How Long is Cooked Chicken Good for When Stored?

Last Updated on May 24, 2022 by

How Long is Cooked Chicken Good for? If you would start prepping more food as opposed to buying at the shop, you want to know how long you can store cooked chicken. So, how long is cooked chicken good for? You would think “2 to 3 days”, but let’s find out.

Cooked chicken is considered good for 3-4 days. However, ensure to freeze meal preps if you need to store them for more than 2 days. Store the cooked chicken in the fridge a day before eating to thaw a bit. After cooking and it cools down a bit, freeze it.

If your fridge is cold enough, and you are healthy, no problems with eating Sunday’s chicken on Friday. Keep the cooked chicken well-sealed. Up to 7 days is a safe zone. Ensure to clean the fridge regularly to get rid of mold growth, which can give your cooked chicken a funky fresh taste.

How long is cooked chicken good for?

USDA suggests that cooked chicken is good for 3-4 days, and should be refrigerated at 40°F or less. Refrigerating cooked chicken can slow but does not stop bacteria from growing.

Let us consider the storage duration according to the part of the chicken:

  1. Whole chicken

Your whole cooked chicken is good for 3-4 days in the fridge. Divide the chicken into smaller portions and have them refrigerated.

If raw, whole chicken lasts between 1 and 2 days in the fridge. If you do not intend to cook it immediately, you can allow it in the fridge for some months.

  1. Chicken breast

The chicken breast is good for 3-4 days in the fridge. If raw, chicken breast will be good for 2 days. Toss the chicken breast in the freezer to increase its useful life.

  1. Ground chicken

Cooked ground chicken is good for 3-4 months in the freezer. You want to use a hygienic wrap or seal to safely store the cooked chicken.

Always make sure to wash your hands and surfaces before you handle the cooked chicken from the fridge, especially if it is raw. Ensure to also keep raw chicken separate to avoid cross-contamination.

Now, you know how long to store your cooked chicken. Let’s explore longer storage days such as days 5, 6, 7, and 10.

  • Can I eat cooked chicken after 5 days? You can eat cooked chicken after 5 days. However, your cooked chicken gets to the tail end of the time you need to throw the chicken away. If the chicken is well-sealed and refrigerated, it should be good to eat. Alarmists tend to be paranoid about food storage, forgetting that evolution facilitates humans to be able to tell when food is bad.
  • Can you eat cooked chicken after 6 days? You can eat cooked chicken after 6 days. However, it is determined by the processing method and storage. At the time of writing this article: we cooked chicken at 145°F for about 2 hours, 30 minutes in sous vide. We cooled the chicken using ice and refrigerated the unopened bags for 2 weeks. We have done this in the past and had no problem but would not recommend exceeding 10 days.
  • Can cooked chicken last 7 days? Some foods are typically safe for 7 days when put in the fridge. However, chicken is questionable after 4 days. The point is that 7 days should be considered the limit.
  • Can cooked chicken last 10 days? Cooked chicken will probably not last up to 10 days in the fridge. However, if your fridge is clean, 10 days should be the limit regarding how long cooked chicken lasts.

How can you tell if cooked chicken is spoiled?

When chicken is spoiled, the following are the telltale signs:

Smell. You can smell spoiled, cooked chicken, making sure not to taste it. Food-borne bacteria produce toxic metabolic waste that will cause the cooked chicken to smell.

Ice crusts. If you tossed the cooked chicken in the fridge, you will find ice crusts on the external part. There should be a thick ice coating on the chicken, indicating the chicken is unsafe for consumption.

Ice burns and freezer. Physically inspect for freezer burns. These look like a non-fatty rush or white marks. Note that freezer burns do not always mean that the cooked chicken is bad but makes the taste of the chicken bad.

Chicken color. The color of a spoiled cooked chicken may be hard to tell. However, you would typically get a darker color rather than grey. Make sure not to taste cooked chicken to know if it is spoiled.

What causes cooked chicken to spoil?

Food-borne bacteria cause the cooked chicken to spoil, as well as food poisoning. Pathogens such as Campylobacter, E. coli, and Salmonella thrive in moist, low-acid environments with protein and live with the bird throughout its life.

