Leftover cooked chicken can be reheated as with for a quick and satisfying meal, or can be transformed into an exciting new recipe. You may be wondering How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge? Learn all the tips and secrets for storing cooked chicken properly along with some recipe ideas!

This photo shows chicken breasts baked to golden perfection on a sheet pan with vegetables

The general guidance is that the refrigerated cooked chicken is safe for 3-4 days if stored properly. However, it can be shorter than that if storage conditions are not ideal.

How to Store Cooked Chicken

To maintain the quality of cooked chicken, store in airtight containers or tightly wrap with aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Then make sure to refrigerate within two hours of cooking.

Bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures of 40-140°F. So if your cooked chicken has been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it should be discarded.

How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge

According to the USDA, the refrigerated cooked chicken is safe to eat for 3-4 days if it is properly stored.

If you want to further extend the shelf life of the cooked chicken, you can store it in freezer where it will last for about 3 months. Use airtight containers or freezer bags, and take it out of the freezer the night before you need it and let it thaw in the fridge.

Looking for recipes using leftover chicken?

This photo shows airtight containers in the refrigerator as the proper way to store cooked chicken

For raw chicken, you can keep in the refrigerator for about 1-2 days according to the USDA.

How to Tell Whether Chicken has Gone Bad

When chicken has gone significantly bad, you can tell by the look or smell. Rotten chicken usually has a sour smell, and the color turns gray. Don’t taste it when you are in doubt.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell just by smelling, looking or even tasting. Some bacteria such as salmonella may exist if the chicken was not cooked properly and can cause food poisoning. It’s best to discard your chicken after sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours or in the fridge for more than 4 days.