It is true that you can save time and money when you eat chicken leftovers. How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? It depends on the way you store it. Unfortunately, if you leave cooked chicken too long in the fridge and store it improperly, it is not good to consume. You can prevent the dangerous bacterial growth in the chicken leftovers if you know the proper way to store it.
In addition, you should know about the sign of cooked chicken you stored has gone bad. Here, we tell you something more than just about how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge. We hope that our explanations can answer all your questions.
How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge or Freezer
How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, you can keep cooked chicken in the fridge for three to four days. The time is the same period as keeping turkey and other poultry. If you store cooked chicken in the sealed freezer-safe container, it is still safe to thaw and eat for more than four months. Therefore, you should store your cooked chicken in a vacuum-sealed package or freezer-safe container if you want to eat it later.
The case is the same when you keep chicken broth, chicken soup, fried chicken, cooked chicken leftovers, and casseroles. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, it is safe for you to refrigerate these foods from a convenience store or restaurant for three or four days. For leftover chicken salad as well as deli-sliced chicken luncheon, meat is still safe even though you have kept these foods in the fridge for three to five days. On the contrary, uncooked chicken is still safe in the refrigerator for one to two days and it is still safe in the freezer for nine months, especially for pieces. Meanwhile, whole uncooked chicken is still safe in the refrigerator for more than 12 months.
Talking something more about how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge, here are other details you should not ignore:
- If you store leftover cooked chicken, fried chicken in a freezer, it is still okay within four months.
- You can use frozen chicken broth or gravy in two or three months.
- You can consume frozen soup or chicken casserole within four to six months.
However, chicken is still safe to eat if your freezer stays below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hands, keeping your foods in the fridge or freezer can decrease the quality.
The most important is that you should not freeze chicken salad if you add mayonnaise. You should check that the chicken dishes wrapped thoroughly to avoid freezer burn.
How To Store Cooked Chicken In The Fridge Properly
After answering your question about how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge, now it is the time to learn the proper ways on how to store cooked chicken so it is free from bacterial growth and safe to consume. We also include some tips to help you storing cooked chicken properly in the fridge or freezer below.
- How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? It depends on the large extent on the storage conditions. After two hours of cooking, you should refrigerate chicken immediately.
- How can you increase the shelf life of the cooked chicken in the fridge? To keep its safety and quality, you should refrigerate the cooked chicken in the shallow airtight containers. Alternatively, you can wrap it tightly by using a heavy-duty aluminum foil. If you have not, you can use plastic wrap.
- How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? For properly stored cooked chicken, it can last for three to four days in the fridge.
- Covering cooked chicken in heavy-duty freezer bags or covered airtight containers can extend the shelf life of cooked chicken when you freeze it. Alternatively, you can wrap the cooked chicken tightly by using freezer wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- If you can store the cooked chicken in the freezer properly, it can keep its quality for four months, and still safe beyond that period.
- To keep the quality of cooked chicken when you store it in the freezer, make sure that you constantly kept it frozen at 0 degree Fahrenheit.
- How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge after being thawed? You can keep it for the additional three to four days in the refrigerator before cooking. On the other hands, for chicken that was thawed in cold water or microwave should be consumed as soon as possible.
- How long does cooked chicken can last at the room temperature? At the temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can grow very fast. You should discard cooked chicken if you left it for more than two hours.
- Do not put hot cooked chicken and hot dishes in the fridge or freezer immediately, yet do not let them cool at the room temperature. You should separate the large dishes in smaller containers to make them cool faster.
Of course, storing leftovers safely is your biggest concern. In fact, too hot and cold temperatures can support the bacterial growth. However, the bacteria grows very fast as chicken and dishes cool. There are several harmful bacteria grow on the cooked chicken, for example Salmonella Enteritidis, Staphylococcus Aureus, Listeria Monocytogenes, and Campylobacter Jejuni.
Here are some things you should do and do not when you are going to freeze cooked chicken and other foods:
- The best time to defrost food slowly and safely is overnight. Remember that the warmer the temperature, the more active bacteria grow.
- According to FSA, you can freeze food, including cooked chicken as soon as you know that you are not going to consume it before expired.
- Freeze chicken after purchase within a half of hour, pack the foods tightly and seal packages well before freeze it. Identify and then mark with a date.
- Immerse the packed chicken in the cold water to thaw and change the water for every half hour.
- When you defrost poultry in the refrigerator, put it on the bottom shelf, right in the back of the fridge.
- Know How To Freeze Soup And Chicken Noodle
If you are cooking soup, wait for it to cool so you can freeze it. Therefore, you should let it cool completely. To speed up this part, you can place the soup pot in an ice bath and then keep stirring.
