how long is chicken good in the fridge?
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how long is chicken good in the fridge?
According to the USDA, cooked chicken will last three to four days in the refrigerator, and two to three months in the freezer. Eating cooked chicken after this point can result in foodborne illness — even at refrigerated temperatures, bacteria can still grow.
This might leave you with the question: Can’t you just zap it in the microwave? Because microwaves heat food from the outside in, and not the other way around, reheating week-old cooked chicken in the microwave will kill bacteria on the surface, but it won’t eliminate toxins produced by the growing bacteria beneath the surface.
How to Freeze Chicken for Later Use?
If you have raw or cooked Chicken that you don’t plan to cook or eat for a while, you should store it in the freezer instead of the fridge. Here’s how to freeze chicken for later use in just a few simple steps.
For either raw chicken or cooked chicken, wrap each individual piece of chicken in Glad FreezerWrap. Next, store the chicken in an airtight bag such as Glad FLEX’N SEAL™ Freezer Quart Bags and squeeze out any extra air before sealing it. Finally, store your chicken in the deepest part of the freezer. Be sure to wash your hands before and after handling chicken, especially if it’s raw.
Once stored, how long does chicken last in the freezer? Individual pieces of raw chicken stay good in the freezer for 9 months, and whole chickens are good for up to a year when frozen.
How Long Will Raw Chicken Stay Good in the Fridge?
According to the USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, raw chicken (regardless of if it’s whole; in pieces such as breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings; or ground) should be stored for no longer than one to two days in the refrigerator. If the chicken was previously frozen, this timeline goes into effect after the meat is fully defrosted.
If you’re unsure whether you’ll get to cooking that raw chicken before this timeline is up, your best bet is to freeze it.
How Long Do Different Cuts Of Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge?
Cooked chicken isn’t all the same. Grilled chicken will last for longer than fried chicken, while ground chicken lasts longer than both. Take a look yourself at each type.
A cooked chicken breast will last for 3–4 days in the fridge. Meanwhile, a raw breast will only last for 1–2 days. In both cases, it’s better to put the breast in the freezer.
While a whole cooked chicken may be different than breasts or ground chicken, it’ll last for nearly the same time period in the fridge. It may even last a bit longer since the larger mass will take more time to cool. Therefore, it’ll keep its taste for longer.
That being, a whole chicken is more prone to getting spoiled than smaller pieces. So, you may want to cut it into smaller portions before storing it.
Vacuum Sealed Cooked Chicken
Some vacuum-sealed foods can last up to three months if they’re placed in a freezer. The sealing prevents any bacteria or pathogens from getting in, which naturally extends the food’s lifespan. Meanwhile, they’ll only last for two weeks if they’re in the fridge.
The same goes for cooked chicken. Vacuum sealing it in the fridge will keep it edible for 1–2 weeks.
If you properly wrap it before storing, the ground chicken will stay good for 3–4 days in the fridge. Meanwhile, if you place it in the freezer, it’ll keep its taste for 2–3 months, and it’ll stay edible beyond that.
If you want to ensure your ground chicken lasts for as long as possible, you can store it in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can wrap it in aluminium foil or plastic wrap. Both methods will let it keep its best quality for longer.
Cooked chicken liver stays good in the fridge for 1–2 days maximum. It loses its taste much faster than regular chicken meat. Despite that, you’ll find that chicken liver at stores is labeled for three weeks of usage.
It’ll stay edible after that time, but it won’t taste good. Plus, if you haven’t stored it properly, there’s a risk it’ll get worse before that time. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to Use Up Cooked Chicken?
Throwing leftovers away is a bummer. Here are some low-effort ways to avoid chucking what might be perfectly good food. The only key is getting around to it before it’s suspect.
- Freeze it. Pop that chicken in the freezer before it gets to the borderline zone. According to the USDA, you can freeze cooked chicken for up to a year, depending on the item. We’d say use anything within a few months to prevent freezer burn. Freezer-burned food is safe to eat, but it doesn’t taste very good. You can always make a batch of chicken stock to clear out a cache of frozen chicken, particularly if you’re freezing bone-in chicken.
- Make chicken salad. And preferably eat it that day, or the day after.
- Toss that chicken with some pasta for a quick dinner.
- Tuck it into a quesadilla for an easy lunch.
- Shred it and simmer it in a speedy soup.
How to Tell If Chicken Has Gone Bad?
If you’re not sure how long your chicken has been in the fridge, there’s a few tell-tale signs it’s past its prime:
- Color: Chicken that has gone bad, whether cooked or raw, will begin to have a green/grayish hue.
