How to Thaw Chicken – Per the USDA’s guidelines, you should never thaw chicken (or meat of any kind) on the counter or in hot water, nor should you leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. The best way to thaw chicken is to move the frozen package from the freezer onto a plate and into the fridge, and then let it thaw gradually.
- Because it can take a full day for chicken to thaw in the fridge, this method is best if you’re planning ahead for a meal the next day.
- If frozen chicken is thawed in the refrigerator, the defrosted chicken can last in the fridge for an additional 1-2 days before cooking.
- Planning to cook your frozen chicken sooner rather than later? Ensure it is in an airtight bag — such as Glad ® FLEX’N SEAL™ Food Storage Quart Bags — then submerge it in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw.
You can also thaw frozen chicken in the microwave, but if you want to use that method, you should plan to cook it immediately after thawing to prevent bacteria from growing.
- 1 Is raw chicken OK in the fridge for 5 days?
- 2 Can I use chicken 2 days after defrosting?
- 2.1 Is raw chicken OK in the fridge for 4 days?
- 2.2 Can raw chicken last 4 days?
- 2.3 Is 1 year old frozen chicken still good?
- 2.4 How long can defrosted chicken stay out?
- 3 How long after defrosting chicken in water should it be cooked?
- 4 How many times can you defrost chicken before it goes bad?
- 5 How long is frozen chicken good for?
Is raw chicken OK in the fridge for 5 days?
Cooked and raw chicken can be stored from a few days up to a year. The amount of time that it lasts can vary depending on whether it’s frozen or refrigerated. Chicken is considered a staple meat in many households. However, this healthy and delicious source of protein has a high risk of bacterial contamination.
That’s why preparing, storing, and cooking it properly is important — otherwise, it could become a source of foodborne illness. Storing chicken in your fridge is convenient, but many people may wonder how long they can safely refrigerate chicken. This article helps you understand just how long chicken lasts in your fridge.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw chicken can be kept in your fridge approximately 1–2 days. The same applies to raw turkey and other poultry ( 1 ). Meanwhile, cooked chicken can last in the refrigerator approximately 3–4 days ( 1 ).
Storing chicken in the fridge helps slow bacterial growth, as bacteria tend to grow slower in temperatures below 40°F (4°C) ( 3 ). Furthermore, raw chicken is best stored in a leak-proof container to prevent its juices from leaking and contaminating other foods. Cooked chicken should be refrigerated in an airtight container ( 3 ).
If you need to store chicken for longer than a few days, it’s best to store it in your freezer. Raw chicken pieces can be stored in the freezer for up to 9 months, while a whole chicken can be frozen for up to 1 year. Cooked chicken can be stored in the freezer for 2–6 months ( 1, 4 ).
It’s past the “best by” date : Chicken — raw and cooked — that has passed its “best if used by/before” date is more likely to have gone bad. Changes in color: Raw and cooked chicken that’s starting to turn a gray-green color has gone bad. Spots of gray-to-green mold indicate bacterial growth. Smell: Both raw and cooked chicken emit an acidic smell that resembles ammonia as it goes bad. However, this scent can be difficult to notice if the chicken has been marinated with sauces, herbs, or spices. Texture: Chicken that has a slimy texture has gone bad. Rinsing the chicken will not destroy bacteria. Rather, doing so can spread the bacteria from poultry to other foods, utensils, and surfaces, causing cross-contamination,
If you suspect the chicken in your fridge has gone bad, discard it. Summary You can tell if chicken has gone bad if its color has started to fade, it has developed a sour or acidic smell, or it has become slimy. Eating spoiled chicken can cause foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning,
Chicken has a high risk of causing food poisoning, as it may be contaminated with bacteria like Campylobacter, Salmonella, and more ( 4 ). Normally, these bacteria are eliminated when you cook fresh chicken thoroughly. However, you still need to avoid cooking and eating spoiled chicken. Although re-heating or cooking can kill surface bacteria, it won’t eliminate some of the toxins produced by bacteria, which can give you food poisoning if you eat them ( 7 ).
Food poisoning can cause uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous symptoms, including a high fever (above 101.5°F or 38.6°C), chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and dehydration ( 8 ). In some cases, severe food poisoning can require hospitalization and even lead to death ( 9 ).
