How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge? [Experts Verified]

6 mins read
How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge
Broiled seasoned Chicken isolated on white.

If you have a few hours to cook, you want enough chicken for the week. So, how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? It seems the cooked chicken would be good all week but let’s find out.

How long your cooked chicken lasts in the fridge would depend on the preparation. Alarmists playing it safe would say 3-4 days. Nonetheless, you could still eat cooked chicken as old as 7-14 days if stored properly.

If the chicken turns bad, it would just mess with your poop the next day and that is it. The USDA or catering standard is “playing it safe” because your properly refrigerated cooked chicken can be good the whole week.

How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge?

According to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), cooked chicken is good for 3-4 days, kept refrigerated at 40°F or less. Refrigerating cooked chicken slows but does not prevent the growth of bacteria, which is why the USDA recommends playing safe between 3-4 days.

The 2 different pathogenic bacterial families cause spoilage and foodborne illness. Spoilage bacteria are responsible for food deterioration and create unpleasant tastes, odors, and textures in the cooked chicken.

Pathogenic bacteria typically grow rapidly within the “danger zone”, with the temperature ranging between 40°F and 140°F. It can be challenging to tell if a pathogen is present since you will not notice changes in the taste, smell, or cooked chicken appearance.

Leaving the cooked chicken in cold temperatures still exposes it to spoilage bacteria growth. This means your refrigerator is not completely keeping the cooked chicken safe.

The cooked chicken will then develop bad tastes and smells. Nonetheless, some people eating this spoiled chicken probably would not get sick.

However, if Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), a pathogenic bacteria that can survive cold, grows in the refrigerated chicken, consuming it will cause illness. Bacteria, yeast, and molds cause microbial spoilage.

Cooked but refrigerated chicken spoilage is typically a quality issue. Nonetheless, experts also consider it a matter of food safety, and it is not advisable to taste your chicken after long days of storage to determine safety.

Apart from days 1, 2, 3, and 4, the sections below answer if refrigerated cooked chickens are good for an additional number of days.

  • Can you eat cooked chicken that has been in the fridge for 5 days?

You can eat cooked chicken that has been in the fridge for 5 days. Know that chicken is a bacteria magnet and should smell spoilage if no longer good for consumption. How you prepared the chicken and the refrigeration temperatures matter during the 5 days of storage.

  • Can you eat cooked chicken after 7 days in fridge?

You can eat cooked chicken after 7 days in the fridge. Understand that cooked chicken quality deteriorates quite rapidly, typically within a few days. It does not mean that 7-day refrigeration is too long to eat your chicken.

After 5-7 days of refrigerating cooked chicken, you want to check if it smells before consumption. It is also not advisable to taste the chicken. But to play it safe, heat the chicken before tasting it. The chicken will not simply make you sick or cause death though.

What causes cooked chicken to spoil in fridge?

Cooked chicken will spoil in the fridge for many reasons, including the following:

  1. Cooking temperature

If you do not cook the chicken to the required minimum internal temperature, spoilage can occur faster. You need to also hold the cooked chicken at the reached temperature for a specific amount of time.

Different foods require different cooking temperatures. However, 165°F for greater than 1 second (instantaneous) is okay for poultry – whole or ground chicken.

  1. Chicken cooking practice

Pathogens will grow at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F. However, temperatures between 125°F and 70°F will cause them to grow even faster.

You need to cook your chicken above this temperature range to minimize the growth of pathogens.

Do not cool the cooked chicken at room temperature. Cool it from 135°F to 41°F or less within six hours. Consider the following:

  • Cool the cooked chicken from 135°F to 70°F for 2 hours.
  • In the next 4 hours, cool the cooked chicken from 70°F to 41°F or lower.
  • Do not cool many TCS (time and temperature-controlled for safety foods) food like chicken together using one cooler. As such, ensure to separate hot chicken into smaller containers or amounts before cooling.
  1. Refrigerating temperature

Pathogens will grow to unsafe levels, causing foodborne illness if the cooked chicken is not stored at the correct temperature.

