How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In the Fridge?

All You Wanted to Know About This Question

how long can cooked chicken stay in the fridge

Let’s agree, it’s pretty sad when, after putting a delicious dish to the fridge, we soon find out that it is already spoiled! Time and efforts we spent on it seem to be wasted in vain. To avoid such trouble, check out this article where you will find tips for keeping cooked chicken in the refrigerator longer.

Cooked Chicken Fridge Life. Questions and Answers

At first sight, it may seem that cooked food can last very long when being put to the fridge. However, keeping and preserving dishes that are already cooked also require some knowledge and skills.

As for the cooked chicken, its storage time in the fridge depends on whether it is being stored under proper conditions and how exactly it is cooked. The size of the chicken also matters because shelf-life of a whole or cut-up cooked chicken is shorter comparing to nuggets and patties.

cooked chicken in fridge
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  • How long is cooked chicken good for? If we are talking about freshly cooked chicken meat that hasn’t been put to the fridge yet, it can last for two hours only on the day it was cooked. After that, throw it away to prevent food poisoning.

To avoid spoiling the meat and your food poisoning after eating it, it is anyway strongly recommended to put it to the fridge.

  • How long will cooked chicken last in the refrigerator? Generally, the fridge-life of a cooked chicken lasts about three or four days. Whole chicken or cut-up chicken can be preserved for one or two days whilst nuggets and chicken patties can remain eatable for as long as four days in a row.
  • If you put cooked chicken to the freezer, it can last much longer. The maximum duration is four months.
  • Can I keep cooked chicken in the fridge for seven days? Well, as for this, you need to be aware that cooked chicken meat can be safely kept in the fridge for a maximum of five days. After that, it starts spoiling fast and you are risking to get bad stomach problems if you eat cooked chicken meat that is older than five days.

How to Store Cooked Chicken Properly?

how long can you keep cooked chicken in the fridge
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To prolong the storage period of the cooked chicken, follow several easy steps to keep it tasty.

  • Storing cooked chicken refrigerated in a shallow and airtight box or bag will prevent it from rotting. As a variant, wrap the meat into the aluminum foil or a plastic cover tight.
  • To make the cooked chicken meat last even longer, choose freezing it. For high-quality freezing, use the same methods as were described above for keeping cooked chicken in the fridge.
  • If you defrost cooked chicken meat in the fridge, it can remain eatable for three to four days more but you must use it during this period of time.

Nevertheless, if you defrosted cooked chicken that was frozen in a microwave or using cold water, you must use this meat immediately.

When does the cooked chicken go bad? 

Counting on the storage conditions, your cooked chicken can live for at least two hours (it refers to the freshly cooked meat that is being kept at room temperature). 

If you put it to the fridge, it will remain eatable and fresh for up to four months if being kept at the proper temperature which is below zero degrees Celsius.

how long will cooked chicken last in the fridge
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Chicken Leftovers. What to Do With Them?

Most of us try not to throw away what can be used. The same goes for cooked chicken leftovers. How long can leftover chicken be stored before it becomes bad? If you keep them properly in a zip-lock bag or sealed box, the leftovers can remain good for a maximum of four days.

How Long Is Cooked Chicken Good For In The Fridge After It Was Cooked?

This question may bother quite many people as some say that it is not allowed to put freshly cooked (whether boiled or fried) chicken meat to the fridge because it can get spoiled very fast. All because of salmonella bacteria.

In fact, to correctly store cooked chicken in the fridge, cool the meat first at room temperature after you take it out of the oven or casserole, and then refrigerate. But reassure that you don’t keep your tasty chicken at room temperature for more than two hours! 

Is It Safe to Reheat Cooked Chicken?

Eating cold meat is no fun. But is it allowed to heat a cooked chicken for the second time?

Well, to tell the truth, no matter how this chicken was cooked, whether it was boiled, fried or baked, in any case, it is allowed and safe to reheat it only once. 

You can do it in a microwave, a frying pan, in the oven or use a barbecue or even a slow heater. Even open fire will do! Only remember that reheated cooked chicken must be eaten at once and completely! 

How to Tell If Chicken Gone Bad

If you sense the sour smell that comes from your cooked chicken or you can see slimy spots on its surface, then it is most likely already not eatable.

Throw it away without even tasting.

How to Prevent Cooked Chicken From Spoiling?

Nobody likes throwing away food, so, to avoid wasting products, use these tips for keeping cooked chicken meat fresh longer.

  • Don’t let cooked chicken stay at room temperature for more than two hours otherwise, it will get spoiled because of the bacteria growth.
  • Put the cooked chicken meat to the fridge if you are sure you won’t use it today anymore.
  • How to help the cooked chicken get refrigerated better? Cut it into small pieces to let the cold work thoroughly.
  • Check whether the box you store the chicken in is clean. Like that, all the bacteria won’t be able to reproduce.
  • Use boxes with tight lids for storing cooked chicken meat as they stop bacteria and pathogens from getting inside.
  • Keep cooked chicken meat of leftovers away from the raw meat.

