How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out – Unveil The Fact!

What are your intentions for your kitchen today? For a lot of us, the common reply to this query usually mentions chicken. You like it, your children like it, and with hundreds of recipes shared online, it is quite easy to buy-or whip up on a hectic weekday.

Occasionally, you are so occupied that you accidentally forget to leave the cooked chicken out for longer than it should. When you found that, it was quite late. 

Yet, now is almost the right time to have dinner, so you are asking yourself how long can cooked chicken sit out? Did you inadvertently ruin tonight’s meals, or could it be remedied? Dive in with us to get a thoughtful answer. 

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out

In general, we should not keep the cooked chicken out (at room temperature) longer than two hours. 

The key two-hour principle is a general rule and doesn’t apply to all cases. If the expected temperature is over 32°C (roughly 90°F), the food shouldn’t be sat out longer than sixty minutes. 

After this period, bacteria could arise in the poultry and raise the potential risk of food poisoning. Suppose you are not certain about how many hours your chicken has been left out; it would be helpful to throw them away.

Note: Remember that these recommended time frames are just for reference, and there are still some situations where the meat might not be safe to be served even when it was left out for less than 2 hours. For instance, suppose this poultry was sitting out overnight; you should really not eat it regardless of how long you heat it up. 

Similarly, it would help if you considered keeping the chicken that has been cooking with a low or slow cooker for some hours. In these circumstances, it will be helpful to be careful.

Source: pexels

How Long Can Frozen Chicken Sit Out?

According to most food specialists, the ideal time for letting frozen chicken out is approximately two hours. Yet, the rule isn’t applied to any circumstances. 

How Long Can Frozen Chicken Sit Out At Room Temperature 

According to most food experts, the frozen chicken should be left out for a maximum of 120 minutes at room temperature.

The USDA, which stands for The United States Department of Agriculture, confirms that it isn’t a good idea to allow the frozen chicken to rest out longer than 120 minutes at room temperature. Nevertheless, this appears to be a puritanic rule since, in most circumstances, the frozen poultry would be fine when rested for approximately six hours.

With those things shared, yet, there exists a certain reason why the USDA does not suggest you let the meat sit out longer than 120 minutes. If you still want to enjoy it safely, follow their recommendations. 

How Long Can Frozen Chicken Sit Out To Defrost? 

Ideally, roughly two hours is needed to thaw frozen chicken. 

If you intend to defrost a frozen chicken by leaving it to rest, you ought to let it stay there for roughly two hours. In fact, the USDA shares that leaving the chicken out so long might accelerate bacterial growth, which makes your meat get bad more quickly. 

If the chicken still has not defrosted after two hours, you should perhaps consider placing it back into the refrigerator. 

How Do I Know If The Cooked Chicken Has Got Spoiled? 

Unfortunately, spoiled chicken might occasionally look the same as uncontaminated flesh. Following the key two-hour secret is a great practice, yet only in the circumstances do you inadvertently let the food sit out. Here is how you might confirm whether the cooked chicken went bad or not. 

How Do I Know If The Cooked Chicken Has Got Spoiled
Source: pexels

By Sight

Initially, if your cooked chicken has been bad, it would often manifest discoloration symptoms. The meat of this chicken might turn blue, gray, or even green in color. In case you find any of those colors on the flesh of the chicken, it would be wise to waste it. 

Next, inspect for any signals of mold slime. Suppose you notice some mold on your cooked chicken; throwing it away will be a good idea. 

By Smell

Another way to show whether the cooked chicken has been spoiled is by inspecting the smell. To confirm the bad situation, you will not feel hard to catch an ammonia-like, sour smell. Once the bad odor comes to the flesh, you must consider putting this meat in the trash bin. 

By Taste

If you are unsure whether the cooked chicken is not good, you might attempt to taste it. The spoiled flesh will often have an unpleasant, bad, and sour taste. Suppose the food tastes off; discarding it should be considered. 

By Touch

The last method we would like to mention is by touch. Suppose you’re uncertain about how bad your cooked chicken has been via smell or color; you might also test the texture. 

It might become worse if the flesh is rubbery or hard to touch. Additionally, it has likely spoiled if the flesh feels slimy or sticky. 

Does It Matter If The Chicken Is Covered Or Uncovered? 

Consideration should also be given to the issue of the cooked poultry uncovered or covered. 

Many homemakers suppose that the flesh of a cooked chicken is completely safe to be served if it is fully wrapped. However, this opinion is rather off-key.

Letting the cooked chicken sit out longer than two hours isn’t safe anymore, whether the flesh is covered or not. There might be enough germs or bacteria to make you catch food poisoning.

Does It Matter If The Chicken Is Covered Or Uncovered
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Why Is It Dangerous to Keep Chicken At Room Temperature? 

Catching the knowledge of how long the flesh of cooked chicken might stay out (at room temperature) is vital, as permitting the meat to not stick to the two-hour rule might be dangerous. 