Bacteria like Acinetobacter and Pseudomonads fluroescens, fragi or putida inhabit the meat after processing. And due to the qualities of chicken, it spoils quickly.

Quick spoilage can only be reduced by storing the cooked chicken at the correct temperature.

Bacteria require water for survival and to grow foods. It has about 0.85 activity in water. Chicken has a water activity of 0.99, making up the ideal habitat for bacteria.

The water or ice you use to process chicken does not completely dry after washing and chilling, so your cooked chicken retains water, providing a home for bacteria.

Pathogens such as Salmonella find it challenging to grow in low temperatures. Nonetheless, some other bacteria thrive at low-temperature levels. Slime growing on stored cooked chicken will not show until spoilage bacteria reaches a higher concentration of about 3.2 * 107 cfu/cm2.

What happens if you cook spoiled chicken?

Spoilage bacteria grow in cold temperatures like in the fridge or freezer, eventually resulting in bad tastes and smells. If you choose to eat spoiled cooked chicken, you probably would get sick.

Some pathogenic bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes (Lm), however, thrive at cold temperatures. If they are present in the refrigerated cooked chicken, they cause illness. Bacteria, yeast, and molds cause microbial spoilage.

Cooked chicken spoilage may be a quality issue but it equally concerns food safety. Never taste your cooked chicken to tell its safety.

How do you store cooked chicken?

This section of the publication explains how you should store cooked chicken:

  1. Cooking

In excess of 72 centigrade, heat from cooking will eliminate practically all food-borne illnesses and parasites. This is one of the reasons we cook things before consumption.

If the cooked chicken is not already smelling or it’s fizzy, heating it will make it perfectly safe before storage.

  1. Freezing

You can extend shelf life by freezing cooked chicken. However, you need to follow the correct storage procedure to make the cooked chicken last for some days in the freezer.

Some experts claim cooked chicken is even good for 3-4 months in the freezer. You want to keep the cooked chicken from sitting at room temperature before storing it in the freezer. Staying some hours outside the fridge will cause bacteria to breed and spoil your leftovers.

When storing cooked chicken in the fridge or freezer, place it in a clean and dry bowl/container to prevent any contamination.

Ensure to seal the bowl with a clean wrap or seal to lock in some additional freshness.

Finally, date your cooked chicken storage on the container to know the refrigeration days left until spoilage. It is advisable to consume leftovers within 3-4 days.

Cooked chicken to buy

This section recommends cooked chicken with long shelf life. All you have to do to keep the chicken is leave it on the shelf or put it in the freezer after opening it.

Consider buying the cooked chicken below:

  1. Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken without Giblets 50oz Can (Pack of 1)

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This is a fully cooked chicken we recommend to anyone craving a delicious, fully cooked whole chicken in a can. It packs nutritional value and is decently sizeable in the can.

One of our orders was probably knocked around during shipping, so it arrived as almost non-recognizable as a whole chicken after opening.

This canned chicken has the taste you want. It is not salty but you can eat it right out of the can. We took away the broth, but it was still drowning in broth.

You will not a lot of white meat, the meat seems all dark, compared to other cooked colors of pink you find on a small chicken.

We noticed that the bone was tender from the can. It is a bit soggy but very interesting overall.

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  1. StarKist Premium White Chicken – 2.6 oz Pouch (Pack of 12)

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Each of these chicken pouches contains 80 calories with 15g of protein. The cooked chicken is soy and gluten-free. Excellent for your Keto, Mediterranean, Paleo, and Weight Watchers plans.

Although this is a good cooked chicken to buy, it is a little pricey. But you would want to order it again and again after the first time.

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Final thought on How Long is Cooked Chicken Good for?

Make sure your cooked chicken remains safe to eat. Store it outside the danger zone. Note that bacteria will grow rapidly between 40°F and 140°F temperatures, meaning that you should keep your cooked chicken hot at 140°F or warmer to stop bacterial growth. An alternative storage mode is a fridge.