If you adhere to these simple advice, you will be able to preserve your cooked chicken whether it is whole, sliced, chopped or if it’s chicken wings, patties or nuggets. Like that, you will prolong the shelf-life of the meat and enable it to be used later as an ingredient in many more delicious dishes and snacks.

Why Is Old Cooked Chicken Meat Dangerous? 

Why Is Old Cooked Chicken Meat Dangerous
Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH
Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph showing Salmonella typhimurium (red) invading cultured human cells.

Everyone knows that eating spoiled food or food that looks or smells suspicious and seems to be unfresh is dangerous for our health and sometimes even for our lives. But what makes chicken meat so threatening even when it’s already cooked? After all, it is a common belief that, after being fried, boiled or grilled, the meat becomes safe for eating anytime.

The answer lies on the surface. Even when we keep cooked chicken in the fridge, it can become spoiled. When being stored improperly, at the wrong temperature or in a wrong container, and also when being kept for too long, cooked chicken meat will get spoiled. It happens because different bacteria start growing on it as they receive good conditions for reproducing.

That’s why improperly stored cooked chicken can be a “home” for such bacteria as:

  • Salmonella

It is harmful to our insides and causes serious diseases with a fever that can last for up to one week.

  • Staphylococcus
Why Is Old Cooked Chicken Meat Dangerous - stafylococus

It appears if you leave cooked chicken outside the fridge or freezer for too long. This bacteria intoxicates our body causing vomiting, nausea and other unpleasant symptoms.

  • Campylobacter

It causes usual symptoms of food poisoning, however, it will still chain you to bed for several days with fever and aching stomach.

To avoid getting severe food poisoning, ensure that you keep your cooked chicken meat properly under correct conditions such as temperature and surroundings. Also, make sure you are using suitable boxes or other containers that won’t cause the meat to turn bad faster.

What to Do If You Ate Spoiled Chicken and Feel Bad?

What to Do If You Ate Spoiled Chicken and Feel Bad

Sometimes at the street cafe or any other fast-food canteen, we can run into stale meat, chicken in particular.

If it so happened that you ate a piece of cooked chicken meat that appeared to be not completely fresh and started feeling bad, it is essential to take action to prevent food poisoning.

What you must know is that depending on how strong your stomach and body are, the first symptoms of food poisoning can appear after minimum of four hours after you ate contaminated food. The maximum period for symptoms to appear is twenty-four hours.

  • If you have any food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or bloating, it is vitally important to remove all the poison from your body. To do that, take several pills of activated carbon or any other anti-food poisoning medicine that has absorbing qualities.
  • It’s important to extract the meat out of your stomach, so you must cause vomiting to cleanse it properly. Try to drink one liter of slightly warm filtered water until you feel your stomach is going to return the food back.

Repeat the procedure several times until nothing is coming out of your stomach.

  • Keep your body water balance. Drink enough water as during diarrhea or vomiting it loses its liquids fast and you can get dehydration.
  • Depending on how bad the symptoms are, it’s recommended not to eat for at least one or two days. Drink enough water, make yourself herbal or black tea (unsweetened and not strong). 
  • After a couple of days, you can try to eat some vegetable bouillon or dry white bread.
  • In case your symptoms are very bad from the beginning or get worse, go to the hospital.

Is There a Way To Use Extra Chicken Meat If Not Throwing It Away?

how long is cooked chicken good for in the fridge
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Sometimes, when we have pretty much leftover cooked chicken left after dinner, we can face the dilemma. Shall we keep the meat or shall we throw it away at once? 

In this case, the best you can do is to decide whether you are going to use this meat within the next couple of days. 

If you are, then preserve the cooked chicken leftovers according to the storage rules and later you can make tasty dishes out of them.

Surprisingly, there are many easy recipes that use cooked chicken leftover meat!

  • You can coat the leftovers with flour and fry them on the pan. Eat this dish with the sauce or without it – as you wish!
  • Chicken leftovers can also go to the chicken noodle soup
  • Savory pancake or chicken stock is also very delicious when using cooked chicken leftovers for making them!
  • You can add chicken leftovers to the roasted rice with vegetables and cheese
  • Chicken nachos and egg rolls will also work well for a lunch 
  • You can even make a cold spicy Chinese appetizer adding raw vegetables, chili pepper, and vegetable oil.
  • And of course, a traditional sandwich is the easiest and tasty way of using the cooked chicken leftovers if you have no time for other manipulations with the ingredients and kitchen utensils!

So now you know all the basic rules that must be followed when storing cooked chicken or its leftovers in your fridge. You also have in your disposal several handy tips regarding proper storage of the cooked chicken meat and the ways you can use it afterward.

Hopefully, you will not need that advice on what to do in case of a food poisoning as, when keeping your cooked chicken meat properly, you will be able to preserve it eatable and fresh, as well as safe for your health, for a longer period of time.

Cooked chicken is a tasty and nutritious dish and even its leftovers can be successfully used for preparing various delicious snacks, appetizers and dishes like soups, stew, sandwiches, and rolls.

Use it smartly and take care!

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