If you suspect that your chicken is spoiled, do not eat it. It’s always best to discard chicken that you suspect has gone bad. Summary Eating spoiled chicken can cause food poisoning, even if it’s cooked thoroughly. Raw chicken lasts in the fridge for 1–2 days, while cooked chicken lasts 3–4 days. To detect if chicken has gone bad, check the “best if used by” date and look for signs of spoilage like changes in smell, texture, and color.
Avoid eating spoiled chicken, as it can cause food poisoning — even if you cook it thoroughly.
Can I use chicken 2 days after defrosting?
Safely keeping thawed chicken in the fridge – Poultry that’s been defrosted in the fridge can be safely kept for an additional one to two days in the refrigerator before cooking, says the U.S. Department of Agriculture, You also can safely refreeze it within that same timeframe.
On the other hand, if you thawed the chicken in the microwave or in cold water, the USDA advises that you cook it immediately. That’s because with either method, the chicken could have at least temporarily warmed up to a temperature higher than 40°F. At that point, harmful bacteria can begin to multiply rapidly and prompt cooking is required to destroy it.
Can I defrost chicken and put it back in the fridge?
Once thawed, the chicken will stay good in the fridge for a day or two before cooking, per the USDA. And if dinner plans change in that time period, it’s totally safe to put the chicken back in the freezer without cooking it. (More on that in a bit.)
What does bad raw chicken smell like?
Smell – Whether you’re dealing with raw or cooked chicken, a quick smell test will clue you in if something is amiss. Fresh chicken has very little aroma, although it may have a slight “funky” odor if it’s been sealed with its juices for a while. Chicken that smells strongly should be a warning sign. If the odor is fishy, sour or sulfur-like—reminiscent of rotten eggs—it’s no longer safe to eat.
Can you leave raw chicken out for 2 days?
Is OK if left out overnight? – No, it is not safe to leave raw chicken out overnight. Raw chicken should always be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent bacterial growth and foodborne illness. Bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter can multiply rapidly at room temperature and make you sick if consumed.
Is raw chicken OK in the fridge for 4 days?
Can Raw Chicken Stay in the Fridge for 4 Days? – How long can chicken stay in the fridge? If you thought the number of bacteria a raw chicken breast can develop in three days was bad, just wait until you see what happens on the fourth. Unfortunately, raw chicken cannot stay in the fridge for four days and still be safe to eat.
Can raw chicken last 4 days?
Raw chicken keeps for no more than one to two days in the fridge. If you’re unsure whether you’ll get to cooking that raw chicken before this timeline is up, your best bet is to freeze it.
Is 1 year old frozen chicken still good?
Information. If kept frozen continuously, chicken will be safe indefinitely, so after freezing, it’s not important if any package dates expire. For best quality, taste and texture, keep whole raw chicken in the freezer up to one year; parts, 9 months; and giblets or ground chicken, 3 to 4 months.
Can you cook meat 48 hours after defrosting?
Thawing in the Refrigerator – As long as the refrigerator temperature is between 34° and 40°F, thawing in the refrigerator will be safe. Use a plate or pan under thawing meat to make sure dripping does not spill on foods, especially foods to be eaten without additional cooking. After thawing in the refrigerator, ground meat should be used as soon as possible. Once meat has been frozen and thawed, it will deteriorate more rapidly than if it had never been frozen. Whole meat cuts (chops, roasts) will remain useable for another 3-5 days in the refrigerator before cooking.
How long can defrosted chicken stay out?
DO NOT thaw it on the counter – It may seem like a good idea, but the truth is, thawing your chicken by leaving it on the counter is not safe. The defrosting process takes too long, with the exposed meat lingering in the dreaded danger zone longer than it should.
How long after defrosting chicken in water should it be cooked?
The safest way to defrost chicken is to remove it from the freezer, put it in a container, and put it on a low shelf in a refrigerator for at least 24 hours or until no longer frozen. This keeps the chicken at a safe, cool temperature while it defrosts.
There are also other ways to defrost chicken that take less time, such as using a cold water bath or a microwave. In this article, we will explain how to defrost chicken safely, and outline three methods for doing so at home. The safest way to defrost chicken is to place it in a refrigerator. This method is safe because the refrigerator keeps the chicken cool while it is defrosting, preventing it from getting too warm for too long.
To use this method, do the following:
- Remove the chicken from the freezer at least 24 hours in advance.
- Place it in a ziplock plastic bag or container.
