How Long Can Chicken Sit Out?

Have you ever left the chicken out on the counter, answered a phone call, and then looked at the chicken, unsure if it was still safe to cook? Read on to learn how long can chicken sit out.

It doesn’t matter if the chicken is cooked or uncooked; it can be left out of the refrigerator for up to two hours. The safest duration is one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

No matter how the meat is prepared, the two-hour guideline always holds true. This means that the guideline applies regardless of whether you are thawing chicken at room temperature or if the meat is simply fresh and ready to cook.

How to Properly Store Chicken

To minimize the growth of hazardous bacteria and lower your chance of contracting food poisoning, store chicken in the refrigerator or freezer according to recommended guidelines.

Chicken should be kept in the refrigerator on a shelf at 40°F (4°C) or below for the optimum shelf life. Any kind of chicken should not be kept in the refrigerator door since it is more likely to experience temperature changes there.

Cooked and raw chicken should not be kept in the same storage space. To avoid cross-contamination, place uncooked chicken in the bottom of your refrigerator. The raw chicken liquid should not be spilled onto other objects in your refrigerator.

To ensure that the chicken doesn’t come into contact with other items, make sure to wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a sealed container.

After cooking, the chicken should be chilled within two hours. Give it time to cool. Next, to avoid contamination and moisture loss, place it into an airtight container or a plastic bag that can be sealed.

You can keep cooked chicken in the fridge for up to four days. Four days later, it might turn into a haven for dangerous microorganisms.


How to Know if the Chicken is Already Spoiled?

You can’t tell whether the chicken has gone bad unless it has taken a long time. Therefore, we believe it is safe to discard it if you are unsure of how long it has been placed aside.

If not, be aware that ruined meat (which has been out for nearly a day without refrigeration) will appear grey rather than pink. Additionally, it will smell bad, like ammonia, especially when cooking.

You may extend the shelf life of your chicken outside of the refrigerator in a few different ways. Even if you leave food sitting for more than two hours, you can still prevent spoiling by following these guidelines.

While it’s thawing at room temperature, put it inside an ice cube bowl. As long as you keep it warm, you can safely leave a cooked chicken out inside. At that point, you might want to spend money on food warmers.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

For cooked chicken, the same general guideline holds true as it does for raw chicken. It is not recommended to keep cooked chicken out at room temperature for longer than two hours.

Once again, the two-hour guideline is reduced to just one hour if the outside temperature is above 90°F (32°C), as it would be during a picnic or BBQ.

Any chicken that has been left out at room temperature for longer than two hours should not be consumed, raw or cooked. As a result, you should throw it away because doing so puts you at risk for food poisoning. 

Use your best judgment and err on the side of caution if you are unsure of how long your chicken has been left out. When in doubt, discard it.

What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Chicken?

Food illness can result from consuming rotten chicken. Depending on the kind of bacteria present and the quantity of contaminated food consumed, food poisoning symptoms might change.

Food poisoning can range in severity from minor symptoms to serious instances that need to be hospitalized. The following are a few typical indicators and symptoms of food poisoning:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Dehydration

Does Barbecue Sauce or a Marinade Help Preserve the Chicken?

Unfortunately, it makes no difference if the chicken has been marinated or slathered in sauces; bacteria proliferate quickly in the Danger Zone, which is defined as 40°F to 140°F. There is no way to stop the pathogen from contaminating the chicken.

It may occur to you that spotting indications of spoiling will indicate whether the cooked chicken is still safe to consume.

You cannot determine if cooked chicken is safe to eat based on its texture, taste, smell, or length of time it has been left out. You should still follow the two-hour rule and avoid tasting the chicken as this could lead to food illness.


Bottom Line

It’s evident that even while the chicken is a valued mainstay in many of our dishes, handling, and preservation of it require cautious consideration. Its safety for ingestion can be significantly impacted by how long it is left out of the refrigerator.

Always err on the side of caution is advised. After all, making sure our food is safe for consumption preserves both our health and the pleasure we derive from eating.

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