Chicken tops the list of versatile food. You may wonder, is it possible to cook an entire chicken and have leftovers of a portioned chicken for other meals during the week? You may be a person who loves to cook chicken breasts only, or you are fond of thighs and drumsticks.
So, is it OK to eat cold chicken?
You can indeed eat cold chicken. To avoid any illness from bacterial growth, ensure it has been thoroughly cooked, properly cooled, and you eat it within 4 days of it being in the fridge.
In our guide, you can learn more about how to ensure cooked chicken is stored properly. By the end, you’ll know more about storing cooked chicken and if you can eat cold fried chicken or reheat chicken for snacks or meals. (Learn How Do You Know If Chicken Is Undercooked)
Can You Eat Cold Chicken?
- Without warming, chicken can be eaten cold. However, you must first make the following before eating it cold:
- The chicken was previously thoroughly cooked.
- It should not be kept out for more than two hours at room temperature or one hour if it is higher than 90°F.
- In a fridge or freezer, the chicken is properly maintained.
- Before it spoils, eat the cold chicken within a certain time frame.
It’s not only feasible but eating cold chicken has many advantages for your health. Batch-frying chicken and eating it cold later is convenient and time-saving if you are too busy to cook meals every day.
Additionally, chicken is a high-protein meat source that is excellent for clean eating. Your ability to grow muscle will benefit you by having cooked chicken, especially chicken breast, available in your fridge as a snack before or after working out.
Your meat will take up the seasonings more effectively if you keep the well-cooked chicken in the fridge. Knowing how long to marinate chicken will make the flavor of both hot and cold chicken.
Make Chicken Is Well-Cooked
Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and other dangerous bacteria, including Campylobacter, are frequently present in cold uncooked chicken. Your meat is tainted by these bacteria, which also cause food poisoning. So it’s crucial to ensure the chicken is properly cooked and store cooked chicken properly.
The United States Department of Agriculture advises cooking chicken until the whole bird, including the inside, reaches an internal temperature of 165°F to eradicate bacteria.
A food thermometer or meat thermometer should always be used. The chicken can eat cold cooked chicken later after it is fully cooked. (Read Green Fruit With The Longest Name)
Chicken Has Been At Room temp For 2 Hours
Do you think you could eat cold chicken if you unintentionally left cooked chicken out on the counter all night? The cold chicken taste and condition degrade more quickly the longer it is left at room temperature. And it is not safe to eat.
Keep in mind that the “danger zone” for food is defined as the range between 40°F and 140°F. In this region, dangerous bacteria, particularly harmful bacteria that cause foodborne disease, multiply quickly, so it isn’t safe to eat cold chicken.
Although infections contaminate the chicken, they typically have no impact on the food’s flavor, color, or texture. You, therefore, rarely notice that the chicken is not safe to eat, unlike other raw meats.
As a result, you should leave your fresh chicken out at room temperature or any raw meats for no longer than two hours. Even leftover cooked chicken should follow these rules. If it is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, such as when camping in the summer or driving in a hot car, you should limit it to only one hour.
How To Preserve Chicken Properly In A Fridge
Is it safe to eat cold chicken? is a question that is also dependent on how the chicken is preserved. Improper whole chicken storage can result in food poisoning and spoilage.
Here are some simple but safe tips for storing cooked chicken to protect the meat and increase its shelf life.
Keep The Meat In An Airtight Packaging Or Container
Before placing it in the fridge, you should securely wrap your leftover cold chicken in a freezer bag, airtight containers, plastic wrap, or vacuum packaging. A shallow airtight container is another excellent option. In addition to minimizing the formation of bacteria, this will increase the shelf life of chicken in the fridge.
You might want to write the type of chicken and the date you started preserving it on the container. That will serve as a prompt for you to eat the chicken before it spoils.
Never Put Your Cooked Meat Next To Raw One
Raw chicken contains hazardous bacteria. Don’t take a chance by placing the cooked and raw meat next to one another. Therefore, even eating chicken cold that sits near raw chicken can face contamination.
Keep The Chicken Refrigerated At 40℉ Or Less
Your meat is at risk if the temperature in your fridge is higher than 40°F. The cooked chicken is maintained in the “danger zone,” where harmful bacteria can develop swiftly. As a result, you must keep the temperature in your fridge below 40°F to keep your chicken out of that zone.
Can You Keep Cooked Chicken In A Freezer?
How would you handle freezing cooked chicken or fried chicken? Keep frozen chicken in the freezer rather than the fridge if you don’t intend to eat it for a while. Storing cooked food can keep it safe indefinitely, but the quality will deteriorate over time. (Learn How Long Does Egg Salad Last)
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Cooked chicken may be kept safe by properly freezing it.
- You should store your cooked chicken in the freezer the same way you do in the refrigerator.
- Make sure the meat has been properly cooked in advance.
- Before leaving the chicken for two hours at room temperature (or one hour if it is above 90°F), freeze it.
