This Is How Long Can Chicken Sit Out (Both Raw and Cooked)

Did you accidentally leave your chicken out of the refrigerator? If you are wondering if it is still edible, look no further because we have the answers to all of your questions here.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How long you can leave chicken sitting out
  • Whether chicken left out is safe to eat
  • And much more!

How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?

When it comes to chicken, you should not take any chances since harmful bacteria can grow rapidly. This is especially true for raw chicken that has been left out of the fridge for an extended period.

Most people know that when you are working in the kitchen, there are certain precautions that you should take with various foods. This is because if you are not careful you can find yourself suffering from food-borne illnesses.

Raw chicken should be left in the refrigerator, in most cases until you are ready to begin preparations. Most experts even recommend that chicken be left in an airtight container after it is out while you are getting things ready.

The FDA and other experts recommend that raw chicken not be left out of the fridge for more than two hours. This is because when it reaches temperatures of 40℉-140℉ harmful bacteria can begin to grow

You should never leave the chicken out of the fridge for any time to avoid any contamination. If you accidentally left it out on the counter, use your best judgment and toss it.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

Although cooked chicken is quite different from raw chicken, it still should not be left out for more than two hours. This is because even though it has been cooked, germs and bacteria can find their way into the chicken, thus making you sick if you consume it.

It is easy to end up leaving cooked chicken out for long periods especially if you are having a party or other special occasion. Many foods end up getting left exposed to the air where bacteria can begin to grow.

Most experts recommend that cooked food should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible after it has been cooked. If you are having an event in your home, you may want to consider rotating food out so that it does not reach the two-hour mark.

Overall, if you get to the end of an event and realize that you have quite a bit of chicken left over that has been sitting out, you may want to toss it out. While there is a chance that it is perfectly fine, there is also the possibility that it is not and you could suffer from food poisoning.

Related >> Easy Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe

How to Store Chicken

Another important factor to understand is how you should store your chicken whether it is raw or cooked. For both options, it is best to store them in an airtight container to avoid air getting to them and causing bacteria to grow.

When it comes to cooked chicken, you should always first allow it to cool down completely before you consider storing it. This is because if you put warm food in the fridge, even if it is in a container, it can cause the fridge’s temperature to rise which can cause bacteria to grow on other foods.

Many experts recommend once you have allowed the cooked chicken to cool down, that you either wrap the food carefully in plastic or aluminum foil. The best suggestion, however, is to place it in an airtight container to avoid any contamination.

Storing raw chicken follows a similar procedure, except that if you purchased your chicken in an airtight container, you should leave it there until it is ready to be cooked. This will keep any instances of bacteria or other germs from being exposed to the chicken.

Keep in mind that the placement of the chicken is also important since you can run the risk of cross-contamination in certain foods. For example, if you have both cooked and raw chicken in the refrigerator, you should always put the raw chicken on the bottom shelf to avoid any leaks.

At the end of the day, how you store your chicken can make the biggest difference in whether or not your chicken stays fresh. If there is even the slightest hole or if the container has been left ajar, it could allow bacteria to enter the chicken.

Related >> Chicken Leg vs. Drumstick: Understanding the Differences

Is it Safe to Refreeze Thawed Chicken?

Many times when you are working with chicken, you may find that you change your mind about what you are cooking. When this happens it is difficult to know whether or not you can save your chicken by refreezing it. 

If you have thawed your chicken using safety recommendations, then you should be able to refreeze it with no problems. Thawing your chicken properly means that you allow it to thaw in the refrigerator where the cold air will continue to keep it safe from bacteria.

Experts recommend that if you have taken care of thawing your chicken using the correct methods, then you can take it straight from the fridge to the freezer with no problem. This is of course if you have it stored in an airtight container.

As long as the chicken has not been thawed in the refrigerator for more than two days, it can be stored back in the freezer for some time. Keep in mind that the chicken in the fridge should be stored in a container that keeps air safely away from it.

It is also important to note that you should never thaw raw chicken at room temperature at any time. This is because bacteria such as Salmonella can begin to grow the longer it sits out.

