You may be wondering, “Just how long does chicken last in the fridge?” when planning a meal that involves your favorite poultry. Many people get nervous about defrosting and storing thawed chicken because they don’t want to risk getting sick in the kitchen and rightly so.
There are some guidelines you should follow to ensure that your meat will be safe for consumption, and today, we will cover everything you need to know about it. You’ll get answers to questions like, “How long can thawed chicken stay in the fridge?” and “Can I keep the thawed chicken in the fridge for 5 days?”.
You’ll also learn how to defrost chicken properly and what you need to do to safely store defrosted chicken in the fridge. Read on for more!
How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay in the Fridge?
How long can chicken stay thawed in the fridge depends on when you completely thawed it. If your meat was bought fresh at the market and not frozen, the USDA recommends storing it in the fridge for no more than 1-2 days before cooking it.
If the chicken was previously frozen, the chicken can stay in the fridge 1-2 days after it has been completely thawed.
In other words, for example, if you pull some chicken meat out of the freezer and place it in your refrigerator to thaw, this defrosting process can take up to 2 days, depending on the size and weight of the meat.
Once the chicken is fully thawed, then it will keep for up to 2 days after that in the refrigerator. So, when watching frozen chicken, you keep track of the length of storage by the point of full defrost.
Knowing how long thawed chicken is good is important because anything beyond that 1-2 days increases the risk of foodborne bacteria developing on the meat that can make you or your guests sick.
How To Tell If Chicken Is Spoiled
If you’ve thawed chicken in the fridge before and forgotten about it, you may be wondering, “How long is defrosted chicken good for, and how can I tell if it is spoiled?”.
There are several ways to tell if the chicken in your fridge has gone bad, but remember that you cannot always “see” harmful bacteria. This is why you should always follow the guidelines set by the USDA.
If the chicken feels slimy, it is no longer safe for consumption. Raw chicken will never feel slimy or tacky.
If it has changed to a yellow, green, or gray color, or if it has a foul smell, it has gone bad. Mold and spoilage have a distinct smell, sometimes similar to rotten eggs. If any chicken has a smell other than fresh raw meat, throw it away.
Also, if the raw chicken has been in the fridge beyond two days, it is no longer considered safe to consume. Remember, you cannot always SEE bacteria. Likewise, the cooked chicken should be discarded after 4 days in the fridge.
Finally, if the chicken has been left in what is considered a non-controlled temperature state for more than 3 hours, then you should probably not use it and dispose of it.
For example, if you leave the chicken on the counter between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, then it is at risk of developing harmful bacteria that can make you sick.
While this may seem like an inconvenience, it’s not something that you should risk your health or the health of your loved ones over. When in doubt, throw it out!
How To Thaw Chicken Safely?
There are a few ways that you can safely thaw chicken meat from a frozen state. Be sure to follow the guidelines precisely, and you won’t need to worry about its quality.
To thaw out chicken meat in the refrigerator, you first must consider the size and cut of the chicken you wish to defrost.
A single chicken breast with no bones will take about 24 hours to thaw out completely in the fridge while chicken with bones like thighs and breasts will take up to 2 days. A whole roaster chicken above 6 pounds of weight can take 2 days to completely thaw out.
To use the refrigerator method to thaw out frozen chicken meat, simply place the frozen meat on a tray, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it in the fridge. Once the meat is completely thawed, you have up to 2 days to cook it.
Cold Water Thawing
Cold water thawing is a much faster way to thaw chicken pieces out. This method is not recommended for whole chickens, but it can be done, just make sure that the entire chicken is completely submerged underneath the water during the entire defrosting time frame.
To cold water thaw chicken, you submerge the pieces of chicken in ice water for a couple of hours, less for smaller pieces of chicken. Once the chicken is thawed, you take it out, rinse the chicken off and cook as you normally would.
To avoid the development of harmful bacteria, make sure that all pieces stay submerged within the water at all times until thawed.
You can use a deep bowl to place the chicken in and then weigh it down with a heavy plate to make sure it stays under the water.
The very fastest way to defrost chicken when you are pressed for time is to use a microwave. Using your defrost function on your microwave, the meat is placed on a microwave-safe plate and “cooked” till thawed.
This process, while the fastest, requires you to keep a close eye on the meat while defrosting and usually involves flipping it halfway through the process to ensure even thawing.
