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Chicken is one meat loved by millions of people. The kids like it, and I bet you also cant do without chicken, right?

Aside from the fact that chicken is a whitey meat, it is also rich in protein and other nutrients compared to other types of meats. Can cooked chicken be left out for too long? How long can cooked chicken sit out?

In a nutshell, cooked chicken can sit out not more than two hours when the temperature is around 90C. Cooked chicken left out for too long will grow bacteria, leading to food poisoning when consumed.

In this article, we will discuss, in detail, how long cooked chicken should sit out, as well as how to properly store your chicken to protect it from being contaminated.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out? (Answered)

Generally, foods shouldnt be left out for a long time or below the room temperature, which is 27C, for your safety and well-being.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked chickens are not expected to sit out for more than two hours when kept at room temperature. But if your room temperature is 32.2 degrees Celsius or warmer, cooked chicken can sit at room temperature for not more than one hour before going bad.

However, two factors should be seriously considered in this case!

1. Room Temperature

The average room temperature is 27 degrees Celsius. If you live in tropical regions with high temperatures, it is wise to allow the cooked chicken to sit out for 1 hour but not more than two hours under room temperature.

The United States Department of Agriculture has stated clearly that cooked foods are prone to be contaminated from 40F to 140F.

High temperatures will proliferate the growth of bacteria that would lead to food poisoning when consumed.

2. Humidity

The amount of moisture in the air also determines how long-cooked foods like chicken should sit out. When the humidity is low, the temperature increases, negating the rule of thumb, which states two hours to sit out at room temperature.

When the humidity is too high, it can also create an avenue for the bacteria to grow rapidly. To be on the safe side, keep the humidity at a reasonable level.

How To Know a Bad or Contaminated Chicken

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out? (Answered)

Just as chicken is easy to cook, it also tends to be easily contaminated or go bad.

Often, a mere look at the chicken wont be able to detect if a chicken is bad. We will explain below the ways you can know when your chicken has gone bad using the four senses.

They are simple; you cannot even find any suspected visual that shows your cooked chicken is bad.

1. Sense of Sight

The eye often eats before the mouth. This means you can tell if the chicken is bad just from a look which could be a color change.

The color of chicken, especially the fried and roasted ones, is an inviting brown color. So, the absence of the above indicates that something is wrong with the chicken.

Furthermore, slight spots and layers of fuzzy on the meat are red signs that the chicken has been contaminated and should be thrown away. Examine the flesh for mold or a fuzzy coating.

2. Sense of Smell

Another way you can detect a bad chicken is through the sense of smell. But there is a challenge. What do you think?

There are numerous recipes and spices used in preparing chicken. This makes it difficult for one to know when the chicken is contaminated or spoiled. However, you must be very cautious in this situation.

3. Sense of Feeling

Touching your chicken is another great way to know if you should discard that chicken. If the meat feels sticky or softer than before, you shouldnt waste time getting rid of it.

It is better to starve yourself while being healthy than to get yourself poisoned by yourself.

4. Sense of Taste or Use of the Tongue

The tongue is a delicate organ. It has four taste buds: sweetness, saltiness, sour, and bitter.

Therefore, if you doubt the sense of smell and sight, taking a bit of your chicken into your mouth is the next step. Always watch out for any sour taste.

And yes, dont forget to dispose of the spoiled chicken. Its already food poisoning.

How Long Should Chicken Be Cooked?

Following the recommendation of The United States Food Safety and Inspection Service, it is advisable to cook your chicken for a minimum internal temperature of 165F using a food thermometer.

Also, check the thickest part of the breast, wings, and thighs to ensure they are good to go.

How To Store Cooked Chicken Effectively

As we pointed out earlier in this content, food storage and safety are one of the numerous notes that shouldnt be missed when it comes to handling food.

How should we keep prepared food? Below are effective tips that can be utilized for proper food storage and safety.

1.Allow Your Chicken To Sit Out

It is very wrong to put your hot cooked chicken into the fridge. Apart from the fact that it will increase the fridge’s temperature, it can damage other foods there.

What would you do in this situation? The best thing to do is to allow it to cool to room temperature, which is 27C, before putting it in the fridge. Again, dont allow it to sit out for more than two hours to avoid food poisoning.

2. Keep Raw and Cooked Meat Separately

Keeping your cooked chicken and raw meat in the same place in the fridge is bad.

This is simply because the raw meat can spoil the cooked chicken easily since it tends to multiply bacteria rapidly and shouldnt be left for a long while.

Moreover, raw meats should be wrapped very well to help reduce the growth of bacteria.

3. Avoid Long Storage

Do not store your meat for too long if you want to retain its taste and flavor.

Cooked chicken may be stored in tiny dishpans. But dont store for six (6) months; 1-3 months is advisable.

There are two misconceptions held firmly by most people when it comes to food storage and safety. Let us see how truthful they are.