Leave your food to stay longer than 2 hours at a standard room temperature. Otherwise, if you allow it to sit out less than two hours, though, at over 32.2°C (90°F) or warmer, it is around one or a half hours. 

Both above conditions might be a basic factor in allowing bacteria or germs to grow and get into your food. Then the food is contaminated, which might trigger various serious consequences. 

Can I Get Food Poisoning From Eating the Cooked Chicken? 

Yes, definitely you can get food poisoning from enjoying your cooking chicken which has gone bad. 

Eating the normal cooked chicken, of course, will not make your tummy very uncomfortable or get food poisoning. Still, if you lose track of time and let your cooked chicken sit out for roughly an extended period of time, you might catch food poisoning if you keep insisting on eating it. 

This explains why nobody lends countenance to try spoiled chicken, or the flesh is prone to go bad. 

How Long After Enjoying Bad Chicken Will You Get Sick? 

The compact answer to the query is to depend on each different habitus.  

In the case you inadvertently eat cooked chicken that has a touch of being bad, it is useful to be clear when you might expect to feel sick. 

Suppose you have eaten badly cooked chicken; signs of food poisoning might occur two or one day after, or even some week later. Some symptoms might come just after half of a day in some situations, which can be listed as vomiting, nausea, or sickness within hours. 

What is a Safe Temperature Zone For Cooked Chicken? 

In order to know when your chicken is completely cooked, you would like to need your instant-read thermometer, then confirm whether the internal heat of the chicken has gotten 60°C (165°F) or not. 

Once its juices break out clear on the chicken’s skin and the internal heat of the chicken reaches 60°C (165°F), the chicken is indeed cooked and at the right time to be served. 

A proper temperature to save cooked chicken is to put it in the fridge at 4.4°C ( 40°F) or less. In addition, you should not keep it for more than three or four days, even in a fridge. 

The cooked chicken might be stored for three or four months if it is kept in a plastic freezer bag or an air-tight container/ plastic box, then stored at -17.78°C (0°F) or less.

How Long Might Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge? 

The brief answer to this query is that you can keep your cooked chicken in a refrigerator for four days. 

As already stated, cooked chicken might stay in a refrigerator for up to four days. Nevertheless, enjoying it within one or two days would be best to reach the best flavor and quality. The taste of the cooked chicken would begin to subside after that moment. 

There is a wise tip to keep your cooked chicken longer than expected. In particular, when saving the chicken in a refrigerator, make sure to use plastic wrap to cover the chicken tightly or put it in an airtight box or container. This would help prolong the freshness of chicken and make it free from germs or bacteria. 

Keep in mind that it is also vital to be sure that your cooked chicken is fully cool before putting it in a refrigerator. In the event that your chicken is still hot or warm, it will increase the risk of contaminated chicken due to the growth of bacteria.  

How Long Might Cooked Chicken Last In The Fridge
Source: pexels

What Are Key Factors Impacting On How Long May Cooked Chicken Sit Out? 

There are some elements that might impact how long cooked chicken can stay out before the meat goes bad. Those elements consist of the kind of chicken, cooking method, the room temperature, and the cover of the chicken. 

All of these elements might affect how fresh the chicken is and need to be reckoned with when you intend to determine how long the cooked chicken might last. Let’s dig into each of those elements: 

Kind Of A Chicken

The sort of chicken you have can impact the time that chicken can last. White meat chicken (like breasts) will spoil slower than dark meat chicken (like legs and thighs). 

An entire chicken will spoil slower than a chicken that has been made a series of small cuts or ground. These consequences stem from more surface area being exposed, and it means that bacteria have more area to grow and expand quickly. 

Cooking method

The method in which the meat is dressed and delicately prepared might impact its shelf-life. Using a way that entails high heat (like roasting, grilling, or frying) to cook chicken will go bad faster than utilizing a low-heat way (like boiling or baking). 

It may seem backward to share this fact. However, this fact stems from the high temperature that can kill bacteria or germs; it also forms conducive conditions for bacteria’s growth.

The Room Temperature

The third factor is the room temperature at which you let your cooked chicken out. If this room is cold, your chicken can be kept longer. 

In contrast, your chicken will be bad more quickly if the temperature of the room is warm. This is due to the high heat pushing the growth and expansion of bacteria faster. 

The Cover Of The Chicken

The last element you need to care about in this list is if your cooked chicken is wrapped or not. In case the meat is not covered properly, it would dry out, then go bad more quickly than in case it’s fully covered.   

What are Tips For Keeping Cooked Chicken Effectively? 

There are four key tips to store-cooked chicken wisely. Below we will pass through four of the most common and easy ways. In addition, we share some practical tricks to prevent bacteria from your cooked poultry. 

Let Cool

When the chicken is completely cooked, then you intend to either store the meat or save it to eat later; first, let your cooked chicken get fully cool to the standard room temperature. 