- Put it in the refrigerator on a low shelf and leave it there until fully defrosted.
- Cook within 1–2 days,
This method requires some planning ahead, as a person will need to begin the defrosting process at least 1 day before they plan to use the chicken. The time it takes to work will depend on how big the pieces of the chicken are. Chicken breasts, bone-in chicken, and whole chickens can take 1–2 days to thaw in the refrigerator.
- Ensure the chicken is in an airtight packaging, or place it in a leakproof ziplock bag.
- Place it in a bowl or basin deep enough to completely submerge the chicken.
- Cover the chicken with cold water.
- Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure it stays cold.
- Once the chicken has thawed, cook it straight away.
Never use warm or hot water to defrost chicken. If water from the faucet is warm, add ice cubes to the basin before using it to defrost the chicken. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that this method will take 2–3 hours for a whole chicken, while a 1-pound package of chicken breasts can take 1 hour or less.
If there are multiple pieces in one bag that are frozen together, it may speed up thawing time to break them apart once they have thawed enough to do so. Break pieces apart from the outside of the bag to avoid opening it. Many microwave ovens have defrost settings that allow people to defrost meat even more quickly.
People can refer to the owner’s manual for specific instructions on how to use the defrost setting for chicken. When using the microwave to defrost chicken, it is important to:
- thaw only the amount of chicken a person needs at that time
- place the chicken in a microwave-safe container
- cook the chicken immediately after defrosting it
- clean the microwave thoroughly afterward
Using a microwave to defrost meats can result in warm spots or areas that have already started to cook during the defrosting process. For this reason, it is important to defrost only what is necessary and cook the meat right away. People should never defrost chicken at room temperature, on the kitchen counter, or in places such as a porch or basement.
Room temperature is around 68°F (20°C), which is well within the “danger zone” for poultry storage. This refers to the temperature range in which it is possible for bacteria to grow in large numbers, which is between 40–140°F (4.4–60°C), Defrosting chicken at room temperature means exposing the meat to dangerous temperatures for longer than is safe.
Doing so raises the risk of bacterial growth and foodborne illness, In many cases, it is possible to cook chicken from frozen. The USDA states this is safe to do in most cases as long as a person extends the cooking time by 50% and ensures the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74 ° C).
- Wash the hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before handling raw chicken.
- Do not wash the chicken. This is potentially harmful for both frozen and unfrozen chicken.
- Treat the frozen chicken in the same way as unfrozen one with regard to food safety. Use a separate chopping board and utensils and avoid cross-contamination with cooked ingredients.
- Use a method of cooking that heats the chicken up quickly, such as on the stove or in the oven. Lengthen the normal cooking time by 50%.
- When done, check the internal temperature of the chicken using a meat thermometer. When it reads 165°F (74 ° C) or above, remove the chicken from the heat.
- Wash the thermometer with hot water and dish soap.
- Using antibacterial wipes or soap and water, wipe down any kitchen surface that may have made contact with the chicken or with the fluids from the defrosting chicken.
People can refreeze the chicken that they defrosted in a refrigerator within 1–2 days of fully defrosting it. This applies whether the chicken is still raw or already cooked. However, if a person defrosts the chicken in a water bath or the microwave, they should cook it immediately after defrosting.
Only when they have done this can they safely refreeze it. If a person defrosts chicken in the microwave or in a water bath but they do not immediately cook it, it may not be safe to eat. It is also not safe to refreeze chicken in this scenario. Refreezing can affect the quality of the chicken, as can leaving it in a freezer for too long.
However, while frozen, the chicken is safe from bacterial growth. Proper thawing techniques are important for keeping chicken out of the danger zone of 40–140°F (4.4–60°C), If chicken stays in this temperature range for too long, this increases the risk of people contracting foodborne illnesses once they eat it.
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Listeria monocytogenes
- Campylobacter jejuni
While thoroughly cooking chicken can kill these types of bacteria, they can leave toxins behind. These toxins remain in the food even if a person cooks it at a safe temperature. One example of this is E. coli, which produces a toxin that can be fatal. This is why people must defrost chicken safely in addition to cooking it in a safe manner.
Similarly, it is impossible to tell whether meat has gone bad just by looking at or smelling it. This is because the pathogens that cause foodborne illnesses do not necessarily cause food to spoil, so there is no way of detecting dangerous levels of these organisms by sight or smell. Food poisoning affects 1 in 6 people each year.
