How Long Does Grilled Food Last?

Wondering how long it’s safe to keep grilled meat at room temperature? The Never Cook Naked guys weigh in.

Grilled sausages and zucchini slices on a grill as part of an answer to 'how long does grilled food last?'.

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Food Safety

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: How long can grilled meat sit out safely at room temperature before I run the risk of getting myself—or my family and friends–sick?—Nervous for Good Reason

Dear Nervous: Food safety is really important because…

1. Even your BFFs will sue if you make them sick.

2. You probably have more people at your table than you have toilets.

When both the lawyers and the numbers aren’t in your favor, follow this basic guideline: Properly cooked meat can be left at room temperature for no more than two hours. And note that you need to make that just one hour if the room temperature is above 90°F (32°C)—as well as consider moving somewhere cooler, because that’s just insane.

So if the BFFs are coming over this Saturday, here’s what you do: keep the raw meat in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. If you’re grilling at a public park, keep the meat on ice in a covered cooler in the shade, and be certain to shove a thermometer in that cooler; as long as it registers 40°F (4°C) or lower in there, you’re still in the safety zone. (So many rules, so much bacteria.) Grill only as much meat as everyone can eat at one time. Then fire up the grill every hour or so until your guests have run out of belt notches. Or lawyers.

Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Ask us your question in a comment below!

Originally published July 19, 2012.


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