How Long Is Cooked Chicken Good For?

Chicken, whether grilled or cooked, is a fantastic way to add proteins to your diet. It is a staple meat in almost every household as it is healthy and a pack of proteins for the body.

Storing the chicken appropriately in the refrigerator or freezer makes it fresh for a long time, and leaving it on the counter causes contamination by the rapid growth of bacteria.

In this article, you will learn How to cook chicken properly. How long is cooked chicken good for? How to store cooked chicken?

Furthermore, I will explain the risks of eating spoiled chicken and the kinds of bacteria that can grow in cooked chicken. To learn more about cooked chicken, continue reading the article.

How to cook chicken properly?

Chicken is a classic dinner staple, and cooking it properly is essential because protein needs time to tender and moisten.

Flatten the pieces

First of all, flatten the chicken pieces to make them equal because they may be thick at one end and very thin on the other. 

Flattening of pieces ensures that they are cooked evenly and makes them moist and flavourful.

Add flavors and spices

You can add spices like salt, black pepper, garlic & ginger pastes, and herbs to make the food healthy and delicious. In addition, the cooking process will add more flavor to your meal.

Adding a bit of paprika is good as it gives the chicken a golden brown hue and a mild earthy taste.

Add butter

Adding butter in meals is optional though it’s an excellent idea to add a tablespoon after flipping the pieces. Buttering the chicken prevents it from drying out.

Check if it’s done

After adding spices and butter to the chicken, cook it for a few minutes until it turns golden brown and tender. Then, remove it from the pan and serve it with sauces. 

How long is cooked chicken good for?

You can keep cooked chicken for 3-4 days approximately, despite the type you use for cooking because bacteria rapidly grow in it after a particular time. 

Remember that raw chicken can be stored in the fridge for six months or more, while a whole chicken can easily be stored for a year.

How long does cooked chicken last in the freezer?

Freezing the foods in the freezer is tricky because sometimes, even after freezing, you won’t have the same taste and aroma as the freshly cooked one.

For instance, cooked chicken can last up to four months in the freezer; however, if you want good quality, eat it within the first two days. 

Freezing lowers the growth rate of microorganisms and preserves the nutrition, aroma, and flavour of food for so long.

How to store cooked chicken in the freezer?

To prevent the cooked chicken from freezer burn or spoilage and to store it accurately, all you have to do is;

1: Cook the chicken properly 

2: Take an airtight resealable freezing bag.

3: Put the chicken inside it 

4: Label the date on the freezer bag

5: Place the resealable bag on a baking sheet inside the freezer.

You can also use aluminum foils to cover the food because it is reliable to prevent the food from freezer burns and keep its flavor & smell intact for as long as possible.

How to tell if the chicken has gone bad?

Fortunately, it’s super easy for us to tell if the chicken in the fridge has gone bad or not and whether we should consume it or not. Being stuck to the 4 days rule, it is pretty obvious for us to say that it’s unsafe to eat chicken on the 5th day.

Eating spoiled chicken means “ Having a one-way ticket to diarrhea and vomiting”. Sounds scary?? Yeah, of course, it is. Nobody wants to spend a whole working day in the hospital or the toilet.

So, here are a few easy ways to tell if the chicken has gone bad or not;

Change in color

Changing the color is the best way to indicate whether the chicken has gone bad. Whether the chicken is cooked or raw, it becomes green/greyish when it has gone bad.

The greenish color indicates molds and rapid bacterial growth, which is harmful to the human body.


Sense of smell works when you test the chicken because bad chicken starts to smell acidic, more like ammonia, whether raw or cooked.

Although this aroma is difficult to notice when the chicken is marinated with different sauces, herbs as well as species.


The texture of bad chicken turns slimy rather than being moist. Rinsing the chicken properly with freshwater won’t change it. Rather doing so can spread bacteria to other kitchen utensils and counters, causing cross-contamination.