How long does chicken last after thawing? While most chicken can be stored safely in the refrigerator from the point of thaw for up to 2 days before cooking (with the refrigerator and cold water thawing methods), it is NOT recommended to store thawed chicken after defrosting in the microwave.
If you thaw out the meat using your microwave, you should cook it thoroughly right away.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken in The Freezer?
Properly stored, raw chicken pieces will keep in your freezer for up to six months before their quality begins to diminish. The chicken itself will be safe from bacteria, but the texture and taste might be affected after that time frame.
Whole roaster chickens can be kept in a freezer for up to one year and cooked chicken should only be stored for up to four months in the freezer for quality purposes.
Can You Cook Chicken When It’s Still Frozen?
Yes, chicken can be cooked frozen. There are, however, a few considerations that must be taken into account when you cook chicken straight from the freezer.
First, because the meat is frozen, it will take longer to cook. This is generally not a problem for single pieces of meat that have no bones in them, but it can be an issue for bone-in recipes because the outer part of the meat will need to cook longer for the inner meat to reach a proper internal temperature for doneness.
This risks the outer meat becoming tough and dry while the inner meat might not even be fully cooked. It’s also more difficult to determine if the inner meat is done in, for example, a rotisserie chicken.
Consider your recipe when deciding to cook from frozen and whether or not the cooking process is best for that cut of meat. And, if you are unsure, always use a meat thermometer to judge whether or not the meat is done.
An internal temperature in the innermost parts of the meat should reach a reading of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered safe for consumption. Always, always choose safety first when judging the doneness of meat!
Frequently Asked Questions
- How To Reheat Rotisserie Chicken
- How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?
- How Long to Bake Chicken Breast at 400?
Is raw chicken OK in the fridge for 5 days?
How long does chicken last in the fridge? USDA guidelines are clear that raw, thawed chicken is not considered safe after two days in the refrigerator.
Determining how long chicken is good in the fridge should always follow expert suggestions because of the risk of foodborne illnesses. Bacteria such as Campylobacter bacteria Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria can make individuals very sick and isn’t something you should risk.
Food poisoning is responsible for thousands of hospitalizations every year and is completely preventable by following the safety guidelines outlined by the experts.
Is thawed chicken good after 4 days?
No. Thawed chicken is not considered safe after 4 days. Two full days only is how long defrosted chicken can stay in the fridge. Beyond that, you are risking the growth of bacteria in the meat. Don’t guess how long chicken is good for after thawing, follow the recommendations and your chicken will be safe to use.
Are you wondering, “How long is cooked chicken good for in the fridge?” Cooked chicken should be used within 3 to 4 days of being cooked.
Refrigeration at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less will slow the growth of bacteria, but it will not completely halt it. This is why it is recommended to throw away cooked chicken after 4 days of being stored in the fridge.
Can you thaw chicken in hot water?
We understand that you may want to know how to thaw chicken fast in certain circumstances but please do not thaw chicken in hot water.
Hot water can accelerate bacterial growth and is considered extremely unsafe. If you need to thaw meat out faster for a meal, the microwave defrosting method is your safest option.
Can you leave the thawed chicken in the fridge for 3 days?
If you leave the thawed chicken in the fridge beyond 2 days, there is a risk of bacteria developing in the meat. The USDA only recommends leaving the thawed chicken in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
If you have raw chicken that has been sitting in the fridge for 3 days, examine it carefully using the guidelines above, and remember, when in doubt, throw it out!
Again, experts say that raw chicken should not be used if it has been thawed beyond two days in the fridge, doing so risks foodborne illnesses.
Is it safe to eat chicken that has been in the refrigerator for 4 days?
If you have leftover cooked chicken in the fridge that is 4 days old, it should be safe to consume, however, always check for spoilage via the appearance, odor, and feel of the meat. Anything beyond four days is not considered safe and the chicken should be disposed of.
While there are almost always exceptions to the rules, you should be cautious to follow all safety measures that ensure that the food you prepare and cook is the very best quality and free from bacteria that can cause serious illness.
The USDA and FDA have tested and concluded the right safety guidelines to make sure that the public knows how to safely feed themselves and their families. When followed closely, you greatly reduce the risks of food poisoning and other types of bacterial infections.
Raw chicken and other raw meats can be safely thawed, prepared, cooked, and stored using the methods and techniques that are backed by expertise and science, and good sound judgment. Stay safe!