Steak is a tasty way to add protein and plenty of flavor to your family meal plan. Whether you cook steak on the grill or stovetop, there are plenty of spices, seasoning rubs, and sauces to make each steak dinner unique and delicious. If you have leftovers or want to prepare extra steak, freezing this entree is a great way to keep it fresh and make dinner prep even faster in the future.
Generally speaking, you can freeze steak after cooking once it has cooled. It is important to let your cooked steak cool completely before putting it into a freezer-safe container. You can use a plastic storage container or a heavy-duty plastic bag, depending on the size of your pieces and the space in your freezer.
Take extra time to press as much air out of your storage container or bag as you can. This helps reduce the chance of freezer burn. The steak will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Here are our top tips for freezing cooked steak, as well as easy ways to use your leftovers for a new lunch or dinner dish.
- How To Freeze Steak After Cooking?
- Essential Tips For Freezing Steak Without Losing Quality
- The Best Ways To Use Leftover Steak
- Final Thoughts
- Related Guides
How To Freeze Steak After Cooking?
If you find yourself with leftover steak at the end of your meal, you don’t need to throw it out or worry that it will go bad before you have a chance to eat it. You can store leftover steak in the freezer even if it is already cooked.
Preparing Steak For The Freezer
There are not a lot of steps required to get your leftover steak ready for its time in the freezer. The main things to consider are the temperature of the steak when it goes into its freezer container and the type of container itself.
Cook steak can be left out for up to 2 hours safely. You will want to get it into a container and into the freezer before that time. If not, you risk harmful bacteria growing and making you sick when you do eat the steak later.
The steak should be at room temperature before you put it into the freezer. I like to transfer the steak to a freezer-safe container right away. It will cool while you get started on your dinner dishes. I like reusable Ziploc containers because they can be found at most grocery stores and are economical.
Tip: Include a small amount of the cooking juices with your steak in its airtight freezer container. This will help keep the steak moist and add flavor.
You can freeze steak after cooking a few ways.
- Airtight containers work well for larger quantities and stack easily in the freezer.
- Heavy-duty plastic bags made for the freezer often take up less room in the freezer.
- Aluminum foil is readily available but may be prone to leaking if you don’t use multiple layers.
Avoiding Freezer Burn On Your Steak
If you have ever pulled something out of the freezer to find ice crystals on its surface, you have seen freezer burn. If you ate that food, chances are it was bland or had an odd taste. Freezer burn doesn’t usually make you sick but it will negatively impact the taste and texture of your food.
There are a few ways that you can take steps to prevent freezer burn.
Freeze Steak At Room Temperature
If you put your steak into a container and close it while it is still hot, condensation will build up inside even after you put it in the freezer. This liquid then freezes and messes with the taste of your steak.
Instead, let the steak completely cool to room temperature. Depending on the thickness of your steak, this may take a few minutes or an hour. Cutting your steak into smaller pieces will help it cool faster.
Once it has cooled, close the freezer-safe container and put it into the freezer.
Remove Air From The Storage Container
Air also encourages freezer burn. Some freezer containers come with a button on top that you can press to make them pressurized. This keeps extra air from getting inside.
At a minimum, make sure that your container is airtight. The most common issues arise when you use an old or damaged container that no longer seals properly.
Heavy-duty plastic bags made for the freezer are another option. Place the steak in the bag and press out any extra air before sealing. These can also make storing your steak easier since they tend to take up less space.
Food Safety For Steak
It’s important to follow recommended guidelines to store your food safely. This is especially important for meats, such as steak.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends freezing cooked steak for up to 2-3 months at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are unsure of your freezer’s temperature, you can purchase a freezer thermometer to check. Allowing your freezer to get too warm could result in food spoilage and food poisoning.
Essential Tips For Freezing Steak Without Losing Quality
The most important thing to remember when freezing steak is to defrost, cook, and eat it within a few months. The longer the steak is in the freezer, the more chance it has of drying out or getting freezer burn.
It can also be helpful to know and understand the different cuts of steak.
This cut comes from the shoulder and may have a bone in it. For a bone-in chuck steak, expect it to take longer to thaw than some other cuts of meat.
Sirloin comes from the rear end of the cow. Top sirloin is cut closer to the middle and often costs quite a bit more since it is juicier and more flavorful.
Flank steaks are cut from the underside near the back. They are typically cut very thin since they can be chewy. Flank steaks have great flavor, freeze well, and can be stuffed with delicious ingredients.
Like its name suggests, rib eye steaks are cut from the rib section. They are boneless cuts that are well-marbled and easy to freeze and cook.
