Chicken is a mainstay in any family so naturally, there are a lot of questions surrounding how to store it safely!
When you know how long chicken lasts in the fridge, you can meal plan better and safely prepare delicious, nutritious meals for your family.
How long does chicken last in the fridge?
When it comes to answering the question of how long will chicken last in the fridge, you want to consider if it is raw or cooked.
- Raw chicken will last for 1-2 days in the fridge.
- Cooked chicken will last for 3-4 days.
There are, however, some variables to these facts.
Often, chicken is frozen first and then placed in the fridge to thaw. If this happens, you can extend how long it will last by ½ a day to a full day.
When in doubt, it might be best to not use your chicken. While you did pay good money for it, chicken can harbor bacteria like Salmonella which can lead to serious sickness.
How long can you keep chicken in the fridge?
This question is asked by people almost every day.
You buy chicken, meaning to cook it that night, but something comes up and you need to postpone that dinner.
Or, maybe you cooked a large chicken (here’s how to do that!) and have delicious leftovers you want to get to.
The following are the guidelines for chicken, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
Raw chicken can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days. This may seem a bit extreme. After all, most people do one large grocery shop per week and may have their raw chicken sitting around for longer.
However, these guidelines are in place for optimal safety. You can use your judgment if you think your raw chicken can last a bit longer but know that you are giving bacteria more of a chance to grow.
The one thing that changes this guideline is if you start with raw chicken and then freeze it. Most people will buy larger value packs and place pieces of chicken in a freezer bag for a later day.
If you have frozen raw chicken, the amount of time it can be kept in the fridge doesn’t start until it is completely thawed. So, if you put frozen raw chicken in your fridge to thaw, it might be able to sit in your fridge for up to 3 days.
Cooked chicken can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. This is actually a really nice time frame and should give you plenty of opportunities to consume your leftovers.
It’s especially nice if you have cooked a chicken and are waiting for the leftover scraps to make a soup at a later time.
Can chicken last a week in the fridge?
No. Raw chicken can only last 1-2 days in the fridge.
No. cooked chicken can only last 3-4 days in the fridge.
How can you tell if chicken has gone bad?
There are a few exceptionally gross food things, and a chicken that has gone bad is one of them. If you’re not sure how to tell if a chicken is bad, look for these signs.
Both raw and cooked chicken will start to smell stale and even moldy.
Raw chicken should be pink in color. If it is grayish then you shouldn’t eat it. For cooked chicken, watch for signs of a greenish color, or possibly black spots.
While raw chicken might look a bit slimy by nature, raw chicken that is inedible is even slimier. If there are any signs of oozing don’t tempt fate.
Sometimes chicken might not have any of these symptoms, or you might not be aware of them. If, however, you take a bite into your leftover chicken and it feels off, don’t eat the rest of it.
Chicken storing tips
- Place raw chicken on a plate in the fridge and cover with plastic wrap, or store in an air-tight container.
- Store raw chicken on the bottom shelf of the fridge, in case of any leaks.
- Immediately place pieces of raw chicken in freezer bags to increase the lifespan.
- Label freezer bags with expiry date and freezer date for future use.
Differences between dates
Still confused about what these warnings mean on food? We can help.
Best by date
A best by date means that it will be in the optimal form before the posted date. It is still edible afterward, although you need to use your judgment.
Sell by date
Grocery stores will also use the term, sell by date, to show when the item should be sold before being taken home to cook. It is often used for non-perishable food, such as cookies or spices, so the products don’t become stale sitting on a shelf.
Expired by dates
An expiry date means you should not use the product after this time. There are too many risks and you could experience severe illness if consumed.
Risks of eating spoiled chicken
As soon as you eat something loaded with bacteria, your body will do everything it can to eliminate this harmful, foreign substance.
Spoiled chicken could have bacteria such as Salmonella. The result is vomiting or diarrhea, or both.
The severity of food poisoning can vary greatly. You might have a bad hour or two after which you can quickly recover. Or, you might have a very bad night as your body won’t rest until every foreign body in you has been expelled.
Those that have been ill as a result of spoiled chicken or other food-related issues, will think twice about consuming food past their recommended times.
How long after eating bad chicken will I get sick?
Getting sick after eating bad food is a terrible feeling. It can come out of nowhere and all you can do is suffer until the sickness is over.
If you eat bad chicken, you won’t get sick right away. Instead, it can take anywhere from 8 to 72 hours to become sick. This is why it is hard to trace food poisoning to the exact food that caused it.