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How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? There’s an easy answer in this helpful article

What separates cooked and raw chicken when stored in the fridge? Post by Taste of Home on how long cooked chicken lasts.



One of my favorite proteins is chicken. Although it’s easy to prepare, there are many different ways to spice it up to make each night’s dinner interesting and novel. Additionally, it pairs well with a variety of foods, including salads, sandwiches, tacos, soups, and appetizers. Anything you can think of, you can probably make with chicken.

I frequently roast a full chicken—or, if I don’t feel like cooking, buy a rotisserie chicken—and let the flesh last me for several meals. How long does cooked chicken keep in the refrigerator, though? Not as much time as you might imagine.

How long does chicken stay cooked?

The refrigerator

Although most people believe that leftovers should be kept for a week, most food doesn’t actually last that long in the refrigerator. Additionally, how you store it matters. Most cooked chicken should be consumed three to four days after being refrigerated, according to the USDA. The various varieties of cooked chicken are described in further detail below.

Ground chicken, whole chicken, or chicken breasts

After cooking, place in refrigerator within two hours, and use within three to four days.

Rotisserie chicken leftovers

Any leftover rotisserie chicken should be stored in the fridge and consumed within three to four days.

Chicken Salad should be consumed within three to five days of preparation. Remember that the day the chicken was cooked, not the day the chicken salad was created, is when you want to start the timer. You shouldn’t intend to freeze chicken salad because mayonnaise doesn’t freeze properly.

sandwich-sliced chicken for lunch

After returning from the grocery shop, place in the refrigerator. Utilize within 3 to 5 days.

Chicken lunch meat in a packet that is sealed.

Use within two weeks of purchase, keep in the fridge (or within one week of the best-by date). Use within three to five days of opening.

Chicken in cans

Use canned chicken that hasn’t been opened within two to five years and keep it in the pantry. Use within three to four days of opening; store in the refrigerator.

Within the Freezer

In the freezer, every chicken piece has a same shelf life of around a year. The USDA claims that frozen chicken can potentially last indefinitely. There is a point where the quality does begin to deteriorate, though. In the case of cooked chicken, that is roughly four months. The chicken will keep its quality for a little while longer if it is made into a casserole or the pieces are covered in stock or gravy before freezing (up to six months). When warmed after those periods, the chicken will become bland and mushy.

How to Store Cooked Chicken in the Fridge Correctly

Chicken that has been cooked should be kept in an airtight container. Glass storage containers are popular with us because they don’t absorb odors like plastic ones do. As the chicken cools, you can leave it uncovered, although covering it will keep the leftover meat moist.

Within the Freezer

The USDA advises freezing chicken in its original container and covering it with airtight heavy-duty foil, plastic wrap, freezer paper, or putting the container inside a freezer bag. Additionally, you can repackage chicken in smaller portions in a freezer-safe bag or with any of these other freezer storage solutions after it has been opened.

Chicken should be taken out of the freezer and put in the refrigerator to thaw. Larger packages (or whole chickens) may take one to two days to thaw, whereas smaller portions of chicken will do so over the course of an overnight. If the chicken isn’t utilized after thawing in the fridge, it can be frozen again.

Chicken can be quickly thawed in the microwave or under cold running water. Put the frozen chicken in a bag that won’t leak and immerse it in some cold water. Every 30 minutes, change the water. In roughly three hours, a full chicken should be defrosted. You cannot use either of these techniques to refreeze chicken.

How to Recognize Spoiled Chicken

Here are several typical indications that chicken has ruined, though our advice is always to “throw it out when in doubt.” We like to perform the sniff test first. Although the spices used to prepare the chicken can frequently cover up more subtle odors, if the chicken has a sulfurous or sour smell (like rotting eggs), it is certainly past its prime. Bad chicken also has a greyish appearance, and if it has a greenish or bluish hue, you shouldn’t consume it. Additionally, the presence of mildew or a slimy texture is a clue that the chicken has gone bad.

Need to quickly use up leftover chicken? Try these recipes for rotisserie chicken.

How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge? is a piece that originally published on Taste of Home.