We all know that chicken is one of the most common and crowd-pleasing ingredients. That’s led many of us to wonder: How long does raw chicken last in the fridge? And how long does raw chicken last in the freezer?
After all, it’s important to make sure we are always serving up fresh and healthy food for our families. With that in mind, we dug into some expert sources for answers to those questions. Plus, how to tell if raw chicken has gone bad when you can’t remember how long you’ve had it…
How long does raw chicken last in the fridge?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), you just have one or two days after purchasing to cook your refrigerated bird. That goes for the whole chicken or just pieces of it, like the breast or thigh. It might sound like way too small a window, but it’s what the FDA calls a “short but safe time limit” to avoid food poisoning.
So, how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? Whether you bake it, turn it into nuggets and patties, pick up a pre-made rotisserie, or whip up a homemade KFC fried chicken recipe, the leftovers should last in the refrigerator for three or four days, giving you a little extra time than when it was raw.
How long does raw chicken last in the freezer?
Your best bet for really making sure your chicken doesn’t go bad is to stick it in the freezer. If it’s uncooked, it will last about a year for a whole bird and nine months for pieces. For fans of giblets, the FDA claims those will also last a couple days in a fridge and three to four months in a freezer.
You can also freeze chicken that’s already been cooked, but they won’t last quite as long as uncooked. Baked or fried pieces of chicken can last in the freezer for four months, nuggets and patties will keep for one to three months, and ones covered in sauce or gravy can still be good for six months after freezing them.
How can you tell if raw chicken is spoiled?
Whether you toss your chicken in the fridge or the freezer, you should use your best judgement to tell whether it’s gone past its prime.
The FDA says those “sell by” dates stamped onto our food aren’t an exact science, and often they are for the store itself not the shopper. “The date is simply related to optimal quality — not safety,” they claim. “Manufacturers generally apply date labels at their own discretion and for a variety of reasons. The most common is to inform consumers and retailers of the date up to which they can expect the food to retain its desired quality and flavor.”
Instead of just going by the date on packaging, it’s important to know what to look for to tell if your chicken has spoiled. A change in color could be totally normal, but fading or darkening meat might be a sign it’s gone bad. More obvious indicators include a distinct “off” odor and a sticky, tacky, or slimy texture when you touch it. (P.S. It’s also perfectly safe to trim off freezer burn and eat the rest of the unaffected meat.)
Now all you need is to decide on which chicken recipes you want to whip up next!