How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge?

How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge?
12 min reading time

Are you someone who loves to cook chicken on Sunday nights for a quick, healthy dinner throughout the week? Or perhaps you’ve just received some freshly cooked chicken from your favorite takeout spot and want to save it for another meal. While leftover cooked chicken is certainly convenient, have you ever wondered how long does it last in the fridge? We’re here to answer that question!

In this blog post, we will discuss how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge. We’ll look at storage tips and tricks as well as signs of spoilage so that you can get the most out of each batch. So if you’ve been wondering about food safety when it comes to leftover cooked chicken, keep on reading – we’ve got all the information right here!

Factors Affecting the Shelf Life of Cooked Chicken

Cooked chicken is a highly perishable food item, and its shelf life depends on several factors. By taking these factors into account, you can determine how long your cooked chicken will stay fresh and safe to eat.

Temperature: The temperature of your refrigerator plays a crucial role in the shelf life of cooked chicken. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends storing cooked poultry in the fridge at or below 40°F (4°C). At this temperature, cooked chicken can last for up to four days.

Refrigerator TemperatureShelf Life of Cooked Chicken
40°F (4°C) or belowUp to 4 days
Higher than 40°F (4°C)The chicken should be discarded after 2 hours

Storage conditions: Proper storage is crucial to extending the shelf life of cooked chicken. Store cooked chicken in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent moisture loss and bacterial growth. Make sure to store cooked chicken on the top shelf of the refrigerator, away from raw meats and other food items to avoid cross-contamination.

Other important considerations: Other factors that can affect the shelf life of cooked chicken include the quality of the chicken, the presence of preservatives, and how it was cooked.

How to Store Cooked Chicken in the Fridge?

First, allow the cooked chicken to cool before you refrigerate it. Covering your dish with aluminum foil or plastic wrap will help the cooling process go faster, but make sure not to cover it too tightly as this can cause condensation that leads to spoilage.

Once cooled down completely (to reduce bacteria growth,) divide your leftovers into smaller portions and store them in an airtight container or a resealable bag for easy access throughout the week. If you place cooked meat directly onto reusable storage containers instead of first allowing it time on its own after cooking, moisture could become trapped inside which encourages bacteria growth and spoilage. Storing prepped meals separately from their sauces also helps extend shelf life so be sure to do that too!

How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Cooked chicken can last up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator if stored properly. To keep it fresh, it is important to store your cooked chicken correctly and as soon as possible. It is generally recommended to refrigerate cooked chicken within two hours of cooking and keep the temperature of the fridge at or below 40°F (4°C). This is done in order to reduce the risk of foodborne illness caused by bacteria like Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus.

When cooked chicken isn’t properly handled, bacteria can start growing quickly at temperatures between 40°F and 140°F resulting in unsafe conditions for consuming the poultry product due to spoilage. The USDA also recommends that you should never leave cooked chicken out at room temperature for more than two hours; if you do so, then throw away any leftovers.

How to Determine if the Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad?

When it comes to knowing if your cooked chicken has gone bad, the easiest way is to use your senses. If it looks discolored or slimy, smells off, or tastes different from usual, then there is a good chance that it has gone bad and should not be eaten.

A more precise way of testing for spoilage involves using an accurate food thermometer. The safe temperature for cooked chicken is 165°F (74°C). Anything below this temperature can be contaminated with bacteria which can cause food poisoning if consumed. To check the internal temperature of the cooked chicken, insert the thermometer into its thickest part and wait 10 seconds until you get a reading. When checking multiple pieces of chicken, make sure to rotate them around while inserting the probe so that you get an accurate reading from different spots within each piece.

You should also pay attention to how long ago you bought or prepped the chicken as well as when was its expiration date – in general, most properly stored cooked poultry will last about 3-4 days in the fridge at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) or up to 4 months in freezer at 0 °F(-18 °C). Any longer than these timeframes and there’s a bigger risk of contamination with microorganisms which could lead to foodborne illness if consumed raw or undercooked.

If after checking all these factors you are still unsure whether your cooked chicken is good for eating – better discard it rather than take any unnecessary risks!

how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge

What are the Risks of Consuming Spoiled Cooked Chicken?

Consumption of spoiled cooked chicken can lead to food poisoning or, even worse, on rare occasions it can lead to life-threatening health complications.

The major risk associated with eating spoiled cooked chicken lies in the presence of potentially harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Staphylococcus aureus – all of which are commonly found on improperly handled/stored raw meat that wasn’t properly refrigerated or stored. As these bacteria multiply over time, they release toxins into the food that can make you very sick if eaten. Symptoms of food poisoning from contaminated chicken include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps; these symptoms often come on quickly after consuming the spoilt meat. In more serious cases of food poisoning caused by eating spoiled cooked chicken (or other meats), dehydration due to excessive fluid loss is common – this requires prompt medical attention to avoid any long-term health effects like organ damage or chronic fatigue syndrome.

It’s also possible for people who consume too much spoiled cooked chicken to contract bacterial infections like salmonellosis which go beyond mild symptoms; this infection has been known to cause severe dehydration leading to hospitalization and even death in some instances.

