Seeing that chicken is a staple in many homes, it is not uncommon to have chicken leftovers from breakfast, lunch, or dinner. From a chicken sandwich to chicken soup, the inclusion of chicken in various household meals has necessitated having cooked chicken handy. So, even when there are leftovers, they can still be incorporated into other meals.
Apart from having chicken leftovers, there are times you cannot eat your chicken immediately after you finish cooking. And of course, you may be wondering how long cooked chicken can be out of the fridge
How long can cooked chicken be out of the fridge?
Cooked chicken can be out of the fridge for 1-2 hours and still, be suitable for consumption. The United States Department of Agriculture says that cooked chicken should be eaten or refrigerated within two hours. An important factor that determines how long your cooked chicken will keep is the storage temperature; a warm or humid place allows for faster deterioration of foods, while a cold place slows down the rate of deterioration, thereby, allowing the food to keep for a longer period.
How long can cooked chicken stay out at 70 degrees?
Cooked chicken can stay out for 2 hours at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. For temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, cooked chicken can only stay out for 1 hour.
Is it safe to eat cooked chicken left out for 4 hours?
No, it is not. Cooked chicken is safe to eat when left out for less than 2 hours. That is, after 2 hours, it is no longer safe for consumption.
I ate cooked chicken left out overnight, is it safe?
Eating cooked chicken left out overnight is not safe but if you have eaten it unintentionally, do not panic. Watch out for symptoms of food poisoning such as diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps, nausea, fever, chills, vomiting, headaches, or generally feeling sick. If you notice any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
Can I still refrigerate my cooked chicken after leaving it out overnight?
No, you cannot! Talk of medicine after death…
The best time to refrigerate your cooked chicken is within 2 hours after cooking. When you leave your cooked chicken out overnight, foodborne microorganisms will proliferate and release their toxins in the food. Some of these toxins are resistant to heat, refrigeration, and freezing. That means, even if you later refrigerate your cooked chicken after leaving it out overnight, you are still at risk of foodborne illnesses.
How do I know my cooked chicken has gone bad?
You can know if your cooked chicken has become bad once it has 1. developed an unpleasant smell 2. it has become slimy or 3. it has acquired a grayish or greenish-gray color. Once you notice any of these, it’s best to throw the chicken out to prevent a case of food poisoning.
Read also: Does Honey Mustard Need to Be Refrigerated?
Tips for eating cooked chicken that has been left out for long
As a rule of thumb, perishable foods (such as chicken – cooked or raw) that have been left out for more than two hours should be discarded; there are no tips for eating contaminated foods, are there?
Although thorough cooking and proper reheating of cooked foods will kill bacteria, some of them produce toxins that are resistant to high cooking temperatures, especially when the food has been left out for a long time. As it is, there is only one tip I have for ‘eating cooked chicken that has been left out for long’- DISCARD IT.
How to keep your cooked chicken from going bad
It is best to eat chicken as soon as it is cooked, but if you do not want to eat it immediately after cooking, you can keep your cooked chicken from going bad by storing it in an airtight container and refrigerating, and then you reheat when you are ready to eat. Cooked chicken can keep for just a few days in the fridge, but can stay for up to 6 months in the freezer. So, your choice of storage depends on how long you intend to store it.
Note that pathogenic microorganisms may grow in foods without any noticeable change in color, taste, or odor. These pathogenic organisms are already present when you leave your cooked chicken out for more than the stipulated time without refrigerating, posing a health risk to whoever consumes it. This simply means that your cooked chicken may be unsafe to eat even before the physical appearance of discolorations and slime. So, if you asked, “how long can cooked chicken be out of the fridge?” I hope I have answered your question already.
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I write about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. I also talk about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things