Can You Grill That Piece Of Smelly Steak? 

Does the piece of meat you had plans of grilling today smell a little off? Could it be a slightly smelly steak, or is it spoiled? Can you still eat it, or is it unsafe? 

Steaks stay fresher longer when you store them properly. If you refrigerate or freeze them, they can last for a very long time without spoiling. However, it all comes down to how you store it, where you store and for how long you store it. If stored incorrectly it will eventually go bad, and eating a bad piece of meat can make you sick. 

How To Know If The Steak Has Gone Bad? 

You need not eat steak fresh. You are meant to store it and eat it after a while. Eating a piece of steak that is stale or spoiled can lead to many issues like vomiting, stomach-ache, cramps, diarrhoea, stomach upset, fever, or even food poisoning. 

When the meat is spoilt, it leads to bacteria growth. Ingesting the bacteria can sometimes even lead to severe health complications. So, how can you tell if your steak is just old or spoiled? You can ensure you are going to grill only a good piece of steak using the following information: 

By Smell 

A piece of steak is nothing but raw meat. So it will have a strong smell. However, this smell will be very different from the smell of a spoiled piece of steak.  

  • It is no longer fresh if the steak has an ammonia-clad smell instead of the usual raw and fresh steak smell. 
  • If the smelly steak has a rancid smell that is just too strong to smell up close. You can definitely not cook it or eat it. You just have to discard it. 


By Date 

Steak sellers mark their products in two ways – sell-by-date and use-by-date. 

  • The sell-by-date is the date by which they need to sell their product from their store. It is a date given to them by the concerned authorities from the food safety department. If your steak has this date marked on it, you can use the meat for a few more days after crossing this date, provided you store the steak properly as per instructions. 
  • The use-by-date is the expiry date. You need to use the steak by this date, after which it can go bad. However, if you freeze your meat soon after buying it from the store, you need not abide by this date. Your meat can stay for much longer than the date mentioned. This is a risk and a call, which you have to take as you need to judge when the meat is no longer safe to eat. 


By Appearance 

If you are a regular steak eater who loves to grill a piece every now and then, you know what a piece of raw meat looks like. You are aware of the colour and overall surface. 

  • If the surface looks slimy, like a thin film has formed on the steak, it strongly indicates that the meat has spoiled. This layer forms a day or two before mould forms. It can also be slippery and sticky to touch. 
  • If you notice patches of discoloration – yellow, brown, or even green- the meat has gone bad. The whole steak can change colour, or it could be just small patches. Either way, it is not safe to eat it anymore. 
  • It looks more like tuna than beef. The colour, the shine, and the texture are all very different from the usual steak, indicating it is no longer fresh. 

What Does Rancid Steak Smell Like? 

smelly steak

While it is pretty easy and clear what a spoiled piece of steak can look like and how to interpret the dates, how can you be sure of the smell? Raw steak does not smell great either, then how can you be sure it is spoilt and not just too raw? 

It is pretty easy to confuse dry-aged meat with spoiled beef if you go by smell. When you dry age the meat, it releases lactic acid, which can have quite a pungent smell. So, if you are grilling dry-aged steak for the first time, you can mistake it for a smelly steak gone bad. 

The rancid steak will smell like rotten eggs. The smell is definitely not pleasant and very hard to ignore. Cooking a piece that smells bad is not an easy task. Your nose will definitely smell the strong stench that you cannot ignore. 

A raw piece of beef has a very different smell from tuna. The spoilt steak will start smelling like tuna or rotten fish, which is again not something you can ignore and eat. 

Is It Safe To Grill Smelly Steak? 

When the steak goes bad and begins to smell, it indicates bacteria formation. While some bacteria can cause stomach cramps and nausea, some can lead to severe food poisoning. If your body cannot handle it, you might require hospitalization and strong medications. 

Overall, a slightly smelly slab of steak is not a good experience at all. First, you will have to manage to cook something that smells bad and then eat it; next, you need to face the consequences. 

Check the juice if you doubt your meat has gone bad but are still not convinced. Raw steak must ooze juice when you grill or cook it. The fat will ooze out, and you need to render the fat for better taste and flavour. If your steak is too dry and has no juice oozing out, it is not fresh anymore. Even if not completely spoiled, it will be dry and rubbery! 


If your steak smells off or looks different, you need to take a closer look. You must be able to judge if the meat is still fresh and safe to consume. If you are doubtful about the slimy texture or the spots on your stake, it is not advisable to take the risk. It is safer to discard the steak and buy yourself a fresh piece.  

You should enjoy a piece of steak, not get sick eating it!