How to Consume Stored Cooked Chicken From the Refrigerator?

When consuming stored cooked chicken from the refrigerator, it is important to take proper precautions to ensure that the food remains safe and free of potential bacteria or viruses.

First, since this chicken has been previously cooked and cooled, it must be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 74°C (165 °F) before eating. To check whether your chicken has reached this temperature, you can use a food thermometer. When reheating in microwaveable containers or shallow utensils made for microwaves, cover the container with a lid or plate and rotate/stir periodically to evenly distribute heat throughout the food. It should also be noted that dishes like casseroles with thicker sauces or gravies which require even more thorough heating should be heated for longer periods of time (roughly 2 minutes).

When consuming cold pre-cooked chicken from your refrigerator such as salads and sandwiches make sure they are consumed within two hours after preparation because harmful bacteria can grow rapidly on foods usually eaten cold such as buffet foods held at room temperature without proper cooling methods employed following their preparation.

How to Use Pre-Cooked Stored Chicken in Recipes?

Cooked chicken can be an incredibly versatile ingredient for recipes! Whether you’re using it as a protein-packed main course or a flavor-boosting side dish, cooked chicken is easy to use and can help you create some delicious dishes. Here are some tips to help make the most of your cooked stored chicken:

1. Reheat before Use: Before adding your cooked stored chicken into any recipe, make sure that you properly heat it up first. You don’t want cold chunks in your warm dish so ensure that the chicken is reheated fully before using it in your recipes.

2. Choose Your Cooking Method: Depending on what type of recipe you’re making with your cooked stored chicken, there are various ways to cook it further such as baking, frying, sautéing, boiling, etc., so pick the best method for the type of food you’re making!

3. Cut Into Smaller Pieces: If needed, cut the cooked store-bought chick into smaller cubes or strips before adding them to a recipe; this helps food cook evenly while getting more flavor out of each piece!

4. Get Creative With Flavors & Other Ingredients: Since pre-cooked foods often lack big flavors profiles like fresh meats do; jazz up your dishes by incorporating flavorful ingredients such as herbs and spices along with other vegetables or proteins – this will help enhance both texture and taste!

5. Manage The Moisture & Liquid Content: Stored chickens usually contain excess moisture which could ruin certain recipes if not managed properly – especially when cooking sauces or stews – so remember to remove any liquid from them beforehand (or reduce amounts considerably) when adding them into recipes for better results!

Safe Ways to Reheat Cooked Chicken

Reheating leftover cooked chicken is an excellent way to make a quick and easy meal. However, it is crucial to do it safely to avoid the risk of food poisoning. Here are some safe ways to reheat cooked chicken:

  1. Microwave: This is the quickest and easiest way to reheat cooked chicken. Place the chicken in a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a lid or damp paper towel. Heat it on high for 1-2 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  2. Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the chicken in an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil. Bake it for 20-30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  3. Stovetop: Heat a skillet over medium heat and add some oil. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook it for 4-5 minutes on each side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

No matter which method you choose, it is essential to check the internal temperature of the chicken with a food thermometer before consuming it. Always make sure that the chicken is piping hot throughout.

Pro Tip: If you are reheating a large amount of chicken, slice it into smaller pieces to ensure it heats up evenly.

It is also important to avoid reheating cooked chicken more than once. Each time you reheat it, you increase the risk of harmful bacteria growth. Instead, try to only reheat the amount you plan to eat and store the rest for later.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I safely eat cooked chicken that has been in the fridge for five days or more?

It is generally recommended to consume cooked chicken within 3 to 4 days of refrigeration. Eating chicken stored for longer may increase the risk of foodborne illness.

How can I tell if my refrigerated cooked chicken has gone bad?

Signs of spoilage include a sour or unpleasant smell, slimy texture, and discoloration.

Does the method of cooking affect how long cooked chicken lasts in the fridge?

The shelf life of cooked chicken is generally the same, regardless of the cooking method. However, ensure that it is cooked thoroughly and stored properly to maximize its freshness.

Can I extend the shelf life of cooked chicken by freezing it?

Yes, you can freeze the cooked chicken to prolong its shelf life by up to 2 to 6 months. Make sure to store it in an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bags to avoid freezer burn.

Can I safely reheat cooked chicken that has been stored in the fridge?

Yes, you can reheat the cooked chicken, but make sure to heat it to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure food safety. Reheating should be done only once to avoid bacterial growth.

Does the type of chicken dish (e.g., curry, stir-fry, baked) affect how long it lasts in the fridge?

While the general guideline for cooked chicken remains the same, some dishes with high moisture content or acidic ingredients may last slightly longer due to their preservation properties. However, it’s still best to consume the dish within 3 to 4 days.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, cooked chicken is a great ingredient to have in the fridge, as it can provide a delicious and nutritious meal. Now that you know how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge, you must also take care to store your cooked chicken properly and check it for signs of spoilage before consuming it. While consuming some spoiled poultry carries more of an annoyance than a medical risk, it is still important to practice caution when eating food that has been stored in the refrigerator for too long. Follow the guidelines mentioned here and you can enjoy all the health benefits that come from eating cooked chicken without worrying about getting sick!

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