How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

It’s essential to know how long cooked chicken can sit out. Many people want to eat it as soon as possible, but you don’t want it to go wrong before eating it. If it’s not going to be eaten within a few hours, you should keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to eat it. The USDA recommends leaving your chicken out of the fridge no longer than two hours, and you should never leave it out overnight.

cooked chicken

There are several reasons why chicken should not be left out for too long. These include mold, black mold, and bacteria. These are easy to detect because of the marinades and breading used on the chicken. It is also essential to look at the color of the meat, and it should be white or light gray. If it looks gray or has gray patches, it’s spoiled. If it looks too dry, it might be due to over-cooking or a lack of oxygen.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

There’s nothing like good, trustworthy chicken, whether fried, roasted, baked, or grilled. Many people worldwide enjoy this poultry because of its versatility and sheer wonderful and juicy flavors. After all, it’s the ideal evening (and weekend) dinner in a pinch. There’s no doubting that practically everyone in the family, especially the kids, enjoys poultry.

However, nothing is known regarding the safety of eating chicken-based recipes that have been cooked for a long time. Salmonella is a bacteria that may readily contaminate poultry and eggs, and you’ve probably heard of it. Salmonella is usually discovered in raw eggs or chicken that has been exposed to less-than-ideal conditions, such as being left out in the heat.

Allowed Timeframe For Cooked Chicken To Sit Out

Food that has been left outside for more than two hours should be discarded as a general rule.
Food deterioration begins beyond this interval as bacteria proliferate on prepared dishes.
According to this regulation, cooked chicken can be left out at room temperature for two hours. However, if you live somewhere with hotter temperatures or a damper climate, the poultry dish should only be left out for one hour.

This time frame corresponds to the rules put forth by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Bacteria begin to develop on your food after a particular time, putting it in the so-called ‘danger zone.’This danger zone is described as the temperature range between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for foods. Bacteria and germs grow significantly faster at high temperatures, making cooked food dangerous to eat. Because most meats and cooked foods do not have a foul odor straight away, it is impossible to identify whether or not the food has gone wrong in just a few hours.

Now that you know how long you can keep your chicken out in the open, it’s time to learn to recognize when it’s time to go wrong. We’ve compiled a list of telltale symptoms that your fowl production is no longer edible and should be discarded.

Bad Smells

The aroma of freshly fried, roasted, or grilled chicken is irresistible to almost everyone, and it’s enough to entice folks out of their hiding places or seclusion. The herbs and spices that coat the poultry dish are primarily responsible for these lovely aromas. Identifying foul odors emerging from the food may be more difficult due to the aromatics around the dish. Keep in mind that certain spices may hide the odor of spoiled food. If you smell rotting eggs or sulfur, you may be sure that the meal has gone wrong.

Visual Appearance

The hue of fried and baked chicken is usually a gorgeous golden brown. The fried kind has a flaky texture, and pleasing color, while baked portions have a lovely, glossy sheen.
Look for color changes to see if your dish has gone rotten. Look closely because marinades or breading may obscure this. Look for mold or a white, grey, green, or even black fuzz covering. This needs to be thrown away immediately away. Similarly, pay attention to the color of the meat. Chicken that has turned grey has spoiled, as it is ordinarily whitish.


It’s not always possible to tell until you’ve tried the food. Whether you think your dish is still good after sitting out for more than two hours, take a bite of the chicken to test if it still tastes fine. Before swallowing each bite, remember to chew first and maintain the flavor in your mouth. You should discard it if it has sour flavors or even the tiniest signs of deterioration.

Chicken Left Out Overnight: Should You Throw It Out?

Although it may be easy to overlook that the chicken has been sitting out all night, you should not consume it. Even if the meat smells and appears in good condition, ingesting it could cause food illness. It’s always best to err on the side of caution, no matter how inconvenient it may be.

Some people assume that reheating the chicken will kill any potentially harmful microorganisms. This isn’t always the case, however. Some microorganisms can produce heat-resistant toxins. Because it’s impossible to detect whether these bacteria are present with the naked eye, you should toss the meat to be safe. Cooking the flesh past 140 degrees has the same effect, but bacteria can start to build up again after the chicken cools down. As a result, both cooked and raw leftover chicken should be kept refrigerated. While the “danger zone” of 40 to 140 degrees is where bacteria are most likely to thrive, you should cook chicken past that temperature before eating it. Cooking chicken breasts at 165 degrees is advised while cooking chicken thighs at 180 degrees is preferred.

Wrapping meat protects it from pathogens in the air and missiles. It’s safe to presume that no dust or pet hair landed on the chicken’s surface because it was covered for the entire night. However, covering the meat will not prevent germs from increasing at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. The chicken isn’t safe to consume unless you can be confident that the room was either colder or warmer than that, which is improbable.

Risk Of Eating Bad Chicken


Here are some health risks also if you eat lousy chicken:

  • Foodborne sickness, sometimes known as food poisoning, can be caused by eating rotten chicken. Chicken poses a high risk of food poisoning due to bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, and others.
  • When you fully prepare fresh chicken, these bacteria are customarily eradicated. Cooking and eating rotten chicken is still not a good idea.
  • Although re-heating or cooking will kill surface bacteria, it won’t eliminate some of the bacteria’s toxins, which can cause food poisoning if consumed.
  • Food poisoning can produce a high temperature (over 101.5°F or 38.6°C), chills, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and dehydration, among other unpleasant and occasionally severe symptoms.
  • Severe food poisoning can need hospitalization and even death in extreme circumstances.
  • If you think your chicken has gone wrong, don’t eat it. It’s advisable to toss out any chicken that appears to have gone rotten.

Can You Put Warm Chicken in the Fridge?

The growth and proliferation of bacteria that can create issues later on, are prevented by keeping warm chicken in the fridge. Salmonella, staphylococcus, and E. coli bacteria have all contaminated exposed food.
Yes, you may keep the heated chicken in the refrigerator, and it’s best to put your chicken in the fridge while it’s still warm to avoid spoilage.

It stems from an erroneous concept of what constitutes hot or warm food. Even though both concepts are subjective, significant distinctions are to be made. Warm items are only slightly warmer than room temperature, and they’re hotter than room temperature but not hot enough to scorch the skin or cause a rapid withdrawal reflex when touched.

When touched, hot materials, on the other hand, are substantially hotter and can scorch the skin. Food products below 35°C (95°F) can be considered warm, while anything over that can be considered hot. While some refrigerators can handle hot food, it’s best to avoid storing hot meals in your refrigerator. This is because heated food makes the refrigerator work harder to maintain a cool temperature. When kept in the fridge, hot chicken, in particular, is prone to spoilage. This is because the food will warm the air in the fridge, causing the temperature to rise, allowing germs to develop in the food. It can even damage other fruits and vegetables you had in the fridge in rare circumstances.


Aside from checking for mold, another way to determine how long cooked chicken can sit out is to check for color changes. Although the color of the chicken will not change if it’s marinated, you should look for any gray or black fuzz on the meat. This is a good indication of spoilage. Then, you can also try a bite. If you are not sure, you should place it in the refrigerator.

There are a few different factors to consider when checking the safety of a cooked chicken. Keeping it out of the fridge will prevent the chicken from spoiling and keep you from getting sick. The best thing to do is keep it in the refrigerator and out of the fridge. It’s best to avoid sitting chickens outside for more than two hours. If it’s left out more than two hours, it’ll start to spoil, and bacteria will grow on it.