Chicken is a staple in many household menus, and cooking chicken in bulk is a time-saving and cost-effective way to ensure that your meals are nutritious and delicious. However, once the chicken is cooked, the question arises: how long can you store it in the fridge? This is a critical concern, especially if you want to avoid food-related illnesses. In this article, we will explore how long cooked chicken is good in the fridge and the best practices that can help you stay safe and healthy.
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Stay in the Fridge?
It is generally safe to store cooked chicken in the refrigerator for three to four days, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, this period can vary depending on how you store the chicken and how it was cooked. If you store the chicken in an airtight container, it can last up to four days in the fridge. On the other hand, if you leave it uncovered, it may only last for two days.
The Quality of the Chicken Changes Over Time
Cooked chicken that is stored in the refrigerator for an extended period may not be dangerous to eat, but its taste and texture will not be as good as when it was freshly cooked. The chicken may become dryer and tougher, and the flavors may weaken, leading to a less appetizing meal. Therefore, it is essential to consume the cooked chicken within the recommended storage time to enjoy its optimal quality.
Best Practices for Storing Cooked Chicken in the Fridge
Properly storing cooked chicken in the fridge is key to maintaining its quality and safety. Here are some best practices you should follow:
Cool the Chicken Before Storing it in the Fridge
It is crucial to let the cooked chicken cool down before storing it in the fridge. Placing hot food in the refrigerator can raise the temperature of the fridge, potentially leading to bacterial growth. You should let the chicken cool down to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container.
Use Airtight Containers
Storing chicken in an airtight container can help extend its shelf life. It prevents the chicken from exposure to air, which can lead to bacterial growth, spoilage, and off-flavors. You can also use plastic wraps or foil to cover the chicken tightly before storing it in an airtight container.
Date the Containers
It is essential to label the container with the date of storage to help you keep track of the chicken’s storage time. Using a waterproof marker, write the storage date on the lid or the container’s side, and place the container in the fridge.
Avoid Overcrowding the Fridge
You should avoid overcrowding the fridge as it reduces its cooling efficiency, leading to temperature fluctuations. High temperatures can encourage bacterial growth, spoilage, and cause the chicken to spoil more quickly. Therefore, it is best to store the chicken on the fridge’s shelves, leaving some space for proper air circulation.
How to Tell if Cooked Chicken has Gone Bad
Knowing how to tell if cooked chicken has gone bad is crucial for preventing foodborne illnesses. Here are some signs that indicate chicken has gone bad:
- The chicken has a sour, rancid, or foul smell
- The chicken has a slimy texture
- The chicken has an off-color, brown, or grey hues
- The chicken has mold or visible signs of spoilage
- The chicken causes nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after consumption.
The Bottom Line
Cooked chicken can last in the fridge for three to four days, depending on how it’s stored. Storing the chicken in an airtight container, labeling it with the date of storage, and avoiding overcrowding the fridge are some of the best practices that can help you keep the chicken fresh for longer. Always ensure that you inspect the chicken thoroughly before consuming it to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Most Common Questions About How Long Cooked Chicken is Good in the Fridge
- How long can cooked chicken last in the fridge?
- Can you eat cooked chicken after six days?
- How do you reheat cooked chicken?
- Can I freeze cooked chicken?
- Can you get sick from eating old cooked chicken?
Cooked chicken can last in the fridge for three to four days if it’s stored in an airtight container.
No, it is not safe to eat cooked chicken after six days as it may contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Reheat cooked chicken in the oven, microwave, or on the stovetop until its internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken for three to four months. Place the chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag and label it with the date of storage.
Yes, eating old cooked chicken can cause food poisoning, leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.