While many people recover in a few days, some forms of food poisoning can be more serious. People who are more vulnerable to serious cases of food poisoning include :
- adults over the age of 65
- children under the age of 5
- people with compromised immune systems
- pregnant people
Foodborne illnesses can also lead to complications. For example, some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) develop symptoms after having an acute intestinal infection from contaminated food or water. Experts refer to this as post-infectious IBS. If a person is in doubt as to whether their chicken is safe to eat, it is best to be cautious and avoid consuming it.
Defrosting chicken at a cool temperature in the refrigerator is the safest method. People who have less time at their disposal can use a cold water bath or the defrost setting on their microwave. When defrosting chicken using one of the quicker methods, it is important to cook it immediately once it is no longer frozen.
Following food safety guidelines can help people stay healthy and avoid foodborne illness.
How many times can you defrost chicken before it goes bad?
Freezing chicken you’re unable to use right away is a great way to minimize food waste. Doing so preserves the meat by preventing the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts, and molds ( 1 ). However, you may wonder whether chicken can be refrozen after it has been thawed.
- This article discusses how to safely refreeze chicken, plus tips for storage and maintaining its quality.
- The bacteria commonly found on chicken — such as Salmonella — can cause serious illness and potentially death ( 2 ).
- While freezing significantly slows microbial growth, it does not kill most foodborne pathogens,
Therefore, properly handling chicken prior to refreezing is important ( 3 ). For starters, consider whether the chicken was properly thawed. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are three safe thawing methods ( 4 ):
Refrigeration. Though it may take 1–2 days, the safest way to thaw chicken is in a refrigerator at or below 40 ° F (4.4 ° C). Cold water. In leak-proof packaging, submerge the chicken in cold water. Replace the water every 30 minutes. Microwave. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the chicken using the defrost setting. Rotate to ensure an even thaw.
Importantly, defrosting under cold water or in a microwave allows some harmful bacteria to grow. If you use these methods, cook the chicken before refreezing it ( 5 ). Never defrost chicken on your countertop. Since bacteria thrive at room temperature, this chicken should not be used, let alone refrozen.
- According to USDA guidelines on refrigeration and food safety, raw chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, while cooked chicken can be kept for 3–4 days ( 6 ).
- You can safely refreeze raw and cooked chicken within their respective shelf lives.
- Still, only refreeze raw chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator.
Summary When handled properly, it’s safe to refreeze raw and cooked chicken within their respective shelf lives. Only refreeze raw chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator. In terms of safety, chicken can be stored in the freezer indefinitely. However, refreezing can affect its taste and texture.
Refreeze at peak quality. For the best taste, try to refreeze chicken as soon as possible. Raw chicken that has been thawed longer than 2 days, as well as cooked chicken stored longer than 4 days, may have spoiled, so don’t refreeze it. Store at or below 0°F (-18°C). To help retain quality and prevent spoilage, keep frozen chicken stored at or below 0°F (-18°C). Freeze chicken quickly. Slow freezing can cause large ice crystals to form. These may damage the structure of the meat, leaving it tough and dry. Freezing chicken in a shallow container can help speed the process. Use air-tight packaging. Sealing chicken tightly can help prevent freezer burn caused by prolonged exposure to air. Freezer burn can negatively affect taste, texture, and color.
When stored properly, refrozen raw chicken can maintain its quality for 9–12 months, while cooked chicken lasts 4 months ( 7 ). Summary Chicken remains safe in the freezer indefinitely, but its taste may be affected. For the best quality, refreeze chicken as soon as possible in air-tight packaging at or below 0 ° F (-18 ° C) and use it within 4–12 months.
Whether you can refreeze poultry depends on whether it was safely defrosted, if it’s raw or cooked, and how long it has been thawed. When handled properly, raw chicken can be refrozen within 2 days after thawing, while cooked chicken can be refrozen within 4 days. For quality purposes, the sooner you refreeze chicken, the better.
Only refreeze raw chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator.
How long is frozen chicken good for?
If kept frozen continuously, chicken will be safe indefinitely, so after freezing, it’s not important if any package dates expire. For best quality, taste and texture, keep whole raw chicken in the freezer up to one year; parts, 9 months; and giblets or ground chicken, 3 to 4 months.