Cooked chicken has become a staple at dinner tables across the globe, and forms the core of many meals and dishes.
Chicken is also a common protein source for families around the world. In fact, it’s the third most consumed meat after beef and pork.
Chicken is also a great source of lean protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
But did you know that cooking chicken can cause bacteria growth? If you don’t cook your chicken properly, then you risk food poisoning.
This means that even though you may eat it regularly, you could still get sick from it. The good news is that you can easily prevent food poisoning by keeping your chicken chilled until you’re ready to serve it.
But how long can cooked chicken sit out before it goes bad? We took a closer look to ensure that you have all the information that you need to stay safe and healthy.
Why Can It Be Tricky To Cook Chicken?
Cooking chicken can be tricky because if you overcook it, then it will lose its flavor and texture.
On the other hand, undercooked chicken can lead to food poisoning. So what should you do when you want to make sure that your chicken is cooked just right?
The answer: Keep it cold!
When you buy raw chicken, there are two ways to keep it cool: in an ice bath or in the refrigerator.
If you opt for the ice bath method, you submerge the chicken in water mixed with ice cubes. You let it sit in this mixture for about 20 minutes. Then, you drain off the excess liquid and pat dry.
Alternatively, you can place the chicken on a tray lined with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge.
Both methods work well, but they have their drawbacks. For example, the ice bath method is time-consuming and requires more effort than simply placing the chicken in the fridge.
So which one is better?
It depends on your preference. Some people prefer the convenience of having the chicken already prepared, while others like to control the temperature of the chicken as much as possible.
In either case, we recommend using the fridge option so that you can avoid any potential risks.
What Are The Risks Of Cooking Raw Chicken?
If you choose not to cook your chicken, then you run the risk of getting sick. There are many different types of bacteria that can grow inside your chicken.
These include Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter, and Staphylococcus.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, and fever. It’s usually spread through contaminated eggs, milk, and poultry products.
E. coli is another dangerous bacterium that can cause severe illness. Symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Listeria grows in certain foods such as unpasteurized dairy products, soft cheeses, and deli meats. It can also grow in soil and water.
Campylobacter is another bacteria that can infect both humans and animals. It’s typically found in raw poultry and unpasteurized milk.
Staphylococcus is a type of bacteria commonly found on the skin and mucous membranes. It can cause infections in wounds and cuts.
Can I Still Get Sick From Eating Cooked Chicken?
It is important to note that even though you might think that cooking chicken makes it safer, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t get sick.
In fact, some studies suggest that eating raw meat increases your chances of getting foodborne illnesses.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Food Protection in 2014 showed that even though cooking chicken reduces the number of pathogens by 99%, it still allows them to survive.
This means that you could potentially still get sick from eating cooked chicken.
How To Avoid Getting Sick From Eating Cooked Chicken?
There are several things that you can do to reduce your chances of getting sick from eating cooked chicken:
1) Use Proper Sanitation Practices
You should always wash your hands before handling food. This includes washing your hands after touching raw meat.
2) Keep Your Hands Away From Your Mouth
When preparing food, make sure that you don’t touch your mouth with unwashed hands. If you must eat something hot or cold, use a clean spoon or fork instead of your fingers.
3) Don’t Eat Raw Meat
Raw meat has been shown to carry higher amounts of harmful bacteria than cooked meat. So if you want to be safe, stick to the cooked variety.
4) Wash Your Produce
Washing produce will help remove dirt and germs. You can also store produce in the refrigerator for up to three days.
What Is The Best Way To Store Cooked Chicken?
Cooked chicken should be stored in the refrigerator so that it stays fresh. However, there are different ways to store cooked chicken depending on how long you plan to keep it.
Freshly cooked chicken should be kept in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours. After that, it should be frozen.
How Long Will Cooked Chicken Stay Good in the Fridge?
Chicken can stay good in the fridge for about three to four if it is not reheated. Once it has been heated, however, it loses much of its nutritional value.
To avoid wasting money, try freezing leftover chicken rather than throwing it away. Frozen chicken can be used later in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, stews, and other dishes.
How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In the Freezer?
Chicken can last up to five weeks in the freezer. Make sure that you wrap it well to prevent freezer burn.
You can also freeze chicken pieces separately, then add them back into a whole piece when needed. This makes cooking easier because you do not have to worry about chopping large pieces of chicken.
You can freeze chicken by placing it in ziplock bags. Alternatively, you could freeze it in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
When you are ready to cook, place the chicken in a pan or dish and cover it with water.
Boil the chicken until it is tender, then drain off any excess liquid. Remove the skin before
Can I Freeze Raw Chicken?
Raw chicken can be frozen, but it must be thoroughly cleaned first. You should remove all visible fat from the chicken and wash it under cold running water.
Place the chicken on paper towels and pat it dry. Then place it in a resealable plastic bag and seal it tightly.
Freeze the chicken for up to eight weeks. Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator and use it for three days. If you want to freeze raw chicken for longer than three days, you should blanch it first.
Blanching means boiling the chicken in salted water for 10 minutes. After the chicken cools, you can freeze it in a similar way to how you would freeze cooked chicken.
Frozen chicken can last up to six months without losing quality. When thawing, you should only defrost it overnight in the refrigerator.
Once you have finished using your chicken, you should either freeze it again or discard it.
Understanding The Danger Zone
The danger zone refers to the temperature at which the meat begins to lose its flavor. At temperatures below 40° F (5° C), the meat may start to dry out.
At temperatures above 140° F (60° C), the meat becomes tough. And at 160° F (70° C), the protein structure breaks down.
The range between 40 and 140 degrees is also an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, and it can double in around 20 minutes at temperatures in this range.
Leaving your meat in the danger zone for too long increases your risk of food poisoning.
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out And Still Be Considered Safe?
As a rule, chicken should never be eaten if it has been at room temperature for longer than two hours, and this is reduced to one hour in warm weather.
If you leave chicken out for longer than this, the leftovers will need to be discarded, as there is a risk of bacteria and disease.
How Can You Tell Chicken Has Gone Bad?
There are a number of ways to tell that your chicken has gone bad, and these include:
When you smell rotten eggs, ammonia, or bleach, there’s no doubt that your chicken has gone stale. But not everyone notices these smells.
When you bite into a piece of chicken that tastes sour or bitter, it’s likely that your chicken has gone past its prime. This could be due to spoilage or contamination.
Chicken that turns yellow when exposed to light is spoiled. However, some chickens naturally turn yellow.
A good indicator of whether or not your chicken is still edible is its appearance. Look for bright red skin and white flesh.
There are many ways to store chicken, depending on what you plan to do with it. For example, you might choose to keep it fresh by freezing it, or you might prefer to freeze it after cooking.
Regardless of what method you choose, make sure that you follow safe storage guidelines in order to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, and enjoy the delicious, nutritious taste of chicken in a range of recipes and dishes.
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