Chicken is one of the most popular meats in the world, and many people enjoy eating it both for health and taste reasons.
But how long can chicken stay in the fridge before it goes bad?
And what’s the best way to store it so it doesn’t go bad?
We’ll answer all those questions and more below.
How long can chicken stay in the fridge?
The best way to determine how long chicken stays fresh is by looking at how well-cooked it was when it left the kitchen.
A well-done piece of meat may have lost some moisture during cooking, but it won’t be spoiled because the meat itself is still intact.
On the other hand, an undercooked piece of meat may be dry and tough.
It could even be dangerous to eat since bacteria can grow quickly on raw meat.
For this reason, it’s best to cook chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) or higher.
This ensures that the poultry meat inside is fully cooked and safe to consume.
If you don’t want to do the math yourself and prefer to trust the experts, use an instant read thermometer like this one from Thermapen to find out exactly how done your meat is.
What is the ideal temperature for storing chicken in the fridge?
When shopping for chicken, you may see different packages labeled “fresh” versus “frozen.”
While there isn’t much difference in the quality of either type of chicken, freezing meat helps preserve it longer.
Most chicken sold as fresh is vacuum packed, which means that it’s sealed with a plastic film that prevents air from getting into the package.
However, frozen chicken comes without that protective layer, so it needs to be kept refrigerated to prevent spoiling.
For this reason, we recommend keeping uncooked chicken in the refrigerator for no more than three days.
Once the chicken has been thawed and eaten, it can remain in the fridge up to five days.
How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge?
Once you’ve finished cooking chicken, you need to know how long it will keep in the fridge.
Like any other food, the shelf life of chicken depends on several factors, including the condition of the meat and how well it’s stored.
Some common factors that affect the lifespan of chicken include the following:
Keep chicken between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4 and 60 degrees Celsius).
If you live somewhere cold, it might be best to freeze your bird instead of keeping it in the fridge.
Chicken loses moisture during cooking, so it’s important to keep it properly covered in order to minimize evaporation.
You can also help prevent dehydration by placing a damp towel over the top of the container.
Protein breaks down faster in warm temperatures, so keeping chicken in the fridge after cooking can cause it to lose flavor and texture over time.
To prevent this, place it in the freezer for about two hours before consuming it.
As mentioned above, you should never leave chicken exposed to air, especially if you plan to eat it within four days.
How can you tell if chicken has gone bad?
One way to tell if your chicken has gone bad is by smelling it.
Raw chicken that hasn’t been cooked will produce an odor similar to rotten eggs.
It can also give off a sour or ammonia-like smell.
However, once the chicken is cooked, the odor disappears.
If the chicken smells fine, it should be safe to eat.
What are the signs of chicken spoilage?
There are several warning signs that indicate your chicken has gone bad.
Sourness indicates that the protein in the meat has broken down.
This can happen due to improper cooking or poor storage conditions.
Off odors generally come from bacterial growth, which can lead to illnesses such as salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, and E. coli.
Discoloration usually occurs when the chicken’s fat has started to break down.
This will make the meat appear brownish or yellowish.
Dryness occurs when the meat dries out too much
This makes it difficult to chew, and it also increases the risk of food poisoning.
How long does chicken last in the freezer?
Unlike chicken that’s been cooked and then stored in the fridge, freezing chicken has no expiration date.
That said, it’s best to freeze chicken as soon as possible after purchasing it to ensure that it lasts the longest.
You should also keep frozen chicken in tightly wrapped bags in case it starts to defrost.
When you take it out of the freezer, be sure to put it back immediately in the bag to prevent it from drying out.
What is the best way to reheat chicken?
To reheat chicken, it’s best to remove any bone fragments and excess skin first.
Then heat the meat in a pan over medium heat until it’s hot throughout.
Remove the chicken from the pan and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
How can you avoid food poisoning from chicken?
Food poisoning is caused by ingesting contaminated foods, and it often results in diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
There are several ways to reduce the chances of contracting food poisoning from chicken, including washing hands thoroughly after preparing it, cooking it thoroughly, and avoiding undercooked chicken.
What are the food safety guidelines for handling chicken?
It’s always safest to follow these simple rules when handling poultry:
Wash hands with soap and water before handling poultry.
Cook poultry until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) or higher.
Keep raw chicken away from other foods that can contaminate it.
Refrigerate leftover chicken within four days of purchase.
Is it safe to eat chicken that has been frozen for a long time?
Frozen chicken has a much longer shelf life than fresh chicken, so it’s perfectly safe to eat.
Just make sure to keep it in the freezer for no more than six months, and you’ll be able to enjoy it indefinitely after that.
Why did my chicken explode?
A lot of things can cause your chicken to explode, including overcooking, using expired spices, and letting it sit out at room temperature for too long.
If your chicken exploded while cooking, discard it immediately and start over.
If it happened afterward, try putting it back in the oven for another 10 minutes to finish cooking.