How to Tell If Steak Is Bad? [All that You Need to Know]     

Steaks, just like any other type of food, can quickly go bad if not well preserved, or sometimes even when they are well preserved. That can be very frustrating. Again, you would not want to waste your time cooking a bad steak. 

Many signs can tell if a steak is bad; it is smelly and cheesy, has a thick and yellowish film on the surface, is dry, and has been frozen for over six months. Apart from being common ways to tell if your steak is bad, they are also simple and easy to find out because they are about using common sense, sight, and smell.              

Knowing whether your steak is bad or not is not enough to keep you informed about when and not to cook your steak. This post gives you more details about the essentials you should know before concluding that your steak is bad.  

How to Tell if Frozen Steak is Bad              

Even in a refrigerator, your steak can still go bad. The following ways explain more about the condition and how to identify any problems with your steak.

Smelly and Cheesy Steak

The simplest way of telling if your frozen steak has gone bad is if it produces a foul smell and tends to be cheesy. Smell your meat once it is out of the freezer. If you smell an unpleasant smell like that of ammonia and cheese, then it isn’t good. The foul smell is a result of increased spoilage microorganisms in the steak. These microorganisms break down the meat’s structure resulting in an unpleasant smell.

If you have a problem smelling this scent, you should check the bottom of the meat’s surface before defrosting. If you see discolored areas, they can be green, yellow, or blue. It still means that your steak has gone bad, and you should dispose of it.   

If the Steak’s Surface is viscous and Has a Yellow Film

When taking your steak out of its wrapping, check on the surface. Your steak has spoiled if there is a thick and yellowish film. The slim membrane forms as a result of the spoilage bacteria clumping up, turning the steak rancid. The dense membrane shows that the steak is almost going moldy.

Identifying the membrane should not give you stress or hardship because it is usually yellow or transparent. Furthermore, when running your fingers through the surface of the meat, the membrane sticks to them.

If it Feels and Looks Dry

Not yet figured out if it is bad or not? Just look at it when you are taking it out of the freezer. Does it look dry? If yes, then your steak has spoilt. There might be grey blemishes on the surface. This is because the steak might have come into contact with oxygen. The process results in oxidation, making your steak dry and shriveling.

If the frozen steak looks dry, it won’t give the same taste as an ordinary steak. This is because oxidation has negatively impacted the quality and texture of the frozen steak. Additionally, confirm the steak’s dryness by touching it. If it feels dry, then throw it away.

Sometimes it is challenging to tell whether the steak is dry or not when you take it out of the freezer. If this happens, leave the steak to defrost, and when you see the meat’s fats and juices oozing out to the wrapping as it defrosts, then know it is spoiled.

Where It’s Been Frozen for Over Six Months

It is possible to freeze your steak for up to one year. However, if you want your meat not to lose its taste and texture, freeze it for not more than six months. Remember, the longer you tend to keep your meat in the freezer, the higher the chances of exposing it to air and oxidizing making it dry.


  1. Never refreeze raw meat.
  2. Once you take your steak out of the freezer and defrost it, don’t refreeze it again.
  3. If you want to, cook it first, wrap it, and return it to the freezer.                                          

How to Tell if Raw Steak is Bad 

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The following are the signs to show that your raw steak is spoiled:


Raw beef steak has its smell, which most people don’t like, but it is not supposed to be weird or unpleasant. Raw meat smells like mild crimson, and it is usually not strong. Put your nose close to the meat to smell it. Spoiled raw meat smells like rotten eggs and ammonia. It is a strong smell that can even cause nausea.

Discolored Appearance

The best and simplest way to tell if your raw steak is spoiled is by looking at the color. Bad steak always has a discoloration which turns the raw steak from its bright red color to blue, green, or even yellow. Sometimes it is not all over the surface of your steak, but it can start with small patches or spots. This usually results from your steak getting exposed to air and undergoing oxidation.


Dehydration is another simpler way of telling if your raw steak is bad. If you find that your raw steak is quite shriveled and dry, or confirm it by touching it to feel it, it is probably spoiled. However, this does not mean that when you eat that steak, you will have stomach issues or food poisoning, but it will be tasteless and with a rancid flavor. 

You do not want to spend four hours or more cooking something that will turn out tasteless.

Slimy Texture

In any situation, slime is always a bad sign, and if you find a slimy texture on your steak, know there is nothing good for you. A bad steak tends to be slick and slimy when touched. The slime formation results from bacteria building up, indicating that the steak is rancid. Notably, the slime will start growing into mold if it is left for more days. Therefore once you find this on your meat, throw it away.                    

How Long Can Steak Stay in the Fridge?

A steak can stay in a fridge for three to five days. This is usually based on two things: if the steak is well wrapped and stored in temperatures below 40 degrees F.

Here are the three ways in which you can wrap your steak in a fridge and how long they can stay fresh in such wrapping:

  • Vacuum sealed – a vacuum-sealed steak can stay in a fridge for seven to ten days.
  • Cling film wrapped – this is the form in which steak is bought from the grocery store, with a flimsy foam tray and a clear plastic. When stored in a fridge wrapped this way, it can stay up to five days.
  • Butcher’s counter wrapping – various butchers, wrap steak differently, and people tend to unwrap them and leave them sitting on a plate in the fridge. This can stay for three to five days.

Oxidized Steak vs Spoiled

An oxidized steak and a spoiled steak are not the same. A steak is said to be oxidized when it turns brown or discolored, which results from myoglobin chemical changes because of oxygen content. A steak that has changed its color is considered to be oxidized. An oxidized steak is edible.

On the other hand, a spoiled steak is a steak that is unfit for human consumption. It might be due to oxidation, lousy smell, dryness, and expiry date.

Bottom Line

Confirming the color is the most appropriate way to tell you your steak is bad. The other ways are also very effective, especially the unpleasant smell and slimy membrane. Thus, before you cook your frozen or refrigerated steak, confirm if it is still in excellent condition to avoid poisoning your loved ones. Refer to for more signs of a spoilt steak.

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