Is it safe to eat cooked chicken left out overnight

Is it Safe to Leave Cooked Chicken OUT overnight??

I had the most fantastic dinner recently where I made myself fried chicken and soup on the side. As I finished my meal, I noticed too many things stored in the refrigerator.

Since it is pretty cold where I live, I thought about whether I can leave the cooked chicken out overnight. Will the fried chicken and soup still be safe to eat when I leave them on the counter?

I had to know and I was not willing to risk it without doing research.

 How long will the cooked chicken last before it goes bad or will it go bad at all if I was not putting it in the fridge?

There are a lot of good containers with sealed covers where I can put the chicken in and get it stored or left on the counter.

However, I still was not confident if I leave it out before refrigerating it.

I know that cooked chicken does not go bad that quickly, especially if I have just cooked it and is still a bit warm.

Still, I was not that confident about leaving it out before refrigerating overnight.

That is why I also recommend you to read to the end of this article to see how long the cooked chicken lasts in different temperatures and how you can store it better, you will be surprised!

How Long Can I Leave Cooked Chicken Out At Room Temperature?

Like with my fried chicken and soup, you should never leave cooked food on the counter at room temperature for more than two hours.

By the 2-hour mark, the food can get contaminated depending on the surrounding temperature.

If the weather where you live is hot, then you should avoid leaving it out for more than 2 hours.

At the 2-hour mark, there is a chance of bacterial growth; hence, it is advised that you keep your cooked chicken in the refrigerator once you are done eating.

If you let the cooked chicken sit out overnight, then there is definitely going to be contamination and I would highly recommend NOT TO do this.

You cannot leave the cooked chicken to sit out overnight as it is going to spoil and there is a good chance that it has a foul smell in the morning.

Does cooked chicken go bad quickly?

Yes, depending on the temperature of the place where you live and the weather conditions, cooked chicken can go bad quickly especially in hot weather situations.

If it is winters, you can stretch it out to three hours of leaving it to sit out but I would rather not experiment with this and just put the chicken inside the fridge so I can eat it later.

how long can raw chicken stay outside?

When you buy raw chicken from the store, you can leave it on the counter for 2 hours and then put it in the refridgerator.

I usually salt the chicken and then freeze it if I plan on using it after a few days.

Usually, when I bring raw chicken home, I immediately put it in the fridge so I never had any issues with it.

You can keep it in the fridge or the freezer for about 2-3 days and even check the expiry date.

Once you want to cook frozen chicken, you can thaw it in the refrigerator especially in case of a full chicken. You can keep it in the fridge overnight and next day cook the chicken.

Do not freeze thawed raw chicken if it has been that way for more than 2 days. Within 2 days you can refreeze thawed raw chicken if handled with care.

If you are dealing with small chicken pieces then you can thaw it on the counter since it would not take more than 2-3 hours to thaw completely.

Can I thaw raw chicken overnight at room temperature?

I would not advise this at all. Like I said in the previous section thawing chicken overnight at room temperature can cause some bacterial growth on it so avoid it.

Thaw frozen chicken in the refrigerator overnight and then you can cook it the next day. This is the best way to thaw frozen chicken without having any consequences.

How To Tell If Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad?

Once you doubt and think that the cooked chicken is left out of the fridge for too long, then it probably is safe to throw the chicken outside and not eat it anymore.

If you are unsure if that chicken you are trying to thaw or warm up is still safe to eat, then it is best to test it by touching, smelling, and inspecting overall just to be safe.

There are many ways to make sure that the cooked chicken left out overnight or for a few hours in a container is still safe or not.

Just by looking at it, there are clear signs that indicate that the chicken has gone bad.

1. Visual Signs

Visually, the chicken should be safe to eat if the chicken or the skin’s surface does not have any gray spots or film over it.

Before it goes bad, the chicken would usually show visual signs.

The cooked chicken often shows these gray films and blue or white flecks on the parts where the skin is cracked or removed. 

These can develop quicker if the chicken is out of the fridge.

2. Smell

The second sign is the smell.

When it thaws or cooks, Raw chicken usually puts out a foul smell if they have gone bad, so it is pretty obvious that the chicken is unsafe if it smells.

You have to trust your nose as we have evolved to not eat food that has gone bad.

If you smell something off from the chicken that you let sit out for too long, throw it away.

3. Chicken texture

Lastly, you can touch the chicken to see if it is still safe to eat or not. 

After putting the chicken on the counter at room temperature, the first part that will go bad will be the skin of the chicken.

Touch the chicken and see if it is still good.

If you feel like the chicken has developed a wet or slimy surface, it is most likely that the chicken is bad and no longer safe to eat.

Even if the chicken is covered or sealed in a container, it can still develop these signs. 

They can be hard to detect or determine, so follow the set guidelines on leaving out food.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Chicken In The Fridge?

If you have left the chicken out overnight, it is best not to eat or even try to taste test it. 

Even if you covered it properly, bacteria can find their way into the food.

Unrefrigerated chicken or cooked food can develop this quickly. 

Reheating the chicken is a good way to ensure you do not get infected but there are still risks here.

If you have stored the cooked chicken in a sealed container and then placed it in the fridge, bacteria can still develop slower. 

That is why there is also a limit to how long you can store it.

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The same goes with raw chicken as it can only last a certain amount of time in the fridge. Unless you plan to eat the chicken in one go, do not let it out entirely.

What I mean by that is not to let a whole chicken dish out if you will not eat it in one batch. 

The other parts will be left to sit out the entire time and gather more bacteria.

If you leave the cooked chicken in the fridge, there is a chance that it can last for another day or up to 3 days.

What About In The Freezer?

Yes, you can leave a fully-cooked chicken in the freezer, and this is the best way to store the chicken to reduce food waste and for the chicken to last longer.

Your cooked meat will develop harmful bacteria at a much slower rate than in the fridge, there is even a chance that the development of bacteria will be halted in the freezer.

You just need to ensure that the chicken is wrapped or covered properly so it does not develop freezer burns by wrapping the chicken in foil or making sure the container is sealed.

How to store chicken in freezer

Reheating chicken with freezer burns is not that easy and will not salvage the food.  So, it is better to wrap it nicely.

This can also happen with raw or uncooked chicken and other cuts of meat. 

Never mix cooked and raw meat and keep it in the same compartment.

It is always better to make sure that you have a sealed container ready and get your leftover chicken stored properly to use it for your next meal or make other recipes with it.

How to Store Chicken Leftovers?

There should be some containers around that you can use for the leftover chicken to be stored. 

It is not safe to let the cooked chicken stay out for long.

Here, the idea is to make sure you consume the cooked chicken before it goes bad.

How to store chicken leftovers

The time can even be shorter if you leave in a warmer climate. 

If the room temperature in your area is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the chicken might only last an hour on the counter.

It only takes an hour before it goes bad since bacteria respond quicker at warmer temperatures. 

That means that the bacteria will spread faster and the chicken will not be safe to eat.

If you let the cooked chicken sit outside on the counter, even if it is in a container, you should not allow it to sit out for more than an hour before putting it in the refrigerator.

Here is the golden rule on how to store leftover cooked chicken-

1. Put your cooked leftover chicken in a zip lock bag or if you have an air tight container you can use it for larger amounts of leftover chicken.

2. Keep the chicken in the refrigerator for about 2-3 days till you can use the chicken and then you can move it to the freezer.

3. The chicken can easily last for about 4-6 months in the freezer, make sure you mark the date of the day you made it and consume it within a month.

Keeping the chicken longer will not affect the taste but the texture deteriorates the more longer you keep the chicken in the freezer.

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