When you’re hosting a BBQ, it might be tough to keep track of time, especially once the food is served. You could think your job is done at that time. However, it’s also crucial to know how long can cooked chicken sit out in the serving table. How long can cooked chicken be left out before it spoils? Let’s look at it more closely.
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?
Cooked chicken can be kept at room temperature for up to two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. It should be discarded if it is kept out for any longer than that. Food illness can result from eating cooked chicken that has been sitting out for too long.
The Danger Zone: An Overview
Even inexperienced cooks are aware that raw and cooked meats should be kept refrigerated whenever feasible. The explanation for this is simple: meat is more prone to host dangerous bacteria at particular temperatures.
Meat should always be stored at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature range between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit is known as “the danger zone” because bacteria can reproduce swiftly at these temperatures. Within this time frame, germs have been found to double in size in as little as 20 minutes.
Maximum 2 hours at temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit is the rule of thumb.
First and foremost, what is a rule of thumb, and why is 2 hours the standard?
The rule of thumb is a principle or approach for estimating something based on experience rather than theory. Cooked food, on the other hand, should be left outside for at least two hours.
For starters, the amount of time cooked chicken can sit out depends on the temperature of the room. The danger zone for prepared foods, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 4 to 60 C degrees).
If you live in a tropical country where the weather is extremely hot and humid, such as if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius), your cooked chicken should not be left outside for an extended period of time. They can only sit for about an hour at a time.
So, whether you’re throwing an outdoor/indoor party or going on a picnic with your best canned chicken recipes, you still need to be cautious about the temperature and safety time range of your cooked chicken.
In other words, if the meat is left in the danger zone for too long, it may cause food poisoning. While the symptoms aren’t often fatal, becoming sick from rotten meat is no pleasant. That is why you must know how long cooked meat can be left out before turning.
How long may cooked chicken be left out before it becomes unsafe?
As a general rule, chicken that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours should not be consumed. If it’s hot outside—over 90 degrees Fahrenheit—refrigerate leftovers after 1 hour.
What happens if you forget and leave the chicken out for longer? Unfortunately, you’ll have to throw away the leftovers in this scenario. Even if you reheat the chicken afterward, harmful bacteria may remain on the surface. It’s better to be safe than sorry because there’s no way to tell just by looking.
Tips for Storing Cooked Chicken Effectively
Many occasions and events can leave you with a lot of leftover food in your kitchen. And I understand how aggravating it is to throw things out carelessly.
As a result, knowing how to properly store prepared food, particularly chicken meals, is critical for limiting the spread of bacteria and germs. So, when you think about preserving prepared foods, what comes to mind first? Here are three crucial notes to keep safe.
1. Put the cooked chicken in the refrigerator.
If you’ve just finished roasting chicken and your party is in 5 hours, you’ll want to keep them warm. However, you should not immediately refrigerate your hot cooked chicken. Allow them to cool to room temperature before using.
The reason for this is that your hot meal will boost the temperature inside the fridge, potentially affecting and endangering other foods already inside.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (2) recommends separating poultry dishes into smaller wrapped pieces or placing them in shallow food containers before storing them in the fridge for your safety.
2. Keep raw and cooked meats separate in the refrigerator.
Raw meats carry more bacteria than cooked meats, so don’t keep them in the same fridge compartment. As a result, make sure that cooked chicken is kept apart from raw chicken.
To keep your fridge clean and reduce bacteria growth, raw meats must be wrapped properly and thoroughly.
3. Cooked Chicken Can Also Be Freeze-Dried
If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat them in four days, consider freezing your cooked food. Should you, however, freeze chicken salad? There are also a number of notices that you should be aware of.
What if the cooked chicken is in a vacuum-sealed package?
It’s still not safe to eat unless the sealed container was placed in the refrigerator within the 2-hour interval. Although covering the meat may keep airborne contaminants at bay, no seal can prevent germs from proliferating if it is left in the danger zone for too long.
However, keeping the leftovers properly wrapped in the fridge can help to preserve the meat’s quality. More information on how to store cooked chicken may be found below.
How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Refrigerator?
Any leftovers should be consumed within 3 to 4 days. The meat will begin to exhibit indications of deterioration after this stage. Don’t eat the chicken if it has a slimy or sticky texture, or if it has an unpleasant odor. Just in case, double-check that your refrigerator is set to a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooked chicken should be kept in the coldest part of the fridge for optimal results. Because the temperature of the refrigerator rises somewhat every time you open the door, it’s best to keep leftovers toward the back, on a lower shelf. Use airtight containers or heavy-duty plastic wrap to wrap the leftovers as tightly as possible.
Remember that if you don’t believe you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, you can always freeze them. Don’t leave it any longer to freeze them; else, it will be too late.