How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out

Are you curious how long can cooked chicken sit out? In this article, we will discuss this topic along with some health tips to avoid food poisoning.

Fried, roasted, baked, grilled – there’s nothing like having good old reliable chicken any way you serve it.

Because of its versatility and its downright yummy and juicy flavors, this poultry is preferred by a lot of people around the globe. After all, it makes for the perfect weeknight (and weekend) dinner in a pinch.

There’s no denying that almost the whole family loves poultry, especially children.

However, little is known about the safety of consuming chicken-based dishes well-after they have been made.

Sure, you’ve likely heard of salmonella, a type of bacteria that can easily contaminate poultry and eggs.

Salmonella is commonly found in raw eggs or poultry that has been left in less than ideal conditions, say being unrefrigerated or sitting outside in warmer weather.

Cooked Chicken on Table

But what about cooked chicken? How long can it sit out?

Have you been wondering about this? We have some answers to your questions. Let’s take a look.

Allowed Timeframe for Cooked Chicken to Sit Out

A general rule of thumb would be disposing of food that has been left sitting outside for more than two hours.

After this timeframe, food spoilage starts to take place and bacteria start to grow on prepared dishes.

In line with this rule, you can keep cooked chicken sitting out for a maximum of two hours at room temperature.

However, if you experience relatively warmer weather or have a hotter and damper environment, the poultry dish should only stay out for a maximum of one hour.

This period aligns with the rules set out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

After the initial timeframe, bacteria start to grow on your food, putting it in the so-called ‘danger zone.’

This danger zone is defined as the time when foods range between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

In these temperatures, bacteria and germs tend to grow much faster, rendering cooked food unsafe to consume.

Most meats or cooked dishes won’t start giving off a bad smell right away, so it isn’t possible to tell whether or not the food has already gone bad in just a few hours’ time.

How Long Can Cooked Chicken Sit Out?


Now that you know how many hours you can keep your chicken out in the open, it’s time to get familiar with the signs that your dish has already started going bad.

Below we’ve listed some tell-tale signs that you can no longer consume your poultry creation and you need to chuck it out.

  • Bad Smells

To just about anyone, the smell of freshly fried, baked, or grilled chicken is a delight.

As a matter of fact, it’s enough to lure people out of their hiding or solitude. These beautiful smells can be largely attributed to the herbs and spices coating the poultry dish itself.

Because of the aromatics surrounding the dish, identifying bad smells emanating from the meal might be more challenging.

Bear in mind that these spices might mask the subtle smell of spoilage.

However, if you smell rotten eggs or sulfur, this outright indicates that the food has already gone bad.

  • Visual Appearance

Fried and baked chicken typically have a lovely golden brown color. The fried variety gives way to flakiness and a visually appealing hue, while baked pieces have a nice, glossy sheen to them.

To gauge if your dish has gone bad, look at changes in color. Be wary since marinades or breading may mask this, so look closely.

Check for mold or a white, gray, green, or even black layer of fuzz. This should be discarded right away.

In the same way, make sure to take a look at the color of the meat. Normally whitish in color, chicken that has turned gray has spoiled.

  • Difference in Taste

Sometimes, there’s no knowing until you have tasted the dish. If you feel like your dish is still okay and it has only been sitting out for a little over two hours, you can give the chicken a bite to see if it still tastes good.

Remember to chew first and keep the flavor in your mouth before swallowing your bite.

Sour tastes or even the subtlest indication of its spoilage means you should throw it away.

The Bottom Line

Food spoilage is definitely a big no-no, especially in this day and age where many people around the world rarely get to eat one meal a day.

To avoid being part of the food industry’s wasteful food cycle, it’s best to keep these reminders in check at all times.

Not only will this allow you to save more money in the long run, but it will also help you savor your favorite chicken dishes without any harm. Plus, you’re helping the world in your own way.

Now that you’ve learned how long can cooked chicken sit out and how to identify if it’s gone bad. We hope that you will take this into consideration when serving food to your family.

how long can cooked chicken sit out

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