How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay In Fridge


How long can thawed chicken stay in fridge is an important question to answer. If it stays too long, you may get sick from eating it, and nobody wants that! If you throw it out early, then we run the risk of throwing out perfectly good meat. So, what is the answer and how do we know?

How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay In The Fridge

There are a couple of factors that determine how long chicken will last in your fridge. One of the factors is whether your thawed chicken is raw or cooked. Another factor is what method you are using to thaw your meat. We are going to look at the different aspects that contribute to how long chicken can last once it is thawed in your fridge. 

A rule of thumb is that thawed chicken that is raw will last between one to two days in your fridge. However, this timeline begins once the meat has been fully defrosted. It also depends on what method was used to defrost your chicken. Keep in mind, you can always place the raw or cooked chicken into your freezer, which will prevent you from losing the chicken in your fridge. 

Cooked chicken on the other hand lasts a little longer than raw chicken. Chicken that has been cooked can last in your fridge between three and four days once it is thawed. If you are afraid that you will lose your cooked chicken, you can place it in the freezer as well. This will allow you to store it longer. 

A few basics about chicken will better help you know if the chicken in your fridge is still good or if it has gone bad. 

How To Tell If Chicken Is Spoiled:

There are four main ways to tell if chicken has spoiled. These ways can apply to chicken that has been stored in your fridge or any chicken for that matter. Start by looking at the “best by” date on the package. If that date has passed, it might be wise to not risk eating the chicken. Next use your senses by smelling the chicken. If it smells gross or unappetizing at all, then you will want to toss it, and not risk getting sick.

Next examine the appearance of the chicken. Does anything look odd? If the chicken has started to spoil, the color of the chicken may have a gray, green or blue tint to it. You will not want to eat the chicken if you see anything off with the chicken’s color. You can also check to see if there is any mold or things growing on it. If there are, then it needs to go out. Last, look at the texture of the chicken, no matter if it is raw or cooked. If the chicken has a texture that is slimy, then it is definitely time to go. Do not eat it!

How To Thaw:

There are several good ways that you can thaw chicken. Please note, these ways do not include being defrosted on the counter at room temperature or in a bowl of hot water. These are both risky, as they both allow the chicken to sit at dangerous temps that allow bacteria to grow quickly. The dangerous temperatures are between 40 to 140F. 

The best ways to thaw chicken are in the refrigerator, in a bowl of cold water or in the microwave on defrost. Each one of these allow the chicken to be thawed safely. 

Refrigerator Thawing:

Thawing chicken in your refrigerator means placing frozen chicken directly into your fridge and allowing them to sit in the cool fridge until they have defrosted. Once they have defrosted, the time that they are good thawed in the fridge begins. 

The amount of time it takes a piece of chicken to thaw depends on what it is as well as it’s size. For example, a smaller chicken breast generally takes about one day to thaw in the fridge. Pieces of chicken with bones take longer, usually around two days. The USDA notes that pieces of poultry can be left in the fridge one to two days after being defrosted. 

Cold Water Thawing:

Cold water thawing is when a piece of frozen chicken, is placed into a bowl full of ice-cold water. It then remains in the ice-cold water until the chicken thaws. Once it thaws it is removed and prepared. 

The amount of time chicken breasts takes to thaw varies between one to two hours in ice cold water. Larger pieces of chicken will take over two hours to thaw in cold water. It may be a bit difficult to use this method for thawing a whole chicken as the entire body would need to be submersed in the water. 

Microwave Thawing:

Microwave thawing is probably the fastest way to defrost chicken. It is done by placing your chicken in the microwave and keeping a close eye on it. You will want to use the defrost function if your microwave has it. 

To do this at home, check the manual for your microwave to be sure exactly how yours works. Most simply have a defrost button for you to press, and then put in the weight of your food. IT will then require you to flip the food over after a given amount of time. Unique to microwave thawing, any meat that is thawed using this method should be prepared and cooked right away. Meat that has been defrosted in the microwave should not sit in the fridge raw. 

How To Freeze:

To effectively freeze your chicken, follow these simple steps. When followed, your chicken will have the best outcome. 

Use a freezer bag, which seals or an airtight container to place chicken in the freezer. I highly recommend using freezer bags, as I have always had the best results with these.  

Write the description, such as “raw chicken” on your container and date it. 

Press all the air out. If you have a way to vacuum seal it, this will help. If you do not, you could submerge all except the zipper in water, to help get all the air out. 

Make sure that your storage unit is sealed tightly. Then place in your freezer. 

Chicken Can Be Cooked While Frozen

Chicken can also be cooked while it is still frozen. This is a lesser-known fact, but it can be done. The only thing to remember with this is that it may take 50% more time to cook than if it was thawed. It also needs to be sure to reach an internal temperature of at least 160F. If you keep these two things in mind, there is no need for your chicken to be fully thawed in order to cook it. 

How Long Is Frozen Chicken Good

Chicken that is in your freezer also has a time limit that it is good for. The length of time depends on what form it is in. Pieces of raw chicken should be kept in your freezer no more than six months before they are used. Whole chickens on the other hand, can be frozen up to one year. 

Cooked chicken that has been frozen will get the best results if used before it has been frozen for four months. Otherwise, it will become dry tasting and a bit freezer burnt. Pieces of cooked chicken can be warmed up while still frozen or thawed using another method. 

