Cooking chicken can take up two to three hours of your day and requires a good amount of prep. But after taking chicken out of the freezer and allowing it to thaw, how long can it stay in the fridge?
Thawed raw chicken can last up to 2 days in the refrigerator. If you remove frozen chicken and allow it to sit in the refrigerator, it will thaw out after 24 hours.
After it thaws, the 2-day countdown will begin. If the raw chicken package bloats, it means bacteria rotted the chicken and you must throw it away.
If you’re marinating your chicken for 24 hours, that needs to happen in the 2-day window. Do not let the raw chicken sit in the refrigerator for 2 days and then marinate it for 24 hours.
Chicken is one of the most versatile foods, but thawed chicken has a small window of time in which it can be cooked and consumed without harming someone.
To be on the safe side, only thaw chicken if you know you can cook it within 2 days.
What You Should Know About Thawing Chicken in the Refrigerator
Assuming the temperature of the refrigerator is 40°F or lower, chicken and other types of poultry will last up to 2 days or 48 hours after it thaws.
On average, boneless chicken breast takes about 18 hours to thaw.
How Long Can I Store Cooked Chicken in the Refrigerator?
After cooking a delicious roast chicken, there are plenty of leftovers for your family to take for lunch tomorrow. And maybe they can eat more chicken the next day too.
But what if you made a large batch of roasted chicken? How long would it last in the fridge?
Cooked chicken can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator. The cooked chicken must be stored in a sealed container or a sealed Ziploc bag.
If it is left exposed to the refrigerator air without a cover, then the chicken will only last 24 hours.
If the temperature in the refrigerator is lower than 40F, then the chicken might last for an extra day. But 4 days is the proven amount of time that cooked chicken is safe to eat.
Signs That Thawed Chicken Has Gone Bad
Depending on how fresh the chicken was when you bought it at the grocery store, the thawed chicken can go bad in less than 12 hours or it can last up to 48 hours.
Knowing the signs of spoiled or rotted chicken will prevent you from potentially poisoning yourself. Sometimes, contracting food poisoning from chicken can be life-threatening, and you can end up in the hospital.
If you see any of these signs, throw the chicken in the trash. Don’t refreeze it and don’t give it to your animals.
If There’s Freezer Burn
A small amount of freezer burn on the corner of the package is fine. You can just cut away the part with the freezer burn.
But if you notice freezer burn all around the chicken package, then the entire chicken is contaminated. Freezer burn looks like snow-like ice crystals inside of the package.
The chicken covered by the ice crystals may turn pale. If it looks like your package of chicken went through a snowstorm, throw it away.
There’s a Weird Smell
Fresh or thawed chicken should never have a smell. You should only be able to smell raw chicken when it is cooking on the frying pan or in the oven.
If you open the package of chicken and out comes a strong smell, then the chicken is spoiled.
The Package Bloats as It Defrosts
Bloating is a sign that there are active microbes in the package. Millions of microbes are multiplying and contaminating the chicken. If you open the package, it may or may not have a smell.
If it does not have a smell, that doesn’t mean that the chicken is safe. An odorless but bloated package of chicken is still spoiled.
The Chicken is Slimy
Chicken should never have a sticky or slimy film or coating. Patting the chicken dry should keep it dry. If it looks like there is slime or goo on the chicken pieces, the chicken is far too rotted and you need to wash your hands thoroughly.
How to Thaw Chicken Faster
The next you purchase an entire chicken, cut it into pieces and freeze each piece individually. It takes a long time for a whole chicken to thaw, but a carved chicken can thaw in as little as 12 hours.
Drumsticks and chicken breasts will be the first to thaw.
If you need to thaw a whole chicken, fill the kitchen sink with water and place the whole chicken in the water. Leave it in its plastic packaging.
A package of raw chicken thighs or breasts will take about 12 hours to thaw in the fridge. Submerging the package of chicken thighs or breasts in a bowl of room temperature water will speed up the thawing time.
My Chicken is Frozen But I Need to Cook it Today. What Can I Do?
According to the USDA, it’s perfectly safe to cook frozen chicken. However, you will need to alter the cooking time and the temperature.
If the cooking time for thawed chicken is 350° F, and then the cooking temperature for frozen chicken should be around 300° F.
If the recipe calls for a whole chicken to be cooked for an hour and a half, then you will have to cook the frozen whole chicken for about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Cooking frozen chicken in the crock pot is one of the best ways to cook frozen chicken. Not only is the crock pot designed for long cooking times, the juice from the frozen chicken will seep into the dish and improve the flavor.
A few good recipes to cook frozen chicken are chicken chili verde, chicken chili, chicken soup, and chicken pot pie filling.
Conclusion to How Long Thawed Chicken Can Stay in the Fridge
A chicken can take between 12 and 24 hours to thaw. After the chicken is raw, you can only consume it up to 2 days later. If you have time, cook the chicken after it thaws.
Cooked chicken will last up to 4 days. If you need to speed the thawing process, place the package in a bowl or in a sink full of water. Never eat chicken you suspect is rotted.