Can You Eat a Hamburger That’s Been Left Out Overnight?

It can be disappointing to discover that the half of a tasty burger from yesterday that you were looking forward to for lunch has been left out on the counter because you forgot to refrigerate it when you arrived home last night.

Can a cooked hamburger be consumed after being left out overnight?

According to the FDA, it is not advisable to consume a hamburger that has been left out overnight as they are highly perishable and can become unsafe to eat after 2 hours at room temperature. Bacteria in perishable foods start multiplying when they are kept between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read on to discover the various kinds of burgers, their appropriate storage methods, and the potential consequences of consuming a burger that has been left out for an extended period. Once you understand the hazards associated with eating a spoiled burger, discarding it will likely seem reasonable.

How Long Can a Cooked Hamburger Be Left Out?

When it comes to cooked burgers, they have a limited time frame during which they can be consumed safely after being left out, and generally speaking, it is recommended that burgers should not be left out for more than two hours.

It is not recommended to leave a hamburger out for more than one hour if the temperature is 90℉ or higher.

When ground beef is left out of refrigeration and its temperature ranges between 40℉ and 140℉, the risk of getting a foodborne illness increases significantly due to the rapid growth of bacteria.

How Long Can a Raw Hamburger Be Left Out?   

The United States Department of Agriculture states that leaving raw hamburgers at room temperature for a maximum of two hours is safe before they need to be refrigerated or cooked.

If the temperature is over 90℉, raw hamburgers should not be left out for more than an hour.

According to experts, it is not recommended to defrost frozen raw hamburgers by leaving them on the counter as they can become unsafe if kept at room temperature for more than two hours.

Instead of leaving the hamburger out overnight, it is recommended to thaw it in the refrigerator a day before using it. To avoid any leakage of water and juices onto your fridge shelves, place a plate underneath the hamburger while defrosting.

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There are two safe methods to defrost raw meat quickly if waiting for it to defrost in the fridge is not an option.

If you plan to cook the ground beef right away, you can utilize the defrost function on your microwave. However, keep in mind that this technique might begin cooking the exterior of the meat while it’s in the microwave, so it’s best to cook it immediately after.

Another option is to seal the uncooked hamburger in a waterproof container and immerse it in cold water, changing the water every half hour until it is fully thawed.

If you need to defrost your raw hamburger quickly, you can accelerate the process by rinsing it under lukewarm water. But avoid using hot water and do not leave the meat submerged in warm water as this can create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow rapidly.

 How Long Can a Fast Food Burger Sit Out?

While the USDA maintains its strict guideline of discarding food left at room temperature for more than two hours, there are individuals who hold the belief that fast food hamburgers can be an exception to this rule.

It is a common belief that the McDonald’s Big Mac retains its appearance even after being left out for ten years, but it should be noted that its visual appeal does not necessarily guarantee its safety for consumption.

Consuming a hamburger that has been left out overnight, even if it appears to be free of mold or unpleasant odor, can still potentially cause illness.

Fast food burgers have low moisture content, which prevents mold growth even after being left out for a long time. Nevertheless, the exposed food still harbors unseen bacteria that proliferate.

Although some people have eaten fast food burgers left out overnight without getting sick, it is not a safe practice to follow.

If you want a fresh and quick meal, it is advisable to opt for fast food burgers by going through the drive-thru instead of eating a burger that has been left out overnight.

Can You Get Sick From Eating a Burger That’s Been Left Out Overnight?   

It is evident that consuming a burger left out overnight can make you sick, and the same applies to several other foods that are left out for an extended period.

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Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that generates a toxin causing illness to the person who consumes it, and it can also affect animals, hence avoid giving your leftover food to your pets.

Despite being recooked to a “safe” temperature, the toxin persists even after the bacteria has been eliminated, making it unsafe to consume a hamburger that has been left out overnight.

Within a few hours, symptoms of food poisoning emerge, which consist of nausea, vomiting, weakness, and abdominal cramping. Additionally, more severe symptoms like muscle cramping and changes in pulse rate may also manifest.

Consuming a burger that has been left out overnight is not worth the risk of getting a severe illness.

How Long Can You Store Hamburgers In the Fridge?

Cooked ground beef has a refrigerated shelf life of approximately three to four days, but the remaining components of your hamburger may not endure for as long.

Usually, the bread utilized for the hamburger bun will become dry and hard within a period of one to two days.

If you intend to store your leftover burger in the refrigerator, it is advisable to take out the lettuce beforehand as it tends to wilt and become slimy rapidly.

Ingredients like onions and pickles can last for a few days, but it’s better to keep them separate from the bun to prevent moisture from making the bun damp.

To prevent the bread from becoming stale, it is recommended to wrap your hamburger when storing it to avoid exposure to air.

How Should You Reheat a Burger?   

If you want to reheat burgers, your best option is to use either a standard oven or a toaster oven.

If you only have access to a stovetop or microwave, the instructions for those methods are also provided below:

Oven: Before cooking your burger, preheat the oven to 350℉ and let the burger sit at room temperature for a while.

To ensure safe consumption of a hamburger that has been left out overnight, it is recommended to separate the buns from the patty and other ingredients. The patty should be wrapped in tinfoil, while removing any components that do not require heating, like lettuce.

After the oven reaches the desired temperature, put the burger that has been wrapped on the center rack and allow it to cook for 8 minutes.

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Ensure to measure the inner temperature of your burger’s center, and once it hits 165℉, it is considered safe for consumption.

If you want to warm the buns, you can place them cut side down on the oven rack and cook for two minutes, being careful not to burn them, and remove them once they are heated through.

Put the burger back together and savor it!

Stovetop: Another option is to utilize the same technique on your stovetop to raise the temperature of your ingredients to a safe level.

Microwave: If you only have a microwave at your disposal, dismantle the hamburger and put the patty on a plate that is safe for microwaving, then add a small amount of water on top of it.

To warm up your hamburger, utilize the microwave’s reheat function and heat it for a minute. Then, flip the patty over and cook for another minute. Check the temperature and continue heating in short intervals until it reaches the desired temperature.

To warm up your buns, put them in the microwave on the reheat setting and cook for about 20-30 seconds until they are heated through.

How Long Can You Leave a Hamburger Out to Thaw?   

Guidelines suggest that to prevent bacterial growth, food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

The optimal way to defrost a frozen, cooked hamburger is by refrigerating it and letting it thaw.

If you don’t have access to this technique, you can enclose the hamburger in a waterproof bag and immerse it in cold water until it thaws.

When dealing with raw, frozen hamburger meat, the process is similar, but you need to shape and cook the patties before putting together your burger.

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