Besides, you should leave about an inch of space between the container’s lid and the soup when filling it. This is good to give enough room for the liquid to expand to prevent freezer burn.
When you make soup for freezing with pasta, you should hold the pasta and then freeze the soup without adding the pasta. When you reheat the soup, you can boil fresh pasta and then add it directly. We also recommend you not to add dairy or non-dairy milk or cream if you want to freeze a soup. You can add it later when you reheat the soup.
Last but not the least that you should undercook the vegetables slightly when you make a soup you want to freeze. In case that you make a big pot of chicken noodle and you want to eat a half now then freeze the rest, it is better to scoop out the portion to freeze before the vegetables.
The Best Packaging Types To Freeze Cooked Chicken And Other Foods
How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge also depends on the packaging types. If you make too much-cooked chicken that you cannot consume at one sitting, you can store the leftovers in the freezer. After chilling it overnight in the fridge, pack it and label it well.
There are some considerations to take when you choose the packaging types. For example, if you want to pack cooked chicken for work, you can use a glass serving container with a lid or a plastic. However, if you want to serve the cooked chicken for dinner with your co-worker, we recommend you choose a bigger lidded container. If you have a limited space in your freezer, you can use big zip-top freezer bags as the most economical option. Here, we give you the details.
You can use foil, plastic, or paper to insulate cooked chicken from the colder air and store it in the freezer. A wrap is the best choice if you have large cuts of cooked chicken. It also works for other foods such as bread, large cuts of fish, and meatloaves.
- Zip-Top Freezer Bags
It is available in several size options so that it is great for cooked chicken and others. Well, it works if you use for liquid things including soups, chicken in marinade and others to freeze in the freezer bags.
It is the ideal choice if you have to save space and you are storing them for short-term.
- Plastic Boxes With Lids
The plastic food containers are available on the market with several sizes and shapes to choose. You can choose from the reusable containers to the disposable product that can break down by the time, cracked, stained or pitted.
Plastic boxes with lids are great for short-term usage, give it as a gift and portable.
- Aluminum Pans With Lids
It is a super convenient option. It is also easy to assemble. You can use it to wrap cooked chicken with ease. Even you can use the pans to deliver freezer cooked chicken gifts to your friends. Therefore, it is the ideal option for gift giving, disposability, and quick assembly.
- Glass Jars, Pans, Or Bowls With Plastic Lids
To store cooked chicken in the freezer can by using glass mason jars and dishes. They do not pit, or stain, stay in a good condition for quite long. Reheating is simple because they can go from freezer to fridge to oven.
To prevent the breakage of the mason jars, you should leave enough headroom, cooling overnight in the freezer and make sure that you leave the lids off to freeze, yet secure the lids gently.
Glass jars and containers are the ideal choice for long-term use.
- Vacuum Sealer
Last but not the least is vacuum sealer that is perfect method to extend the shelf life of the frozen cooked chicken. It is a nice choice if you have enough budgets for that. In fact, vacuum sealers can take out the excess air from the package so that it reduces the risk of condensation. However, the machine, the accessories, and the wrap can be expensive, but it is nice to freeze cooked chicken and other foods. You can use it as the best wrapping option, especially for smaller portions of a cooked chicken to extend the shelf life of the quality.
Well, you have many options available when you want to wrap cooked chicken and other foods to freeze. It is good to see the best choice by having some experiments to meet your needs.
Can You Heat Up A Cooked Chicken?
Well, how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge is important to know. But, you should also know something more about cooked chicken, especially when you heat it up. When you want to reheat cooked chicken, make sure that you know how to do it safely. Here, we provide you the simple rules to reheat cooked chicken so you can consume it safely.
- You should not leave raw chicken out of the fridge to defrost.
- Cover the cooked chicken after serving by using foil.
- Chill cooked chicken for an hour of serving.
- Reheat thoroughly, 75 degree Celsius at least.
- Reheat once.
You know that it can be dangerous when you raw meat contaminates cooked chicken. Therefore, you should store cooked chicken separately from the raw meats. It is good to keep the raw meats on the lower shelf in the fridge compared to the cooked chicken. Besides, you should cover the cooked chicken.
Besides, you should reheat cooked chicken thoroughly so that the chicken is piping hot throughout. When you reheat it, you should wrap the leftover pieces of the chicken in the foil. After that, you can reheat it in the oven. Alternatively, you can place it on a plate when you reheat it in a microwave. You should not use foil in the microwave. You should only reheat once after the first preparation. After reheated it once, you should consume it immediately.
