How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out? Make It Safely

Understanding how long can cooked chicken sit out is crucial for your overall health and well-being. Any chicken that is kept outside for an extended period of time could develop undesirable bacteria. 

You can keep cooked chicken at room temperature for up to two hours.  However, cooked chicken should only be left out at room temperature for an hour or less before going bad if your room temperature is 90°F (32.2°C) or higher.

One of the most crucial things to remember when it comes to food safety is how long food can remain at room temperature before it becomes dangerous to consume. Foods like chicken in particular, need to be handled and stored carefully.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

For cooked chicken, the same general guideline holds true as it does for raw chicken. It is not recommended to keep cooked chicken out at room temperature for longer than two hours. Once again, the two-hour rule is reduced to just one hour if the outside temperature is above 90°F (32°C), as it would be at a picnic or barbecue.

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How do You Store Cooked Chicken?

When storing cooked chicken, make sure it doesn’t stay out at room temperature for longer than two hours or, in cases where the temperature rises above 90°F, longer than an hour. Before storing it in the freezer or refrigerator, make sure it has cooled to room temperature for at least two hours.

You can safely store your other foods in the refrigerator and freezer by letting your cooked chicken cool. If you leave your cooked chicken to cool in the fridge, the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer may rise, endangering the other foods you keep there.

How long can cooked chicken be kept in the refrigerator?

If you store your cooked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it will keep for up to three or four days. If your chicken is raw, however, you should cook it within a day or two of refrigerating it. When storing cooked chicken in the refrigerator, it is best consumed within three days. Alternatively, you can freeze it in an airtight container for longer storage. 

How do you tell if cooked chicken has gone bad?

Regretfully, there are instances when contaminated chicken can pass for uncontaminated chicken. Thus, following the two-hour rule is a good idea, but in case you forget, here’s how to determine if your chicken has gone bad. 

If the chicken feels extremely soft or has a slime-like appearance, it’s best to discard it because there’s usually a significant texture difference. A strange film and stickiness are also signs that it should be thrown out.

It’s crucial to notice any unpleasant odors or color changes. If your meat has become green, yellow, or gray in color, throw it out. Additionally, bad chicken has an overpowering ammonia or rotten egg smell. Remember, raw chicken is the same. It should be shiny and soft rather than slimy or sticky, and it shouldn’t smell funny.

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What Are the Dangers of Cooked Chicken Being Left Out Too Long?

Too much time spent with cooked chicken at room temperature carries a number of risks. First, the primary risk is the growth of bacteria, which raises the possibility of food poisoning. Second, the chicken will become less safe to eat as its quality begins to deteriorate. Lastly, the chicken may go bad if it is not stored correctly.

Two hours is enough time for bacteria to grow and possibly produce food poisoning. You might feel sick to your stomach, throw up, or have diarrhea when this occurs. 

Final thought

Chicken left out at room temperature for longer than two hours is unsafe to consume, whether it is raw or cooked. You run the risk of contracting food poisoning if you don’t discard it instead of eating it. 

Make the best decision possible and err on the side of caution if you’re unsure of how long your chicken has been left out. Remove it if you’re unsure!

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