We’ve all been there – you cook up a batch of delicious grilled chicken, but somehow you end up with leftovers. And then the question arises: can you just leave the cooked chicken sitting out, or do you need to be more careful? Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss today. How long can cooked chicken sit out before it goes bad? It’s an important question to answer, especially if you don’t want to serve up potentially unsafe food to your friends and family.
So kick back, relax, and let’s figure out the do’s and don’ts of how long cooked chicken can sit out. Whether you’re hosting a BBQ or just want to know the proper way to store leftovers, this information will be super useful. And don’t forget to grab a cold drink – it’s grilling season, after all!
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?
This is a question that comes up a lot when it comes to barbecues. You’ve just finished grilling up a batch of delicious chicken, but how long can it sit out before it’s no longer safe to eat?
Well, the answer is that cooked chicken can remain at room temperature for up to 2 hours, or 1 hour if the ambient temperature is higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. After this time, it’s best to discard the chicken as it could potentially lead to food poisoning.
|Temperature||Safe Storage Time|
|Below 40°F||Up to 4 days|
|Room Temp||Up to 2 hours|
|Above 90°F||Up to 1 hour|
|Below 0°F||Up to 4 months|
Understanding the Danger Zone
Even if you’re a beginner when it comes to grilling, you’ve probably heard the term “danger zone” before. This refers to the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria can multiply rapidly.
That’s why it’s so important to keep raw and cooked meats refrigerated whenever possible. If you do need to leave your cooked chicken out at room temperature, make sure to do so for no longer than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F).
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out and Still Be Considered Safe?
As a general rule, you should never consume chicken that’s been left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. If the weather is warm and the temperature is above 90°F, it’s best to refrigerate any leftovers after 1 hour.
Now, we know that sometimes things get hectic at barbecues and you might forget to put the chicken away in a timely manner. If this does happen and the chicken has been left out for longer than the recommended time, it’s important to discard it. Even if you reheat the chicken afterwards, there’s a risk that dangerous bacteria could still be clinging to the meat. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food safety.
What if The Cooked Chicken is in a Sealed Container?
Storing cooked chicken in a sealed container can help to preserve it for longer. However, unless the sealed container was placed in the refrigerator within the 2-hour window, it’s still not safe to eat. Even though the seal may protect the chicken from airborne contaminants, it can’t keep bacteria from multiplying if the chicken remains in the danger zone for too long.
That being said, keeping the leftovers
tightly sealed in the fridge can help to preserve the quality of the meat. More on that in the next section.
How Long Will Cooked Chicken Stay Good in the Fridge?
If you’ve got leftover cooked chicken, it’s best to consume it within 3 to 4 days. After this time, the chicken may start to show signs of spoilage such as a sticky or slimy texture or an unpleasant odor.
To make sure your cooked chicken stays fresh for as long as possible, store it in the coldest part of the fridge, preferably on a lower shelf in the back. Wrapping the leftovers tightly in airtight containers or heavy-duty plastic wrap can also help to preserve their quality.
It’s also important to make sure your fridge is set to a temperature below 40°F to ensure that your cooked chicken stays fresh.
Thawing Frozen Cooked Chicken
If you’ve got cooked chicken that you’ve frozen and want to thaw it out, there are a few methods you can use. The first is to simply place the frozen chicken in the fridge and let it thaw slowly. This can take several hours or even a full day, depending on the size of the chicken.
Another option is to use the microwave to thaw the chicken. Just be careful not to overcook it while it’s thawing. You can also thaw the chicken by placing it in a bowl of cold water. Just be sure to change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold.
No matter which method you choose, it’s important to make sure the chicken is fully thawed before cooking it. Partially thawed chicken can lead to uneven cooking and potentially harmful bacteria.
Does Barbecue Sauce Help To Preserve Chicken?
This is a question that comes up a lot when it comes to grilled chicken. Can the barbecue sauce you slather on your chicken help to preserve it and make it last longer?
The short answer is no. While sugar-based sauces may be able to last for a long time with proper storage, they won’t help to preserve cooked chicken. You’ll still need to store the chicken in the fridge or freezer within the recommended time frame to ensure food safety.
The Risks of Cross-Contamination
Cross-contamination is the transfer of bacteria or other contaminants from one surface or object to another. This can be a big concern when it comes to handling cooked chicken, especially if it’s been in contact with raw chicken.
To prevent cross-contamination, it’s important to use separate cutting boards, utens
ils, and other kitchen equipment when handling raw and cooked chicken. This will help to ensure that any bacteria present on the raw chicken doesn’t end up on the cooked chicken.
The Importance of Washing Hands
Another crucial aspect of food safety when it comes to cooked chicken is washing your hands. It’s important to wash your hands before and after handling the chicken to help prevent the spread of bacteria.
To properly wash your hands, wet them with warm water and apply soap. Rub your hands together to create a lather, making sure to scrub all surfaces including the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Rinse your hands thoroughly with warm water and dry them with a clean towel or air dryer.
What If The Chicken Still Looks and Smells Fine?
Just because cooked chicken looks and smells fine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to eat. It’s important to follow safe food handling practices, such as storing the chicken properly and consuming it within the recommended time frame, to ensure that it is safe to eat.
Can You Eat Fried Chicken at Room Temperature?
Fried chicken is a popular choice at barbecues, but is it safe to eat at room temperature?
While it’s generally safe to eat fried chicken that’s been properly stored in the fridge and has been reheated to a safe temperature, it’s not recommended to eat fried chicken that’s been left out at room temperature for an extended period of time. The risk of bacteria growth increases as the chicken sits out, making it unsafe to eat.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
If you’ve got leftover cooked chicken that you don’t think you’ll be able to eat within the recommended 3 to 4 days, freezing it is a great option. Cooked chicken can last in the freezer for up to 4 months, although the quality may start to degrade after the first few weeks.
To freeze cooked chicken, make sure it’s wrapped tightly in airtight packaging, such as heavy-duty plastic wrap or foil.
When you’re ready to thaw the chicken, be sure to follow the proper thawing methods as mentioned earlier in this article to ensure that it is safe to eat.
Tips for Keeping Cooked Chicken Safe
There are a few key things you can do to help ensure that your cooked chicken stays safe to eat:
- Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. Chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Keep the chicken at the proper temperature. This means storing it in the fridge or freezer within the recommended time frame and reheating it to at least 165°F before consuming.
- Properly store leftovers. This means wrapping the chicken tightly in airtight packaging and storing it in the coldest part of the fridge or freezer.
How to Tell if Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad
There are a few signs to look for that may indicate that your cooked chicken has gone bad:
- Bad smell: Cooked chicken that has gone bad will often have an unpleasant odor.
- Slimy texture: If the chicken has a slimy or sticky texture, it’s likely no longer safe to eat.
- Visible mold: Any visible mold on the chicken is a clear sign that it’s no longer safe to eat.
If your cooked chicken has any of these signs of spoilage, it’s best to throw it out.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to food safety, it’s important to know how long cooked chicken can sit out before it goes bad. As a general rule, cooked chicken should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the ambient temperature is higher than 90°F, the chicken should be refrigerated after 1 hour.
To ensure that your cooked chicken stays safe to eat, follow proper food handling practices such as storing it in the fridge or freezer within the recommended time frame and reheating it to a safe temperature before consuming. And remember, if you’re not sure if the chicken is still good, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.