Many believe that storing cooked chicken in wraps can help limit the growth of pathogens in the meat.

However, such belief is wrong, as bacteria or viruses can grow rapidly, leading to food poisoning, which is detrimental to your health.

The best way to store your cooked chicken is to place them in the fridge or freezer for about 3-4 days, especially the leftovers.

Reheating foods regularly cannot guarantee that your food is safe, nor does it kill bacteria. It can even make the chicken lose its taste and flavor easily.

The best thing to do here is store it in the freezer or fridge and then reheat it using the microwave when you are ready to serve your chicken.

Related Questions

What happens when you eat chicken that was left out?

First, determine how long the bird has been there. If it has stayed for morethan two hours, it should be discarded.

Furthermore, eating such chicken would lead to food poisoning, affecting your health. Would you risk your health for a piece of bad chicken? It is better to discard the chicken instead of risking that for headache, dehydration, nausea, and vomiting.

Is chicken still good when left for 8 hours?

No, it doesn’t. Following the stipulations of The United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA), the chicken should not sit out for more than two hours. Sure, a lot happens in the kitchen, but then the fridge and freezer are there to help maintain food safety.

Can I eat chicken left out for 5 hours?

No, it is not recommended. The rule of thumb clearly states that such chicken should be discarded to avoid food poisoning. However, you can store it in your fridge or freezer for 3-4 days in a wrap.

How long can chicken sit out unrefrigerated?

Two hours! Though depending on the temperature, it is usually under room temperature. Always store your leftovers in the fridge and reheat using the microwave when needed.

How does bad chicken look or taste?

Generally speaking, the color of fresh chicken is golden brown, whether fried or grilled. With this, any change in the above indicates that something is wrong. Sometimes, you cant tell if your chicken has gone bad with a mere look.

So, what should you do?

Check for its taste. Chew a bit of it and take note of any weird, sour or strange taste.

It is also worthy of note that flavors used in cooking the chicken can pose a threat. Any chicken that has been there for more than two hours should be discarded.


Health is wealth, and this starts with what we eat. Therefore, food safety and storage shouldnt be missed. Avoid food poisoning at all costs.

Take care of yourself by making your health your number one priority.

Remember the rule of thumb when it comes to cooked chicken. Dont allow your cooked chicken to sit out for more than two hours at room temperature.

You may also want to read:

  • What Pasta to Serve With Chicken Piccata?
  • How To Defrost Chicken in The Microwave (Fast & EASY)
  • Is It Safe To Eat Cooked Chicken Left Out For 4 Hours?


Can you eat cooked chicken left out for 12 hours?

No, it is not safe to eat cooked chicken that has been left out overnight. Bacteria can grow on cooked chicken, even in a sealed container, so it’s best to refrigerate the chicken as soon as possible.

Can you reheat chicken that’s been left out?

Reheating food may not make it safe. If food is left out too long, some bacteria, such as staphylococcus aureus (staph), can form a heat-resistant toxin that cooking can’t destroy.

Can I eat cooked chicken after 5 days?

The USDA says that chicken is safe for up to four days in the fridge before you need to throw it out. If you’re on day five, it’s time to toss it.

Can you cook bacteria out of chicken?

Cook poultry and meat thoroughly. You can kill bacteria by cooking poultry and meat to a safe internal temperature . Use a cooking thermometer to check the temperature. You can’t tell if meat is properly cooked by looking at its color or juices.

Is it safe to eat food left out for 4 hours?

Myth: You should never refrigerate hot meals.

If you leave food out to cool and then forget about it after 2 hours, discard it. Bacteria may multiply fast on food that has been left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Can I eat chicken left out for 10 hours?

A perishable product (such as meat or poultry) that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours may not be safe. Even if it seems and smells delicious, throw it away. Never taste a food to see if it is spoiled. To check temperatures, use a food thermometer.

What happens if you accidentally leave cooked chicken out overnight?

Leaving cooked chicken out for more than two hours, whether it is covered or not, is not safe. There may be enough bacteria present to give you food poisoning.

How do you know if cooked chicken has gone bad?

“Cooked chicken will start to appear gray or greenish, and have a softer or slimier texture when it starts to go bad; as well as a foul smell. Cooked chicken may also develop mold or white patches on it, which indicates it has gone bad,” says Katie Tomaschko, M.S., RDN.

Can you put chicken back in the fridge after taking it out?

Since bacteria thrive at room temperature, this chicken should not be used, let alone refrozen. According to USDA guidelines on refrigeration and food safety, raw chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, while cooked chicken can be kept for 3–4 days (6).

Can you put warm chicken in the fridge?

Food that has just been cooked or taken out of the oven to cool should be cooled as quickly as possible to prevent the growth of bacteria. Hot food cannot be put directly into the fridge after cooking. Putting hot food into a fridge may cause the fridge temperature to increase above 5 °C.

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