Best Practice For Keeping Thawed Chicken In Fridge

For best results, in keeping thawed chicken in the fridge. We recommend the following for best practice. 

If chicken is frozen, place directly from the freezer to fridge and allow to remain there for one to two days until thawed. Or submerge into ice cold water and allow to thaw for a few hours. 

Once your meat is thawed, allow to remain in the fridge for an additional one to two days. Remember, that your time in the fridge, does not begin until the meat has be defrosted. 

Keep in mind that any meat that has been defrosted in the microwave should not be kept in the fridge. It should be cooked as soon as it has finished defrosting. 

How long thawed chicken can stay in the fridge varies, depending upon the method of thawing used. However, once chicken has been thawed, it can remain in the fridge for one to two days. 

Storage Tips for Chicken in the Fridge and Freezer

Storing in the Refrigerator

The easiest way to store both cooked and uncooked chicken is to keep it in the fridge at 40F or less. When it is stored in the fridge, it should be kept sealed in an airtight container, plastic freezer bag, or in its original packaging. Once the chicken has been thawed, the chicken should be used within one to two days, even if it is kept in the fridge according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Remember, there are several ways you can go about the defrosting process. Make sure to allow plenty of time for the chicken to thaw. Then my favorite method, and the safest method to use is the cold water method to thaw it out, but leave it in the fridge overnight in cold water. This way it will remain at a safe temperature while it thaws, but will still be ready for dinner tonight. 

To use this safest way of thawing your chicken in the fridge, you can simply fill a large bowl with cold tap water, and place the chicken in a plastic bag into the cold water bath. Let it sit in your fridge overnight, then it will likely be thawed and ready to use the next afternoon.

Storing in the Freezer

Storing your chicken in the freezer is another good option. Keep in mind, you will only want to freeze your chicken, if it has never left the fridge to thaw, or is fresh chicken from the grocery store. You may also freeze the chicken if you cooked it before freezing it. 

To freeze the chicken, place it in an airtight container, or seal it in a vacuum sealer, or an airtight bag. Sealing it securely will help prevent freezer burn to your chicken. Label and date your packages of chicken then place the chicken in the freezer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can keep raw chicken frozen for up to nine months, and cooked chicken may be frozen for up to four months. (source)

How Long Does Chicken Last in the Fridge or Freezer?

How long the chicken will last in the fridge or freezer depends on what form the chicken is in. Here is a quick overview for you of how long the different forms will last when they are stored properly, this will help give you an idea so that you can avoid food waste. 

Thawed Raw Poultry in the Fridge: 1-2 days

Raw Poultry in the Freezer: up to 9 months

Cooked Leftover Chicken in the Fridge: 3-4 days

Cooked Chicken in the Freezer: up to 3 months

Can you Refreeze Chicken?

In most cases, it is not a good idea to refreeze chicken once it has been thawed. The only way that it is safe to refreeze thawed chicken is when the chicken has been thawed using the refrigerator method. Meaning that the raw chicken never left your fridge. 

For any other thawing method that was used, the chicken should not be refrozen while it is still raw. But it may be cooked, then you may freeze the cooked chicken.

Thawing Methods that should Never be Refrozen with Raw Chicken

Microwave Method

When you thaw chicken fast using the defrost setting on your microwave, the chicken should never be refrozen. Instead, it must be cooked immediately.

​Thawed on the Kitchen Counter (Cold Water Method)

Frozen meat that is thawed on the kitchen counter using the cold water method, where you change the water every thirty minutes to avoid warm water and unwanted bacteria growth, should never be refrozen while it is still raw. With this thawing method, the raw meat must be cooked immediately as well. But the cooked chicken may then be frozen if you want.

Can you cook frozen chicken in the slow cooker or crockpot?

No, you should never cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker. This is because the raw meat will sit in the temperature danger zone, which is between 40F and 140F, for more than two hours. When you allow your raw chicken to sit at this temperature range for too long, you risk the growth of harmful bacteria which could result in foodborne illnesses including food poisoning. Therefore, it is best to thaw your chicken ahead of time, and then cook it in the crockpot after it has been thawed.

How Long Will Raw Chicken Stay Good in the Fridge?

Once the raw chicken has been thawed completely in the fridge, it will last an additional 1-2 days when the poultry is thawed. 

More for You

Expand your knowledge about chicken by reading about How Long Chicken Salad Lasts. Also learn more about If You Can Freeze Chicken Salad or not. Don’t miss out!

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Faith Has been cooking and baking for many years! she loves to share her recipes with the world, and hopes you will enjoy them too!

5 thoughts on “How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay In Fridge”

  1. I bought a roster chicken in a cooking bag that was already thawed. Use by date is 11/28/21. I purchased it 11/18/21. The meat department said it would be ok by Thanksgiving. Will it be ok or should I take it back. Please let me know.

    Thank you

    • Hi Kenneth, We take the conservative approach and recommend that completely thawed chicken only stay in the refrigerator for 1-2 days as a rule of thumb. If it was in the freezer from the 18th until now, it would be okay, but keeping it fully thawed in the refrigerator from the 18th until Thanksgiving would not be recommended. Hope that helps.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you.

  2. I thawed my frozen chicken in cold water. I couldn’t cook the chicken, so I rinsed it and put it in the fridge for the next day. Will it be okay?


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