As long as you have not exposed your chicken to heat or room temperatures, it should be safe to refreeze it. The FDA guidelines suggest that you always use caution when working with chicken.

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06/01/2023 01:20 am GMT

How Long Can Frozen Chicken Sit Out?

Just because chicken is frozen doesn’t make it safe to leave out. You shouldn’t leave your frozen chicken out for more than 2 hours, the same was with raw or cooked chicken. 

Can Chicken Be Left Out Overnight to Thaw?

No, chicken cannot be left out overnight to thaw. It can only be left out for 2 hours max, even when frozen, so you should thaw your chicken in the fridge or using the cold water method just before cooking.

What Happens if You Eat Chicken That Has Been Left Out?

Eating chicken that has been left out for more than two hours can result in mild to severe food poisoning. This is because harmful bacteria tend to grow on food that has been exposed to room temperatures for too long.

While it is more likely that you will experience mild to moderate symptoms, there is a chance that you could have more severe side effects. Many of these side effects include Salmonella, E.coli, and more.

Some side effects that you may experience may be more present than others and include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. While not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, you will likely suffer from some of them.

Keep in mind that if you have severe symptoms for more than 12-24 hours after they begin, you may want to see a doctor. Otherwise, although they are unpleasant, the side effects should go away on their own in a few days.

This is why  you should avoid chicken whether it has been cooked or not that has been sitting out for more than two hours. Doing this can save you from some very unpleasant side effects that can stay with you for a few days.

How Long Can Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Depending on whether the chicken has been cooked or not, it is best not to leave the chicken in the fridge for more than a week. This amount of time will vary depending on the way it is stored, so make sure you have stored it in an airtight container.

Raw chicken should only be left in the fridge for about two days maximum to avoid any bacteria that might make their way into it. Even if the chicken is stored properly, it is recommended by experts that raw chicken left in the fridge for longer than this period should be tossed.

Cooked chicken, on the other hand, can last a little longer if you have it stored properly in an airtight container. Typically you can leave the cooked chicken in the fridge for about 3-5 days depending on how it was cooked and how you stored it.

Keep in mind that before putting the cooked chicken in the fridge, you should always let it cool down completely. This is because warm food can raise the temperature of the refrigerator, thus causing other foods in your fridge to rise in temperature. 

If this occurs, you could be dealing with not only your chicken going bad but also other foods that you have in your fridge. Because of this, you should always use caution when it comes to placing food in the refrigerator for storage.

How Long Can Chicken Last in the Freezer?

Like most other foods that you have placed in the freezer, chicken can last for several months as long as it has been stored properly. This includes both raw and cooked chicken that is placed in an airtight container.

If you just bought some chicken but know that you will not be cooking it for a while, it is best to store it in the freezer. This will keep it from going bad while it is sitting in the fridge waiting for you to cook it.

When it comes to cooking chicken, sometimes you will have leftovers that you may not want to eat for a little while. Once it has cooled, you can place it in an airtight container and the freezer for up to 9 months.

The amount of time that you can store chicken in the freezer varies depending on the source that you are looking for, however, for the most part, you should stick to the 9 months mark. This is mostly because while bacteria do not typically live in cold temperatures, freezer burn does.

How Long Can Chicken Sit Out FAQ:

Is It Safe to Eat Chicken That Was Left Out Overnight?

No. If you accidentally left a chicken dish out overnight it must be thrown away because it is not safe to eat. 

Does it Matter if Chicken is Covered on Uncovered?

Unfortunately, weather or not you cover the chicken you are leaving sitting out will not change the fact that it will go bad in a few hours. It is best to store any chicken, raw or cooked, in the fridge when you aren’t in the process of consuming it. 

Does BBQ Sauce or Marinade Help Preserve Chicken?

Although BBQ sauce and marinade help chicken taste good, they don’t help it stay good. Whether or not your chicken has sauce or marinade, it still needs to be stored in the fridge or freezer when not being consumed. 

What if I Reheat the Chicken I Left Out?

The dangerous bacteria that grows on chicken that has been left out is immune to heat. This means that cooking chicken that has been left out WILL NOT make it safe to eat. If you accidentally left your chicken out, it needs to go in the trash. 

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Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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