Will reheating chicken kill bacteria?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Will reheating chicken kill bacteria?” and tell you how to ensure that reheated chicken is safe to eat. We will also tell you how to spot spoiled chicken.

Will reheating chicken kill bacteria?

Yes, reheating chicken kills bacteria but it will only kill live bacteria. Some bacteria produce heat-resistant spores and toxins that have no effect of heat on them.

For example E. coli causes infection on its own but its toxin, Shiga toxin, can also cause serious damage in the absence of E. coli. Another bacteria Clostridium Botulinum produces a toxin called botulinum which acts as a neurotoxin.

To ensure that the meat is safe to consume after reheating, it should be properly stored in the fridge and should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

The core temperature of chicken while reheating should be at least 75 degrees and it should be heated for a long time.

How to ensure that reheated chicken is safe to eat?

To ensure food safety, do not leave chicken out for more than 2 hours so that bacteria does not have a chance to grow. Once out of the fridge, do not let it sit for long and quickly reheat it.

If the chicken was frozen, thaw it properly by placing it in the refrigerator or or a cold bath. Do not thaw it in hot water or at room temperature. Freezing it only arrests the bacterial reproduction process, it does not kill it. So once you thaw it, bacteria get an opportunity to multiply again.

While reheating, keep the following points in mind:

  • The core temperature of the chicken should be 75 degrees C or higher. Measure it with a food thermometer.
  • Disinfect the thermometer before and after using it.
  • Ensure that the heat is distributed evenly throughout the meat.
  • If you do not have a food thermometer available, check the meat by looking at it. It should look like this:

Chicken: Chicken should be white and not pink in the middle. There should be no signs of blood or colored juices.

Beef: The meat should not be red in the middle. It could be slightly pink it it is medium rare but the meat juices should run clear

Seafood: Fish should turn white in color and it should be easy to debone it. Shell is cooked when the shell opens naturally on its own. 

  • Cooked or reheated food should be kept at 60 degrees C or higher to avoid the growth of bacteria. 

How can you tell if cooked chicken is spoiled?

You can tell if the cooked chicken is spoiled by looking at its texture, color, smell, or any mold growth. No matter which cooking technique you choose to cook the chicken, it will spoil in a few days. 

Cooked chicken is firm, opaque, and white from the inside. Spoiled cooked chicken on the other hand, may have a slimy or gooey texture. It may even feel softer on touch than it was when it was cooked. 

Spoiled chicken will almost always give off a very bad odor. You can smell it as soon as you open the container that it was stored in. This smell is a very apparent sign that the chicken has spoiled.

Cooked chicken is usually white on the inside and brown on the outside. Spoiled chicken may turn gray, or even greenish-blue in color. If you see a perfectly seared brown chicken on the outside, make cuts on it to see if the insides are white in color or not. 

One of the many reasons for color change may be the growth of mold. Mold growth on chicken is not uncommon because it is relatively wet with all the chicken juices. It is easily spotted and such cooked chicken should be thrown out. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the chicken should not be undercooked. It should be cut up in the middle to see if there are any pink areas. Properly cooked chicken is all white. Uncooked chicken can give you food poisoning and it may also spoil faster.

To learn more about reheating food, visit here.

Other FAQs about Chicken that you may be interested in.

How to boil ground chicken?

How to boil a frozen chicken breast?

How to boil chicken breast for dogs?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “Will reheating chicken kill bacteria?” and told you how to ensure that reheated chicken is safe to eat. We also told you how to spot spoiled chicken.



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