- Put the meat in a vacuum-sealed bag, airtight container, or another airtight bag. By writing the expiration date on the container, you can keep it.
- Distinguish between cooked and raw meat.
- Keep a temperature of 0°F or less.
- Wrap properly to avoid freezer burn.
You can learn a few more handy tips to freeze leftovers here.
How To Thaw Frozen Cooked Chicken
The primary question is how to thaw the chicken properly.
Never Thaw In Hot Water
Never thaw frozen food in hot water, as doing so can lead to the growth of dangerous bacteria in the chicken. Furthermore, you don’t want to eat chicken that is frozen inside yet warm outside.
Thaw In The Refrigerator
It is highly advised to defrost cooked chicken in the fridge.
In a perfect world, you would leave it in the freezer to the fridge and let it gradually thaw. The entire process of defrosting can take a day. After defrosting, the meat should be eaten within 48 hours.
Submerge In Cold Water
Another way is to submerge it in cold water but ensure it is still well sealed inside freezer bags. Every 30 minutes, change the water. The duration is based on the size of the meat. As soon as the meat has completely thawed, it should be consumed.
Use a microwave
It’s acceptable to defrost chicken meat in the microwave. The microwave is the final method that is advised for defrosting. The chicken must first have its wrappers removed before being placed on a platter that can be heated in a microwave.
Thaw the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes per pound on low heat. Touching the meat with your fingertips will reveal whether it has been fully thawed. But keep in mind to wait at least a minute for it to cool before you do. Only eat chicken cold once it has thawed properly or you have reheated your baked chicken to ensure there are no bacteria.
How To Know If Cold-Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad?
The cooked chicken can be kept for a specific period, not permanently, in the refrigerator or freezer for consumption later. Eating tainted chicken can make you sick or give you food poisoning. Therefore, even if you have properly frozen or refrigerated them, make sure to thoroughly inspect the meat before consuming.
Here are some signs that cooked chicken has gone spoiled.
- Unpleasant smell: The smell is one of the most blatant signs. Once the chicken smells bad, you must discard it without hesitation.
- Slimy texture: If the chicken appears slimy or fuzzy, you should throw it out right immediately.
- Unusual color: Freshly cooked chicken is typically white or brown in color. You can understand why there is a color difference if you are familiar with the differences between dark and white-meat chicken.
- Molds or spots: Make sure there are no molds or spots on your meat by carefully inspecting it. For they are signs of spoiled chicken.
- Stored for more than 4 days: There may be no apparent signs that the chicken is rotten. Even though it still appears edible after that much time, you should not eat it.
Is Fried Cold Chicken Different To Cooked cold chicken?
Can you eat cold fried chicken? The slightly firmer texture and temperature of cooked chicken set it apart from fried cold chicken. When cooked, chicken is supple, simple to chew, and quick to swallow. Fried chicken that has been chilled loses some consistency but keeps its texture.
Despite losing some liquid, the meat is still quite tender and easy to eat, which slightly lessens the suppleness. Unexpectedly, the warmth of your mouth helps you to rewarm the chicken, which explains why there is no temperature change when you swallow it.
Due to its chilly temperature, fried cold chicken nuggets may vary in consistency after being breaded. Whether breaded or not, the texture of the chicken skin may still have some crunch after you refrigerate your chicken nuggets. (Learn How Long Do Watermelons Last)
Precautions For Eating Cold Chicken
Bacterial growth and tainted meat, particularly in a whole chicken, are dangerous as they are with all cooked meats left to go cold. In rare circumstances, it might even be fatal to youngsters, the elderly, or pregnant women. To protect yourself and your loved ones, you can take several safety precautions.
Here are a few guidelines to remember:
- Cook chicken well before eating and to an internal temperature: of 165°F. Salmonella-killing temperatures exist, so never eat raw chicken.
- Let cooked chicken cool before refrigerating.
- Store cooked poultry in sealed containers. Ziplocs are safe. To ensure safe consumption, write the date the meat was cooked in the container/bag.
- Chicken should be eaten 3–4 days after cooking.
- To avoid cross-contamination, uncooked chicken goes on the bottom shelf of a refrigerator, and cooked chicken leftovers sit on the shelves above.
- Store raw chicken in the fridge’s bottom; as the chicken sits in this position, it helps avoid contamination.
Leftover Chicken Dinner Recipes
Make cooked chicken last with these quick ideas. Thanks to its versatility, you may prepare this old chicken in various inventive ways. It may be a side dish or a main course.
Who says you can’t occasionally indulge in some Mexican food? Make the most of your leftover chicken by combining a few ingredients to create a batch of mouthwatering, cheese- and sauce-filled enchiladas.
Cheesy Chicken dip
You can serve this delicious dip with crackers, chips, or vegetables by combining leftover chicken, cheese, and vegetables.
Do you enjoy sandwich spreads? Do you want some crackers and dipping dip? In that scenario, you can use the cold leftover chicken to make a creamy chicken salad!
Sauté some leftover chicken for a delicious stir-fry before dishing for a completely different flavor!