How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

Chicken is easily one of the most versatile foods in the world and can be seen in almost any food dish involving meat.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

From traditional Indian curries to American-style chicken burgers, the list is endless in possibilities for combinations of different ways to enjoy your food.

However, many people have stress about the amount of food they’re letting go to waste.

Chicken is good meat to have cold and can even be kept after cooking so you can use it at a later date.

Although, many people will debate over how long they can leave it to sit out before it goes bad. We’ve made a guide for you today so that you can know the answer without making yourself sick. 

What Are Popular Chicken Dishes?

As mentioned before, one of the best things about chicken is its versatility. You can eat it as a main meal or simply treat it as a snack by adding some salt, pepper, or lemon juice!

There are so many ways to prepare this meat that there is no end to what creative cooks can come up with. Here are just some of the popular dishes people love:

Asian Chicken Salad

This salad has been around since the beginning of time but remains a favorite among those who love Asian flavors.

The basic recipe calls for cutting the chicken into strips then mixing with mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, scallions, cilantro, and rice vinegar. Add crushed peanuts if you want to make it extra special.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

These delicious snacks are perfect when you need something simple to munch on between meals. Simply cut chicken filets into strips and coat them with seasoned flour then bake.

Chicken Fried Rice 

This Chinese classic was first introduced during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). What’s great about it is that it allows you to combine all kinds of vegetables and meats in one bowl.

It’s so tasty that it’s often served alongside other Chinese dishes such as General Tso’s Chicken.

Popular Ways To Cook Chicken


Broiling is usually used for cooking small cuts of meat and poultry. It’s also considered an excellent way to cook steak because it gives it a nice charred look.

Another benefit of broiling is that it seals in juices which keeps your food moist while keeping the taste fresh.


Cooking over direct heat is known as grilling. Typically done outdoors, grilling is very easy to do and requires only minimal preparation.

Grilled chicken is typically served hot off the grill with grilled veggies and a side of dressing.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?


Smoking is another method of cooking that takes place outside. When smoking, smoke from wood chips is blown onto the surface of the meat creating an intense flavor.

Smoked food tends to stay juicy and tender and can last for a day or two depending on the type of meat.


Roasting is similar to baking except roasting uses dry heat and ovens instead of steam. Roasted chicken is cooked until golden brown and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

The trick to getting the crispiest skin is always preheating the oven well ahead of time and turning down the temperature once the chicken is in the oven.

How Long Can Chicken Sit Out For?

When leaving recently cooked or leftover chicken out to sit, you may be doing it for a few reasons.

One of these reasons might be because you want to have the chicken another time or because you’ve simply made too much food. This is what you should do if you have chicken left to sit out after cooking.

  • Store it in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate it right away.
  •  Do not freeze it.
  •  Keep it covered and refrigerated.
  •  Use within 5 days maximum when refrigerated.
  •  Don’t let raw meat touch any of the cooked meat.
  • Make sure to wash hands frequently to avoid the spreading of germs.

How Long Can Raw Chicken Stay Fresh?

Raw chicken should be kept chilled and covered to prevent bacteria growth. While raw chicken does not contain harmful substances,

the risk of illness increases if the chicken is left uncovered. If you store raw chicken properly, it can remain safe for up to three days.

Can I Freeze Chicken?

While freezing doesn’t kill bacteria, it does change the texture of the meat. Freezing raw chicken will reduce its juiciness and make it less appetizing.

However, frozen cooked chicken is still safe to eat. Once it has been thawed, drain it thoroughly before reheating to ensure that no bacteria remain.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Chicken?

Eating bad chicken can be dangerous for your health, with lots of different illnesses and viruses that can be contracted. These can include:

  • Salmonella
  • E. coli
  • Listeria
  • Campylobacter

How Long Will Cooked Chicken Stay Good For In The Refrigerator?

Chicken stays good for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. After that point, it begins losing moisture and flavor.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

When this happens, the food can begin to dry out and become stale, which can cause a lot of health complications for anyone who ingests the meat.

At this point, you need to think about throwing it away to avoid any potential illnesses or parasites making an appearance.

How To Tell When Chicken Has Gone Bad

If there are visible signs of spoilage like mold, slime, or soft spots, throw it out immediately. These are extreme cases where chicken has gone past the point of

no return and needs expelling from your home to avoid the spreading of bacteria and germs to surfaces around the house and other food.

If you’re unsure how long the chicken will stay fresh, just check the expiration date on the packaging. This will give you a basic guideline around when you need to cook your chicken and when it’s safe to consume.

What Is Bacteria?

Bacteria are microscopic organisms that live everywhere. They are found in water, soil, air, animals, plants, and humans.

Some types of bacteria are helpful while others are harmful and even deadly. The types that you want to avoid when eating chicken can often come from spoiled meat or even not washing your hands before consuming.

Why Do We Need To Wash Our Hands?

The reason why we must wash our hands regularly is that they are one of the most common ways that bacteria spread. Your hands can pick up many things including dirt, dust, sweat, oils, dead skin cells, and more.

When you touch something dirty, you transfer those germs onto your hand. Then, when you touch something else, you can spread them to whatever surface you touched first.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Always wash your hands before cooking and after using the bathroom to prevent the spreading of germs and bacteria.

Always refrigerate leftover chicken and make sure that it is properly covered to keep it fresh. Always ensure that you keep cooked and raw meat separate, otherwise you risk cross-contamination of your foods.

Eating bad chicken is incredibly dangerous and can make you seriously ill, so make sure you stay safe when eating chicken.

You can tell if chicken has gone bad with the way it looks and if there are any growths on the food. The smell would also be a telling factor on whether the meat is okay to ingest or not.

However, because the risk is so high, if you have any doubts then it’s probably best to throw the chicken away.

John Rinder
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