Make sure that you don’t let it sit out at room temperature for longer than 120 minutes, yet you also need to let it rest completely before putting it into a freezer or fridge.

The root you need to permit the chicken to cool off is that the high heat from the chicken can cause the internal temperature inside the refrigerator to rise. The situation might trigger some harm to other foods which were stored there before. 

Once your cooked chicken has cooled off to room temperature in less than 120 minutes, move it into a storage box/ container, then store it. 

Seal To Store

Before keeping the cooked chicken and prolonging its shelf life, sealing it is a good idea. You can get this way by using sealable plastic bags, airtight storage boxes/ containers, or a vacuum to seal it. 


When the cooked meat has been zipped, don’t forget to label and write a date on your boxes, then let it stay in the fridge for around three or four days. It would be best to serve the food as soon as possible when kept at 4.4°C ( 40°F ) or less for three or four days. 


You might consider storing the cooked meat in a freezer for the next resort for longer. To keep the meat longer, put it into a freezer at 4.4°C ( 40°F) or less. You can save your cooked chicken for up to three or four months at this temperature. 

Other Tips

Besides, there are several other tips you can save to keep the meat effectively.

  • If you intend to freeze the cooked chicken, make sure to cover it tightly, which doesn’t allow air to get in.
  • Ensure that the meat will not touch other food, which keeps it from any risk of contamination
  • Cooked chicken and raw chicken should be kept in different plastic boxes/ containers to prevent the risk of cross-contamination

It would be best never to store both in the same tray in a refrigerator since raw chicken includes more bacteria/ germs than the other. Utilize separate utensils and cutting boards for cooked and raw chicken. 

Source: pexels
Source: pexels

FAQs About How Long Can Chicken Sit Out

How Long Could I Store Cooked Chicken? 

There is a prevalent mistaken view that using a covered container to save cooked chicken will keep the meat from air-borne illnesses. The opinion is completely wrong as the key point is the chicken itself, where the bacteria/ germ grows.

Another common misconception is that the cooked meat is sheltered with sauce (barbecue one or any) – which keeps it from being spoiled. Sorry, love! Regardless of the sauce’s taste, it does not prevent your food from going bad. 

The safest location for the cooked meat is in a freezer or fridge. If you have plenty of leftovers or have dish-prepared the meat meal for a week, you might safely store your chicken in a fridge for four or three days. In addition, you can maximize this amount of time, at least three months to four months, by saving it in a freezer.

Do Frozen Chickens Require Being Refrigerated? 

Though a lot of homemakers defrost frozen chicken by dropping it into warm/ hot water or placing it on a kitchen board, it indeed ought to be done by letting the meat into a fridge. 

Even though the frozen meat does not require refrigeration, placing it in the refrigerator might be a good option while defrosting it. 

How Long Could Sealed Cooked Chicken Leave Out? 

In case the air temperature is over 4.4°C (40°F), and under 32.2°C ( 90°F), the cooked meat in a sealed bag/ container might rest for 120 minutes. Nevertheless, the meat will just last around sixty minutes or less if the temperature is 32.2°C (90°) or warmer. 

In case you keep your chicken in a vacuum-sealed package, freezer-safe plastic box, or sealed in a freezer, it can rest there safe to defrost and be served after up to twelve months, for an entire chicken, or up to nine months, in pieces. 

Does Wrapping Your Chicken Up Work If You Couldn’t Let It In The Refrigerator Fast Enough? 

The possible answer is that covering can work to last the cooked chicken’s life if you could not let it in a fridge fast enough. 

Wrapping or covering will be practical in lessening incidental contamination. But silver foil or fully covered will not also prevent your cooked chicken from going bad. In temperatures over 70F, a number of potentially pathogenic organisms might grow on the covered chicken very well. The longer the chicken sits out, and the greater the temperature, the higher the risk. 

Does Wrapping Your Chicken Up Work If You Couldn't Let It In The Refrigerator Fast Enough
Source: pexels

Can Re-heating Cooked Chicken Reduce The Bacteria? 

Yes, reheating cooked chicken can reduce the bacteria, yet it is not fully warranted.

Rewarming cooked chicken up might kill and prevent some food-borne bacteria. However, it can not kill or reduce all the bacteria and toxins that develop in food if you leave the chicken for the desired period. We suggest you throw away any meat containing some food-borne bacteria risk. 

To Round Up 

To these last lines, we have accompanied together to tackle most issues associated with today’s key topic: how long can cooked chicken sit out? From now on, you can use poultry wisely when you clearly understand the meat knowledge.

By and large, the compact answer for this query is that you should not let the cooked chicken out on your counter longer than two hours at room temperature. 

Sharing is caring. So don’t skip saving this content to save others. This means you also protect your health and your beloved ones by using foods effectively.

Thank you, and see you!

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