How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay In The Fridge? (Find Out Now!)
While in the middle of preparing dinner, you suddenly had to step out to handle an emergency at work. Because of that, you had to leave some raw chicken inside the refrigerator. After getting home, you’re left wondering if you can still cook the thawed chicken.
Eating anything spoiled is never a good idea. So, is your chicken now spoiled, can you can still cook and consume it safely?
As long as it was in the refrigerator, chicken remains safe to cook even hours after it was thawed. To be more specific, thawed chicken stored in the refrigerator is safe to eat for up to two days. If the chicken was hanging out in your refrigerator longer than that, consider throwing it away.
Food safety should always be your foremost concern whenever you handle something delicate like chicken. Pick up more tips regarding handling chicken for cooking and other relevant topics in this article.
If you would like to learn more about ham refrigeration and storage, check out How Long Can You Keep Ham On The Bone In The Fridge?
How Long Can Thawed Chicken Be Stored in the Refrigerator?
Home and professional cooks alike tend to handle chicken with more caution than they do other kinds of meat. That’s perfectly understandable given how delicate chicken can be and how dangerous it is when not handled properly. Spoiled chicken is just about the last thing many people want to see on their plate.
Some people can go overboard with how careful they are around chicken though. They are cautious to the point where they may refuse to use chicken that’s been in the refrigerator for a while.
Once again, the concerns are understandable, but wasting food is not good either. To resolve this issue, we need to determine how long chicken can remain safe for consumption. More specifically, we have to find out how much time you have to use the chicken thawing in your refrigerator.
It may come as a surprise to some, but chicken thawing in the refrigerator can actually last for a long time. According to the USDA, poultry kept in the fridge remains safe to eat even one to two days after thawing.
If you’re worried about leaving the chicken in your refrigerator for a few hours, you don’t need to be. You can get back to it later, cook it, and eat it with no issues.
How Do You Thaw Chicken Safely?
There are different ways to thaw chicken safely. Choose the method that makes the most sense for your intended application.
Thaw the Chicken in the Refrigerator
This is probably the safest and easiest way to thaw any piece of chicken or even the whole bird. Simply get the chicken from the freezer and set it down inside the refrigerator. Allow it to hang out there and it should thaw with no problem.
The only real downside to using a refrigerator for thawing is that it takes time. Even chicken that has been broken down into smaller parts can take nearly a full day to thaw. If the chicken is still whole, you may need more time than that.
It’s a good idea to start thawing the chicken the day before. At the very least, set it in the refrigerator before you go to bed so the thawing process can get started.
Thaw the Chicken Using the Microwave
In contrast to using the refrigerator for thawing, going with the microwave method speeds the process up considerably. Pop the chicken in the microwave to warm up and it should be ready to cook immediately after.
The main issue with using the microwave for thawing is that you have to use the chicken right away. If you don’t cook the chicken right after thawing, bacteria may start to get to it.
Thawing with the microwave can also lead to overcooked chicken. Some parts of the chicken may warm up more than others. Cooking the chicken further could lead to those parts drying out.
Thaw the Chicken Using Cold Water
The last method for thawing chicken involves using cold water. Grab a big bowl and a vacuum seal bag. Place the chicken in the bag and seal it up tightly.
Put the bag in the bowl next and start to cover it with cold tap water. Try to submerge the bag fully if possible.
Thawing the chicken this way is also faster than relying on the refrigerator. The chicken may be completely thawed after an hour or so. Just remember to change the water after every half hour to keep the chicken nice and cold.
Can You Place Thawed Chicken Back in the Refrigerator?
Perhaps there was a change of plans after you first started thawing the chicken. Since you’re short on time and feeling tired, you’ve decided to just order food instead of cooking.
What should you do with the chicken then? Can you put it back in the freezer?
Whether or not you can put the chicken back in the freezer will depend on how you thawed it. If you opted to let the chicken thaw in the fridge, then refreezing should be fine. Put the chicken back in a container and place it in the freezer for next time.
Now, if you thawed the chicken via the microwave or cold water methods, you cannot refreeze it immediately. You will have to cook the chicken completely before you can put it back in the freezer.
Exposing the chicken to warm temperatures without cooking it thoroughly is risky. The only way to ensure the chicken will remain safe to eat at that point is to finish the cooking process.
Is Thawing the Chicken Required?
Do you need to thaw the chicken before cooking it? Technically, no, thawing the chicken is not really a must before cooking it. Thawing before cooking is beneficial for a few reasons though.
First off, thawing makes it easier to cook the chicken. Some parts of the chicken may be more frozen than others. The cooking of your chicken may not turn out even if you go directly from the freezer to the fryer.
The other issue is cooking time. Cooking frozen chicken takes way more time. Expect to spend about 50 percent more time cooking frozen chicken compared to how much time the thawed chicken will need.
How Can You Tell if the Chicken Is Still Safe to Eat?
You may have left the chicken thawing a bit longer than recommended. Now, you’re unsure if you can still eat it safely. Find out if the chicken is still safe to eat by checking out the things mentioned below.
The Color of the Chicken
The color of the chicken will let you know if it has gone bad or if it can still be eaten. Raw chicken should feature a light pink or even flesh color. In some cases, the chicken skin may also be somewhat yellowish due to the feed given to the bird.
The bird remaining in that color range is a good thing. That means you can still eat it safely.
However, you must avoid chicken that is starting to turn gray or green. Even the appearance of some gray or green spots should be interpreted as signs that the chicken is no longer safe.
Those gray and green spots are indicative of bacterial growth. You will just end up sick if you decide to eat chicken covered in those spots.
The Chicken Has a Slimy Texture
Another clear sign that you should throw out the chicken is if it appears covered in some kind of slime. The slime is yet another telltale sign of bacterial growth inside the chicken. What you have here is a piece of chicken that has spoiled.
Washing the slime off the chicken won’t do any good either. All you’re really doing there is potentially spreading the harmful bacteria from the chicken throughout your kitchen.
The Smell of the Chicken
You should also take note of how the chicken smells before cooking it. Chicken doesn’t really have a strong aroma while it’s still raw.
If you went to fetch the chicken from the fridge and were greeted by a strong odor, something is probably wrong. Smell the chicken again and see if the odor really is coming from it.
Unfortunately, chicken producing unusual odors is no longer fit for consumption. You need to dispose of it instead of risking your health.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken in the Freezer?
Buying chicken in bulk is not a bad idea as long as you have a freezer. You don’t really have to worry about spoilage thanks to the aforementioned appliance.The USDA notes that chicken remains safe to eat indefinitely as long it remains continuously frozen inside the freezer. Still, there is a downside to keeping the chicken frozen for that long. The flavor and texture of the chicken could be adversely affected the longer it stays in the freezer.If you froze a whole chicken, use it before one year has passed so its quality is not affected. Frozen chicken parts remain in good condition for up to nine months. Meanwhile, the quality of cooked chicken remains intact for four months.
How Long Can Chicken Be Left at Room Temperature?
Once you expose chicken to room temperature, you should cook it as soon as possible. Leave it at room temperature for longer than two hours and it may start to spoil. On warm days, chicken left at room temperature can spoil after just one hour.
Check Out These Guides To Learn How Long Other Items Can Last In The Fridge.
Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.
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