“How long does chicken last in the fridge?” Well, we're glad you asked. Consider this your official chicken cheat sheet because we're about to answer all your questions about storing it, using it, and keeping it fresh!
Oh, chicken. It's so delicious, it freezes well, and it's pretty dang affordable. But it can also cause even the most seasoned cooks to questions themselves. Raise your hand if you've ever uttered any of these phrases:
“Is this chicken still good?” “How long does chicken last in the fridge?” “How long does cooked chicken last?” “Can you freeze cooked chicken?” “How long does raw chicken last in the fridge?”
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We see those hands! Lucky for you, we're about to answer pretty much anything that you could ever want to know about chicken storage. You'll be a pro by the end of this. And PSA, these storage times work for your other favorite bird, too, so keep these in mind for turkey!
HOW LONG DOES RAW CHICKEN LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
You went to the grocery store on Monday, intending to cook a delicious chicken dinner on Tuesday, but life happened, and you had to go with a quick meal of leftovers instead. Now you're wondering, “how long does raw chicken last in the fridge?” to yourself. Is it still good to eat?
According to The USDA, raw chicken can only last in the refrigerator for one to two days before it either needs to be cooked or frozen. You need to check the “sell by” date on the package and make sure you're still within that range. If that time has passed, your best bet is to throw it in the trash and try to do better next time! We know it hurts to hear that, but better safe than sorry. Salmonella is no joke!
If you're in the clear, you either need to go ahead and cook the meat (to use within a few days or freeze), or you need to stick it in a freezer bag and freeze it until you're ready to use it. Don't worry; we'll go over those parameters in a few! If the chicken is frozen and thawing in the refrigerator, then the one to two-day timeline begins once the chicken is fully thawed.
HOW TO TELL IF RAW CHICKEN IS BAD
If your raw chicken has been in the fridge for two days and the date is still good on the package, then you just need to do a few more checks to know if it's good or not:
- Smell – Raw chicken should not smell bad, so if it does, toss it.
- Color – Raw chicken should have a pink tint. If you see gray, then bye, bye, bye. Run, don't walk to that trash can.
- Texture – Does that chicken feel extra slimy? That's a no-go.
Don't chance it, you guys! It's better to throw a few dollars in the trash than risk getting everyone in your family sick.
HOW LONG DOES COOKED CHICKEN LAST IN THE FRIDGE?
Okay, so your raw chicken was good, and you went ahead and cooked it. Go you! But you just remembered those dinner plans you made with the neighbors. Dang it. Now what? Luckily, the cooked chicken will last twice as long in the fridge as the raw chicken will. As long as you store it tightly sealed and use it within three to four days, then you won't have to worry about anything. Toss it in your favorite chicken recipe and enjoy!
HOW LONG DOES CHICKEN LAST IN THE FREEZER?
Luckily for us all, frozen chicken lasts a whole lot longer than one to two days! This why the freezer is such an essential tool to use in your kitchen. It helps your food last much longer, so you can save that money and shelf cook rather than running to the store every time you need fresh meat!
Not all chicken is created equal when it comes to freezer storage. Stick to these guidelines, and you'll be golden!
- Raw, Whole Chicken – 1 year… Yes, you read that right! A whole chicken can last in the freezer for a whole year. So don't feel bad about stocking up if you ever see them on sale! Just make sure that you have plenty of room in your freezer for them.
- Raw Chicken Pieces – 9 months. Just make sure that you freeze it the right way to prevent freezer burn. Use freezer-safe bags and get as much air out as possible!
- Cooked Chicken – 2 to 6 months. The key to making it last the whole six months is to freeze it the correct way.
- Chicken Nuggets or Patties – 1 to 3 months. Let's be honest, do chicken nuggets usually last that long in your house anyway?!
You can freeze so many different food items; chicken is just one of many! So instead of letting your meat, fruits, and veggies sit in your fridge and go to waste, pop them in the freezer.
KEEP A KITCHEN INVENTORY
One last piece of advice! It can be really confusing to keep up with all the food you have in your kitchen, especially in the freezer. If you're anything like us, then you keep that puppy stocked! Even if you label your freezer bags with what's in them and the date that you packaged them, it's hard to remember everything that's in there.
The best way to know exactly what you have is to write down everything that you have on a kitchen inventory sheet! Anytime you put something in your fridge, freezer or pantry, or take something out, mark it on your sheet. Then when you're working on your weekly meal plan, you'll know what is about to go bad and what you need to use first. No more wasting that food!
Alright, there you have it! We told you you'd be a chicken pro in no time, and now you are.
What's your favorite meal to make using chicken? Let us know in the comments! We're always looking for new shelf cooking-friendly recipes to try!
Want more chicken ideas?
- Love a good copycat recipe? This copycat Red Robin BBQ chicken wrap is sure to rock your world!
- Have an Instant Pot? Make shredded chicken in a snap!
- We love a good soup recipe, and this creamy chicken soup does not disappoint!
Bird's the word!