No matter if you fry your chicken all nice and crispy or you like to bake it, lots of people love to eat chicken, so many times people make too much and end up asking how long is cooked chicken good for? There isn’t exactly one answer to that question, as there are several factors that must be taken into consideration.
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Way Chicken is Cooked Matters
One of the things that must be considered in answering how long is cooked chicken good is to notice how the chicken was cooked in the first place. For instance, if you cook chicken in some types of recipes, i.e., any recipe that uses tomatoes, it makes the food last less time even if you refrigerate because the tomatoes have a type of acid in them.
Plus, any chicken recipe that uses gravy or broth also lasts less time. Usually, it only stays good for a day or two in the refrigerator. And if you had a stuffed chicken, then you must remove the stuffing and store it outside of the chicken. The same with deli slices or rotisserie chicken, it too can only last a day or two in the fridge.
Plus, cooked chicken actually stays good longer than beef or pork as long as you follow safe handling practices and proper storage methods, along with the proper timeframe. It is vital not just to think the chicken could still be good to eat, as you don’t want to risk getting sick.
Refrigeration helps to preserve chicken longer
If you keep your cooked chicken out of the refrigerator, it won’t be safe to eat for very long. Generally, it must be put into the refrigerator within two hours of cooking it, or you risk getting food poisoning.
No matter what type of leftover chicken you have, a vital point that is required for any kind is that it be stored in an airtight container or wrapped up very snuggly with plastic wrap, freezer wrap or aluminum foil.
For most kinds of cooked chicken, such as individual pieces, you can keep it in the refrigerator for as long as four days. However, as stated earlier, this doesn’t apply to all kinds of leftover cooked chicken. It matters a lot how the chicken was cooked in the first place and what other ingredients were used.
Any time you expect to preserve chicken or other foods in a refrigerator, the temperature of the inside of the refrigerator has to be at or under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The refrigerator door needs to stay tightly shut as much as possible too to keep the inside at that temperature.
Frozen chicken lasts longer than refrigerated chicken
If you need to store your cooked chicken longer than what is possible in a refrigerator, you can make it last longer by placing it into the freezer. Theoretically, if you freeze cooked chicken, it is theoretically safe to eat forever, but in reality, its quality will go down in just a few weeks. Plus, you must ensure the freezer temperature stays at zero degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
To get the best results, you should freeze the leftover chicken as soon as you are finished cooking it. If you like, you can shred it up into tiny pieces and it will unthaw quicker when you need it again and could be used to make soup or stir fry, for instance. However, it can be frozen in other formats from whole cooked chickens to individual pieces, or soups, and some kinds of casseroles.
When it comes to using cooked frozen chicken safely, you should use any chicken that was made with gravy or broth within a timeframe of four to six months, and use chicken nuggets or patties within a timeframe of three months after being frozen. Whatever the case, all chicken must be put into freezer bags, or wrapped snuggly in foil.
NOTE: One kind of chicken that you shouldn’t freeze is a chicken salad made using mayonnaise.
How to unthaw frozen cooked chicken
Once you decide to use the frozen cooked chicken, you need to unthaw it safely. Never just leave it out of the freezer in the open at room temperature to unthaw it, as that will make it possible for bacteria to get into the chicken and that will make you sick.
The best method is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight as it usually only takes that long for it to unthaw. If you are in a hurry, you can put it into an ice bath of cold water for half an hour, make sure this is done using chicken that was frozen inside a freezer bag. You can unfreeze in a microwave, but sometimes that ruins the texture, or you can always cook it in a frozen state, but it will obviously take longer to cook that way.
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How to tell if your cooked chicken is spoiled
Although there are ways to keep your cooked chicken fresh and safe to eat as long as you follow the appropriate guidelines and precautions, there are times when it could still get spoiled. There are several kinds of bacteria that can infect the chicken if you are not careful, such as salmonella or listeria.
Here is how you can tell if your chicken is spoiled:
Chicken that has been contaminated with bacteria will show several physical changes. For one thing, the color will turn to a green-grey to grey. You could see some mold growing on it as well, and it likely doesn’t smell very good either. Plus, spoiled chicken is all slimy, and shiny and slippery and has a lot of extra moisture on it.
It isn’t always possible to tell chicken if a chicken is spoiled or not, so when in doubt throw it out! Never eat any chicken that you suspect could be spoiled! It can make you very sick or even get you in severe disease.
So, the bottom line is that there are ways to preserve your chicken so you can have it another day, so just follow the above suggestions and enjoy your chicken meals.
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