Best by date

Chicken, whether cooked or raw, if passed its best date, is more likely to go bad and may have contaminants that may prove fatal.

How to prevent the chicken from going bad?

To prevent the chicken from going bad, you can take the following steps, which are pretty helpful.

Keep in a sealed container.

Keep the chicken inside sealed containers to ensure that no pathogen can attack the meat inside it. 

Keep cooked meat separate.

While arranging the container of raw chicken and leftovers, try to keep them separate because raw meat contains active bacteria.

These bacteria can contaminate leftovers and cause various health problems when you ingest them.

Refrigerate chicken in time

To keep the chicken safe, put it inside the freezer as soon as possible since, at room temperature, bacteria can grow and contaminate rapidly.

What are the risks of eating spoiled chicken?

Eating spoiled chicken causes food poisoning because it may be contaminated with bacteria like salmonella and campylobacter.

These bacteria can cause serious health problems like high fever, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, dehydration, and bloody stools. Unfortunately, severe conditions need hospitalization and even cause death.

Hence it is necessary to discard the spoiled chicken and not eat it.

What kind of bacteria can grow in cooked chicken?

When the chicken is kept for more than four days, several kinds of bacteria contaminate it and release toxins in it.

Salmonella enteritidis

This type of bacteria more likely shows symptoms after 17-24 hours of ingestion. This type causes severe diarrhea, headaches, and fever.

If you have strong immunity, you will recover in 4 to 7 days though it is worse for people with weak immune systems.

Staphylococcus aureus 

Staphylococcus aureus is a prevalent bacteria in the environment. When you leave the cooked chicken at room temperature for a long time, these bacteria breed rapidly.

These toxins cause vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea, which leads to loss of minerals and nutrients from the body. Symptoms can be felt within the first 7 hours after consumption.

Campylobacter jejuni

This type of bacteria is present in chicken not cooked correctly and causes food poisoning.

It causes serious diarrhea, severe cramps in the abdomen, and fever. Symptoms can be felt after four days of eating contaminated chicken.

Does reheating cause the bacteria to die?

Yes, they are reheating, which causes the bacteria to die, although this happens only to the bacteria present on the first layer.

If you keep the chicken for four days, bacteria will begin to grow, start decomposition, and toxins are released into the food, leading to poisoning. This poisoning can be fatal if it is not cured properly.

Frequently Asked Question

What side dishes can you serve with cooked chicken?

The side dishes you can serve with cooked chicken are as follows;

  • Creamy mashed potatoes
  • Honey roasted carrots
  • Potato salad
  • Garlic green beans
  • Quinoa spinach salad
  • Air fryer asparagus
  • Macaroni salad

What to do if you have any leftovers?

If you have a lot of leftovers and plan to eat them after four days, keep them in the freezer because it can preserve the chicken for almost four months.

Remember, it’s not safe to refreeze the chicken once you thaw because it can aggravate bacterial growth. 

Remove the chicken only when you are ready to eat it. Before eating, thaw the leftovers entirely in the fridge, then reheat them on the stove or using a microwave oven

What happens if you eat an overstayed chicken? 

Consuming overstayed chicken means having food-borne diseases like vomiting and diarrhea, which may be fatal. 

You should keep in mind probably after four days, the chicken has full-grown bacteria, which start decomposition. 

No matter how good the chicken smells or how good it tastes, if it is frozen for more than four days, it’s not safe to eat as it has lost its nutritional value.

Bottom line 

 The above article mentions that raw chicken is good for two days and cooked chicken for approximately four days.

You can detect whether the chicken is good or bad by its smell, color, texture, and taste. You can also check the best by the date mentioned on the container.

Moreover, I have explained the precautions that you can take to preserve cooked chicken and information about bacteria that contaminate cooked chicken. 

About Carissa Taylor

Carissa is the founder and creator of the Gliving. With an emphasis on healthy eating and living, Carissa's recipes and food photography have been featured in various publications including the Food Network Blog, Huffington Post, TODAY Food, and more.