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 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.
To keep the raw chicken in the fridge:
- Wrap unwashed pieces of chicken with an airtight bag.
- Ensure you create an airtight seal by squeezing out any extra air for each wrapped piece.
- 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.
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 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 twelve 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 of 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.