might have some left over so what do you do with it?
If you intend to eat it within the next three or four days, you can keep the beef in the fridge. However, if you don’t think you will use it up within this time, you can freeze it. Cooked beef freezes extremely well (see also Freezing Beef Burgers) and in this article, we will tell you how to freeze it and how to defrost it.
How To Freeze Cooked Beef
1. Cool down the cooked beef.
Take the roast beef out of the hot pan to speed up the cooling process and put it on a chopping board. Cut the meat into slices as this will also make it cool down quicker. You don’t want to leave the meat at room temperature for longer than two hours as, after this time, bacteria can start to develop. You also don’t want to put the meat in the freezer while it is still warm as this can bring up the temperature. Other food may start to defrost and when it refreezes, it can spoil.
2. Wrap the slices in cling film.
Wrap each slice separately so they don’t stick together.
3. Put the slices in freezer bags.
It is a good idea to divide the sliced cooked beef into meal-size portions so that you only take out as many slices as you need. This helps to avoid wastage. Squeeze out as much air as possible from the bags to avoid freezer burn. Freezer burn will change the taste, texture, and color of the beef and it won’t be tasty at all (see also Should You Freeze Steak?). Put a label on the bags with the date you put them in the freezer so that you don’t keep them in there for longer than the use-by date.
4. Put the bags in the freezer.
Tips For Freezing Cooked Beef
- Squeeze out all the air from the freezer bags so that freezer burn doesn’t occur.
- Freeze the cooked beef in slices so that you only defrost as much as you need for one meal. However, you can freeze it whole if you think that you will be using all of the joint within a few days of defrosting. Just remember that it will take a lot longer to defrost a joint than it will slices, so you will need to plan ahead.
- Soak the slices of cooked beef in gravy before you freeze them. This will make the beef succulent when defrosted and reheated. You won’t have to worry about the beef drying out. If you are freezing a joint, you can pour gravy over it.
- Don’t defrost the cooked beef at room temperature as this can allow bacteria to develop on the surface of the meat.
For How Long Can You Freeze Roast Beef?
You can keep cooked beef in the freezer for around two months (see also Can You Freeze Brisket?). After this time, it can start to spoil. It is very handy to be able to freeze your leftover Sunday beef (see also Is Freezing Beef Wellington A Good Idea?) as you will be able to have another Sunday lunch without having to do all the work. You can even freeze roast potatoes and roast vegetables so you will have even less work to do.
How Do You Defrost Cooked Beef?
The best way to defrost cooked beef is in the fridge. Never defrost at room temperature as this can cause the meat to spoil and you will then run the risk of food poisoning. Slices of cooked beef can take around twelve hours to defrost in the fridge. A whole joint will take much longer; for example, a four-pound joint will take 24 hours to defrost.
You can defrost your cooked beef in the microwave but this isn’t the best option as it can dry your meat out. Nobody wants dry roast beef for their Sunday lunch (see also Freezing Yorkshire Pudding) or in a roast beef and horseradish sandwich.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Beef?
No, you can’t refreeze cooked beef. If you freeze, defrost, and refreeze, ice crystals can form and make your beef mushy. More importantly, this procedure encourages bacteria to grow and you could end up sick. This is why it is a good idea to freeze the cooked beef in meal-size portions so that you only defrost as much as you need. You can keep the roast beef in the fridge for two to three days after it has been defrosted, but if you have some left over after this time, you should throw it away as it will start to spoil.
Is It a Good Idea To Freeze Cooked Beef?
Yes, cooked beef freezes very well as long as you have wrapped it well and have squeezed out all the air from the freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Freeze the beef in gravy if possible as this keeps your beef juicy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know how to freeze cooked beef but in case you are still curious, we have answered some questions here.
What else can I do with my defrosted cooked beef?
There are so many options. You don’t have to have it as roast beef. You can chop it up and use it in a casserole, in stuffed peppers, or in Mexican burritos and enchiladas. A rich spicy curry sauce will give your beef plenty of flavor. You can use it in a pie or a stroganoff, chili con carne, or stir-fry. If you have frozen a joint, you can use it to make a beef wellington which is great dinner party food. Just remember to make sure that the meat is cooked all the way through so that bacteria doesn’t form. The internal temperature should be 145 F.
Can you freeze cooked beef mince?
Yes, you can. You can freeze it as it is or in a dish. Beef mince is very versatile and can be made into bolognese sauce, cottage pie, chili, moussaka, lasagne, a beef and rice bowl, or beef ramen noodles.
Can you freeze roast pork or lamb?
Yes, you can freeze both roast pork and roast lamb. Just follow the instructions we have given for freezing beef.