How Long Can Chicken Stay In The Refrigerator?

Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by E.Pery

Many households serve chicken because it has a flavorful and delicious taste. It is also a healthy choice of meat, has numerous health benefits, and is quite affordable. It is versatile too!

Not only does chicken marry well with a variety of weekday recipes, but it’s also an excellent choice for dinner parties and backyard barbecues on the weekends.

The downside of eating this delicacy every day is that if you don’t know how to handle and store it, you might end up with food poisoning and even struggle with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria found in foods of animal origin.

So how long can chicken stay in the refrigerator? Read this article to learn everything you need to know about it.

How Long Can Chicken Stay In The Refrigerator?
How Long Can Chicken Stay In The Refrigerator?

How long does raw chicken last in the fridge?

If you want to store the raw chicken for immediate future use, you do not need to keep it in the freezer. You can refrigerate it. But you can only keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Extended refrigeration periods could lead to severe food poisoning. So if the chicken has stayed in the fridge for longer than two days, it’s advisable to discard it right away.

If you want your chicken to last a little longer, you can cook it before refrigeration because cooked chicken can last up to 3-4 days in the fridge. These timelines apply to turkeys and other poultry as well.

How Long Does Raw Chicken Last in the Fridge?
Photo of Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

unopened raw chicken in the fridge

You don’t need to worry about an unopened raw chicken sitting in your refrigerator.

The USDA says that whole, uncooked poultry should be stored at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit — the temperature of a typical refrigerator — and consumed within 3 to 4 days.

Poultry can be stored at temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit, but it’s not necessary.

If you’re storing whole chickens in the freezer, make sure they are wrapped well so they don’t dry out. Unwrap frozen whole chickens and let them thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before cooking so that bacteria doesn’t spread from one part of the chicken to another (e.g., from the outside to the inside).

How long does raw chicken last in the freezer?

The surest way of extending the shelf life of your chicken is by freezing it.

A whole raw chicken can last up to 12 months in the freezer, while chicken pieces can stay frozen for nine months.

If you are a giblet lover, you can freeze them for up to three or four months before cooking them.

You can also freeze cooked chicken—however, it’s best to freeze raw rather than cooked chicken because it lasts longer. The same goes for baked or fried chicken pieces, which only last for up to four months, while patties and nuggets stay fresh in the freezer for up to three months.

You can also freeze chicken covered in gravy or sauce, although you must use it within six months.

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How long does chicken breast last in the freezer?

The freezer time for chicken breast is about 1 to 2 months for best quality, depending on your freezer and how you store the chicken.

To maximize the shelf life of your frozen chicken, wrap it well before putting it into your freezer. It is best to use a vacuum sealer or special bags designed to keep food fresh in the freezer.

If you have an airtight container and can’t use a vacuum sealer, you can still extend the life of your frozen chicken by making sure it is wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. You should also place the wrapped chicken in a resealable plastic bag so that you can remove as much air as possible from around it.

The best way to store raw chicken is to place it on a tray (or several trays) in your freezer. This helps prevent any bacterial growth that might occur if liquid pools on one spot of meat.

3 methods to keep the raw chicken in the fridge

  1. Wrap unwashed pieces of chicken in an airtight bag.
  2. Ensure you create an airtight seal by squeezing out any extra air for each wrapped piece.
  3. Keep the chicken at the back of the lowest shelf of your fridge because it’s the coldest part of the refrigerator.

Storing your chicken and other kinds of meat on the bottom shelf also prevents the contamination of other foodstuffs in the fridge through accidental leaks and drippings. Cook your chicken within two days after purchasing it, or keep it in the freezer if you intend to use it a bit later.

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Never leave chicken at room temperature for more than two hours. Or one hour if the temperature is above 90° F. Refrigerating chicken in a leak-proof container as soon as you buy it keeps the chicken at 40° F (4°C). This low temperature slows down bacterial growth.

How long can cooked chicken stay in the fridge?

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that cooked chicken be used within two to three days after cooking.

Bacteria can grow on food that is not cooled quickly enough or stored at an improper temperature. Chicken should be kept refrigerated between 40°F and 140°F, as measured with a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone or fat.

