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Chicken is one of the most popular dishes on the table. Sometimes you prepare too much and at the last minute find a lot of leftover dishes. At such moments, most people choose to preserve the food for consumption in the following days.

So, how long is cooked chicken good for in the fridge? This article will give specific answers as well as some instructions on the preservation process.

Let’s read on to discover!

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Boxes with red lids filled with leftover food.

How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge? 

According to the guideline for food safety from USDA, you should only use cooked chicky in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days at most.

Yet, food safety rules in each country also have some differences. You need to pay more attention to this issue before deciding to store your delicious meat.

Information from the US Department of Agriculture clarifies that you should consume cooked foods within three to four days. Although refrigeration can slow bacterial growth, it cannot completely stop it.

Two common types of bacteria can appear in food. One type of bacteria changes the taste and smell of food; the other is the main cause of diseases.

The term “danger zone” refers to the temperature range of 40 to 140°F. It is an ideal environment for pathogenic bacteria to multiply.

Because some of these bacteria don’t change the taste or color of food, many people won’t notice it. Ideal storage conditions are a refrigerator between 37°F and 40°F (4°C). If you cook food, make sure it’s over 140°F (60°C).

Food safety regulations are not uniform in all regions of the world. In the UK, cooked poultry should only be kept in the refrigerator for two days.

The temperature of the refrigerator meeting the storage requirements should be lower than 5°C. The freezing area of ​chicky in the refrigerator is also a notable problem. The back left corner of the refrigerator is an ideal storage place.

The back of the refrigerator is always the place with the lowest temperature and is extremely suitable for storing food or dairy products. 

Placing them away from the door also ensures that the outside air cannot affect the food every time the door is opened. One trick to extend the shelf life of your delicious chicken is to bring it to pasteurization temperature.

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The woman is taking raw drumsticks from the refrigerator.

When Is Chicken Still Safe To Eat?

The way you prepare a dish also plays an important role in determining how long cooked chicken in fridge stay safe and delicious.

According to FoodSafety, foods like chicken sausage or canned smoked chicken will have a shelf life of up to a week. The high amount of sodium in food helps to increase durability and prevent bacteria growth.

In contrast, dishes like cooked chicky or chicken salad can last in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Besides the processing method, different parts of the chicky also have a completely different shelf life.

Chicken Breast

Usually, raw chicky breast is only safe to use within two days. If you’ve cooked them, you can store the chicken breasts for three to four days.

However, to keep chicky breasts as long as possible, consider freezing them. Freezing will extend the shelf life of food by a month or two if done correctly.

Whole Chicken

If you’re cooking whole chickens, break them up into three to four portions before storing them in the refrigerator. The shelf life of the dish can be up to a maximum of four days.

In contrast, a whole cockerel will only be in good condition for one to two days.

The advice for those who regularly stock up on whole chickens and cook them late is to freeze them. You can preserve food for a year with this method.

Ground Chicken

The shelf life of ground meat is usually longer than usual. If you store them in the freezer, the meat will be edible within 3 to 4 months.

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Determining whether the meat has gone bad or not.

How To Detect Bad Or Spoiled Chicken

While cooked cockerel is theoretically safe to consume. If you keep it in the fridge for four days, you can’t tell what happens.

Mold or yeast growth can cause food spoilage. Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is fond of cold temperatures and will thrive in the refrigerator.

So, make sure your dishes meet food safety standards. You can check for some of the following signs to see if you should give up this dish.


The first sign to recognize spoiled poultry meat is sour and unpleasant odors. If this scent has grown to the point where you can’t ignore it, this dish should be in the trash.

This job of recognition is not simple. Processed dishes are often seasoned with lots of spices, herbs, and sauces. The taste of the dish sometimes does not change, and you will not recognize the smell if you are not attentive.

For such cases, take the standard timeline we recommended above. After you’ve left poultry in the fridge for too long, it’s better not to consume it anymore.


Poultry dishes that have been spoiled for a long time by mold have a very recognizable appearance. Its color will have an obvious change to gray or blue.

Pieces of meat that have greenish-gray mold floating on the surface are a sign that cannot be ignored. If you eat such pieces of meat, the illness is inevitable.


The texture of spoiled poultry is often viscous and slippery. At this point, your only option is to put them in the trash.

Many people choose to reheat or wash off the slime from their cockerel so they can continue to consume them. However, that is a false belief.

This method cannot kill toxins and bacteria. Conversely, washing meat can increase the risk of cross-contamination to other foods and affect your health.

What Happens If You Eat Chicken Has Gone Bad?

Spoiled poultry, whether raw or cooked, has the potential to cause food poisoning. Those susceptible to this health problem are those with weakened immune systems, such as children, the elderly, and pregnant women.

Symptoms you may experience include an uncomfortable spinning sensation, nausea, chills, or diarrhea to the point of dehydration.

If you only have mild food poisoning, the problems are likely to go away quickly. 

However, when the condition persists for 12 to 24 hours, you should consider contacting your doctor.

A few situations have shown that eating four-day-old poultry still does not cause any problems. However, being careful is still a priority, and discard poultry if you notice any signs that something is not right.

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Take note before storing dishes in the fridge.

Storing Cooked Chicken Properly: Step-By-Step Guide

Storing cooked poultry in the refrigerator is not an easy job. You will need to follow a process with strict precautions to ensure maximum hygiene.

Cool Down The Dish

Before placing the poultry in the refrigerator, make sure you let it cool to room temperature. The maximum time that poultry meat can be exposed to the outside environment is two hours.

After this period, pathogenic bacteria will quickly grow on the surface of the dish. So, if you leave them out for too long, throw them out.

Some housewives are often trapped in this case. Their food looked good and tasted good, but it was contaminated.

Once the dish is cooked, wait until the steam no longer rises to the surface. Then, place them in an airtight and dry container for storage.

You also need to wash your hands thoroughly before you want to pack poultry. Touching raw areas or dishes before can cause bacterial cross-contamination.

Label Your Leftover

Human memory is not as good as you think. Therefore, confusion and forgetting the expiration date of the dish are completely possible.

To prevent such situations, you should prepare in advance by labeling notes. The required information includes the time at which you start storing the chickens and the right time to use them.

Store Properly

An indispensable rule when storing meat in the refrigerator is to clearly distinguish between raw meat and cooked meat. Cooked foods should be on the top shelves and separate from the rest.

This separation is intended to limit cross-contamination between dishes. If you have to put them on the sides, make sure you wrap the dish well.

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Classic caesar salad with grilled chicken filet.

How To Use Up Leftover Chicken

In any case, throwing away food should be the last option on your list. You are better off monitoring and taking safety measures to avoid spoiling your food.

Some ideas for how you can use up leftover poultry include:

  • According to the USDA, cooked chicken can be safely consumed within a year if kept in the freezer. In case you are worried about flavor variation, consider cooking them with lots of spices and herbs.
  • Prepare poultry with pasta for a quick and easy meal.
  • Make a chicken salad and eat it right after it’s done.
  • Chop up the meat and make a hot soup or curry for the evening.
  • Place your order in a quesadilla, taco, or wrap for a quick lunch if you’re busy.


Hopefully, this article has helped you find the answer to the question: How long can cooked chicken stay in the fridge?

You should plan on consuming cooked chicken for three to four days.

Make sure you follow hygiene rules to limit cross-contamination and take notes before storing them in the refrigerator.

Even so, AS 8888 still recommends using fresh food every day to ensure safety and enjoy its full flavor.

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