How long can chicken be out of the fridge?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How long can chicken be out of the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of raw chicken at room temperature. Moreover, we are going to discuss the proper way of handling and storing chicken.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long can chicken be out of the fridge?

Raw chicken lasts for about 2 hours when kept at room temperature. 

You should discard the chicken that has been left in the open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the chicken being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard chicken that is left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

The same holds true in the case of cooked chicken which also lasts for about 2 hours when kept out of the fridge.

Shelf life of a chicken in the fridge

Raw chicken lasts for about 1-2 days if stored at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge according to the standards set by the USDA. 

Moreover, as chicken is a highly perishable commodity therefore care should be taken while handling, storing, and cooking it.

Shelf life of a chicken in the freezer

Raw whole chicken, if kept wrapped in aluminum foil in an air-tight container or air-tight plastic freezer bag, can last for about a year in the freezer.

On the other hand, chicken pieces last for about 9 months if stored properly in the freezer. Last but not least ground chicken lasts for about 4-6 months if stored properly in the freezer. 

Thus keeping the chicken in the freezer will increase its shelf life considerably owing to the cool temperature of the freezer that halts the bacterial growth on the chicken.

Frozen chicken if thawed in the refrigerator can stay there for 3-4 days before reheating and consuming it.

But if you thaw your chicken in a bowl of cold water or the microwave, it is advised to consume it immediately after heating them till its internal temperature rises to 165 °F.

It is worth mentioning that the figures mentioned above are the estimated shelf life of a chicken.

Other FAQs about Chicken which you may be interested in.

How long can a rotisserie chicken sit out?

Tips to properly handle and store chicken

  1. The chicken should be washed thoroughly before storing it in an air-tight container or bag in the fridge.
  1. You should always wash your hands thoroughly before handling the chicken. Moreover, all the counters should also be washed and cleaned properly.
  1. Uncooked chicken should never come in contact with other fruits and vegetables as the bacteria can be present on the surface of the meat and if such meat comes in contact with other food items it can cause cross-contamination.
  1. Cook all poultry to 165°F, it is only if you cook the chicken thoroughly that you can get rid of bacteria that might have found their way to your chicken.
  1. You should always store your chicken at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore it is always advised to store your chicken at a lower temperature to preserve their freshness for a long time.
  1. It is a good practice to store the chicken on the shelf of the fridge rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge.
  1. It is best practice to store the raw chicken on the lowest shelf of the fridge to eliminate any chances of its dripping on any other food item.
  1. You can further prolong the shelf life of the chicken by wrapping it in the heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic freezer bag and storing it in the freezer.
  1. You can also opt for vacuum sealing at home that can prolong the shelf life of a chicken. It involves the process of putting the chicken in a plastic zipper bag, removing air from it, and almost sealing the bag with a little space left while lowering it into water. Afterward, press out the bubbles from the bag starting from the bottom of the bag and once you reach the sealed end, you should press the seal closed. A vacuum sealer pump can also be used for this purpose.
  1. You should let the frozen chicken thaw in the fridge overnight. In case you are in a hurry, you can also defrost chicken in the microwave or a bowl of cold water but chicken thawed in such a way should be cooked immediately.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How long can chicken be out of the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of raw chicken at room temperature. Moreover, we discussed the proper way of handling and storing chicken.

Citations

https://www.stilltasty.com/questions/how-long-can-raw-chicken-be-left-out-of-the-fridge#:~:text=If%20chicken%20has%20been%20left,eat%20and%20should%20be%20discarded.

https://www.stilltasty.com/questions/index/211

https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/cold-food-storage-charts

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/16788

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.