How Long Does Chicken Last in the Fridge? (And Signs It’s Gone Bad)

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If you’re wondering if your chicken that’s sitting in the fridge is still good, you’re in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How long chicken lasts in the fridge
  • How to know if it’s spoiled
  • Steps for properly storing it
  • And much more!
how long does chicken last in the fridge

A lot of people love to eat poultry. Whether it’s roasted, grilled, or fried, chicken has quickly become one of our favorite kinds of meat. But, is there a time limit for how long you can keep it in your fridge?

Chicken meat is prone to food spoilage, even when stored in your fridge like any other food.

If you want to avoid eating spoiled chicken, then we recommend that you keep reading this comprehensive guide.

How Long Does Chicken Last in the Fridge?

The answer depends on the state of the chicken. A cooked chicken lasts three to four days in the fridge, while raw chicken can hold up for around two days.

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How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Let’s say that you cooked a delicious chicken dish for you or your family. However, sometimes you’ll have some leftovers, so you decide to just put them in your fridge instead.

How long exactly can you shelf your chicken in your fridge before it goes bad?

Turns out that your cooked chicken can last for as long as four days in your refrigerator.

However, you can still extend its shelf life by one to three months if you place it in a freezer with temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

So, if you have fried, roasted, fast food, or any cooked chicken leftovers, you can only safely eat them within 4 days.

However, we recommend that you place your cooked chicken in your freezer instead if you have a lot of leftovers to spare.

That way, you can just reheat your chicken and eat it as if it’s freshly made.

Take note, though, that you have to thaw your cooked chicken first before reheating it. You’d want to make sure that your chicken is heated evenly in all its parts.

If you want to safely eat your cooked chicken, don’t let it stay in you

r fridge for more than a week. If you do, then you’ll probably start smelling rotten eggs and see signs of mold growth. If you know that you can’t eat your chicken after 4 days, it’s better to discard it from your fridge.

Read More >> How to Grill Chicken Breasts

How Long Does Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge?

If you just bought a raw chicken from the supermarket, chances are you’ll be stashing it first in your fridge for a while.

But, be careful.

You don’t want to leave it there for more than two days, regardless of if you bought it in pieces or as a whole.

According to the USDA, this is because your chicken will go bad after such time.

Take note, though, that this time frame applies as soon as you purchase your chicken.

If you want it to last more than just a day or two, then you can also try placing it in your freezer.

Like cooked chicken, raw chicken can last for months when placed at zero-degree temperature. More specifically, it can last for a year as a whole chicken or nine months for chicken bought in pieces.

Risks of Eating Spoiled Chicken

The number one reason you shouldn’t eat chicken after it goes bad is food poisoning.

Suppose you’ve not heard of salmonella or campylobacter. In that case, these are bacteria that typically contaminate the chicken meat when they go bad. While it’s true that you can get rid of them by thoroughly washing your chicken, the absolute risk lies behind the toxins left behind by these bacteria.

These toxins will cling to your chicken meat despite washing it or thoroughly reheating and cooking it. So, if you’re planning to salvage your bad chicken by either washing, cooking, or reheating it, then don’t. Food poisoning can cause severe symptoms to you, which include:

  • Dehydration
  • Bloody Excretions
  • Fever and Chills
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

In fact, an untreated case of food poisoning can even lead to death. Most cases of food poisoning will require you to go to the hospital, which means that you’ll splash out more money for the treatment. To prevent this, we recommend that you discard your chicken as soon as you see any of the warning signs of spoilage that we talked about earlier.

Signs That Your Chicken Has Gone Bad

There are times when it’s irresistible to just toss your chicken directly onto your dinner table or straight in the oven for cooking. However, it’s essential to always look out for telltale signs that your chicken is no longer safe for eating.

Here are a few ways to tell if your chicken has gone wrong:

Seeing gray and green discolorations in the flesh of raw chicken means that it’s already spoiled. Similarly, yellowish fat is also a sign of spoilage. Therefore, you should discard your meat altogether if you see any of these colors in any part of your chicken meat. However, seeing a darker red or pink in your chicken meat doesn’t always mean it’s gone bad. In fact, these color changes are a regular occurrence for chicken meat as long as they’re stored in refrigerator temperatures.

However, for cooked chicken, any signs of mold growth or any color changes should mean that you should discard it. Furthermore, any pieces of pink flesh in your cooked chicken are a sign of spoilage.

A bad chicken generally smells terrible. If it has a sulfur-ish smell that reminds you of rotten eggs, then you should throw it away. Spoiled chicken will also have a slimy, tacky, or sticky texture. If your hands get all sticky and slimy after touching chicken meat, then the chicken is already probably spoiled.

Of course, the easiest way to know if your chicken is no longer safe for cooking and eating is to check its expiration date. Naturally, a chicken that’s already beyond its expiration date is no longer safe for eating, no matter how good your storage is.

Read More >> How to Reheat Chicken Wings

How To Properly Store Cooked and Raw Chicken?

Handling your chicken meat is easy, but most people often neglect these steps when storing their chicken in their fridge and freezer.

First, before you store your cooked chicken in your fridge, ensure that it’s cooled down. Afterward, wrap your chicken in airtight foil, so it retains its quality even after being placed inside your fridge. Furthermore, never put your raw and cooked chicken beside each other. Your raw chicken may leak its juices, spreading bacteria and contaminating your cooked chicken.

Similarly, you can wrap your raw chicken in airtight foil before putting your raw chicken inside your fridge.

Placing your raw and cooked chicken in the freezer has an identical procedure. The only difference is that you just have to remove the packaging of your raw chicken before putting it into an airtight container and placing it inside your freezer.

Remember to put the first day of your storage on the container so you can keep track of its condition.

Thawing Your Chicken

There are various thawing methods, such as microwaving, using warm water, and exposing it to room temperature. However, the USDA recommends that you thaw your chicken by placing it on a plate and putting it into your fridge. You can let it gradually melt afterward. Since this can take a while, we recommend that you thaw your chicken days or hours before you cook or eat it.

While it’s also possible to reheat or cook your chicken without thawing it, the reheating can take longer than usual.

Read More >> How To Thaw Your Chicken Properly

Final Thoughts on Chicken Storage

Like any food, your chicken meat will have to be discarded after a while. If you don’t want to risk exposing yourself to food poisoning, you must keep these things in mind. Remember the shelf life of your chicken to ensure that you’re eating a safe meal.

Got any more questions? Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I’m Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family.

I’m here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you’re in great hands!

I’ve tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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