These steaks are cut just behind the ribs and are very tender. They are also boneless, making them ideal for freezing and cooking. They are also available in large portions.
Tenderloin steaks are even more tender than strip steaks and cut from the same area as sirloins.
These steaks are cut from the back legs and can have a bone or not, depending on how they are cut from the cow. These steaks are tough and make great jerky or braised meats.
This is a specific type of chuck cut that is inexpensive yet flavorful. It’s great in recipes that call for steak, like tacos or chili.
Porterhouse steaks are from the strip steak area and include a bone. They are quite large, enough for two people or one very hungry steak lover. They are flavorful (due to the bone) and freeze well. They may require some time to defrost, however, due to the bone and their size.
This steak is very similar to a Porterhouse, different only in size. Sometimes Porterhouse steaks will be referred to as t-bone steaks. Both have a T-shaped bone that distinguish them from other cuts.
This lean cut comes from the tenderloin area and is oh so delicious. It is very, very tender, often the most tender cut from the entire animal. Filet mignons tend to be cut in circle that are quite thick.
The Best Ways To Use Leftover Steak
Steak is delicious by itself but you might want to spice things up a bit when you take the steak out of the freezer. When it is time to eat your steak, here is the best way to get it ready and some great recipes to try.
Defrosting Steak From The Freezer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has great methods for defrosting frozen steak safely.
- Put it in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, depending on the thickness and if it includes a bone
- Put it in its airtight packaging in a bowl of cold water for 2-3 hours, changing the water if needed
- Use the defrost setting on your microwave and prepare it right away after it has defrosted. Pay close attention to make sure all parts of the steak are defrosted.
Leftover Steak In Salads
One of my favorite ways to serve leftover steak is in a nice, crisp salad. You can warm the steak before adding it to your salad but I prefer it chilled.
You can also make up your own combination of your favorite salad ingredients for a custom dish. Salad ingredients that go great with leftover steak include:
- Traditional: balsamic dressing, tomatoes, cucumbers, mixed greens
- Southwestern: avocado, fire-roasted corn, red onion, black beans
- Mediterranean: roasted zucchini, red bell peppers, feta cheese, olives
- Ceasar: iceberg lettuce, parmesan, croutons, caesar dressing
You can get creative with steak salads and find the perfect combination for your tastes.
Add cut-up or shredded steak to cheese inside a tortilla and grill in a pan. You can also add veggies, a variety of cheese, and toppings like pico de gallo and guacamole for a delicious dish.
You can use a small tortilla to make individual quesadillas. This allows each person to customize their ingredients and toppings. Large tortillas are good for making quesadillas for a crowd, such as at a family-style dinner or as a party dish.
Soups And Stews
Soups and stews are a great way to use leftover steak. Because you will simmer the dish for a while, you don’t need to worry about the meat getting tough or chewy. It will absorb the juices of the soup or stew and remain moist.
Using beef broth as a base, you can add whatever vegetables you like, such as carrots, potatoes, or mushrooms. Noodles and barley are other great ways to make the soup hearty and add another texture.
Make sure to cut your steak into bite-size pieces that will be easy to eat. You should do this before adding them to the soup or stew.
Another option for hot or cold leftover steak, sandwiches make fantastic lunchbox leftovers. Adding melted cheese, roasted green peppers, and gravy makes this a really killer combination.
Steak Pot Pie
This dish is a great option when you want to freeze your leftover steak as an entire meal. Cut the steak into bite-sized pieces and mix it with veggies like peas, carrots, celery, and mushrooms for the filling. Add a broth to complete the pot pie filling.
Line the bottom of your pie dish with crust. You can prepare your own or use a store-bought crust to save time. Make sure that it goes up the sides of the dish as well.
Add the filling on top of the crust. Cover it with another layer of crust and cut a few slits in the top to allow steam to escape while cooking. You can also make fun designs or brush the top with egg for a golden crust.
Freezing leftover steak after cooking is a great way to keep this delicious protein on hand for easy-to-prepare lunches and dinners. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months safely. Taking a few steps to prevent freezer burn, such as using an airtight container and letting it cool, will help keep your leftovers fresh and delicious.
When you are ready to eat your steak, defrost it and try it in one of our top recommended dishes for something new and tasty.
Katie is an experienced writer, who wrote for big magazines like The Spruce. She is also a mom of three (Sebastian, Lincoln, and Hannah). In her spare time, she likes to read, day hike, and explore hidden gems around her home in North Carolina. You can connect with Katie on Instagram @katiebwriter or her website, www.katiemelynnbegley.com.