You can store cooked chicken in a covered container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it, but you should not leave it out longer than two hours at room temperature or four hours total if there is any chance that your power could go out while it’s sitting out there.

How long can chicken stay in the fridge after thawing?

This is a question that many home cooks ask. The answer is simple:

Chicken can stay in the refrigerator for up to four days after it has been thawed.

The main concern with chicken that has been frozen and then thawed is whether or not it has reached its “sell-by” date. If you have purchased fresh chicken and then frozen it, you will want to use it within three weeks of freezing it.

After this time, bacteria can begin to multiply on the surface of the meat. If you are unsure of how long your meat has been in your freezer, there are several ways to tell if it is still good:

Checking The Date Label

This is probably one of the most tried-and-true methods for telling if foods have gone bad or not. Check the dates labeled on any food items that you have stored in your freezer before using them again.

Most foods will be safe for consumption past their expiration date as long as they were properly stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. However, some foods may still be good even after their sell-by date has passed (such as bread).

How to freeze chicken?

If your chicken is cut into pieces, wrap each piece with freezer paper. If it’s an entire chicken, cover the whole of it. However, if you don’t have freezer paper, you can wrap your chicken using plastic wrap and add a heavy layer of aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.

Once you wrap it, put the chicken in an airtight bag and squeeze out extra air from the bag before sealing it. Keep the chicken in the deepest part of the freezer.

Make sure to clean your hands and other surfaces or utensils that came in contact with the chicken as soon as you are through. Cleaning prevents the transfer of harmful bacteria.

Cleaning prevents the transfer of harmful bacteria
Cleaning prevents the transfer of harmful bacteria

How to thaw chicken?

The best way to thaw chicken is through refrigeration. The temperature in the fridge is warmer than in the freezer, so placing the frozen chicken on a plate and letting it sit on the bottom shelf of the fridge allows it to thaw slowly at a safe temperature.

Recommended reading: What Temperature Should A Refrigerator Be?

It takes about a day for a whole chicken to thaw in the fridge. So you’ve got to thaw it about 24 hours before you begin prepping your meal. Once defrosted, the thawed chicken can only stay in the refrigerator for only two days.

How to Thaw Chicken?
How to Thaw Chicken?

You can also thaw frozen chicken in ice-cold water. To do this, submerge the chicken in a large bowl of ice-cold water and cover it with a lid to keep it submerged. Change the water after every 30 minutes until the chicken thaws. When you use the microwave to thaw chicken, cook it immediately to prevent the growth of bacteria on the inner parts of the meat.

Never thaw chicken on the counter at room temperature or in hot water. Doing this activates the growth of bacteria that may not be eliminated by cooking the chicken. Also, avoid refreezing thawed chicken. Once thawed, cook the whole chicken and keep leftovers for up to 3 days.

Tips for telling if a chicken is spoiled?

If you can’t remember how long your chicken has stayed in the fridge, you need to test whether it’s safe for consumption before cooking or eating it. However, you should never taste your chicken to determine whether it has gone bad.

The best way to test your chicken is through smell, color, and texture. You should toss your chicken to the bins if it has turned green or grey, if it has an awful smell or if it has a slimy texture.

Tips of telling if a chicken is spoiled?

You may also ask

 chicken in the fridge for 7 days

The shelf life of a raw chicken in the refrigerator is 7 days from the date that it was packaged. The Food and Drug Administration recommends using raw chicken within one to two days of buying it. Put it in a sealed container in the fridge, but don’t wash it until you’re ready to cook with it.
If you’re not going to use your raw chicken right away, freeze it immediately. The USDA says that freezing kills any harmful bacteria present in the bird and makes it last longer. Just make sure you label your package with the date you froze it and use the meat before its expiration date.

 chicken in the fridge for 3 days

Raw chicken is not safe to eat after 3 days.
The USDA recommends cooking chicken within 2 hours of purchase and consume it within 1 to 2 days of cooking. If you don’t cook it right away, store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months (or longer if it’s been frozen).