TCS is exposed to the risk of foodborne illness since they stay in temperatures between 41°F and 135°F. These temperature levels range is referred to as the danger zone due to pathogens surviving those temperatures.

How can you tell if refrigerated chicken is bad?

You can tell when your cooked but refrigerated chicken is bad by considering the following:

  1. Ice crust buildup

Look for an ice crust around the surface of the cooked chicken. If you spot a thick ice coating around the chicken, it means it is bad and unsafe for consumption.

  1. Smell

The commonly recommended way to tell if your cooked chicken from the refrigerator is bad is the smell. Spices and seasonings might make it challenging to distinguish the smell but the chicken should produce a smell of sulfur or rotten egg if it is bad.

  1. Freezer and ice burns

Freezer and ice burns are signs that your cooked but refrigerated chicken is bad. You will find what looks like white marks or a rush that is not fat.

Note that freezer burns are not necessarily unsafe and probably will not cause harm. Nonetheless, it makes your chicken taste bad.

  1. Cooked chicken color

Color is another factor to use to tell a spoilt cooked chicken in the fridge. It can be challenging, especially with the ice on. Generally, however, an unsafe chicken will be darker instead of grey.

Best pre cooked chicken

Having answered your question, this section recommends pre-cooked chicken you should consider buying for your daily meal:

  1. StarKist Premium White Chicken – 2.6 oz Pouch (Pack of 12)

Apart from tasting so deliciously and lasting long on the shelf, this StarKist cooked chicken offers the following:

Source of protein

This cooked chicken is an excellent source of the protein your body needs. Each chicken pouch packs 15g of protein and 80 calories.

We figured out this is a gluten and soy-free pre-cooked chicken. Goes well with your paleo, keto, paleo, Mediterranean, and weight watchers diet plans.

Flavor

Quite a versatile flavor. We recommend this cooked chicken due to its arrival with your favorite recipes. Excellent for your quick and delicious chicken buffalo chicken, salad, and chicken quesadillas.

Pouch type

Thankfully, the drain pouch is missing, so no draining is required. StarKist uses a flavor fresh pouch capable of preserving the chicken freshness for an everyday deliciousness.

This pre-cooked chicken does not require a can opener, so do not worry about breaking the opener or accidentally cutting your skin.

What we don’t like:

The product description makes you think that the package is the same as a can of chicken without moisture but that is not so true. One package of this chicken will make one sandwich if not two. It would be better if there is a larger size available.

 

  1. Bumble Bee Store Sweet Sue Chunk White Chicken in Water, 5 oz Can (Pack of 24) – 11g Protein per Serving – Gluten Free, Keto Friendly – Great for Snack, Lunch, or Dinner Recipes

Apart from long shelf life, Sweet Sue offers the following in this canned chicken:

Source of protein

Sweet Sue knows you need the protein, and is offering this 24-pack of 5-ounce cans of premium chunk chicken for it. It contains 11 grams of lean protein per serving.

Made for your recipes

This canned chicken is the solution for your favorite recipes. Great meal for people on a keto diet plan.

Pantry ingredient

Get the convenient pantry ingredient from this canned chicken. It is a great-tasting, gluten-free partner for your lunch, snack, or dinner recipe, including pasta or casseroles.

What we don’t like:

This canned cooked chicken has a slack fill. When you pour off the liquid, the can is only about half full of chicken.

The Hormel store chicken we tasted had more, and larger chunks. We also weighed 2.6 ounces of chicken in this Sweet Sue, compared to 3.2 in the Hormel.

How do I store cooked chicken in the fridge?

Now, you know how long to store your cooked chicken in the fridge. Consider doing the following to properly store the cooked chicken for a longer time in the fridge:

  • Placing the cooked chicken. First, place your cooked chicken in a clean, dry bowl or container to protect against contamination.
  • Seal the bowl. Use any wrap to lock in some extra freshness.
  • Refrigerate in airtight containers. To safely store the cooked chicken in the fridge, put it in shallow airtight containers to maximize the shelf life. You could wrap it tightly using heavy-duty plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Take note of the date you store the cooked chicken in the fridge. 3-4 days of refrigeration is recommended but your cooked chicken can be good for up to 7 days.

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