How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

Cooked Chicken

When you’re entertaining guests, doing various tasks around the house, or just spending time with your family on a Sunday evening, it’s easy to lose sight of the passage of time. However, prepared chicken, such as chicken kabobs and chicken that has been grilled, that has been left out in the open may not keep for as long as you had thought it would. Continue reading if you are curious about how long cooked chicken can stay out and whether or not it can be eaten safely at a later time. You will learn the precise amount of time that cooked chicken may sit out and what you can do to keep cooked chicken safe to eat.

How long can chicken that has been cooked stay out?

A good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to cooked chicken is that you should not let it stay out on your kitchen table or buffet for more than two hours at a time unless it is maintained warm at a temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended that you dispose of any cooked chicken that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours.

The same rule applies to fully cooked chicken that is consumed in the open air, such as during a picnic or a barbeque. However, after one hour, the chicken that has been cooked should not be consumed if the temperature either inside or outside is higher than 32.2 degrees Celsius (90 degrees Fahrenheit).

Why do we need two hours?

It may come as a surprise to hear that bacteria that may cause sickness, such as Salmonella and E. coli, which are often found in chicken, reproduce rapidly between temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, also known as the Danger Zone. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the number of germs might really double every 20 minutes. When translated literally, this means that millions of germs may already be present in the chicken after it has been cooked and allowed to hang out for many hours.

Does it make a difference if the chicken is covered or exposed while cooking?

You may safely consume the cooked chicken as long as it is covered, right? Is that what you were told? You have been given incorrect information.

It is unsafe to leave the cooked chicken out for more than two hours, regardless of whether or not the chicken is covered. It is possible that the amount of germs present is sufficient to cause food poisoning.

Does the use of barbecue sauce or a marinade assist to keep the chicken fresh?
It is unfortunate, but since germs multiply so quickly in the Danger Zone (the temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit), it makes little difference whether the chicken has been marinated or coated with sauces. Neither approach is effective in preventing the bacterium from contaminating the chicken in any way.

You may believe that if you search for indications of deterioration on the cooked chicken, you will be able to determine whether or not it is still safe to eat. You cannot tell if the cooked chicken has been hanging out for a few hours or overnight by looking at it, tasting it, smelling it, or feeling its texture. None of these things can tell you whether or not it is safe to consume. Do not try to taste the chicken until the two-hour rule has passed; doing so may raise the likelihood that you may get unwell from eating contaminated food.

What if I heated the chicken up already?

It is not safe to ingest chicken that has been reheated after having been left out for more than two hours (or for more than one hour at temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit). There is a possibility that germs are still there, and even if reheating eliminates them, the heat may not eliminate all bacteria and the toxins they create. As a result, the fowl is likely hazardous to consume, and you run the risk of becoming sick from eating it.

Your best bet? Throw away the already cooked chicken, since it is preferable to be safe than sorry.

What health risks am I taking if I consume chicken that has been sitting out for a while?

Consuming chicken that has been left out at room temperature for an extended period of time poses a health concern since it might cause food poisoning. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the unpleasant symptoms that may be experienced. If any of these symptoms continue for more than 12 to 24 hours, you should make an appointment with a medical professional.

Keeping cooked chicken safe for storage

When you are storing cooked chicken, be sure that it does not stay out for more than two hours at room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures that are higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer, wait at least two hours after it has been brought down to room temperature to check on it.

By chilling the cooked chicken, you reduce the risk of cross-contamination to the other items in your refrigerator and freezer. If you let the chicken cool down in the refrigerator after it has been cooked, the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer might increase, putting the other items you have stored inside at danger.

To ensure that the quality of the cooked chicken is maintained, it should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in heavy-duty plastic wrap that is safe for food as soon as it has cooled down after being cooked. This should be done within two hours. You could also want to write the date on the container so that you are reminded of when you put the item away. According to the consumer food safety app, cooked chicken may be stored for three to four days in the refrigerator and for two to six months in the freezer without losing its quality.

It also makes a difference where in the refrigerator you put the cooked chicken. You should keep it apart from your raw chicken and, preferably, put the raw chicken and cooked chicken in separate parts of the refrigerator. This will help prevent any contamination from occurring. For instance, you should store the cooked chicken on the top shelves, while the raw chicken should go on the shelf at the very bottom.

Bottom line

If you take the time to securely cool and store your cooked chicken, you will be able to enjoy it for a few more days after you have first prepared it. Never leave your cooked chicken out for more than two hours before putting it away, and never leave it out for more than an hour in temps that are higher than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken that has been properly maintained in the refrigerator and freezer may be used to make a variety of delicious dishes, including soups, salads, sandwiches, and more. Have a look at our compiled list of dishes for some fresh ideas on how you might enjoy that deliciously cooked chicken


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