If you have barbecued chicken, still you should reheat it once. You can reheat cooked chicken in the microwave, in the oven, on a frying pan, on the barbecue, or in the slow cooker. Keep in mind that you must not store reheated chicken meat because it is not safe to consume in the next days.
How about adding cold chicken to your dishes and then reheat?
Well, it is still okay. For example, you can buy a ready-cooked chicken to add it to a pizza or in a chicken curry.
How To Check Bad Chicken
How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? It can stay within three to four days, at least. However, do you know the signs the cooked chicken you have stored in the fridge had gone bad? Here, we provide you the information.
First, you can detect from the smell. Just like the raw chicken test, you should check the odor, and the smell reminds you to the rotten eggs.
You can notice bad cooked chicken with mold. If there is no growing green or black fuzz around the part of the chicken, check other parts.
Checking the colors of the cooked chicken is important. It is not safe if the cooked chicken you stored in the fridge has gray or discolored look. In fact, the cooked chicken must look white underneath.
The problem is that you do not want to eat bad chicken. When other tests above do not work and you are still unsure, you should try a small bite of it. If it does not taste good, spit it out, and remove it.
How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge depends on the way you store it. Therefore, if you want to consume it for a quite long, make sure that you do the proper ways to store the cooked chicken.
What Happen If You Eat Bad Chicken?
If you are vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, and even diarrhea, it can be the sign of food poisoning symptoms. Eating bad chicken can lead you to food poisoning caused by Salmonella and other types of bacteria.
It can start in the refrigerator when raw meats or poultry contaminates cooked chicken. In addition, during the food preparation, dangerous bacteria can spread with ease. For example, if you use a cutting board to cut chicken, make sure that you wash it well in hot water.
Cooked chicken that you leave out of refrigerate for barbecue, travel by car, and for picnic can be the best place for bacteria to grow. In fact, bacteria can grow faster at the warmer temperatures. Here, they can double their population for every 20 minutes.
The symptoms of food poisoning can start quickly within four hours or 24 hours after consuming the contaminated cooked chicken. The symptoms can last for three to four days, even longer if you keep consuming the contaminated cooked chicken.
The best treatment to deal with food poisoning is to prevent dehydration. You must take in enough fluids. Take more water when you have stomachache.
There are some ways to prevent food poisoning:
- Hot foods should be hot and cold foods should be cold.
- Wash your hand before preparing food, preparing different menus and after finishing the food preparation.
- When you grill chicken, make sure there are no pink juices from the chicken. If you cook it sufficiently, juices will be clear.
- Do not leave food out of the room temperature for up to 2 hours.
- Do not save chicken leftovers that have unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours even if you want to refrigerate or reheat them. Even though you have refrigerated the leftovers, the dangerous bacteria will keep growing.
- Buy fresh chicken and refrigerate it immediately. Do not buy cracked eggs or foods with dented cans.
How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge? Conclusion
If you want to refrigerate your chicken, you should not put it in the fridge immediately. You should let the cooked chicken cool down within an hour. After that, you can put it away. How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? Leftover chicken is still safe to eat for two to three days. However, you should check the signs of spoiled cooked chicken. You can know if the cooked chicken has gone bad by checking the smell, the color, the taste and the mold.
It is not a big deal on how you cooked the chicken meat for the first time, but the safest way is to reheat it once. You can reheat the cooked chicken in a microwave, in an oven, in a frying pan, on the barbecue and even in a slow cooker. But, keep in mind that you must consume reheated chicken meat in one sitting.
If you eat cooked chicken that has been left out for more than two hours or overnights, bacteria can release the toxins in the food and you cannot kill the bacteria. Therefore, if you have left out cooked chicken at the room temperature more than two hours, you should not consume it and it is better to throw it away to avoid food poisoning. However, it is still okay and safe for you to consume cold cooked chicken that you have thoroughly cooked and rapidly cooled it.
How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge is an important issue you should care for. Even we recommend you to add a label when you freeze cooked chicken and other foods. We do understand that everybody loves cooked chicken dishes. But, make sure that your safety is first.
- Food Storage – How Long Can You Keep: Chicken Pieces, Including Chicken Breasts / Thighs / Wings – Cooked
- Is Reheating Cooked Chicken Dangerous?
- How Long Can You Keep Chicken In The Fridge?
- Food Poisoning
- The Best Types of Packaging for Freezing Food
- Keep Your Chicken Fresh, Flavorful, And Safe
- Image: livestrong.com, leaf.tv, tasteofhome.com, chicken.org.au, armandosmarket.com