How Long to Keep Cooked Chicken in Fridge


If you’ve ever made chicken to use for dinner, you’re probably familiar with the problem of what to do with leftover chicken. It’s a common situation in many kitchens: You cook some chicken, and then it’s not quite enough for everyone at dinner. Your options are to either eat cold leftovers or heat up the remaining chicken and serve it again. While there are other methods of preserving cooked poultry (freezing, pickling), these techniques don’t make sense for every situation; instead, we’ll focus on storing leftover casseroles or other dishes that contain both cooked chicken and other ingredients.

2 to 4 days

You can store cooked chicken in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days. After that, it’s best to throw it out and start over with a fresh batch of chicken.

If you do decide to keep your cooked chicken in the fridge for longer than 2 days, then you should be aware that it will start to spoil faster as time goes on. The smell of cooked chicken becomes stronger as well–so don’t let yourself get too used to its scent!

Refrigerate cooked chicken within two hours after cooking.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that you refrigerate and eat cooked chicken within two hours after cooking, or else it should be discarded. The USDA also advises against leaving any food out at room temperature for longer than two hours, as this can cause bacteria to grow quickly.

Store cooked chicken in the coldest part of the refrigerator.


You’ve just taken the last bite of your chicken, but you have no idea how long you can keep it in the fridge. You don’t want to throw away perfectly good food!

To keep cooked chicken fresh for as long as possible, store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator, which is usually on the bottom shelf or above a vegetable drawer. If there isn’t enough room for all of your leftovers–and if you have no plans to eat them within 2 days–you may store some leftover pieces in an airtight container and freeze them until needed later on (up to 3 months).

Use or discard cooked chicken within four days after cooking.

  • Use or discard cooked chicken within four days after cooking.
  • Don’t leave cooked chicken in the fridge for more than four days, even if it’s wrapped in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. It will still spoil if it’s been there too long and you can’t tell just by looking at it!
  • Don’t eat any food that smells funny, looks strange, or has an unusual color (like green). If any part of your meal isn’t good anymore–and make sure to check all parts of your meal–throw away everything except for meat that is still safe to eat (like steak or hamburger). You might also want to think twice before serving leftovers from last night’s dinner again tonight… maybe try something new instead?

Cooked chicken should be refrigerated for up to four days, but no longer than that.

If you’ve cooked a whole chicken and want to store it for later, be sure to refrigerate it as soon as possible. The USDA recommends keeping cooked poultry in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you don’t eat all of your leftovers within that time frame, throw them out–don’t risk food poisoning!

To keep your leftover meat safe from harmful bacteria and other pathogens, store it in one of the coldest parts of your fridge (the bottom shelf is best) with other foods that are also low-temperature sensitive (like eggs).


Cooked chicken is one of the easiest and most versatile foods to keep in your fridge. You can use it as a main dish or side dish, and it goes well with just about anything. If you’re not sure how long cooked chicken will last in the refrigerator, we hope this article helped you out!

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