- Smell: The classic smell test can come in handy when you’re checking your chicken for spoilage. Chicken will begin to have an ammonia-like, or just an overall “off” smell. Seasonings and marinades can mask these smells, so you can’t always rely on smell alone.
- Texture: A change in texture is another indicator of spoilage. Bad chicken will have a slimy film — a pretty strong deterrent to biting into that week-old chicken.
A word of caution: Never taste your chicken to determine whether or not it’s gone bad. Doing so could result in a few hours spent hugging the toilet.
Is stale chicken more dangerous than other food?
Chickens (and eggs, their equally tasty spin-off) are often cited in food poisoning discussions. Salmonella in particular is noted for being a particularly chicken-adjacent bacteria. As such, chicken is considered a high-risk food for food poisoning.
However, that doesn’t mean eating chicken (and other poultry) is a digestion-risk dice-roll where other foods aren’t. The risks of contracting food poisoning from chicken are higher than many other foods (it’s the fourth most common source of foodborne pathogens), but that doesn’t mean we should stop eating it.
Even though chicken is more likely to give you food poisoning than other meats (and much more likely than veg and fruit), that risk is still relatively low if you prepare and store it correctly.
Almost 50 percent of folks in the USA eat chicken more than once per week. If even 1 in 100 of them contracted food poisoning, it would be the equivalent of 1.5 million people. It’d be on the news, let’s put it that way.
So yeah, chicken isn’t as safe as a lot of other foods, but it’s far from unsafe to eat.
Risks of eating spoiled chicken
Eating spoiled chicken can cause foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning.
Chicken has a high risk of causing food poisoning, as it may be contaminated with bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella and more.
Normally, these bacteria are eliminated when you cook fresh chicken thoroughly.
However, you still need to avoid cooking and eating spoiled chicken. Although re-heating or cooking can kill surface bacteria, it won’t eliminate some of the toxins produced by bacteria, which can give you food poisoning if you eat them.
Food poisoning can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms, including a high fever (above 101.5°F or 38.6°C), chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and dehydration.
In some cases, severe food poisoning can require hospitalization and even lead to death.
If you suspect that your chicken is spoiled, do not eat it. It’s always best to discard chicken that you suspect has gone bad.
How To Store Raw and Cooked Chicken?
Are you one of those people who buy this mealtime staple in bulk? Lucky for you, we got some handy tips to help you prolong their shelf life! The first thing you should know is that keeping them at room temperature for two hours and more is not the best idea. Remember, bacteria thrive at temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees F. Storing them in the fridge or the freezer, instead, will do the trick. Now, here is a more detailed breakdown:
In the Fridge
Before placing your cooked chicken in the fridge, let it cool first. Once it has cooled down, wrap it tightly with heavy-duty foil. Placing the meal in an airtight container also helps maintain its quality. Now, remember not to store raw and cooked chicken side by side to prevent the foodborne pathogens present in the raw meat from spreading.
Much like the cooked chicken, you should place the raw chicken in an airtight container, Ziploc bag, or plastic wrap. We also suggest that you put the package or container on a tray or dish, so the meat juices that might leak won’t drip on other foods. Lastly, don’t forget to put the container in the coldest part of the fridge.
In the Freezer
Freezing chicken is the best way if you want to lengthen its shelf life. For instance, cooked chicken meals can be frozen for months. Now, to ensure food safety, pack them tightly in an airtight container. If you don’t have an appropriate container, you can use freezer bags or plastic wraps. Make sure to wrap each chicken piece well to avoid any air contact. Place it in the freezer after wrapping well.
When storing raw chicken in the freezer, remove it from the package first. Then, transfer it to an airtight container. Another option is to wrap the chicken tightly in freezer bags or plastic wraps.
Whether stored in the fridge or the freezer, label the container of the starting date of its storage. By doing so, you’ll know how long the chicken has been staying in the said storage options.
Not all chicken is created equal when it comes to freezer storage. Stick to these guidelines, and you’ll be golden!
- Raw, Whole Chicken – 1 year… Yes, you read that right! A whole chicken can last in the freezer for a whole year. So don’t feel bad about stocking up if you ever see them on sale! Just make sure that you have plenty of room in your freezer for them.
- Raw Chicken Pieces – 9 months. Just make sure that you freeze it the right way to prevent freezer burn. Use freezer-safe bags and get as much air out as possible!
- Cooked Chicken – 2 to 6 months. The key to making it last the whole six months is to freeze it the correct way.
- Chicken Nuggets or Patties – 1 to 3 months. Let’s be honest, do chicken nuggets usually last that long in your house anyway?!
You can freeze so many different food items; chicken is just one of many! So instead of letting your meat, fruits, and veggies sit in your fridge and go to waste, pop them in the freezer.