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Whether cooked slow, roasted, fried or grilled, we like to eat at a chicken dinner. This protein-rich ingredient is inexpensive, versatile and always satisfying. Best of all, you don’t have to possess a culinary degree to cook it (by contrast, smoked brisket or sous-vide duck confit). Yes, chicken is one of our favorite ingredients, which is why it appears regularly on our dinner plates … and then in our refrigerator the next day. And that’s the problem. Because we don’t get it wrong, we love the convenience of leftovers, just not necessarily the back-to-back food. So how long can cooked chicken remain in the fridge? Read further for the answer.

How long can cook chicken stay in the fridge?

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), cooked chicken will remain fresh for three to four days when stored in the fridge. This guideline applies to all cooked chicken, whether it is fully roasted, fried, fried in tomato sauce, made in your kitchen or taken home from a restaurant. In other words, as long as you stay within that three to four-day window, you can treat yourself to a steak dinner in full, before you re-eat the chicken you cooked two days earlier .

Of course, the three to four day rule only works if you have followed proper food safety measures for the first time. To ensure that your cooked chicken lives its best (and longest) life, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 ° F and then store leftovers in the fridge within two hours. Finally, according to FSIS, do not try to brown the meal tomorrow or partially cook the chicken and then refrigerate it later in hopes of finishing the job – this is a recipe for gastrointestinal disaster.

3 Your cooked bird’s symptoms have worsened

You have made crispy chicken tenders on Monday night and the rest are sitting in your fridge on Thursday. Do you play a trick when you still can or has your bird gone bad for three days? The possibility of food poisoning is enough to provoke anyone to make a decision. Luckily, you don’t need to, however, because the signs of spoiling cooked chicken are very difficult. To determine if your leftovers are still safe to eat, give your poultry a quick job and assess the following:

1. Color. Cooked chicken will appear brown or white when it first goes to the fridge. Once your poultry is in its prime past, however, it will begin to take on a sick gray or green appearance – and when you take a hard pass.
2. Smell. Take a round of your leftover chicken. If it does not smell the same as it did the day before, it is a sign of malfunction. If hen Actually Rotten it will smell offensively harsh, but trust your instincts, even if it is subtly off. The nose always knows, as they say.
3. Texture. Raw chicken should be thin. Cooked Chicken… not so much. If your pre-cooked piece of protein looks like it has a disgusting film on it, there’s a good chance your bird has seen it on better days (and you’ll see worse if you eat it).

How to freeze chicken

So what do you do when you can have more chicken in three to four days? Freeze it FSIS states that cooked chicken will stay for up to 4 months when stored in the freezer. It is better to move your leftover from the fridge to the freezer, though. (That is, do not choose the option of long-term storage for four days.) Here is the best way to freeze cooked chicken:

1. Flash freeze leftover. If your chicken food is still hot, you want to reduce the temperature as soon as possible, so that it does not remain in the ‘Danger Zone’. To do this, place the chicken pieces on a sheet pan and send them to the freezer until they have cooled for about an hour. (Note: Birds have to butterride in pieces before they are completely free.) Of course, you can skip this step completely leftover which has been completely cooled in the fridge for a day or two. .
2. Chicken Wrap. To avoid the freezer burn – the bummer that turns delicious food into something dry and tasteless – wrap your flash-frozen chicken piece with a tight layer of plastic.
3. Bag it. Once the chicken pieces are placed in plastic wrap, store them in a sealed freezer bag or an airtight plastic container for an extra layer of protection. Date the storage container (s) and send the chicken pieces to the back of the freezer, where they will be protected from temperature fluctuations.

Bottom line: Freezing chicken is an easy and simple way to avoid leftover waste (and bake the same chicken for four consecutive days). Just be sure to use the frozen fruits of your labor within four months.

related: 29 Chicken Recipes to Make for Dinner