Schedule your free consultation today.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

All fields are required

LET'S TALK

CALL TODAY

(833) 330-3663

Does Cooked Chicken Need to be Refrigerated?

Posted in Food Safety on December 31, 2021

As soon as your meal is over, cooked chicken should be refrigerated in an airtight container. If chicken is left out for two hours or more, or one hour in temperatures of 90°F, it is no longer safe to eat.

Why Must Cooked Chicken Be Refrigerated?

The cooking process kills harmful bacteria in chicken, but as the food cools, there is a threat of new bacterial growth. Although refrigeration does not kill bacteria, it slows its growth enough to keep cooked chicken safe to eat for the following three to four days. After that, it should be thrown out because bacteria can still grow even at refrigerator temperatures. If you eat it, you’ll risk contracting a serious foodborne illness.

Does Reheating Cooked Chicken Kill Bacteria?

Reheating is one of the most effective ways to eliminate foodborne bacteria. Most bacterial hazards and viruses can be killed if the chicken is reheated at a sufficiently high temperature for a long enough period. The internal temperature of the food must reach at least 165°F.

I Forgot to Refrigerate My Cooked Chicken—Will Reheating Make it Safe?

Unfortunately, no, because some types of bacteria also produce heat-resistant spores or toxins that can cause food poisoning. These spores and toxins often cannot be destroyed by normal cooking or reheating. If you forget to refrigerate your cooked chicken and it has been left out for more than two hours, the safest choice is to discard it.

How To Tell if My Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad?

Even if you correctly store cooked chicken, it can go bad in the fridge after three to four days. Freshly cooked chicken will appear white or brown and will begin to turn gray or a greenish-gray color as it spoils. Other telltale signs that your cooked chicken should be thrown out are an offensive smell or visible mold. If you see green, black fuzz, or a growth of any kind, it has definitely gone bad.

If you or a loved one became sick from ingesting bad chicken from an eating establishment, we can help. Contact our food safety lawyer today to learn more about your legal options.

Recommended Home Storage Temperatures and Time

Fresh, Raw Chicken

Chicken Parts (Breasts, Drumsticks, etc.)
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 9 months

Chicken Sausages
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 1 to 2 months

Giblets
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 3 to 4 months

Ground Chicken
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 3 to 4 months

Whole Chicken
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 1 year

Frozen Chicken

Chicken Patties
Refrigerator: Not recommended
Freezer: 3 to 4 months

Individually Quick Frozen Chicken Breasts
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 3 to 4 months

Cooked Chicken (leftovers)

Chicken Parts (plain)
Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days
Freezer: 4 months

Chicken Parts with gravy, broth
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 6 months

Chicken Patties
Refrigerator: 1 to 2 days
Freezer: 1 to 3 months

Cooked Chicken Dishes
Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days
Freezer: 4 to 6 months

Fried Chicken
Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days
Freezer: 4 months

Whole Roasted Chicken (Oven or Rotisserie)
Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days
Freezer: 4 months